Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Revised schedule for semester (important changes)

Week 9
M 10/25: WAS out sick.
W 10/27:Read “Salt” in Trading Tastes Q13 (and lagniappe question from last week's lectures)
F 10/29: Read Chap. 8 WTWA to end of p. 341 Q14

Week 10
M 11/1: Read Chap. 8 WTWA to end. Q15
W 11/3: Read Chap. 9 WTWA through p. 388 Q16
F 11/ 5 – NO CLASS

Week 11
M 11/8: Read Chap. 9 WTWA to end. Q17
W 11/10: Study and discussion day.
F 11/12: Exam 3

Week 13
M 11/15: Read “Spice” in Trading Tastes Q18
W 11/17: Lecture day (basis for extra question)
F 11/19: Read Chap. 10 WTWA through half of p. 446 Q19 + extra question

Week 14
M 11/22: Read Chap. 10 WTWA to end. Q20
W 11/24 – Thanksgiving Break
F 11/26 – Thanksgiving Break

Week 15
M 11/29: Read Chap. 11 WTWA to p. 499 Q21
W 12/1: Read Chap. 11 WTWA to end Q22
F 12/3: The Age of Exploration in 50 minutes

Week 16
M 12/6: The Reformation and Counterreformation in 50 minutes
W 12/8: Read “Sugar” in Trading Tastes Q23 (+ extra question on lectures from Friday/Monday)
F 12/10: Study and Discussion day

Final Exam Day: Exam 4

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rome, Part II

Here is an excellent timeline of Roman history (for reference purposes).

There are three basic themes I'm going to cover today:

Slavery as it related to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire

Hellenistic culture as it is manifest in Rome: i.e., Culture as Order

The Problems and triumphs of the empire, but what fundamental flaws led to its downfall.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Roman War Machine and the Lessons of Masada

Today I will give the first of two lectures about the Roman world. Between this lecture and the one on Friday, you will be able to write another "lagniappe" test question for Monday.

The first lecture will look at the importance the Roman War Machine - that is, how the army became, in many ways, the basis of the Roman state.

YOUR BOOK was contradictory about the influence of the Hellenistic world and Greece upon Rome. I will start by clarifying some of this. 

Rome was founded upon successful warfare. This method of rule never ceased. Military rule constituted what I like to call "both achingly orderly, and achingly chaotic."

The consolidation of the Italian peninsula, Carthage war: the basis for Roman ingenuity.

The Roman Legion - earlier Legions were about 3,000 men, later ones 5,000, had a life of their own. Their generals were quite powerful, and the men generally had great ésprit de corps. Your book mentions being conscripted for a term of 10 years. But how different is this really from a professional army? We'll consider this. As for the power of armies, the HBO series Rome is a pretty good depiction. The army was very well organized, and organized for the long haul. Think of Alexander's army, but run by a talented MBA.

In addition to the Legions came Auxiliaries - We'll talk about them and their role.

We'll look at the role of the army in Rome's civil affairs later

Then we will look at the Masada - to wit, what it can tell us about the history of Judaism, what it can tell us about the rule of Imperial Rome, and its ongoing cultural significance.

The Jewish War 66-73 CE

A contemporary account of the mass suicide at the Masada and some useful images.

You should know who the Zealots were and why they remain important.

This is a pretty good video showing key sites at Masada as it is seen today. Much of the archeological record from the time of the siege remains visible to the naked eye.

Masada from Todd Doucette on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Test 2 study questions

As promised, before 5:00 PM on Tuesday. It was a late night getting through your questions. I sorted through them this morning, did a lot of editing of the questions. Most of these are aggregates of several questions that I received. Only a few are verbatim student questions. There are actually fewer, not more, than last time, but the questions are generally more complex and elicit a more detailed answer. We'll meet on Wednesday to form study groups.

1) What forces drove Han Wudi to expand his empire toward Central Asia and what impact did this have on long distance trade?

2) Sub-Saharan Africa was relatively late in acquiring metal tools, but when they did, important transformations took place. Describe the emergence of metal tools in the region, what impact these tools had on society, and how despite the presence of such tools, approaches to agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa was different than in other societies of Afro-Eurasia.

3) Describe the impact of coinage upon the world of trade. Be sure to consider its transformative effects on society as broadly as possible. How much of the globe was affected by its use?

