My Culture Project

By: Sophia He

Essential Questions

1: What makes up a society's culture?

A society’s culture is their way of life. It’s how they live it and the aspects of it. For example, Confucius is a famous scholar/philosopher. Many of his teachings are what Chinese live by today. He and his teachings are part of their culture because it affects the way Chinese live their life. Another example is France. They are known for their culinary skills. Learning culinary skills is part of their culture because it is an aspect of how they live their life. Traditional styles of dress and customs are part of culture because it is also an aspect of how people live their life. Traditions like the Fourth of July are part of our heritage, which is also culture. Our heritage and ancestors affect the world we see today and how we see the world. It affects part of our culture in that way as well. Language is part of culture because it affects the way you communicate.

2: Why is it important to learn how others live throughout the world?

It is important because once you understand how other people live, you can understand them as themselves as well. Learning about how others live also gives you more knowledge to become wiser by allowing you to see things in a whole new way, or broadening your horizons. You get to see things from other people’s point of view and understand them. Learning how others live also lets you come to new realizations, such as there is a whole world out there for you to learn about which has suffered, triumphed, and is just as great as you, just in different ways. Different people offer different perspectives and experiences. You realize there isn’t just one right way- there are many, and combined can be great. There are many cultures out there, many who have accomplished great things and suffered much. Some have suffered more, and after you have seen this, you become grateful and realize how lucky you are to be where you are. Every culture has a great and proud history. Once you realize that, you gain respect for others. This is appreciating diversity. Once you have come to these realizations, they encourage you to help people, have more empathy, and become a better, wiser, more loving person.

3: Why is it important to understand and respect others' beliefs?

It is important because first, it is polite to respect others and their beliefs. Secondly, because what they believe in is very important to them, and shunning them or disgracing their beliefs is very hurtful. Trying to understand their beliefs makes you realize how great and amazing and interesting they are, along with their cultures.

Learning Goal 2: Evaluate how the needs of individuals are met by families, friend, groups and organizations, such as governments, businesses, schools, religious institutions and charities in other cultures

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Above is a visual for your understanding.


Families support most of our physical basic needs, like food and water, shelter, and clothing. They also provide us with unconditional love, something that helps us through good and bad times and makes us feel good.


Friends support most of our emotional needs. We need to trust someone, otherwise we'd feel isolated and helpless. Friendship allows us to have fun and feel wanted. They also offer support, physical (ex. financial help) and emotional (ex. going through hard times).


Groups/organizations give you something to belong to. Belonging to something makes you feel important and special, in other words, boosting your self-esteem. A sense of belonging also fills you with happiness, a positive feeling.


Government gives us protection, something very important. It keeps us safe and allows us to feel safe- a worry-free feeling. They also enforce and make laws, to keep us in check and also to keep the population safe. Laws also help us to tell right from wrong.


Businesses are very important to the economy, providing the population with money and jobs. Jobs are important to the economy, and reduce the poverty rate if the business is paying the employees a just amount. Services can do tasks that we aren't able to ourselves, letting us specialize in what we enjoy.


Schools help children and their families in many ways. Public schools give free education, a human right. They provide food and supplies for those who need it. Some schools even have housing programs for families who are homeless and need help finding an affordable housing.


Religion gives us something to believe in, which helps us get though life in different ways. Many religions have programs to help the needy.


When you rely on charity to provide you with your basic needs, none of the above can help you anymore. Your family and friends, for some reason, are not in the position to help you. Groups/organizations don't provide enough and maybe your government doesn't provide what they should. Businesses can't help because you are unemployed or not in the position to take a job. Maybe you are not a child and you don't have children for a school to help you with its programs, or maybe the school is in a financial position in which it can't support you. You may not have a religion near you who can and will help. It is then you rely on charity.

Learning Goal 6: Examine river civilizations, including: Ancient Egypt in North Africa (pyramids and mathematics), India (religions and culture), China (technological advances), Mesopotamia (beginnings of civilization)

Ancient Egypt- Pyramids and Math

Construction of the Pyramids

Rocks were transported from quarries to Giza, where stonemasons prepared the slabs of stone and built the foundation of the pyramid, building up. Workers hauled the heavy stone blocks either on earthen ramps going up the side of the pyramid with logs, or made wooden ramps along all sides. Building a pyramid was a long process, and it required tens of thousands of workers working for several decades. The builders of the pyramid were actually paid workers, not slaves.

