AP World Essay suggestions
Terms in this set (50)
1. Discuss the innovations and technological advances that made possible the transition from sedentary to agricultural societies.
Begin with conditions at places like Jerico and Çatal Huyuk and then move on to the larger populations typical of civilization. Factors to discuss are the spread of sedentary agriculture through the Middle East, the growth of the concept of private property, the need for new laws and enforcement, the development of more complex government, the building of irrigation systems, the status of women, and the invention of new tools.
Compare and contrast the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The following factors can be compared to illuminate the differences between the two civilizations: social stratification (the roles of land-holding nobles, priests, agricultural workers, slaves), emphasis on astronomy and related sciences, conservatism to change, the degree of political centralization, monumental architecture, literary traditions, technological development, status of women.
Discuss the proposition that the Mongol era was simply an extension of the incursions of nomadic peoples into the affairs of sedentary civilizations. In what sense was it a civilization in its own right?
Mongol khanates remained dependent on tribal organization and herding. They attempted to maintain their separateness as a people with nomadic cultural patterns. Even in China under the Yuan dynasty strict efforts were made to uphold cultural differences. Their control of trade was typical of nomadic incursions; so was the limited period of Yuan rule and use of cities. Chinggis Khan did establish a uniquely Mongol administration for an empire based on such Islamic and Chinese precedents as a universal legal code, adoption of a Mongol script, maintenance of empire wide peace, and promotion of commerce and travel.
Discuss how the Mongol conquests can be said to have brought an end to the postclassical civilizations in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Islam.
In Eastern Europe the conquests marked the end of Kievan dominance; the political balance shifted to Moscow as it took up chief resistance to Mongol rule. The religious center also moved to Moscow. The moves marked the beginning of Russian political centralization. For Byzantium the Mongol conquests meant the opening of Ottoman dominance in Asia Minor and the eventual loss of Constantinople. The Mongol influence in Western Europe had a limited direct impact as the conquest was quickly halted. An important indirect impact was the facilitating of the transmission of the Black Death to Western Europe. The conquests marked the end of the Western European postclassical period: the opening of trade with the East marked the beginning of the aggressive Western commerce typical of the early modem period. For Islam the conquests ended Abbasid and other minor dynastic rule; they opened the path for the political division of the Islamic heartland between the Ottomans and Mamluks.
Discuss the definition of civilization.
Civilizations are societies with reliance on
sedentary agriculture, the ability to produce food surpluses, and possessing nonfarming
elites, along with merchant and manufacturing groups. There have been changes in the
concept of civilization through time. Early peoples used a cultural definition: uncivilized
peoples were those organized differently. During the 17th and 18th centuries Europeans
classified peoples according to their definition of stages in human development and in the
19th century Europeans and Americans divided societies according to supposed racially
Discuss the patterns of life in paleolithic society.
People in paleolithic society lived in
small groups, and relied upon hunting and gathering for survival. Their life-style meant a very limited material culture. They had discovered fire and made wood, bone, and stone tools.
They lived in open ground and not in caves. In gender roles there was a social deference of
males to females. They developed forms of artistic expression.
Discuss the first sedentary agricultural communities.
Describe how the first
communities domesticated plants and animals. Focus on the first efforts in central Russia and
the Natufian complex, and then on the later developments at Jerico and Çatal Huyuk. Explain their legacy for the future.
The neolithic agrarian revolution.
What was the revolution about? Explain how the transformation made possible a better life for humans through developments in tools, seed selection, planting, fertilization, irrigation, housing, fortifications, and fiber plants. Also discuss the resulting changes in social organization: political and religious elites; specialized production of tools, weapons, pottery; merchants; lack of clearly defined social classes.
Compare and contrast the Communist revolution in China with the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The Russian Revolution followed the lack of success during World War I; Russia had not been colonized by a European power. China had been exposed to Western imperialism. Lenin had imposed a system of revolution based on an urban proletariat; Chinese communists, especially Mao, emphasized the peasantry. Both countries had an insubstantial middle class to support liberal democratic experiments; both collectivized agriculture early in their revolutionary development. Both also had five-year industrialization plans, although Russia's was much more successful than China's. Mao, through his opposition to a technocratic elite, introduced programs aimed at destroying urbanized industrialization; the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution retarded economic development. Both regimes expanded into neighboring regions. The two regimes during their middle periods were dominated by charismatic leaders - Mao, Stalin. Both countries have introduced reforms and increased Westernization since the 1980s, but Russia's reforms have gone much farther than China's.
