CORE 131
Western Civilization, Part I


Study Essay Questions for First Exam

Remember: in your exams you will be asked to write a clear, legible essay, using complete sentences and paragraphs.  You should plan your essay in advance.  You should use specific details in your essay, such as proper names, dates and terminology.

  1. How do historians study, divide up, and evaluate the past?
  2. How did the original human hunter-gatherer communities become civilized, with what problems?
  3. What did the Ancient Middle Eastern civilizations contribute to the foundations of Western culture?
  4. How did the Greeks and later Hellenistic rulers succeed and fail in politics?
  5. What Gręco-Roman philosophy, literature, and art unified the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Middle East?
  6. How did Rome grow from a city-state to an empire unifying the Mediterranean?
  7. How did the new religion of Christianity begin?
  8. How did Roman Empire fall in the West, yet last another 1000 years in the East?

  1. Discuss the importance of religion in the ancient world. You might consider the following questions: What religious forms did the first peoples have? How did religion serve the needs of the Middle Eastern civilizations? What changes did the Greeks and Romans bring to beliefs? How were Judaism and Christianity different from other religions and then from each other?
  2. Describe in which ways the Greeks and Romans formed the first Western Culture. You might consider the following questions: How were they different from neighboring civilizations? What new answers did their great thinkers offer to the meaning of life? What were Greek and Latin literary contributions? How did their art & architecture create new interpretations of and adaptations to life? How did they spread this civilization throughout the Ancient World?
  3. Discuss the problem of empire in the ancient world. How did the first empires come about? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the universal empires of Assyria and Persia? How did the Greeks fail at empire yet succeed at civilization? How did the Roman Empire arise out of a crisis, create more crises, and yet survive several crises? What caused the ultimate failure of the western portion of the Roman Empire, and what were its consequences?

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