Rules of Building a Pyramid

Usually, the pharaohs started building their pyramids right when they started ruling. There was usually an architect and a chief engineer overseeing the process. Ancient Egyptians believed that location of the pyramid was crucial to the pharaoh’s afterlife. Location was determined by the western horizon, and the relative location to Memphis. Pyramids were always built on the west side of the Nile.


Pyramids were made of limestone from around the area, with higher quality limestone on the outer wall. The capstone was made from hard stone, such as granite or basalt. The decorated it with precious metals like gold or silver. The metal and limestone made the pyramid noticeable from miles away. Egyptians might have used copper chisels for quarrying sandstone and limestone, but for harder rock they used Dolerite. 60-70 Dolerite “pounders” would grind and pound the stone. They fit wooden pegs into holes they and cut into the stone. The filled the slots with water, and the wooden pegs would enlarge and break the stone. They then transported it to a boat. When stones arrived at the pyramid construction sites, they were brought up the pyramid with mud ramps covered with plaster.

King Djoser's Step Pyramid

A professor of Classics and Mediterranean studies at Penn State named Donald Redford says that Ancient Egyptians most likely chose the pyramid shape because it they thought it symbolized the sun’s rays. King Djoder of the Third Dynasty was the first pharaoh to ever build a pyramid. Imhotep, who was his architect, built a step pyramid with six mastabas- stone buildings with a trapezoid face- by placing them on top of each other.

Great Pyramid at Giza

In the year 2480 BC, thousands of men were shipped from every province on boats to build the Great Pyramid. The Kings’ men would come every summer and pick the most fit men and shout “In the name of the King!” They traveled by boat to the construction site. The laborers would live in huts. Professor Redford says that it took 20,000-33,000 workers to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, and that it took 23 years to build. In contrast, the Notre Dame Cathedral located in Paris took 200 years to finish construction! The plan was to layer layers of limestone blocks, one on top of the other, each layer smaller than the last. The site had already been smoothed and flattened. Stonemasons had created a foundation. The pyramid core were some steps.

Below is a flyer advertising the Great Pyramid.


In Ancient Egypt, they also built temples which served for different purposes. They were the home to priests, who held as much power as the Pharaoh. They were very important politically. There were two types of temples: cult temples that depicted pictures of gods and funerary (mortuary) temples that were shrines the kings that had passed away.


Because of the Nile, the Egyptians were the first to use geometry. They measured property lines using ropes that were knotted at different parts. They believed squares and triangles were sacred, so they used it when building structures.

Ancient Egypt Q and A- Questions from the "Pyramids Activity" PowerPoint (D2L)

Q1. Who started the pyramids? (Done together in notebook)

A1. Around 2630 B.C., a pharaoh named King Djoser built a large pyramid over his tomb. It was a step pyramid.

Q2. Why are the pyramids important?

A2. Pyramids are important because they contain the pharaoh’s tomb. They also contain items believed to be essential to the afterlife, such as food, furniture, and statues that were meant to serve as servants.

Q3. Which pyramid is the biggest? Why?

A3. The Great Pyramid is the biggest because a pharaoh named Khufu wanted to show the world how great he was, so he requested for the greatest pyramid in history to be built.

Q4. What does the inside of a pyramid look like?

A4. Inside, there are many passageways to confuse grave robbers. Some lead to chambers that contain treasure, food, furniture, and other items believed to be essential to the afterlife. Some passageways are decorated with art depicting scenes of the pharaoh doing different things. Some things he enjoyed, others of laborers providing the necessities needed, like growing plants, etc. One chamber is the pharaoh’s tomb. Another is the queen’s chamber.

Q5. Do pyramids have secret passageways? Why?

A5. Pyramids do have secret passages, and their purpose is to confuse grave robbers, who want to steal treasure and even the mummy of the pharaoh itself!

Q6. What two shapes are used to make a pyramid?

A6. Triangle and square

Q7. Explain how pyramids are connected to math?

A7. Egyptians had to use geometry and angles to construct pyramids.

India- Religions and Culture



India started around 4000 years ago in Northern India near the Indus River. It is now the world’s third most popular religion, with 750 million followers and over 80% of India’s population following it.

