Tonight you have two assignments. First, coming out of our discussion today about what constitutes a good thesis statement, rewrite your thesis to the question I posed for last night’s homework. Secondly do the reading attached below. In the reading there is a fairly detailed recounting of the history of the Hebrew kingdom. I am most interested that you understand the causes of the rise of Jerusalem, the important theological ideas put forth by the Hebrews, and lastly the chronological order of the Hebrew leaders. In preparation for this reading, here is a list of terms and their definitions with which you may not be familiar.
1. Knossos – The ancient palace center on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean. It was home to the king of the Minoan civilization during the 2nd millennium B.C.E.
2. Aegean – The sea which separates mainland Greece from Asia Minor. The “peoples of the Aegean” refers to the Greek people who lived in Greece and Asia Minor.
3. Minoans – The peoples of Crete whose civilization flourished from about 2700 B.C.E. to about 1500 B.C.E
4. Myceneans – The peoples we know as “Ancient Greeks” whe invaed mainland Greece from the north and slowly exerted their control over Greece and Crete during the first half of the 2nd millenium B.C.E.
5. Troy – The reference in the text is to the Trojan War and The Iliad.
6. Akhnaton – 14th century B.C.E. ruler of Egypt known best for his abandonment of polytheism and embracing of monotheism.
Here are the questions I would like you to consider:
1. What is cosmopolitanism?
2. Around 1000 BC what factor contributed to the downfall of the Hittites?
3. Who do these “sea peoples” seem to be and what role do they play in the political history of the ANE?
4. What were the two main differences between the religion of the Hebrews and the religious traditions of other Mesopotamians?
5. What appears to have caused the ascendancy of the Hebrew kingdom around 1000 BC?
6. What political and religious role did the prophets play?
7. What is the chronological order of the Jewish leaders, beginning with Abraham and finishing with Solomon?
An important skill for any history student or historian is to be able to develop a historical thesis, or argument. What makes a good historical thesis? What are the common pitfalls in developing a thesis?
What is a Thesis?
Below is an explanation of the difference between a “topic” and a “thesis”:
Your topic is the subject you have been assigned to write about (the Salem witchcraft trials, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the rise of the Nazi party). If you merely collect bits of information about your topic, however, you will not have written an effective history essay. A history essay, like many other kinds of academic writing, usually takes the form of an argument in support of a thesis—the conclusion you have reached about your topic after a careful analysis of the sources. A thesis is not a description of your paper topic, a question, a statement of fact, or a statement of opinion, although it is sometimes confused with all of these things. . . .
(A Pocket Guide to Writing History , Mary Lynn Rampolla, p. 47) (emphasis in original).
The chart below, adapted from A Pocket Guide to Writing History, shows some common mistakes in writing a thesis. For purposes of the example below, the essay topic is: “Discuss the role of nonviolent resistance in the Indian independence movement.”
Your “thesis” statement does no more than
repeat the topic you are writing about.
NOT a thesis.
“This paper is about the role of nonviolence in the Indian
Your “thesis” statement poses a question
without proposing an answer
NOT a thesis.
“Why were Gandhi’s methods successful in the
movement to achieve Indian independence?”
Your “thesis” statement merely
articulates a fact or series of facts.
NOT a thesis.
“ Gandhi led the movement by which India achieved
independence from Great Britain.”
Your “thesis” statement merely reflects
a personal belief or preference.
NOT a thesis.
“Gandhi is my favorite political leader of the Twentieth
Your thesis statement (1) proposes an
answer to a question posed after
your reading/research; (2) asserts a
conclusion with which a reader could
disagree—you are making an
ARGUMENT; and (3) asserts a
conclusion which can and will be
supported by evidence from the sources.
“From the moment that Mohandas Gandhi decided to
respond to force with acts of civil disobedience, British
rule of India was doomed; his indictment of British
foreign policy in the court of public opinion did far more
damage to the British military than any weapon could.”
THESIS ASSIGNMENT: For class tomorrow, please have ready in writing a historical thesis on the topic provided below.
Topic: Explain the relationship between Mesopotamian geography and the nature and character of Sumerian religion.
Read “Reading History #4 – The Clash and Crash of Empires”. I have included a map below that hope will aid you in your understanding of the reading.
Take notes and be prepared to answer these questions:
1. What is shared by all great powers that may contribute to their downfall?
2. What allowed the Hittites and Kassites to exert a tactical advantage militarily?
3. Why were the Hittites unable to hold power in Mesopotamia? How did the Kassites change that dynamic?
4. What probably motivated the creation of the first trade routes to Europe?
5. Why was the land of the Canaanites such an important spot over which to battle?
6. What factor does the author suggest contributed to the crumbling of Babylonian forces?
Remember that we will not meet tomorrow, but on Friday Dr. Schaffer will meet you at the regular time and in the regular place for class. I have posted below the homework both for Friday and for the following Tuesday.
Homework for Friday
Tonight will be your first chance in the course to read the historian, Herodotus. He is the great Ancient Greek historian, often referred to as the “Father of History” because he was among the first people to organize materials and present history in the “modern” sense. He wrote during the 5th Century B.C.E. and is best known for his work “The Histories”. Later in the semester we will read his account of the Persian Wars. For now he will introduce us to the great city of Babylon. While these are not strictly primary sources in that they are not first hand accounts or original documents, Herodotus does give us as contemporary an account as is possible of how Babylon would have looked and what its customs were. He is writing in 440 B.C.E. Cyrus’ sacking of Babylon that Herodotus refers to occurred about 100 years earlier in 539 B.C.E.
