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Unit 1: Redefining World Society and Culture

Lesson C: Rise and Fall of the Classical and Medieval World

Activity 8: The Mighty Will Fall

Empire Location Date Marking the "Rise" of the Empire Date Marking the "Fall" of the Empire Years in Existence
Mauryan Empire India/South Asia 322 BCE 185 BCE 137 years
Han Empire China/East Asia 206 BCE 220 CE 426 years
Roman Empire Europe/North Africa/Southwest Asia 27 BCE 476 CE 503 years
Mayan Empire Central America 250 CE 900 CE 650 years
Gupta Empire India/South Asia 320 CE 600 CE 280 years
Byzantine Empire South & Southeast Europe/North Africa/Southwest Asia 330 CE 1453 CE 1123 years
Tang Empire China/East Asia 618 CE 907 CE 289 years
Song Empire China/East Asia 960 CE 1279 CE 319 years
Mongol Empire South, Central, Southeast, East Asia/East Europe 1206 CE 1368 CE 162 years
Mali Empire West Africa 1230 CE 1600 CE 370 years
Songhai Empire West Africa 1340 CE 1591 CE 251 years
Aztec Empire Mexico/Southern North America 1428 CE 1519 CE 91 years
Incan Empire Peru & Chile/South America 1438 CE 1533 CE 95 years

As you examine the chart above you should notice that all empires eventually fall. Seldom is there an exact day and time when an empire "dies", rather it normally happens over many years or decades. Historians often look at empires and hypothesize about all the different factors that led to their decline.

In the activity, you will read different historians' accounts of the fall of the Roman Empire. Afterward, you will answer these questions in your notebook.

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Written Activity - Notebook

In your notebook, respond to the following questions:

  • What does each historian point to as the cause(s) of the fall of Rome?
  • Why might each historian have drawn a different conclusion?
Document 1: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776           Document 2: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1955
Document 3: The Fall of the Roman Empire 1986
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Classroom Activity - Fall of Empires

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Directions: Now that you have had a chance to examine possible reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, choose one of the other empires from the Chart of Empires and conduct research to find secondary sources that suggest reasons for the fall of that empire. Once you have done your research, share with your classmates different reasons for the fall of empires. As a class, compare and contrast the reasons that you researched with the reasons given for the fall of the Roman Empire.


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