Basic Facts

Where started: India

Who started: Developed out of Brahmanism from Aryans

Sacred texts: Vedas and Upanishads

Sacred Building: Mandir

Holidays/Festivals: Divali- Festival of Lights

Holy Places: One holy place is the River Ganges


The main symbol for Hinduism is Aum. (I think this is British spelling). It is the sound heard when meditating and the best name for their god.

The Word “Hindu” Origination

“Hindu” originates from the Indus River. The Indus river goes through Tibet, Kashmir, and Pakistan.

Religion Overview

Hindus believe in a God called Brahman. He consists of many other gods and goddesses. They believe that there is a piece of the Brahman in everyone, called the Atman.

Reincarnation and Moksha

Another belief is reincarnation. They believe that your soul will go through many lives in different bodies. You will continue being reincarnated until you achieve Moksha, which means becoming one with the Brahman. The purpose of reincarnation is to keep striving to that goal and to realize the truth- only the Brahman exists.


Your destiny is depends on Karma. If you have done something bad in your past life, it will reflect on your current life as a bad circumstance. So if you do something good, you will have more pleasant circumstances come to you. Because of this, Hindus try to lead a life that will get them good Karma.

The Four Goals

Hindus live their life by four goals:

1. Moksha- achieving the spiritual aspect through yoga and meditation. You also must act selflessly and to do good for the society.

2. Dharma- “the code for leading one’s life”

3. Artha- Striving for material gain in a just way

4. Karma- by doing the right thing and seeking to learn new things, you can reincarnate into higher status

The Four Paths

To achieve Moksha, Hindus can choose one of four paths to follow (or all):

1. The path of knowledge (Jnana-Yoga) Spritual knowledge that helps your bond between your atman and the Brahman

2. The path of meditation (Dhyana-Yoga) Finding your inner self by concentrating so you can achieve Moksha

3. The path of devotion (Bhakti-Yoga) Worshipping one god or goddess through actions, words, and deeds.

4. The path of good works (Karma-Yoga) Doing your duties and the right thing.



Buddhism is a common religion in many countries, with it being 2,700 years old and with 350 Buddhists around the world. It was based off of Siddhartha Gautama’s teachings and began in northeastern India. They focused on suffering and getting rid of it, or in other words, achieving Nirvana.

Basic Facts

Where started: Northeast India

Who started: Siddhartha Gautama, also Buddha

Sacred Texts: Tripitaka

Sacred Structures: Stupa

Holidays/Festivals: Wesak

Branches: Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese groups ex.: Solo and Zen

Intro on Siddhartha Gautama

The Buddhist way of life was based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who was the Buddha and lived in the 4th or 5th Century BC.

Siddhartha Gautama Bio

Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha was born in Nepal in the village of Lumbini. He was born into a noble family, and had also enjoyed the pleasures of palace life; he knew none about age, sickness, and death. After he married and had a kid, he ventured outside the palace. He saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Siddhartha Gautama was troubled by what he had seen. He then found a path away from suffering and pain, or Enlightenment. He was called the Buddha, which means “awakened one”.


One symbol is the wheel of life, representing the Eight Fold Path, as well as life, death, and rebirth. The lotus flower represents purity and divine birth. The lotus flower grows at the muddy bottom of a pool, but then becomes a beautiful flower and drifts to the surface. Buddhists believe that this is how you should rise above everything, which is called dukkha. The flower may be beautiful with a sweet perfume, but eventually it dies. This is to remind us that life is imperfect. There are 32 symbols that represent how extraordinary he was. One is a bump on the top of his head, symbolizing how he has special talents. Another is a circular mark, which means that he could see things others couldn’t. His curled hair are actually snails to protect him from the sun when meditating show that he was a holy man. His long hears are from his earrings that aren’t there anymore after he gave up his noble life.


Buddhists worship at home and at a temple. They usually listen to a monk chant sacred texts and pray while sitting barefoot in front of a statue of the Buddha. They cannot face the bottoms of their feet towards the Buddha. At home, they have shrines with a statue of the Buddha and incense burner and candles. A well-known shape of a Buddhist temple is a pagoda. Another is an upside-down hollow semicircle shape. All temples have a statue or image of the Buddha. Puja is Buddhist worship. It involves making offerings- flowers, pure water, etc. at a shrine. They also chant. It is how they thank the Buddha for his teachings and show their love for him. Sometimes, typically on a full moon, Buddhists go to the temple to worship on religious days.