Compare and contrast the experience in China and Vietnam with the process of decolonization elsewhere in the Asia and Africa.
The similarities include an exposure to Western imperialism during the 19th century and to that of Japan during the 20th century. By that century they had been reduced to economic dependency in the global trade network. They had failed to industrialize and shared overpopulation problems and poverty. Their differences from other African and Asian colonial territories included the failure to development a Western-educated middle class and to undertake a lengthy period of nationalist, democratic government. They accepted a peasant-oriented form of Marxism, achieved greater success in raising the status of women, and were able to maintain independence from the diplomatic systems of the United States and the Soviet Union. Both had a secular orientation; they lacked the Catholicism of Latin America or the religious focus provided by Islam and Hinduism. They emphasized the peasantry rather than an urban working class.
Compare and contrast the political, social, and economic development of Asian and African countries after independence with the countries of Latin America.
Each region demonstrated a variety of responses to independence: failure of nationalist governments, establishment of one-party government, military regimes, charismatic populist governments. Latin America did not have a successful fundamentalist revolt similar to that of Iran. Continuing revolutions were common in all regions. Latin America has a different social hierarchy than elsewhere based on color and ethnic background. South Africa had a system where a white minority ruled and discriminated against an African majority. Many of the regions had a significant underclass. In economics all regions had difficulties in overcoming the disadvantages of an absence of industrialization, an inability to shake off economic dependency within the global trade network, the creation of huge cities full of the unemployed, and population growth swallowing any economic gains.
Discuss whether the problems in newly-independent Asian and African nations were the creation of imperialism or the result of indigenous factors.
Certain problems clearly were associated with imperialism: lack of industrialization; dependence on the sale of cash food products, minerals, and raw materials; continued economic dependency within the global trade network; cultural intrusions; artificial boundaries throwing together different ethnic and religious groups. Among indigenous problems the greatest probably is overpopulation, its effects magnified by a lack of an industrial sector to provide employment. Other indigenous problems are repressive military regimes, political corruption, and failure to distribute benefits to the majority.
Discuss whether the decolonization movements were the result of growing strength among colonial populations or of progressive Western weakness.
The colonies gained some strength as a result of the European world wars. The development of industrialization was connected with European preoccupation elsewhere. Colonial elites also obtained positions of influence because of the wars, as the European need for support gave colonies bargaining powers previously absent. The Western powers were weakened by the two global wars and the Great Depression. Treasuries were exhausted and war weariness among populations curtailed enthusiasm for colonial involvements. Thus the colonial powers were vulnerable to demands from indigenous peoples, particularly from nonviolent movements. Britain, France, and other powers used some force (Suez Canal, Indochina, Algeria) but did not win the confrontations.
Discuss the common elements of all colonization movements in south Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Nearly all nationalist movements were led by Western-educated elites who often had prior experience in the colonial administration. There often was a charismatic leader (Gandhi, Nkrumah). With the exception of the settler colonies and in the Middle East, decolonization usually was achieved by nonviolent confrontation on the model of India. In settler territories European populations prevented peaceful reform leading to majority rule. In the Middle East the move was complicated by Zionism which resulted in the introduction of a significant foreign Jewish population into Palestine,. In many ways the problem of Palestine resembles the problems of colonialism in the settler colonies.
Compare and contrast the political and economic development of those economies that industrialized in the 20th century
the Soviet Union and the Pacific rim - with that of Latin America. All of the areas have tended to authoritarian governments, whether Marxist, democratic, or authoritarian. Japan and Mexico developed forms of one-party government. Urbanization was common to all. Among the contrasts is a lack of political stability in Latin America. That region also is less industrialized than the others and remains largely dependent on 1st and 2nd world economies. Latin America has failed to develop a significant middle class, even when compared to the Soviet Union's managerial class. There is a greater underclass in Latin America, and much more of the population are peasants. Except for the Soviet Union, there is less problem with ethnic and racial diversity in other regions than in Latin America.
Discuss the various political responses to political, economic, and social problems in Latin America and give your opinion on which response has been the most successful.
