750 CE opened with Marwan II ruling the Umayyad Caliphate, the world’s largest empire. Before the year’s end, he would be toppled and executed in the Abbasid Revolution. In the east, the Tang Empire held sway over China and a swathe of Central Asia: they too would be devastated by the An Lushan rebellion (755–63). The Umayyad imperial expansion had been checked earlier by fierce resistance from the Khazars of the Pontic steppes and, in Europe, by the Franks. A future Frankish leader, Charlemagne, would build on this victory, crowned as Holy Roman Emperor (800) after a reign of constant conquest. In the Americas, the Maya were at their peak, building large ceremonial centres and developing calendrical and writing systems. To the south, the Huari and Tiahuanaco had developed substantial civilizations in future Inca territory. Below the Sahara, Ghana and Gao were growing rich on trade while Axum had become landlocked, and declined.
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