In the Buddhist religion, there is a cycle you must go through: life, death, and rebirth. You will continue going through that cycle until you achieve Enlightenment, or Nirvana, sometimes called Nibbana. You will then break out of the cycle and be in perfect peace.


To achieve Nirvana, not only do you have to follow the Buddha’s teachings, but you also have to meditate. Meditation is clearing the mind of all other thoughts. Then you will realize and focus on what’s important.

The Three Jewels

There are three beliefs known as the Three Jewels that Buddhists believe in.

1. Believing in the Buddha

2. Following Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha

3. The Sangha is the Buddhist community that consists of regular people, monks, and nuns. You want to help others to become less selfish and become Enlightened

Three Paths to Buddhism

There are three parts of the Buddha’s teachings:

  • Three Signs of Beings
  • Four Noble Truths
  • Noble Eightfold Path

The Three Signs of Being

The Three Signs of Being are how the Buddha described life. The Three Signs of Being are:

1. Nothing in life is perfect- dukkha.

2. Everything in life is changing all the time- anicca.

3. There is no soul- anatta.

The Four Noble Truths

Dukkha: Suffering exists. Anger, death, disease, old age, loneliness, frustration are all forms of suffering.

Samudaya: There is a cause for suffering. Suffering is caused by craving and desire as well as jealously and fame.

Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. You can be truly happy and at peace. If you just focus on today and helping others, you will eventually eliminate desire and achieve peace and truly be happy- Enlightenment/Nirvana.

Magga: In order to end suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path. Following the Noble Eight-Fold path will lead to the end of suffering.


Everything is dukka, or full of suffering, because dukka means suffering.

The Noble Eight-Fold Path (chart from

Below is the Eightfold Path and is the path to Enlightenment via wisdom, morality, and meditation.

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China- Technological Advances



During the Stone Age, the Ancient Chinese didn’t need to harvest salt because back then they hunted a lot and therefore ate tons of meat, which is rich with salt.

The Need for Salt

By 10,000 BC, people had begun to farm and started eating less meat and more grain such as wheat, barely, millet, etc. There was a lack of salt. Salt was important because it helped preserve food when there was no refrigerator, and it was also essential for the people and the farm animals to eat it.

Earliest Record of Harvesting Salt

We have evidence that by 6000 BC or earlier people from northern China had been harvesting salt from a salt lake called Lake Yuncheng.

Salt Around the World

On the borders of the Caspian Sea, in modern Azerbaijan, Central Asians were mining salt rock around 1500 BC. They traded salt for copper and obsidian. This was probably the earliest salt mine. Ancient Egyptians were evaporating water from the Mediterranean Sea for their mummies near the beginning of the Old Kingdom, around 3000 BC. They bought salt from Libya, Sfax in Tunisia, and Nubia as well. The Chinese were pouring ocean water into clay jars and boiling them until the water evaporated. Around the Eastern Chou Dynasty (700-600 BC), they were using iron pans instead. Etruscans in Italy, early Romans, and the Carthaginians in North Africa used the evaporation method to harvest salt.


The Beginning

The concept of gunpowder was gradual. We have records that say a man named Wei Boyang in 142 AD wrote about three substances that would “fly and dance” violently. It is not for sure that he was talking about gunpowder, or if he was trying to create a potion that resulted in eternal life.

Gunpowder Developed

Sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter or potassium nitrate is how gunpowder is made. A scientist named Ge Hong had wrote down the ingredients in 300 AD, in the period of the Chin dynasty. When you mix the three substances together, it burns very fast and lets out gases.

Gunpowder Uses

During the Tang Dynasty, 700 AD, people began to understand how to use gunpowder. It could give firework displays. In 904 AD, inventors realized that gunpowder could be a lethal weapon. The made cannonballs and rockets to take to war. Their design for the cannonball is still the one used today

Gunpowder Spread

The Chinese tried to hide their invention from the rest of the world, but the Islamic and Roman Empires eventually found out by the 1100s AD. Europe found out too.

Chinese Seismograph

The Need for a Seismograph

Earthquakes were a common problem in China, and they came frequently and were every strong.

