choose one essay from the list

(World Civilization I) 

Exam Structure: The exam will consist of two parts, an essay section and an identification section, each worth 50%. You will choose one essay from a selection that will be drawn from the essays below. For the identifications, you will be given a list of ten terms, drawn from the terms below, of which you will choose five for long (paragraph-length) identifications discussing the historical significance of those terms.

Grading Criteria:

  • Essays: Essays should be in standard short essay form – 1) Introduction and thesis; 2) Supporting evidence; 3) Conclusion. This will ordinarily take five to eight paragraphs. You will be graded on form, completeness, accuracy, and how well you support your thesis.

  • Identifications: You will be graded on two grounds: 1) Details – who, what, when, where; 2) Historical Significance – why does this matter? What were the consequences? How did this person/idea/thing shape history? (These are examples of questions you could address. Each term will vary as to how it needs to be approached.)

  • Examples of good identifications:

    • George Washington: First president of the United States, 1789-1797. Established a number of important presidential traditions, such as the practice of serving only two terms, the Cabinet system, presidential independence in setting foreign policy, and a semi-isolationist foreign policy that sought to avoid involvement in European affairs. 

    • Jerusalem: A traditional religious center, located in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although of minor economic and strategic importance, it has had high religious significance for the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Because of this, control of Jerusalem has been important in a number of conflicts, including the medieval Crusades and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    • artisans: Individuals who specialize in a manufacturing trade, and who make their goods primarily by hand. Examples include tailors, carpenters, and stonemasons. The appearance of full-time artisans in a key development in the emergence of urban civilizations.

Topics covered: This exam covers all material from the beginning of class to the Axial Age.

Lectures covered:

  • Becoming Human
  • Farming and Herding
  • River Civilizations
  • Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations
  • Recovery, Development and Instability
  • The Axial Age

Essay Questions and Identification Terms: Below are the terms and essays. Each essay is associated with a set of terms. In many cases, the terms themselves will be useful in answering the essay as well. Some terms are useful for more than one essay! 

Readings: Textbook: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: The World: A Brief History: Volume 1: to 1500, Chapters 1-6

Essay 1:

Compare the development of the early river civilizations. How did the distinct environments of each river valley shape the development of these cultures?Terms: Monumental architecture, cuneiform, Pharaoh, Paleolithic Age, city-state, Hammurabi’s Code, institutional politics, loess soil, Harrapa, Shang Dynasty

Essay 2:

Discuss instability in the cultures of the Second Millennia BCE (c.2000-1000 BCE). What factors contributed to this instability? Discuss how these impacted at least two civilizations.Terms:  Aryan Invasion, Saraswati, Hittites, Thera/Santorini, Sea People, Rig Veda, vassal, Carthage, Ekklisa, El Nino, Olmecs, Kush

Essay 3:

Discuss at least three religions or philosophical movements of the Axial Age. Compare how they exemplify (or don’t) the basic principles of the Axial Age. Terms: Zoroastrianism, ahisma, Mahavira, Siddhartha Guatama, samsara, Tao, Covenant, Socrates, Stoics, The Republic, Legalists, li, Natural Philosophy, Pythagoras, Aristotle 

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