The various approaches are liberal democracy, one-party rule (Mexico), populist government, populist nationalists, reformist nationalists, military governments, communist government (Cuba). For an answer it can be argued that the most successful government in Latin America, in terms of stability and economic development, has been the one-party system of the PRI in Mexico. The communist government of Cuba also has provided stability and created a broad socialist system giving significant improvements in education, housing, and health. Other governments, including the military, are often only temporary. None of the governments have resulted in the types of liberal democracy typical of the industrialized nations of the West.
Compare the economic development and political and social organization of the Pacific Rim states to that of the Soviet Union and east Europe during the 20th century.
A common theme is successful industrialization, in the Soviet Union based on heavy industry and more mixed in Japan and the rim states. In both cases consumer goods initially lagged behind, but the rim states gave greater attention to consumer life-styles. Both programs of industrialization were accomplished through state planning and central control, but with much greater recognition of private initiative in the Pacific Rim. In the Soviet Union the state provided for welfare aspects and social solidarity; in the Pacific Rim corporations provided housing, education, and social solidarity. Women were a higher percentage of the work force in the Soviet Union. Political organization in both areas depended on central planning systems with a tendency to authoritarian government. There was a greater tradition of parliamentary democracy in the rim states (especially Japan), but it was often mitigated by strong rulers (Singapore, Korea). Patterns of government have moved closer together since 1985.
Discuss the ways in which the development of the Pacific Rim continues the traditions of Asian (primarily Chinese) civilization and the ways in which the Pacific Rim departs from that past.
Chinese traditions continue to exist, including elements of the Confucian state and social system (emphasis on group solidarity and cooperation rather than competition, the concept that rulers must act to benefit all, an emphasis on central control leading to central planning and authoritarianism, tight links between government and society, a sense of cultural superiority over the West, and a retention of aspects of traditional culture - poetry, theater, art). Aspects of tradition that have been overcome are the mistrust of commercial classes replaced by the growth of corporate businessmen as social leaders, the growing acceptance of aspects of Western culture, and a more complete entry into the world trade system.
Discuss the aspects of traditional Russian culture and politics retained by the Soviet Union and the ways in which the Soviets most departed from that past.
The Russian emphasis on authoritarian government with extreme centralization of power remained. The emphasis on territorial acquisition was maintained with the domination of Eastern Europe after 1945. Among the continuities were a sense of cultural isolation from the West, Russian ethnic domination over minority ethnic and religious groups, and the predominance of the novel as a literary form. Among the differences were the destruction of the powerful landholding aristocracy, the deemphasization of the role of Orthodox Christianity, the creation of an industrialized society with a social hierarchy, the presence of household patterns typical of an industrialized state, the attempt to introduce "socialist realism" into the arts, and the collapse of isolation.
Compare Russian and Western economic development during the 20th century.
Russian industrialization resembles the 19th century accomplishments of the West, including urbanization, impact on life-styles, family formation, and birthrates. By the 1 950s The Soviets had equaled Western heavy industry productivity. They differed with an emphasis on heavy industry at the expense of consumer goods, direct control of capitalization, use of resources, and planning. Political development was very different. The West moved to parliamentary democracy while Russia and eastern Europe until 1985 followed more authoritarian forms; since then there has been a move to Western patterns. The West lost its colonies after 1945; the Soviets at first kept their subjugated lands, but lost many during the 1980s. In many ways Soviet developments parallel those of the West after a period of delay.
Discuss whether late 20th-century European political and cultural development has been defined by the United States.
The 20th century can be called an American century because of the role of the United States during World War II and the Cold War. The Americans managed the diplomatic structure of Western Europe to offset the power of the Soviet Union. The United States led in militarization while European arms spending decreased. The United States could make demands on Europeans because of its Cold War contributions; it also took over the lead in technology and through the Marshall Plan asserted economic dominance after 1945. American dominance was partially offset by the development of the European Economic Community. American cultural leadership was related to consumerism and popular culture: the United States led in the development of television and consumer fads.
Compare and contrast the political and diplomatic structure of Europe before and after World War II.
In the political sphere prior to World War II there was a decline of parliamentary government. Radical governments took power in Italy and Germany. After the war parliamentary democracies became the dominant form in western and southern Europe. In diplomacy before World War II the passivity of the greater Western nations and the United States allowed the expansion of aggressive governments that ended in general war. After the war two major alliance systems formed (NATO, Warsaw Pact) that gave the United States and Russia dominance in their respective spheres.
Compare and contrast Harappan and Chinese civilization.