Zhang Heng and the Seismograph

A man named Zhang Heng came up with the seismograph in the Han Dynasty. A seismograph records earthquakes.

Zhang Heng's Design

Zhang Heng’s design could tell where an earthquake was coming from up to 500 kilometers or 310 miles away. The seismograph had a bronze jar with eight dragons on it. Each dragon had a ball in its mouth. When an earthquake would occur, the dragon closest to the direction it was coming from would open its mouth, and the ball would drop into the mouth of a frog.

Mesopotamia- Beginnings of Civilization


Mesopotamia was a flat land between two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These rivers provided water and transportation.

The First Cities

Agriculture caused to first villages and cities to form. The first civilization was probably Sumer, which began about 3300 BC. Sumer was a region in the southern part of Mesopotamia.

The Five Traits

The five characteristics that classify a civilization:

1. Cities needed to become more advanced. Originally, farmers needed cities because cities had a place to store food and trade surpluses. Then Sumer had some had temples and other opportunities.

2. Before specialized workers, there must be surpluses. With surpluses, more people could stop being farmers and find specialized work as artisans and workers. Soon, more people came to live in cities, and people needed to be organized. Earlier, Sumerian priests ran the city and judged.

3. Religion and government were complex institutions in Sumerian times.

4. In Mesopotamia, people counted using wooden sticks to measure and keep records. Eventually they invented writing.

5. Mesopotamians worked together to have advances in technology. Some examples are irrigation, canals, and tools of bronze.

Developing City-States

In Sumer, city-states began to develop when a city started to rule itself and surrounding lands. There were 10,000 to 100,000 people living in those areas. There were about 12 city-states by 3000 BC. Most of them were near the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, because of the fertile soil there.


The ziggurat served as a temple and a city hall. The first one was built about 2200 BC.

Kings Take Over

Eventually kings took over the priest’s jobs as Mesopotamia got richer and richer. Originally, the kings just led the city-states in battle against other civilizations or other city-states that came for their wealth. Soon kings took over full-time. Around 2375 BC, a single king soon ruled all of Sumer.

Learning Goal 8- Examine and compare the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures


Location and Daily Life

The Mayan civilization was located in present-day southern Mexico into northern Central America. Farmers lived in houses supported by poles, while nobles lived in stone palaces.


The Mayans made art out of wood, bark, feather, and gourds. They also had pottery, sculptures, jade work, and steles. Some of it didn't survive, though, due to the climate.

Written and Spoken Language

The Mayans had a spoken language as well as a written which are called glyphs. They are symbols that represent words, sounds, or syllables.

Cities and Government Structure

The Mayan had four social classes: the ruling- kings that ruled each city, the nobility- scholars, architects, merchants that were wealthy and educated, peasants- farmers and laborers, and slaves- criminals and prisoners. Kings would declare war against other cities.


  • Mathematical number system based off the number 20
  • Calender system
  • The Mayans were the first to use zero


Farmers grew beans, squash and maize, as well as corn and chocolate. In rainforests, they used slash-and-burn agriculture, in the highlands, the Mayans built terraces, and in drier areas, they used irrigation. They traded their goods.

Mayan Ball Game

The Mayan ball game was reserved for people of the higher class. Teams from different villages would come and play against each other at a stadium. The object of the game was to bounce an eight-pound rubber ball off of a bronze parrot head. There were six of these parrot heads, and they lined the sides of the stadium, which was shaped kind of like a skateboard ramp. The loosing team's captain was sacrificed at the end.


Location and Daily Life

The Inca lived in Andes mountains in what is now Peru. Since there was no written language, people called chasquis delivered messages. Because of this, communication was difficult. Instead money, the Inca bartered and traded for goods.

Written and Spoken Language

The Incan language is called Quecheua. As mentioned before, the Inca had no written language.

Cities and Government Structure

The Incan government divided their subjects into family groups. The government was very controlling. There is an emperor and two classes: nobles and commoners. They did not use slaves. Nobles ran the government, while commoners included farmers and fisherman


  • Quipu- counting tool that was a cord with different lengths of knotted string tied to it

  • Performed blood transfusions and brain surgery


Farming was difficult because of the land. So farmers cut flat terraces into mountainsides and developed irrigation systems


Location and Daily Life

Originally, the Aztecs lived northwest Mexico then moved south to Valley of Mexico. There was a prophecy that said when they found an eagle sitting on a cactus, that they would have found their land. Eventually, the Aztecs did find that place and named it "The Place of the Prickly Pear". It was a small island in a lake. Most Aztec men farmed or owned land. Women cooked and took care of the children.