4) What led to the emergence of cities on the Ganges plain around 500 BC? Why was their existence antithetical to traditional forms of Brahminic life?

5) Describe the differences between Athens and Sparta in the years leading up to the Peloponnesian War with respect to the oikos, politics, military service, and economics. How did these differences reflect their society’s differing philosophies?

6) How did the emergence of the nude figure in art, and moreover, the specific way that artists portrayed the body, reflect fundamental aspects of humanistic society in Classical Greece?

7) How were the gods of Classical Greek mythology fundamentally different from the deities of most other societies that had gone before? How important were they in guiding Greek political life? Be sure to consider the role of the gods in what they can tell us about Classical Greek values.

8) How did the Classical Greek approach to philosophy and science mark a major departure in human intellectual departure? What was the basic assumption of the Greek approach? Give two examples of either scientific or philosophical achievements of this society.

9) What were some of the factors that fueled the rise of new kind of chattel plantation slavery in the Mediterranean, particularly in the Hellenistic World? What negative impact did this have on the societies that widely adopted the system?

10) Compare and contrast fully the differences between the Roman and Judaic reaction to the Hellenistic World.

11) Alexander “the pretty good”  (or Great, if we must) was one of the world’s most successful conquerors but failed to build a true empire. Explain his method of creating and utilizing an army and why this was radically new and effective. Why did all of this success not lead to a great Macedonian empire?

12) Describe the ways in which Alexander’s army was a full reflection of the economics, military technology, and philosophies of the Hellenistic World.

13) Considering advances in navigation and maritime technology along with knowledge of weather, describe the advances made by Arab traders in the Indian Ocean in opening alternative trade routes to the East by way of the sea. 

14) How did the Mahayana school of theology change Buddhism and how did this change affect the spread of that faith?

15) Describe the political and economic realities that led to the emergence of not only the caravan but also of caravan cities. Give an example of a caravan city and describe its emergence.

16) We know that Alexander’s armies spread the sorts of things that we traditionally associate with Hellenism all over Eurasia, but his conquering forces also had a big impact on Chandragupta and the Mauryan dynasty. Describe these influences and how they empowered Chandragupta to set in motion the consolidation of the Indian subcontinent.

17) Describe in both importance, detail, and proportion the ingredients that constituted Hellenistic “cosmopolitanism.”

18) Contrast Asóka’s rise to power with his conversion to devout Buddhism.

19) Silk was not a technology that spread easily. Describe some of the misconceptions and folkloric tales of the quest to “steal” the secrets of silk production from the Chinese, and contrast that with the fundamental hurdles one might encounter in producing silk.

20) How did the silk trade serve as a vehicle for the spread of religious and cultural knowledge?

21) In what ways, from Byzantium to China, did silk represent political power? Give examples.

22) Describe the relationship between women and silk production in Chinese society.

23) Compare and contrast the importance of silk in China with that of Rome. Be sure to offer examples.

24) What sort of convergence of factors under the rule of Asóka led to the dramatic spread of Buddhism. Consider both the theological and geopolitical.

25) Why was military service in Classical Athens some mark of distinction of both being a free man and having the right to citizenship? What might this philosophy tell us about the reasons that Spartan women had comparatively more rights in their society?

26) What was the significance of a city like Kashgar along the silk road? How do the present-day occupants of Kashgar reflect the cultural diffusion brought by the silk road over 2 millennium?

27) Why were Hellenistic plays so universal – i.e., what was so Hellenistic about them?

28) Compare and contrast fully the two Hellenistic philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism. Where in the Hellenistic world do we find the influences of these two very different philosophies?


Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Silk Road

The Silk Road was about more than just silk. Horses, trade goods, religion, etc.

The Taklimakan Desert and the barrier it creates.

Silk road moving west to east first, while more slowly, east to west.

The dhow, and seafaring (please pardon the commercial opening):

The Persian empire and the royal road at its height.

The Silk Road.

A super interesting take on a "new silk road:"

And an even more up-to-date video:

The Onion

I thought you might enjoy this:,18209/

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mauryan Civilization

We're going to take a look at Mauryan India a little more closely on Wednesday, paying particular attention to some of the details about how trade, custom, warfare, politics, and religion shaped transformations in the post-Alexander world.