Choose any two. Be careful to show a wide range and significant depth of learning. Don’t double-dip. Think. Use your imagination. Enjoy.
1.Were the foundational civilizations more similar or more different, and what useful facts do we learn from them about humanity in general? Compare/contrast all four foundational civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus River Valley, and China. Choose at least two, possibly three of the following on which to compare/contrast them: cities, writing, government, warfare, art, technology, families, roles for women, standard of living, architecture, cultural values, greatest failures, greatest successes.
2.What differentiates the world’s two oldest organized religions (Judaism and Hinduism) from each other? Explain the basic beliefs and tell the story of the early Hebrews through their conquest by outsidersin the 500s BC. Explain the basic beliefs and tell the story of the creation of Hinduism until the Buddhist reformsin the500s BC. In a third section, use Mesopotamian or Egyptian religious beliefs as a baseline or “foil” against which to compare the Hebrews and the Hindus.
3.What do we learn about present-day people by exploring the cultures of the first civilizations? Imagine yourself a Mesopotamian child captured and sold as a slave in 1000 BC. You are traded to Egypt, then to India, and then to China. Finally, at an advanced age, you are able to buy your freedom and return home. Tell us what you have seen and describe the Mesopotamia to which you return.
4.Bonus: Decide whether or not you agree with this statement by a David Gelernter, and then compose and essay in which you argue your case by using specific examples from Hebrew history. You may also make comparisons to any of the other civilizations we have discussed.“if we were forced to choose just one, there would be no way to deny that Judaism is the most important intellectual development in human history.”-David Gelernter, Yale University Professo