1st consider their agricultural systems, religious practices, and political organization. Both agricultural systems were based on irrigation; the Harappans grew wheat, rye, peas, and rice; the Chinese produced millet and silk. In religion the Harappans emphasized fertility rituals; they had a pantheon of gods, the most significant of which may have been a nude male deity with horns; there might have been ritual bathing. The early Chinese also were concerned with fertility and practiced human sacrifice; divination was practiced on animal bones. In political organization Harappan society was closely supervised from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro; a priestly elite probably ruled. The Chinese were governed through feudalism: decentralized under the Shang, centralized under the Zhou.
Discuss the responses of Harappan and Chinese civilizations to contacts with outsiders and external migration.
Harappan civilization was conservative, but it did have commercial contacts with foreigners; it was unable to withstand the migration of the Aryans. The Chinese were able to handle migration by absorbing invaders. The Zhou might replace the Shang, but the fundamental nature of Chinese civilization remained.
Discuss political centralization under the Qin and Han dynasties. Discuss the factors associated with the creation of political unity in classical China.
They include: the development of appropriate political philosophies; the contributions of Confucius and his disciples; other philosophies (Daoism, Legalism); the institutionalism of the teachings of Confucius in the examination system; the rise and triumph of the shi; the destruction of regional states and the feudal aristocracy; the creation of a unified political infrastructure.
Compare the social organization of China under the Zhou and Han dynasties.
Zhou China was based upon the existence of a regional aristocracy that governed as feudal vassals; the aristocracy were often members of the royal family and more closely controlled by the dynasty than under the earlier Shang rulers. Beneath the warriors were the peasantry and artisans. Han China was ruled by the imperial family and the shi who evolved into the scholar-gentry. The peasantry was divided into those with land and those without who served as agricultural laborers; artisans were growing in numbers; merchants were becoming wealthy but remained with low social status. The clear difference between the Zhou and Han was the replacement of the feudal aristocracy by the scholar-gentry and the growing importance of artisans and merchants.
Discuss the differences in political organization between Greece and China.
Greece was less politically united and hierarchic; it lacked imperial unity except briefly under Alexander; it did not have a formal bureaucracy. Both China and Greece developed formal theories of government. In social structure both held merchants and women in low social esteem, although women were marginally better off in Greek culture. The Greeks did not have a scholar-gentry class and they depended more on slavery than the Chinese. In philosophy both developed major systems: the Chinese with Confucius emphasized social and political order and with Laozi stress on unity with nature; the Greeks stressed the rational basis for the political order (Plato and Aristotle) and the natural world. Greek philosophy tended to be more dependent on general theories based on rational explanation of phenomena than the Chinese.
Discuss the reasons for political and social fragmentation in classical Greece.
Greek geography fostered political separatism. Their form of political organization, received from Mycenean civilization, was the city-state, not the empire. The city-states retained their separate identities until the Hellenistic period and existed in some form thereafter; competition between the city-states often ended in war. In social affairs there was always a gulf between the aristocratic elite and the lower classes. They had separate religious practices; philosophy did not appeal to the lower classes. The economy depended on slavery. In all, there was a greater gulf between social groups in Greece than in many other civilizations.
Discuss the proposition that both the causes and the outcome of World War II were the result of problems created in the Treaty of Versailles.
Versailles had alienated German, Japan, and Italy and helped to create radical governments in each that advocated programs of aggressive territorial acquisition. Eastern Europe, through the creation of many small nations, emerged unstable. World War II delivered almost all of them to the Soviet orbit. Control of the Pacific, including Japan, went to the United States. The problems resulting form the division of the Ottoman Empire were still unresolved after 1945. The process of decolonization initiated during World War I led to rebellion and independence after World War II. The failure of the League of Nations led to the creation of a more powerful United Nations.
Discuss the influence of global wars and the Great Depression on the destruction of Western global dominion.
Both wars demonstrated the application of industrial society to warfare. Capitalization was required. Europeans met their needs through deficit spending and borrowing, thus causing excessive inflation. The depression of 1929 was partly caused by such actions. It disrupted the global network where the West supplied manufactured goods in return for agricultural products and raw materials from dependent economies. The spread of the depression to the latter at least temporally broke the cycle of dependency. World War II ended the depression and resulted in new core economies (United States, Japan). It also destroyed the military and imperial dominance of Western Europe. The United States and Russia emerged as the great powers.
