HIST115-01 - World Civilization I

Sorry about having my computer out in class, thanks for understanding that I wasn't cheating but it was still a pretty stupid move.
It was a time-sensitive circumstance so I don't think I'll do anything concerning in the future, but if something comes up don't 
hesitate to let me know. Hopefully the fact that I finished the remainer of the writing prompts early isn't an issue.

   March 22nd, 2023
In what ways does Mayan culture continue to be influential in the 21st century?
Despite the technological and cultural differences between Mayan and European populations that spelled the former's downfall, they developed 
many inventions and discoveries whose echoes are found even in the modern era. Traditional Mayan foods such as chocolate have been adapted 
and included as a regular part of today's diet, as well as domesticated maize and derivatives such as tortillas. They had advanced knowledge 
of astronomy, in some senses centuries ahead of Europe in their celestial understanding. They were aware of the true length of the year, 
calculating it to within 0.002 days of the modern value, the 584 day Venusian cycle, and the alignments of the planets. Other Mayan inventions 
still in use today include rubber (pre-rubber latex-based elastic being made and used in pok-a-tok as early as 1600 BC,) advanced irrigation 
techniques, and architectural develoments to prevent building flooding. Possibly their greatest contribution to modern culture is the 
mathematical concept of zero: while of course the story's somewhat complicated and hints of zero are found in ancient near-Easy civilizations, 
the Mayans are generally credited with inventing and using zero as a number, which is of course indispensible in modern mathematic notation 
and lies at the core of an incalculable number of scientific and computing advances since. Last but not least, their artistic legacy is still 
widely seen today, with showcases of ancient Mayan art and modern works influenced by ancient mythological themes, historical events, or aesthetic 
styles still appearing regularly (for more example of this influence, "quetzalcoatl" has entered common knowlege and even appears in species names.)


   March 22nd, 2023
What challenges with sources impact historians attempting to research Africa?
When reconstructing the history of a people or civilization, most historians rely on the writings they have left behind. Most cultures
have had a written tradition for hundreds or thousands of years, leading to our relatively extensive understanding of their past (ex. 
ancient Greece, Egypt, and other civilizations that produced a literary legacy.) However, some African societies kept primarily oral records 
until around 1800, giving historians limited original documents to work with and increasing reliance on other methods of research and 
sources of information such as spoken traditions, archaeology, linguistics, and paleoarchaobotany that are usually secondary sources
on other continents. While oral records do prove immensely informative, they also present challenges in studying and interpretation 
unseen in text-based research. Besides the comparative scarcity of historical sources, another issue facing modern African historians is the
lack of serious historical background: while obviously Africa has a long and intricate history, Western documentation and study of it only 
seriously began in the 1800s and remained widely contaminated by bias and blinded by prejudice for many decades. This includes the distortion 
of early research through the lens of misconceptions of the time and the erronious attribution of African develoments in 
technology and society to other cultures in the region, such as the Phoenicians. Stereotypes still haunt modern media and public perceptions 
of the continent and it's history, presenting difficulties in funding and conducting research, as many people are still unaware of it's 
true significance as an integral piece of the human story as a whole.

Reliance on archeology and spoken records have presented challenges to African historians

   March 22nd, 2023
  In what ways was early Islam similar to Catholicism, and how was it different?
Although differing in many aspects, early Islam and Christianity show a multitude of similiarities in their doctrine and structure. 
Unlike many other religions (especially in the era in which these emerged,) their shared monotheism set them apart, to the degree
that some Muslims fled to Christian territory instead of living among the then-polytheistic population of Mecca. Both expressedly 
forbid the worship of icons (often destroying them, like Muhammad did in Mecca in 630 and Christian authorities did during the 
iconoclastic periods in later Europe,) discourage preexisting tribal or polytheistic pagan systems, focus on the same God (albeit
under  the name Allah in Islam,) require daily prayer (to differing degrees,) and center on His human interpreter on earth (Jesus 
in Christianity, Muhammad in Islam.) They both draw their holy writings from the Hebrew Scriptures, having descended from the Judeo-
Christian tradition, with the Old Testament in Christian tradition being derived from Hebrew texts and Islam also recognizing their 
divine legitimacy (although with the interpretation that they have been distorted over the centuries, necessating Muhammed's teachings.) 
This shared origin can be seen in the presence of many Christian icons at he Ka'ba at Mecca, the central Muslim holy site, and the 
presence of Abraham, Moses, David, the ten commandments, and the authority of law to all people regardless of social or financial 
status in both religions. In Christianity, Jesus is the son of God, whereas in Islam he is a major prophet (but more emphasis is placed 
on Muhammad.) While generally not as prominent in Christianity as in Islam, all five pillars are actually found in both religions
(Christian pilgrimages, fasting, and alms-giving are not infrequent and prayer and faith is obviously important from a Christian perspective.