The Aztecs created unique architecture, gold beads, pottery, stone urns, feather headdresses, sculptures, and jewelry with precious stones.

Written and Spoken Language

The Aztecs had a written and a spoken language, though the written language didn't present the spoken language. They also wrote glyphs that represent words and ideas, though it was more like a picture than a group of symbols.

Cities and Government Structure

The Aztec government consisted of three main classes: the nobles, the intermediate class, and the commoners. At the top was the emperor. Priests were in the noble class, and merchants and artisans in the intermediate. Commoners were fishers, farmers, etc. Women’s roles were restricted.


  • Created two calendars, one for farming and one for religion

  • Were amazing architects and built bridges

  • Astronomy


The Aztecs used chinampas, or raised garden beds that helped them grow crops on the lake that they lived on.

Learning Goal Number 9- Investigate Europe in the Middle Ages, including: The Crusades

What were the Crusades?

Christians from Europe fought the Muslims in a series of battles to try to be able to have control of the Holy Land, or Jerusalem.

Why was the Holy Land so important?

The Holy Land was symbolic to a number of religions, including Muslims, Jewish people, and Christians. Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven there. Christians believed Christ was crucified and came back from the dead there.

Who fought in the Crusades?

The Holy Roman Empire in Europe fought the Arabs that were in Jerusalem. In the first Crusade they fought the Seljuk Turks.

How did the Crusades start?

A Byzantine Emperor named Alexius I asked Pope Urban II for help to gather an army to gain control of the Holy Land. The Pope did so with some help from the French and the Holy Roman Empire.

Why did the Crusaders fight?

First, they wanted to listen to the Pope, and do what he had told them to do. They also believed that their sins would be forgiven from killing people in past battles if they fought in the Crusades. Another reason is because it was an easy way for kings to get severe and harsh knights out of the kingdom. Young men wanted to prove their bravery and courage. Some people wanted to own land overseas. Sons who wouldn’t get their fathers land liked the idea. And Serfs, like slaves fought because they would be set free if they did.


  • “Dues vult!”, or “God wills it!” was the Christian’s battle cry.

  • The Crusader’s symbol was a red cross. It was on clothing, armor, flags, and banners.

  • Two famous groups of Holy Knights began between the second and third Crusades. They were the Teutonic Knights and the Templars.

Timeline of Crusades (Format from

The Crusades went on for 200 years and began in 1095. Here is a timeline of the Crusades:

  • The First Crusade (1095-1099): The first Crusade lasted four years and was a victory for Europe. They defeated the Turks and had control over Jerusalem.

  • The Second Crusade (1147-1149): Prior to the second Crusade, Edessa, a European city, was taken over. Every single person had been either killed or became a slave. The second Crusade was a loss for Europe.

  • The Third Crusade (1187-1192): The Sultan of Egypt, Saladin, regained control of Jerusalem in 1187. The third Crusade was led by Emperor Barbarossa of Germany, King Philip Augustus of France, and King Richard the Lionheart of England. King Richard the Lionheart battled Saladdin for a very long time, but still lost. He did, though, get the right for pilgrims to have access to Jerusalem.

  • The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204): Pope Innocent III led the fourth Crusade. But the Crusaders lost sight of their goal, and conquered Constantinople for their treasure. They fought themselves there.

Crusades Five through Nine (1217-1272): There were no more victories for the Christians throughout the next few Crusades.

Crusades in Detail

First Crusade

In 1096, Crusaders prepared in Constantinople and marched to Palestine (where Jerusalem was). Supplies were low, and many died on the way. Some were even captured and sold as slaves. The Crusaders gained control of Nicaea and Antioch. They finally seized Jerusalem in 1099. They split the land into states: Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli, and Jerusalem.

Second Crusade

Muslim Turks regained control of one of the states, Edessa, in 1144. In 1147, the Second Crusade began and a French and German army marched to Palestine, taking two different routes. The journey there was tough. The Crusaders lost to the Muslims in Damascus. Salah-al-Din (Saladin) joined his uncle in Syria to fight. He later became the ruler of Egypt. He brought together the Muslims so they could work together. In 1187 Saladin attacked the states in Palestine. He seized Jerusalem.