Discuss the differing Islamic and Chinese responses to the challenge of the West and explain which society was best able to retain aspects of its traditional civilization.
Islam had been in conflict with the West since its first centuries; China's conflicts. were more recent. Muslims had incorporated more of Western technology than the Chinese. Muslims shared a Judeo-Christian background with the West as well classical rationalism; Chinese culture was isolated from Western thought. Muslims were not united in one state and thus had many separate centers to defend; they were not as vulnerable to a single defeat as were the politically unified Chinese. When Chinese suffered defeats they had to fall back on a defense of the Qing dynasty as summation of their civilization; the Muslims could fall back on the religious centrality of Islamic civilization. The Western incursion into China was fatal to a traditional civilization that depended on a centralized state run by an imperial dynasty and a Confucian scholar- gentry bureaucracy. Islam, although not easily, was better able to retain traditional Muslim culture while adapting to Western military technological advance.
Compare and contrast the incursion of the European nations into the Islamic heartland and China with their entry into Africa.
Western incursions into Africa and China were initially similar: the Europeans operated from ports under indigenous control for trade with the interior. Europeans traded socially "unacceptable" commodities with both: slaves and opium; later more traditional products prevailed. Africans lost territory to the Europeans during the 19th century; the Chinese had European spheres of influence in their lands. The British intervention into Egypt was similar to interventions elsewhere in Africa: indigenous officials were retained and Western reforms were introduced. In both, Western-educated leaders led the path to independence.
Compare and contrast the Islamic impact on India and Southeast Asia with that on sub-Saharan Africa.
There were great similarities. Muslims arrived as traders and began a peaceful conversion process. Political systems remained under the control of indigenous rulers. The process made possible an accommodation between Islam and indigenous religions that made long-term conversion to Islam easier. Islam spread from cities to the countryside. The arrival of Muslims brought Africa into the Islamic world network; Southeast Asia and India expanded earlier contacts.
Discuss the spread of Islam into Africa and its cultural impact.
Islam naturally spread into regions that had contacts with Islamic societies: the savanna south of the Sahara and the Indian Ocean coastline. The cultures with the heaviest initial impact were the Sudanic kingdoms and the East African city-states. Islam brought to the various African peoples a universalistic religion and legal system. Its adoption strengthened the power of local rulers and provided contact with the wider commercial world of Islam. Trade went to the Mediterranean and the Middle East through the Sahara, and across the Indian Ocean to Arabia, Persia, and India. Africa exported raw materials in return for imported manufactures.
Discuss the political, cultural, and economic characteristics of the Abbasid Empire.
In political organization the Abbasids suffered from a loss of central authority and a growth of regional dynasties. There were many revolts by Shi'i, mercenary armies, and peasants. The dynasty crumbled from the invasions of Buyids, Seljuk Turks, and Mongols. The Abbasid economy depended on agriculture and trade. Agriculture required irrigation and this failed under the later dynasty. Cities grew and prospered; long-distance trade reached into India and Southeast Asia. In culture the Abbasids were the zenith of Islamic civilization, with advances in science, literature, mathematics, and philosophy.
Compare and contrast the initial spread of Islam throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East with the Islamic incursions into India and Southeast Asia.
Most of the first expansion in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East was by Arabian tribesmen. The government under the Umayyads retained the initial concept of rule by a small Arab elite; full citizenship for mawali was denied. The Abbasids gave full citizenship to non-Arabs. The second stage of Islamic expansion was led by non-Arabs. The presence of Sufi missionaries made for a more peaceful expansion and to less restrictive forms of Islam. Converts, as in the Delhi sultanate, retained many of their previous Hindu beliefs and social systems.
Discuss why the disputes over authority after the death of Muhammad served to hinder future Muslim unity.
Muhammad did not leave a principle for succession within Islam; he was the final prophet. Successors to lead the Muslim community first were elected by the umma. Ali contested the system by advocating descent from Muhammad; this became the focal point of Shi'ism. Ali's opposition caused civil war and Umayyad success led to their founding of a dynasty. The Shi'i never accepted defeat; descendants of Muhammad were always present to contest rule over Muslims. A fundamental division remained between the Sunni and Shi'i divisions of Islam.
Discuss how a nomadic pastoral society produced a religion capable of achieving global dominance.