   March 16th, 2023
Interesting things I learned from the video:
 1) The vikings had no government or coinage
 2) They were the first Europeans to encounter North America and it's indigenous population
 3) The key to their military victory was their ships, which were designed to be light and almost shell-like
 4) In early Viking history, due to the price of sails and their redundancy to humanpowered rowing, they were often not included on Viking ships
 5) They did not wear the horned helmets we associate them with today
Who had the coolest name?
 Charles the Bald. Simple, striking, terrible, I'll probably remember it for the rest of my days.
Which country would you be most interested in ruling?
 I chose Italy, due to my heritage there, my knowledge of it's history, it's smaller size (116,374, which might prove easier to control
 than the more sprawling landmasses of of France (213,011 mi²) and Germany (137,847 mi²)) and it's future religious / cultural signficiance
 thanks to Pepin's papal donation.
Would you rather study the trivium or quadrivium?
 I would rather choose the quadrivium. The trivium of logic, rhetoric, and grammar are neither my strong suits or my interests, wheras my main hobbies
 (astronomy and music) and interest in geometry put me squarely in more quadrivium-related fields of study. However, I had to give it thought and keep
 in mind the state that these subjects were in during this time period: for example, astronomy was then comparatively primitive and subject to heavy
 religious censure.

    March 14th, 2023
    There was another one but it's legitimately such a picture of me that it's never leaving my phone, I looked half asleep and drunk
    With luck these will be sufficient

  February 2023
Why do you think that this era was once often referred to as the Dark Ages?
It was a period characterized by self-erasure and historical ignorance. Previous written works tended 
to be repressed and censored to conform to the era’s religious and cultural dogma, casting a shadow 
of ignorance over former advanced civilizations. This led to a decline in record-keeping, scientific 
development and thought, philosophy, technology, and cultural development. Comparably little was written 
in this era, leaving many unilluminated areas in hundreds of years of history, and much of what was 
written was subject to oversight and censorship. It was a time of profound ignorance in which any 
knowledge that went against accepted religious and cultural notions was rejected - essentially, a 
dark veil of ignorance over any truth that may have improved the lives of those who lived then. The 
namesake “dark ages” comes from both the intensity, pervasiveness, and consequences of this suppression. 
New ideas were not laughed out of the mainstream, peacefully censored, or discouraged by any moral 
standards of today. Use of torture, imprisonment, burnings of both people and their written works, 
and all manners of inhumane treatment were common. The fact that bags of cats were frequently burned 
alive should suffice to illustrate the conditions and attitude of the time. Dissenters were not merely 
fools or incorrect, they were considered heretical, dangerously misguided, or threatening to the 
establishment, and faced severe punishment for their perceived sins or crimes. This extended not only 
to religious deviations - scientific principles, philosophical ideas, and cultural norms were held 
to the highest scrutiny; every aspect of civilization and its usual course of development was consequently 
stifled. This led to a decreased quality of life for the average citizen by repressing developments 
that could have improved their life: more advanced science easily could have discovered treatments 
and prevention methods for common diseases, but due to the anti-scientific sentiment of the time, 
the best doctors had to work with was an unhelpful combination of misguided knowledge and superstition.

Burning of three "witches" in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick

  February 25th, 2023
If you were a member of the Roman Senate would you want to stab Caesar?
The motives of members of the Senate for stabbing Caesar included the belief that doing so would help 
return the Roman empire to its former glory and non-dictatorial political structure (with the corollaries 
of believing Rome has declined from a better state, that Caesar was the cause or most prominent current 
factor of this decline, and the conviction that assassinating him would at least not worsen the situation) 
and seeking increased political power as Senate members (as it would presumably be returned to them following 
his assassination.) As history very well showed, none of these points were fully true: power did not transfer 
back to Senate members due in part to Caesar’s popularity among the Roman people, Rome only slipped further 
into decadency over the next decades and centuries, having lost a great ruler and suffered much civil conflict 
as a result, and on top of all it’s very arguable whether he instigated the perceived decline at all, seeing 
as trends attributed to Caesar by the conspirators were in place for hundreds of years before his reign. 
However, whether or not I would have found myself partaking in the Ides of March relies on whether I’d have 
believed these things and had the courage (or cowardice, depending on which side of history you’re on) to act 
on my beliefs. Hopefully I would not have sought political power, especially enough to kill for it, but might 
have been able to be convinced of Julius’s negative impact on Rome (especially if its political consolidation 
of power had occurred or worsened noticeably during my lifetime) and thus been persuaded to join in the plot. 
However, the very reason Caesar’s assassination is so widely remembered today, immortalized in countless plays, 
paintings, and other media, is because it features an intricate play of human values - liberty, patriotism, 
greed, honor - that resonates, unresolved and in all shades of moral gray, to the present era. If it was 
cut-and-dry enough to say for sure on which side I would fall, chances are we wouldn’t be learning about it in 
class as much as we are.

  (Various depictions of Caesar's assassination from the Middle Ages through the Modern Day - an event that's
  captured public attention and fascination like few others)

  February 18th, 2023
Why do you think Ancient Greece has had such a lasting impact on the world?
  The philosophical and technological innovations that spawned in Ancient Greece were without parallel in the 
  West: their cultural and scientific developments revolutionized thought wherever they passed and left indelible 
  markings in future civilizations for millenia to come due to their striking advancement and difference from 
  contemporary thought elsewhere. Remarkable discoveries were made about the universe, from the notion of atoms 
  to the nature of space and Earth’s place within it, which caught the dedicated attention of century after 
  century of scholars to come. The continent-wide spread of the Roman empire also did much to fan the flame of 
  Greek influence, since the intellectual and physical legacy of both civilizations were entwined and where Roman 
  influence spread (at its height all the way from modern-day Britain to north Africa) Greek influence shortly 
  after followed. Additionally, while regrettably few works survive today, the Greeks were prolific writers, penning 
  thousands of books and documents which were at the time stored in great libraries dedicated primarily or solely 
  to the development of thought and the archiving of information. Though some of these institutions (like the Great 
  Library of Alexandria) are most infamous for their eventual destruction, for decades or centuries they spread 
  Ancient Greece’s impact. Few other cultures in this era dedicated so much effort to documenting, preserving, 
  and collecting philosophical and scientific developments, further firmly cementing Greek impact in future eras. 
  Furthermore, the nature of their discoveries, ponderings, and writings were universal and eternal: Greek concepts 
  are still in widespread academic, popular, and practical use today, such as still-relevant political ideals, 
  still-sound architectural designs, and still-gripping modern media interpretations of ancient myths.
February 18th, 2023
If you could live in any East Asian nation at any time, where and when would you?
East Asia is an incredibly vast landmass with a long and intricate history extending back to 2000 BCE, making 
pinpointing any “best life setting” quite a venture (even assuming we’re only including the civilisations we’ve 
learned about in class so far.) However, assuming I would be taking the role of an average citizen (not a noble, 
elite, or otherwise privileged position in society,) I might choose the early Han era of China, circa 190 BCE. 
The Han dynasty began with the widespread unrest, civil war, revolt, political instability, and bloodshed that 
accompanied most major political shifts before the common era. As the Qin Empire disintegrated following the 
death of the First Emperor, an interlude of violence and uncertainty was entered, with a variety of local 
kings and fragmented governments before Liu Bang rose to power in 195 BCE, creating the vast and persistent 
(400 years of almost continual existence) Han Empire. (I chose 190 BCe to allow the remaining conflicts to 
die down after the dynasty’s formation and hopefully enter a more fully peaceful era for the average person.) 
As in most of human history, the majority of the populace lived as farmers. Neither the feudal system nor 
slavery was prominent and most worked in small independent ventures. Since this bulk of the population was 
immensely important to the government as a source of revenue and conscription for their necessarily immense 
armies, the system of rule was generally kind, focusing on low taxes, providing relief to farmers during 
hardships such as droughts and floods, and developing and providing improved agriculture methods. This era 
did not stay throughout the entire dynasty, though, as slavery and tenantship usurped independence as the 
most widespread system of farming, but it seems that for a time peace and prosperity were as widespread as 
it could be expected to be in its historical era, making this location and time period where I would chose to live.

