The Axial Age—a time of pivotal intellectual transformations in Eurasia—led to the creation of what is now known as the classical ages in India, China, and Greece from around 500 B.C.E. – 500 C.E. Starting in India, religious developments of Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism caused fundamental changes to Indian culture and society, allowing for the creation of unified empires. In China, intellectual developments of Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism paved the way for China’s first empires, the Qin and Han. In Greece, the Golden Age of Athens created intellectual and political changes that are still felt today. All of these benefitted from trade and interaction with one another, especially in the Hellenistic period, when Greek ideas and culture were transmitted throughout Eurasia. With all of these developments and connections, the Counterpoint of this chapter focuses on the Celts, who did have connections with these classical regions but had different lifestyles and ideologies, and many of those aspects (especially languages) still survive today.

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