Arabia before Islam was the home of a typical pastoral nomadic society; the region lacked true urbanization, occupational specialization, and the degree of social stratification usually found in civilizations that allowed the maintenance of specialized bureaucracies. Also missing were industries associated with civilization, a rich material culture, and a writing system. Islam allowed the bedouin to overcome the problems of tribalism and to unify into a religio-political system that transcended clan and tribal limits. Islamic warriors then were able to overcome their civilized, but weak, neighbors. After conquest the Muslims incorporated influences from civilizations: bureaucracies, urbanization, social stratification, occupational specialization. Unity came from religious beliefs, a single law code, and an evolving distinctive Islamic culture.
Compare and contrast the political and social organization of Rome, Gupta India, and Han China
In political organization all three developed imperial forms. The Gupta were the least centralized; they basically were a tribute-collecting network of otherwise independent petty states. The Romans also allowed substantial local autonomy in government, but exercised centralization through legal codes applicable to all residents of the empire. The Han, with its professionalized bureaucracy working in the emperor's name, was the most centralized. In social organization all three had rigid social classifications based on principles of social inequality. Each had different elites: brahmans in India, scholar-gentry in China, land-owning aristocracy in Rome. Social mobility varied greatly. In India there was virtually none; in Rome acquired wealth was recognized; in China the examination system allowed advancement. The lowest classes in India, the untouchables, performed polluting occupations. The Romans had slavery as a major institution.
Discuss whether Rome was simply a continuation of Greek civilization or an innovator in the Mediterranean world.
Rome served primarily to maintain the cultural accomplishments of the Greeks, especially in science, art, literature, and philosophy. The Roman developed significant innovations in engineering. In politics the Roman republic began in the Greek tradition with a balanced constitution typical of a city-state. The Roman empire was something new in Mediterranean civilization; its most innovative aspect was the formation of a universal legal code. The empire also presided over the development of Christianity, a major world religion.MS
Discuss the importance of the brahmans and the caste system to Indian development.
In India, despite the achievements of the Maurya, Kushana, and Gupta empires, a division into many petty states governed by the Aryan warrior elite was most common. The duration of empires was relatively brief. Conversely, Indian social organization, although it became more complex and rigid as time passed, was constant throughout the classical period. The brahmans enjoyed both social dominance and religious authority; they were one of the highest castes and were monopolists of the rituals associated with the Vedas. Except for the Maurya empire under Ashoka, governments accepted the social position of the brahmans and patronized their religious authority.
Compare and contrast the political, social, and religious organization of Gupta India and Han China.
In political life the Han state was vastly more centralized than the Gupta. The Han governed through the scholar-gentry, an educated and professional bureaucracy certified through national examinations; regional authority was limited. The Gupta depended on the brahmans for political advice and administrative personnel; they never directly controlled the various petty state subdivisions that paid tribute. Both Han and Gupta societies possessed substantial social stratification. In China the scholar-gentry joined land-holding with administrative authority; beneath them were artisans and peasants. Merchants, although wealthy, held low social status. In India the caste system provided social stability; brahmans, warriors, and merchants composed the higher castes; artisans and peasants were next. At the bottom were the untouchables. In religion Han China depended on the political and ethical teachings of Confucius institutionalized through the university and examination system. Gupta India patronized the revitalized Hinduism of the brahmans; their position in society was institutionalized by social tradition and religion rather than by state authority.
Discuss the social, political, and economic bases of civilization in the Americas.
In both Americas social stratification was based on a priesthood, a warlike nobility, and agricultural commoners; kinship groups were significant. In political life the creation of empires based on control of broad regions was more common in Mesoamerican than Andean civilizations. Political life centered on urbanized temple complexes with monumental architecture devoted to religious ceremonies; scribes and bureaucracies were associated with priesthood. Economic life was based on sedentary agriculture that required irrigation; that need may have led to increasing social complexity and more sophisticated political forms. The existence of microecologies led to a variety of products and elements of trade. Trade networks were widespread within empires.
Compare and contrast American civilizations with the early civilizations of the Middle East, Harappa, and Shang China.
One basic difference was topographical and geographical: with the exception of the moundbuilding cultures of North America, American civilizations were not based on river valleys. Both Old and New World civilizations emerged in relation to the development of irrigation; in the New World forms of terracing and ridging were used. In the New World topography divided into multiple microecologies unlike the more general ecological zones of the Old World. In both Old and New Worlds formative civilizations evolved from urbanized temple complexes featuring monumental architecture. Pyramid forms were found in Egypt and the Americas; walled ceremonial complexes in moundbuilding cultures and all three Old World Cultures. Writing - primarily found in the Americas in Mesoamerica - was not as common as in the Old World. The New World had a simpler material culture, a more limited technology, and a general lack of pastoralism.