February 9th, 2023
What is the most interesting thing you learned about India that you did not know?
Obviously, Egypt and India are incredibly different civilizations and I do not intend to compare them directly,
but my understanding of both were at similar levels (relatively low,) had similar focuses (religion,) and suffer from parallel
gaps (I'm still learning what it even is that I don't yet know.) What I find most interesting about India in general is it's 
rich cultural and religious tradition, as I've been drawn to Buddhist art and concepts (karma, reincarnation, and nonviolence)
for some time. However, what I got most out of the last few lessons in class was a more grounded and deeper appreciation for 
the civilisation's true role and significance in human history and the light it was able to shed for me on the interactions
within and between ancient cultures.

"Indus River Valley" is a phrase I've had bouncing around in my head for a time without being able to tell you much of anything
about it, so learning that it was an early locus of civilisation stood out to me as a significant and striking piece of
information. With villages, farming, and domestication occuring 8,000 years ago, begininng the growth into cities and
more recognisable forms of modern society in 7,000 onward, it put a major puzzle piece in place of my understanding of humanity's
early development and history. Furthermore, some of the early Indian texts that survive to this day date to nearly 2,000 BC,
allowing us an invaluable resource in understanding their era in their own words.

Another fascinating (and even disturbing) thing I learned that I glanced over at first was the recent (re?)discovery
of some early cities and what that implied about the ease with which information and history is lost. Harappa, one of the
major centers of the Indus River Valley culture, was only excavated 100 years ago, being discovered 50 years prior. Not only
was such a major investigation postponed for half a century (where it could have been subject to damage, assuming it was not
a protected location) the site itself, of great local and global historical significance, sat undiscovered for unknown centuries. 
Even more unsettling, the Epic of Gilgamesh, written nearly 4,000 years ago, was only rediscovered in 1839! This tells me
volumes about the transient nature of our own history, the role of historian as archivist, and what may remain to be recovered.

January 31st, 2023
What have you learned previously about Ancient Egypt from school or media?

Over the course of my life I’ve assembled up a wide variety of facts about Ancient Egypt, mostly 
through school, half-remembered museum visits, my own recent reading on ancient religions, 
and simple cultural osmosis, though until now this information has proven too vague, shallow, or widely 
scattered to put together a coherent understanding of the civilization. 

I’m most aware of their religion, mythology and culture. This includes many of their stories, 
the animals associated with their deities (and the attitudes held toward certain sacred animals, 
specifically cats,) the nature of their afterlife and it's concepts of justice (along with the 
practices associated with burial for both royalty and commonmen,) and their notable understanding
and development in language and mathematics. While my attempts at learning hieroglyphics have failed miserably, 
I still managed to pick up some knowledge of their writing system and an appreciation for how it was 
deciphered in the modern era, as well as the general gist of how Egypt as a whole was rediscovered 
and subsequently ransacked in the last couple hundred years. If pressed, I could provide a no-doubt incomplete
picture of their medicinal practices, societal structure, construction methods, and agriculture.

All in all however, what's most notable is how much I don't know. It's like intently studying independent 
puzzle pieces at length then leaving satisfied in your appreciation for and knowledge of the puzzle, despite 
the fact that unless it is properly assembled, a lifetime of fun facts adds up to very little useful 
understanding. Through this class I hope to fill in holes in my understanding I currently don't know are
there (even today I've learned answers about Egypt I hadn't begun to ask the questions to) and provide direction
for further independent reading and personal research.

Why do you think conquerors like Genghis Khan are still remembered today?
Ask the average person, including myself before taking this course, much about Central Asian history and they'd draw a blank. However, you'd be 
equally hard-pressed to find a scholar of Mongolian history as you would to find someone who doesn't recognize the name Genghis Khan. He owes 
his immortalization to the sheer impact he had on the cultural landscape of his period and the centuries-long legacy he left behind. 
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You doubtlessly know this already, but as a result of the sheer death toll of Khan's rule, approximately 40 million people or 10% of the human 
population at the time, he holds the dubious honor of having detectably cooled the earth. By preventing those 40 million people from cutting down 
trees to expand civilization and consuming resources, it allowed a reforestation process to occur that elimated 700 million tonnes of carbon from 
the atmosphere. Good going?

Individual discussion and reflection with professor on progress made during term