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A History of World Societies, Sixth Edition
Web Exercises
Chapter 2: Small Kingdoms and Mighty Empires in the Near East

The following Internet activities will help reinforce issues and themes presented in Chapter 2 of McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition). One of these major themes is interaction. For a thousand years, roughly from 1500 to 500 B.C., the various civilizations and Neolithic communities of the Near East came into regular, sustained, and organized contact with one another. Your task is to understand the various reasons for this development and to analyze its impact on world history.

Helpful Hints:
  • You may want to begin by printing this page. As you explore different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions and questions detailed in each activity.
  • On many web sites you can increase the size of the images by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images to examine fine details.
Activity One:
  • Studying maps, whether current depictions of the past or ancient cartography, can illuminate historical eras. Start off by looking at the map at Babylonian Clay Tablet World Map, 600 B.C. Be sure to click on the monograph section at the bottom of the page. Now look at Turin Papyrus, 1300 B.C. Be sure to look at the interpretive drawing and monograph. Use McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition), to put each map in its proper historical context. How do these maps help us understand Egyptian and Babylonian concepts of space? What, if anything, do they reveal about these peoples' views of their own positions in the world? Do either of these maps reveal any interaction with neighboring groups? Write a paragraph that answers these questions.
Activity Two:
  • After completing the first activity, examine maps of West Asia and North Africa that use modern cartography. Go to Map 1. What is depicted there?  From what time period? After analyzing this map, can you suggest how the natural resources of the Near East promoted contact between various communities? Now look at Map 2. Do the rise of these political entities make any more sense when you compare and contrast Map 1 and Map 2?
  • Locate where each of the kingdoms on Map 2 is explained in Chapters 1 and 2 of McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition). Do the same thing for Map 3. (This is an interactive map that requires you to download Shockwave if it is not already on your computer.) To manipulate this map, place the cursor on the image and hit the left mouse button. Move the cursor to the empire that you wish to view.
Activity Three:

Upon completion of Activities One and Two, you should see the connections between the dynamic political situation in the Near East from 1500 to 500 B.C. and long–distance trade. As a map of the The Empire of Cyrus II of Persia reveals, many of the political states that rose and fell during this time were attempts to control access to natural resources or to control trade routes.
  • Review pages 44–49 in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition), and take a look at The Persian Empire at its Height. Also review Map 1 from Activity Two. What resources and trade routes did the Persian Empire control? In light of your discoveries, why does McKay describe Persia as a "world empire" on page 47?
  • Now that you have seen how trade routes and empires emerged in West Asia and North Africa during this period, examine some of the byproducts of these exchanges. Remember that this region became increasingly cosmopolitan between 1500 and 500 B.C. By cosmopolitan we mean that people became more exposed to new people, ideas, and technologies. What was the long–term impact of this development?
Activity Four:
  • One way of answering the final question in Activity Three is to examine the relationship between Egypt and Nubia during the years 1500 to 500 B.C. Begin by reviewing pages 32–36 in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition). Next go to Nubia and explore this site. List and explain three major ways that extended contact with each other influenced Egypt and Nubia. Which culture had greater influence on the other? Why do you think this was so? What does this relationship tell you about trade and the spread of civilization?
Activity Five:

Cultural interaction along the routes of trade and conquest produced continuities in artistic styles among the various civilizations of the Near East. For example, as you read in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition), Persian art drew upon Assyrian models.  Review the images on pages 41 and 47 of McKay.  What similarities and differences can you notice between these examples of Assyrian and Persian art?  What do these similarities and differences reveal about how Assyrian and Persian kings viewed themselves and how they wished to be viewed by others? Now consider two other examples.
  • One of the civilizations annexed into the Assyrian Empire was Egypt.  Examine the following pieces of Egyptian art:  Relief of Nebhepetre Menuhotep, Sphinx of Senwosret III, and  Ostracon of a king.  Compare these with the following Assyrian sculptures: Lamassu and King and Attendant.  How do Egyptian and Assyrian pieces resemble and differ from one another? What do these similarities and differences suggest about how the Egyptians and Assyrians viewed kingship?
  • Now examine Striding Lion, an example of Neo-Babylonian art (the Neo-Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Persians, and the following two examples of Persian art: servants bearing food and drink and the Archers of Darius. Compare these pieces to those you examined above and to the images on pages 41, 43, and 47 of McKay (Sixth Edition).  How do the Neo-Babylonian and Persian artifacts resemble and differ from each other, and from the Egyptian and Assyrian pieces? Make a list of the artistic elements that these civilizations shared, and a list of the elements that seem to you unique to each civilization.
Activity Six:
  • Make a topical list of how the growth of long–distance trade and empires shaped the Near East between 1500 and 500 B.C. For example, one topic might be the spread of religion. Another might be the spread of technology. Keep this list where you can refer back to it in later chapters. The impact of long–distance trade and empires will be a theme throughout your study of world history.