Compare and contrast the developing societies of Africa, northern Europe, Japan, and Polynesia to the classical cultures of the core civilizations.
The core civilizations influenced the others through the importation of agriculture (grains, domesticated animals in Africa, wet rice in Japan). The imports increased the complexity of social and political organization. Egyptian customs may have influenced some African societies. Religious influence came from the core through Christianity passing to Axum, Islam to African regions, and Buddhism to Japan. Iron metallurgy spread to Africa and Japan. The developing societies, particularly in northern Europe and Polynesia, lacked the political centralization found in classical civilizations; they instead had tribal chiefdoms. They also lacked urbanization and writing systems.
Discuss whether the developing societies were dependent on the core civilizations for important social and political developments.
The issue can be debated. Egypt may have influenced parts of Africa. In Japan and some African cases the influence was critical. This is less demonstrable for northern Europe and especially for Polynesia. All the developing societies retained vital aspects of their indigenous culture: Shinto religion in Japan, tribal organization in northern Europe, Polynesia, and Africa. In Polynesia sophisticated woodworking operated in place of metallurgy.
Discuss the nature of Byzantine political organization and culture and how they affected the development of Eastern Europe.
Byzantine political organization was based on a centralized monarchy supported by a trained bureaucracy educated in classical traditions. Local administrators were appointed by the central administration. Political ideology focused on the principle of a divinely authorized monarchy supported by elaborate court ritual. The Byzantines continued the use of Roman patterns of government as typified by the use of legal codes to organize society. The military were recruited from the imperial population in return for grants of heritable land leading eventually to regional control by military commanders. There was a close relationship between the Orthodox Church and the state, with the emperor as head of church organization. Byzantine culture expressed itself in religious artifacts (churches, icons, liturgical music). The expansion of Byzantine culture northward was through the conversion of Kiev to Orthodox Christianity. The Russians also adopted the concepts of a divinely inspired monarchy with close relations to a state-controlled church. Church-related art forms came along with Orthodoxy. The Russians, however, were unable to adopt the Byzantine trained bureaucracy.
Compare and contrast the impact of Byzantium on Eastern Europe with the impact of the Islamic core on Africa and southern Asia.
For Byzantine culture, see above. Both civilizations first spread their influence through missionaries; both civilizations passed on influences that produced centralized governments supported by the religious organization of the core cultures. Islam had a much greater impact than did Byzantium. The latter was limited to Eastern Europe while Islam spread into much of Asia and Africa. Byzantium's influence was more tenuous since there was less direct continuity over time because it did not survive the postclassical period. In Russia Byzantine influence was interrupted by the Mongol conquest. Islam has endured in all regions until the present.
Discuss the ways in which the Middle Ages carried on the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilization and also added its own innovations.
In its intellectual heritage the Middle Ages incorporated classical rationalism (especially in universities) and the use of Latin as a common language. Manorialism had its origins in the great farming estates of the ancient world. In religion the Middle Ages, although carrying forward elements of indigenous northern European beliefs, widely adopted Christianity. The political outlook was different because of the lack of an empire and a corresponding development of a local and regional political focus. In economics in the Middle Ages there was much more vitality in the economy and commercial structure (population growth was a strong influence here). There was use of credit, banking, accounting procedures, the creation of a wealthy class, and the end of slavery. Important innovations in culture included the creation of vernacular literary forms and of Gothic architecture.
Compare and contrast the Medieval West from 1000 to 1500 with Islamic civilization during the same period.
The medieval West was flourishing while the Islamic core was fragmenting. The lack of a concept of empire in the West differs from the imperial ideal of Islam, although in reality government in Islam demonstrated similar localization (as in the case of the Seljuk Turks). Both civilizations developed active commercial systems with a merchant class. The Islamic commercial empire was much more extensive and significant than that of the West. Both utilized religion as a means of carrying civilization to new territories. Islam expanded into Africa, India, and southeastern Asia, and the actual territory under Islam was much more extensive than that of the West. Islamic civilization was more technologically sophisticated than the West. Both societies showed similar tensions between religion and the adaptation of classical rationalism to theology, although both developed syntheses largely based on Aristotle's works.