Essays: Write a response of about a paragraph in length to answer any SIX (6) of the following questions. 60%
- What conditions led to the rise of the Uruk? How was Uruk society organized and what kinds of structures were they famous for building? Where did the Uruk found colonies and what was the reason for the Uruk taking this action?
- Historians and archaeologists have different systems that they use to date different civilizations. Where did historians and archaeologists get the system that they use to date the Egyptians? How does this chronological system divide up and make sense of Egyptian history?
- What are the differences between and relative advantages of cuneiform and hieroglyphics as systems of writing? Who are the most famous users of each system and what kinds of information do these early writing systems preserve?
- Following the Bronze Age collapse, Neo-Assyria and Neo-Babylonia arose to unite the Ancient Near East. What are some of the factors which enable them to build bigger and stronger empires than their predecessors?
- Egypt is most famous for building pyramids, but for most of their history, underground tombs were their most common form of grand architecture. What is the shared purpose of both structures and how does this reflect a major concern in Egyptian culture? What factors caused the Egyptians to switch from pyramid-building to tomb-building and what are some of the advantages that the Egyptians sought to gain from this transition?
- The Enuma Elish is the Babylonian creation myth. What kinds of changes do scholars note between the story as told in the Enuma Elish and earlier stories about creation that we know were told in Mesopotamia? Why were these changes made and what is the historical context of the world in which the Enuma Elish in its current form was composed, approximately 1800-1700 BCE?
- The Battle of Kadesh is the first battle for which we have detailed information and the Treaty of Kadesh, some 12 years later, is the first surviving international agreement between two empires. Describe the following three elements of the treaty and explain what purpose each would serve: 1) mutually exclusive borders, 2) defensive alliance, 3) extradition
- In the years after about 900, we see that there is an explosion of activity in the Ancient Near East. What factors contributed to this resurgence of activity? What were the two dominant powers which dominated the region imperially down until the 6th Century BCE and what power ultimately ended this period of competition?
- What is the earliest Indian civilization, where were they primarily located, and what are some of their key characteristics? Under what name does this group of people seem to have entered Indian cultural memory?
- There is a long-standing scholarly dispute about the so-called Aryan migration/invasion into India. Briefly describe the cases that scholars make for an Aryan/Indo-European migration or invasion and the case that scholars make for indigenous Aryans. Based on what you know, tell me which case seems to be the more plausible and explain why you hold this opinion.
- The first real empire in Indian history is the Mauryan Empire. What external factors helped to bring about the birth and growth of this empire? Also, describe the individual contributions of Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka the Great to the development of the Mauryan Empire.
- The Minoan civilization centered on Crete is a source of mystery and scholarly controversy. What are three things that we know for certain about the Minoans? What are three things that scholars speculate may be true about the Minoans?
- Compared to what we know about the Minoans, we know a great deal about the Mycenaeans. What are our primary sources of information on Mycenaean civilization? What are some of the limitations of the written sources that we have from the ancient world about this civilization?
- The Hittites, Minoans, and Mycenaeans are all prime examples of Bronze Age palace states. What is a palace state and how do they function?
- Who are China’s culture heroes and what purpose do they serve in Chinese thought? According to Chinese tradition, who is the last of the culture heroes, what is his contribution, and by what means does he officially found China’s first proper dynasty?
- During the Eastern Zhou era, which is subdivided between the Spring and Autumn and Warring states periods, many of China’s most formative thinkers lived and worked. What factors made this brilliant cultural period possible? Briefly describe the beliefs of two such thinkers/schools of thought and what needs such systems of thought were designed to address.
- Cyrus I, Darius I, and Xerxes were the three most famous Persian rulers. What are the primary achievements of each ruler and how did it contribute to the overall success of the Persian Empire?
- During the Ionian Awakening, the Greeks laid the foundations for Western culture. What external influences helped lead to the beginning of the Ionian Awakening? Who are some of the most famous Archaic Greek intellectuals and what are some of the things that they were concerned with?
- Herodotus is seen as arguably the first historian. His range of interests is very broad, however. One of the things that sparks his interest is the way that the Nile River works. What are some of the ideas that the Greeks had about the Nile and what is Herodotus’ view on the issue?
- From 508-322 BCE, Athens was ruled by a democracy, which heavily influenced their culture and society. What are some of the major cultural developments which happened under the democratic regime at Athens and how did those things stem in part from democracy?
- In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, one of the most famous passages is Pericles’ Funeral Oration. What does Pericles say about Athenian democracy during this speech? What does he seem to be exhorting his audience to do or feel in this speech?
- Plato introduced many philosophical concepts. Perhaps two of his most enduring notions are the Theory of the Forms and the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Explain the meaning and significance of both of these contributions to philosophy.
- Philip II was the king of Macedon and the father of Alexander the Great. What challenges did Philip face when he came to power and what had been holding back Macedon before Philip’s reign? How does Philip reform Macedon and make it into a major power in the Greek world?
- After Alexander’s death, a number of successor states emerged. Describe two of the four following states and talk about the particular challenges that this kingdom faced: Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, Antigonid Macedon, and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom.
- In the Hellenistic period, we see that there is a great deal of population mobility as compared with the preceding and succeeding eras. What is the reason why so many Greeks were moving around Alexander’s former empire? How did non-Greeks get involved in Hellenistic government?
- From 133-121 BCE, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus tried and failed to reform the Roman Republic. What were the problems that the Gracchi were trying to resolve? What solutions did the two brothers propose? Why did they meet with such strident resistance from the rest of the Senate?
- During the early and high Roman Empire from about 31 BCE-235 CE, the Roman Empire was powerful and prosperous. During this period, how did the emperor administer his empire? What were the importance of roads, aqueducts, and the legions to the life of the Roman Empire?
- Christianity emerged in the context of the early Roman Empire. What was the religious environment like during the early Roman Empire and how is that reflected in the multiplicity of views that early Christians held?
- Irrigation is one of the key technologies which enables the rise of the state. What material factors and human organizational preconditions need to be present for people to begin irrigation? Name two places where the development of irrigation shows up in the mythology/legend/prehistory of a people group when they are describing the origin of their civilization.
- Mythology changes over time to reflect the shifting values of societies. Give at least two examples from two different civilizations of how people either actively altered a myth, attempted to change their divine pantheon, rewrote their pantheon, or claimed descent from a mythical figure. For each of your examples, briefly describe what happened and what purpose the change served.
- Between about 1200-1100 BCE, the world went through something called the Bronze Age collapse. Why is it called the Bronze Age collapse? When and why did this happen?
- Between about 800-400 BCE, major transformative intellectual developments occurred all across the Old World and laid the foundation for a few major cultures. Why were the conditions right for such intellectual and spiritual developments at this point in history? Give two examples from two different civilizations which are typical of these fundamental shifts in understanding the world.
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