Glossary

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Abd al-Rahman III - Islamic ruler in Spain who held a countercaliphate and reigned from 912 to 961 ce.

aborigines - Original, native inhabitants of a region, as opposed to invaders, colonizers, or later peoples of mixed ancestry.

absolute monarchy - Form of government where one body, usually the monarch, controls the right to tax, judge, make war, and coin money. The term enlightened absolutists was often used to refer to state monarchies in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe.

acid rain - Precipitation containing large amounts of sulfur, mainly from coal-fired plants.

adaptation - Ability to alter behavior and to innovate, finding new ways of doing things.

African National Congress (ANC) - Multiracial organization founded in 1912 in an effort to end racial discrimination in South Africa.

Afrikaners - Descendants of the original Dutch settlers of South Africa; formerly referred to as Boers.

Agones - Athletic contests in ancient Greece.

Ahmosis - Egyptian ruler in the southern part of the country who ruled from 1550 to 1525 bce ; Ahmosis used Hyksos weaponry—horse chariots in particular—to defeat the Hyksos themselves.

Ahura Mazda - Supreme God of the Persians believed to have created the world and all that is good and to have appointed earthly kings.

AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) - Virus that compromises the ability of the infected person’s immune system to ward off disease. First detected in 1981, AIDS was initially stigmatized as a “gay cancer,” but as it spread to heterosexuals, public awareness about it increased. In its first two decades, AIDS killed 12 million people.

Akbarnamah - Mughal intellectual Abulfazl’s Book of Akbar, which attempted to reconcile the traditional Sufi interest in the inner life within the worldly context of a great empire.

Alaric II - Visigothic king who issued a simplified code of innovative imperial law.

Alexander the Great (356–323 bce) - Leader who used novel tactics and new kinds of armed forces to conquer the Persian Empire, which extended from Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea to the interior of what is now Afghanistan and as far as the Indus River valley. Alexander’s conquests broke down barriers between the Mediterranean world and Southwest Asia and transferred massive amounts of wealth and power to the Mediterranean, transforming it into a more unified world of economic and cultural exchange.

Alexandria - Port city in Egypt named after Alexander the Great. Alexandria was a model city in the Hellenistic world. It was built up by a multiethnic population from around the Mediterranean world.

Al-Khwarizmi - Scientist and mathematician who lived from 780 to 850 ce and is known for having modified Indian digits into Arabic numerals.

Allied powers - Name given to the alliance between Britain, France, Russia, and Italy, who fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary (the Central powers) in World War I. In World War II the name was used for the alliance between Britain, France, and America, who fought against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan).

allomothering - System by which mothers relied on other women, including their own mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, to help in the nurturing and protecting of children.

alluvium - Area of land created by river deposits.

American Railway Union - Workers’ union that initiated the Pullman Strike of 1894, which led to violence and ended in the leaders’ arrest.

Amnesty International - Non-governmental organization formed to defend “prisoners of conscience”—those detained for their beliefs, race, sex, ethnic origin, language, or religion.

Amorites - Name that Mesopotamian urbanites called the transhumant herders from the Arabian desert. Around 2300 bce, the Amorites, along with the Elamites, were at the center of newly formed dynasties in southern Mesopotamia.

Amun - Once insignificant Egyptian god elevated to higher status by Amenemhet (1991–1962 bce). Amun means “hidden” in Ancient Egyptian; the name was meant to convey the god’s omnipresence.

Analects - Texts that included the teachings and cultural ideals of Confucius.

anarchism - Belief that society should be a free association of its members, not subject to government, laws, or police.

Anatolia - Now mainly the area known as modern Turkey; in the sixth millennium bce, people from Anatolia, Greece, and the Levant took to boats and populated the Aegean. Their small villages endured almost unchanged for two millennia.

ancestral worship - Religious practice in which the living honor their dead ancestors through performative rituals, under the belief that the dead intervene with their powers on behalf of the living.

Angkor Wat - Magnificent Khmer Vaishnavite temple that crowned the royal palace in Angkor. It had statues representing the Hindu pantheon of gods.

Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) - Anticolonial struggle in South Africa between the British and the Afrikaners over the gold-rich Transvaal. In response to the Afrikaners’ guerrilla tactics and in order to contain the local population, the British instituted the first concentration camps. Ultimately, Britain won the conflict.

animal domestication - Gradual process that occurred simultaneously with or just before the domestication of plants, depending on the region.

annals - Historical records. Notable annals are the cuneiform inscriptions that record successful Assyrian military campaigns.

Anti-Federalists - Critics of the U.S. Constitution who sought to defend the people against the power of the federal government and insisted on a bill of rights to protect individual liberties from government intrusion.

apartheid - Racial segregation policy of the Afrikaner-dominated South African government. Legislated in 1948 by the Afrikaner National Party, it had existed in South Africa for many years.

Arab-Israeli War of 1948–1949 - Conflict between Israeli and Arab armies that arose in the wake of a U.N. vote to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories. The war shattered the legitimacy of Arab ruling elites.

Aramaic - Dialect of a Semitic language spoken in Southwest Asia; it became the lingua franca of the Persian Empire.

Aristotle (384–322 bce) - Philosopher who studied under Plato but came to different conclusions about nature and politics. Aristotle believed in collecting observations about nature and discerning patterns to ascertain how things worked.

Aryans - Nomadic charioteers who spoke Indo-European languages and entered South Asia in 1500 bce. The early Aryan settlers were herders.

Asante state - State located in present- day Ghana, founded by the Asantes at the end of the seventeenth century. It grew in power in the next century because of its access to gold and its involvement in the slave trade.

ascetic - One who rejects material possessions and physical pleasures.

Asiatic Society - Cultural organization founded by British Orientalists who supported native culture but still believed in colonial rule.

A'soka - Emperor of the Mauryan dynasty from 268 to 231 bce; he was a great conqueror and unifier of India. He is said to have embraced Buddhism toward the end of his life.

Assur - One of two cities on the upper reaches of the Tigris River that were the heart of Assyria proper (the other was Nineveh).

A'svaghosa - First known Sanskrit writer. He may have lived from 80 to 150 ce and may have composed a biography of the Buddha.

Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal (1881–1938) - Ottoman army officer and military hero who helped forge the modern Turkish nation-state. He and his followers deposed the sultan, declared Turkey a republic, and constructed a European-like secular state, eliminating Islam’s hold over civil and political affairs.

Atlantic system - New system of trade and expansion that linked Europe, Africa, and the Americas. It emerged in the wake of European voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.

Atma - Vedic term signifying the eternal self, represented by the trinity of deities.

Atman - In the Upanishads, an eternal being who exists everywhere. The atman never perishes but is reborn or transmigrates into another life.

Attila - Sole ruler of all Hunnish tribes from 433 to 453 ce. Harsh and much feared, he formed the first empire to oppose Rome in northern Europe.

Augustus - Title meaning “Revered One,” assumed in 27 bce by the Roman ruler Octavian (63–14 bce). This was one of many titles he assumed; others included imperator, princeps, and Caesar.

australopithecines - Hominid species that appeared 3 million years ago and, unlike other animals, walked on two legs. Their brain capacity was a little less than one-third of a modern human’s or about the size of the brain capacity of today’s African apes. Although not humans, they carried the genetic and biological material out of which modern humans would later emerge.

Austro-Hungarian Empire - Dual monarchy established by the Habsburg family in 1867; it collapsed at the end of World War I.

authoritarianism - Centralized and dictatorial form of government, proclaimed by its adherents to be superior to parliamentary democracy and especially effective at mobilizing the masses. This idea was widely accepted in parts of the world during the 1930s.

Avesta - Compilation of holy works transmitted orally by priests for millennia and eventually recorded in the sixth century bce.

Axis powers - The three aggressor states in World War II: Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Aztec Empire - Mesoamerican empire that originated with a league of three Mexica cities in 1430 and gradually expanded through the Central Valley of Mexico, uniting numerous small, independent states under a single monarch who ruled with the help of counselors, military leaders, and priests. By the late fifteenth century, the Aztec realm may have embraced 25 million people. In 1521, they were defeated by the conquistador Hernán Cortés.