Topics for First Essay Assignment
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Choose ONE of the following topics.
Your essay should be 400 to 700 words long – 5 to 7 paragraphs.
Due Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Rights and responsibilities of being human
As we study the fossil and archaeological records of the earliest human beings, what traits do we see that differentiate humans from animals? What physical, mental, behavioral, cultural characteristics define us as human? Do these give us special privileges in relationship to the earth and other living things? Do they give us special responsibilities?
Settlements and civilization
What factors may have led human beings to take on the arduous work of farming? What was lost and what was gained in the transition from wandering to settled life? What new things were possible?
The agricultural bargain
How have plants and animals been changed in the process of domestication? What do these species gain and lose? What responsibility do human beings have towards plants and animals that are used for agriculture?
The story of Gilgamesh
What can we learn about the people of ancient Mesopotamia by studying the story of Gilgamesh? What was their attitude toward their gods? What aspects of their civilization did they feel proud of? What did they admire in a ruler? Why does the story of Gilgamesh still intrigue us? What aspects of the story of Gilgamesh still are relevant today?
The coming of writing
If people can record their thoughts for others to read, then true history can begin. What insights and innovations were necessary in order for crude drawings to become a rich written language? How were human beings changed by the advent of writing? What could they now do? What is gained and what might be lost by changing from oral to written language?
The coming of laws
As society became more complex, more complex government and laws were necessary. In looking at the laws of Hammurabi, what can we infer about strengths and problems of Mesopotamian society? Which laws were essential and which were extraneous? Where did the laws help guard against injustice. Where might the laws themselves have been unjust?