For tonight please read “The Histories” Part I pasted below. Do the following:
1. Take good notes which allow you at the end to answer the next few questions.
2. What do you think Babylon looked like visually? Create a drawing which depicts the Babylon that Herodotus describes. Include as much detail as possible, including street grids, gates, bodies of water, important buildings, and the surrounding geography. Your picture should include the work done by Nitocris
3. What was the purpose of Nitocris’ engineering feats? Why was she so keen to reroute the Euphrates and drain it?
4. What do you make of the Nitocris tomb story?
Homework for Tuesday
Read the second part of “On Babylon”. Take notes and be prepared to answer questions on the following subjects:
1. Cyrus’ treatment of the Gyndes. What does it say about Persian cosmogony?
2. Siege warfare
3. Cyrus’ invasion plan for Babylon
4. Babylonian agriculture, trading system, dress, marriage, and medicine.
5. What do you make of the last custom addressed by Herodotus?
Please read the file below “Reading History #5: The City Transforms Man”. Take good notes and consider the following questions:
1. How does the “release of creativity” that Mumford references at the beginning of paragraph three relate to the development of the city?
2. What role does the Mesopotamian citadel play in the development of modern institutions?
3. How did the increased specialization of the labor force in Mesopotamian cities help form its power structures and class rivalries?
Enjoy Diversity Day!!
A reminder that we will meet on Monday this coming week, but not on Thursday.
For homework this week-end look at the situations below and acting as a Babylonian judge under Hammurabi’s Code, decide 1) has a crime been committed and 2) if so, what should the punishment or compensation be? Cite which law you have used to determine guilt,punishment, compensation and/or innocence.
- A man accuses another of a crime, but is proven wrong in court.
- A man buys a car from a 17 year old and later finds out that the car belonged to the seller’s father and the boy did not have permission to sell it.
- A man is charged with shoplifting, but does not have enough money to pay his criminal fine.
- While renting a townhouse in Adams Morgan, a family is burgled. The thief was not caught and it will cost nearly $15,000 to replace the stolen items.
- A fire breaks out in a house and a neighbor arrives to help extinguish it. While helping to put out the fire he is caught slipping some cash that he found on the kitchen table into his pocket.
- A man in Iowa rents 150 acres for the planting of corn, paying $4000 in rent. Severe weather, however, destroys most of the crop for the summer and the farmer has little to show come harvest.
- A man has neglected to keep a weir on his property in good working order. During a storm it breaks, flooding his neighbors corn fields.
- Three men meet in a bar to plan an armed robbery of the bank next door. The men are never captured.
- A nun opens a tavern.
- A soldier who has been ordered to Iraq for 15 months lets his buddy use his car while he is stationed overseas. When he returns from his tour he discovers that his friend has sold the car.
- A man accuses another man’s wife of hanging out it bars and sleeping around. The accusations against her are not true.
- A man comes home from work to discover his wife in bed with another man.
- A soldier has been captured in Iraq, and his wife leaves their house in Texas and moves into the house of her father in Mississippi.
- A 15 year old boy, in a fit of rage after having his X-box taken away, hits his father.
- During a street brawl, Bubba connected with the jaw of Billy Bob and knocked out B-Bob’s teeth.
- In a road-rage incident, a man roughs up a pregnant woman, causing her to miscarriage.
- A man hits a pregnant woman, causing her death.
- A surgeon at Georgetown U. Hospital operates on a man to remove a tumor, but the man dies.
- A contractor builds a new bedroom addition on the house of a man in Glover Park. Three months after finishing the addition, the roof collapses, killing the man’s son.
First I wanted to let you know that I will not be in class next week on Thursday and Friday. Therefore, we will meet this coming Monday and not meet on Thursday. Next Friday, you will have the pleasure of being taught by Dr. Schaffer.
For homework tonight I would like you to read Hammurabi’s Code. As a reminder, Hammurabi was introduced to you in a reading we did about ten days ago. An excerpt follows.
Hammurabi succeeded in establishing the Babylonian Empire through a series of wars against neighboring kings…. His most enduring creation, however, was the single code of laws that he had written for all of his territorial possessions. Because of their supposed close relationship with the gods, from which kings derived their authority, kings could deliver messages from the heavens. Hammurabi claimed to have received his law code — known not surprisingly as Hammurabi’s Code — from the greatest of the Sumerian gods: Anu called me by name, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared god, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land. And in carvings depicting the origin of code, Hammurabi is shown receiving the law from Shamash or Marduk. Earlier law codes exist, but Hammurabi’s Code is the most complete of the early codes known to us today. Babylonian scribes composed two-hundred and eighty-two individual laws for the effective governing of the empire, covering various aspects of life within a city. What is particularly noteworthy about Hammurabi’s Code is how economic penalties, perhaps for the first time, were integrated into the system. Compensation was given to the offended party or victim. Sometimes the compensation was rather strict and attempted to equate the penalty exactly with the crime committed. ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ is the famous line most people remember even today.
Attached below you will find Hammurabi’s Code. Read the Code then answer in written form the questions below. Bullet points are fine.
- What themes of royal power and Babylonian cosmogony are evident in the Prologue?
- One important legal concept is judicial principle or judicial precedent.
- Define the word “precedent” in the context of the law.
- In these laws, Hammurabi set forth several legal principles and precedents that are still in use today. Find as many as you can and cite specific law(s) in the Code which are examples of them.
- As with any primary resource, we can analyze Hammurabi’s Code to determine characteristics of everyday Babylonian life. Find as many as you can and cite specific law(s) in the Code which are examples of them.