Third Crusade

The pope of the time asked people to join him for the Third Crusade. King Richard the Lion-Hearted came to battle, known for his courage and military skill. At first, it seemed like they would win, but in the end they didn’t. King Richard and Saladin agreed to a truce in 1192. Jerusalem would still belong to the Muslims, but European pilgrims could still visit.

Fourth Crusade

The truce was temporary, and the Crusaders set out again. They attacked a Christian city to pay the Italian traders back for transporting them. The pope was upset that they attacked a Christian city, though he had no power to stop them. The Crusaders didn’t go on with the original plan.

New Discoveries

Europe made new discoveries even though they lost- gunpowder, better designs, science, medicine, and a numerical system to replace the Romans. It showed them the world was very big- the empire stretched to India. They learned about new foods and spices like lemon, cotton, apricots, sugar, and silk. Many Europeans stayed in Jerusalem and learned the Muslim way of life.

Learning Goal 10- Investigate African Empires, including: Spread of Islam into Africa

The Spread of Islam

How did Islam spread into Africa?

Traders called "berbers" came from north Africa and spoke and practiced Islam. Scholars also came to West Africa, so some kings coverted

Muslims Conquer West Africa

Muslims had conquered West Africa around 650 AD. They wanted to connect West Africa to the rest of the world, but the Sahara was a natural barrier blocking their way. Missionaries and traders ended up spreading Islam into West Africa (Ghana). Ghana was doing very well economically. The kings hired many Muslims. This improved Ghana’s relationship with other Muslim cities.

The Muslim Population Grows

A large Muslim population grew in Ghana’s capital, Kumbi. Not many people converted to Islam, but merchants were allowed to build mosques and other religious buildings. They built 12 mosques in Kumbi.

The Almovarids

The Almoravids, Muslim warriors from North Africa invaded Ghana in 1076 AD. The empire collapsed after they captured Kumbi. The king did come back to power, though, but the empire could not be rebuilt.

Mali Rises

Mali rose and took control of Ghana. They did convert to Islam, but they weren’t too strict about the teachings. In 1240, the Mande of Mali captured Kumbi and it trade routes. The merchants helped create a good social and economic relationship with Egypt and Tunis in Mali.

Merchants Spread Islam

Merchants spread Islam to West Africa because they went there to trade. West Africa had an assortment of products that the merchants liked. Merchants had a very high status because it traveled so much, in result accumulating a lot of knowledge. Overtime, Mali kings eventually became Muslims because of Muslim traders and scholars working so close to them as scribes and advisors.

Mansa Musa's Hajj

In 1312, Mansa Musa became ruler of Mali. He was strict about Islamic teachings. He took a hajj to Makkah. It took him 8 months to make the journey of 3,000 miles. 60,000-80,000 people went with him. He arrived in Cairo inn 1324. Because of his hajj, his empire was now recognized as important. During the hajj, he gave out a lot of gold to show how wealthy he was.


Merchants had very interesting Muslim articles such as amulets, and the West Africans found them interesting. This might have started the transfer to Islam. The first West African community converted to Islam in 850 C.E.

The Songhay

In the Songhay period,- the 1430s-1591- which was after the empire of Mali had collapsed, the kings of Songhay provided money for Muslims to build mosques and other structures like libraries. The Songhay region liked the traders and improved economically because of its trading with Gao. They took control of more trading cities later on.

The Trans-Saharan Caravan Trade Routes

What Was Traded

They traded gold, which was common in West Africa, textiles, silk, beads, ceramics, ornamental weapons, utensils, salt, kola nuts, and slaves.

How They Traded

Saharan traders had to use caravans and passed through middlemen to sell their goods.

Gold Trade

Europe wanted gold, and the North African traders used this to their advantage. They traded salt for gold. The gold was located in a secret gold mine that no one knows location of to this day. The king collected taxes and had people to enforce these. Because they all spoke different languages, traders developed silent bartering.

Animal Domestication

This period of time was when camels were being domesticated. They were used for trade, transportation, and war, and probably came from Arabia. North African camels probably died out before this. There were different breeds of cattle.