These are some general issues with the essays:
1. Choice of region for the topic made it difficult to provide strong historical evidence. Certain regions provided more opportunity for discussion than others.
2. Placed emphasis of essay on the wrong theme (i.e. wrote more about the social aspects when your topic was political).
3. Discussed evidence out of chronological order. It is much easier to trace cause and effect and continuity and change patterns when you present them in chronological order.
4. Did not use appropriate evidence to support answer or did not apply the evidence in a meaningful way toward answering the question.
5. Chose only evidence from a narrow portion of the time frame – did not address the issue over a broad time frame (from early centuries B.C.E. up to 1450).
6. Did not include all aspects of the thesis or did so in an overly general way.
7. Failed to discuss, or weakly discussed continuities. A continuity does not always have to be something that persists over the time entire time frame. It can be something that developed during the time frame and still existed or was influential by the end of the time frame.
Below you will see listed possible ideas for what could have been included for some of the essay choices. These are in no way fully developed thoughts – just main ideas! Many of these ideas would have to be explained and discussed in order to qualify as a full response. I may not have included all regions for each theme – just the most commonly chosen regions.
Interaction: ( A comparison of TWO regions)
Middle East and South Asia
How South Asia affected the Middle East: Introduced Arab sailors to Hindi numerals and other mathematical concepts which allowed Arabs to develop Algebra.
How The Middle East affected South Asia : Introduction of Islam (700’s – 800’s) into South Asia alters the nature and fabric of Indian society – Muslims intermarry with Indians blending into new subcastes and/or jati. They often do jobs objectionable to Hindus (i.e. Butchers/tanners). Depite becoming a sizeable group in India – Hinduism prevails as the main religion of India. Bhakti Movement, sufies,etc…
By the 1000’s, Muslims from the North destroy the last vestiges of Buddhism/Sultanate of New Dehli
The Middle East and Africa
Islam enters into North Africa through the Trans-Saharan trade routes (which were facilitated by the introduction of the camel by the Arabs). Gold and slaves enter the Mediterranean and Middle East. African kingdoms flourish as a result of this trade – Ghana, Mali, Songhai. Some of these African kingdoms become devout Muslims, but do not fully adopt all of the cultural practices of other Muslims (i.e. – women comingle with men and do not veil themselves). Many still secretly worship their traditional gods and idols. Discuss the effects and interactions of Mansa Musa and Ibn Battuta.
South Asia and East Asia
Spread of Buddhism from India throughout East Asia. Discuss the early attitudes of Buddhism and its later popularity (during the decline of the Han). The development of syncretic faiths such as Neo-Confucianism. Later Chinese naval technology (sails, etc..) reach India as a result of Zheng He’s voyages. Despite the widespread appeal of Buddhism, it is occasionally discriminated against but generally gains acceptance (see Tang Dynasty). Confucianism prevails (despite Buddhist ideas and Mongol invasions).
Political (Select ONE region)
Should have begun the discussion with the Roman Republic (Twelve Tables) linking it to Athenian Greek idea of democracy). Discuss Rome’s evolution into a dicatatorship/empire. Discuss the influences of Christianity upon the Empire with it officially becoming the official religion (380). The Empire becomes officially divided in 1054 (the Schism). The Byzantine Empire survives until 1453 when it is finally conquered by the Ottoman Turks. The Western portion collapse in 476 and small regional kingdoms ruled by military elite replaces empire in the West while the Byzantine portion surivives for another 1,000 years (until 1453). The rise of the Carolingian kings culminates with an attempt to recreate a new Christian kingdom called The Holy Roman Empire (800’s), but it is short lived. By the 1100’s the feudal system is the main social/economic/political unit. After the Crusades and the plague feudalism is greatly weakened and certain lords/kings use the chaos of the situation to claim neighboring kingdoms and the early nation states begin to take shape.
China – Should have begun in the early centuries B.C.E. with the Qin or Han Dyansties, the warring states period, tributary relationships with Korea, Japan and Vietanam, the Sui, Tang and Song Dynasties (discussing the developments of meritocracy, effects of Buddhism, Confucianism, etc…), conquest by the Mongolians (Khublai Khan) and finally the restoration of the Ming, voyages of Zheng He and their diplomatic efforts and effects. The continuity is evident would be the dynastic cycles/mandate of heaven and Confucianism.
Japan – Traditionally disunted, but by 400 C.E. the Yamamoto clan rules. Chinese ideas begin to enter Japan. 700’s the Nara Period Shotoku borrow Chinese bureaucratic ideas from Tang Dyansty. Some Buddhist monks wanted to seize power but the Japanese emperor thwarted their attempts and moved the capital. This is the Heian period. The Japanese did not fully accept Confucianism (especially the meritocracy aspects because they preferred to pass along rule to their fellow noblemen. During the Heian period the aristocrats and the imperial family lived in lavish palaces (origin of the Tale of the Genji stories). By the 900’s warrior elites began to gain control (Fujiwara Clan).
By the 12th century Chinese culture weakened in Japan and the Japanese became embroiled in several civil wars between aristocratic families. Eventually the Minamoto family wins and establishes bakufu (tent) government where other aristocrats had to periodically spend time with them so that the ruling family could keep an eye on them. Due to this paranoia, the Shoguns began to protect the ruling families. Despite the introduction of Buddhism and Chinese Imperial ideas, they maintained may aspects of their own culture – i.e. passing along power to aristocrats.
The Middle East
Could have discussed Babylon (Hammurabi’s Code) the Persian Empire and Eastern portion of the Roman Empires (Judea and the rise of Christianity). After rise of Islam, the Ummayad and Abbasid Empires, the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks – dar Al’ Islam; Crusades.
Aryan invasions (1500 B.C.E.), the Mauryan and Gupta Empires and the Dehli Sultanate.
Culture and Religion (Select ONE region)
China – A discussion of Daoism, Confucianism and Legalism. The influences of Buddhism, the development of Neo Confucianism and the reinforcement of Confucian values under the Ming.
Japan – the adoption of Buddhism and calligraphy from China; Japanese literature “Tale of the Genji”. Worship of nature (shintoism). Backlash against Chinese things – see “Politics” above.
The Middle East
The Zoroastrians and Hebrews introduce the concept of monotheism. Christianity arises in Judea under Roman rule. Christianity grabs hold in the Mediterranean region (Rome and Byzantium) and Islam soon replaces it as the main religion of the region. Islam creates a massive cultural realm (Dar al’ Islam) where ideas are trades across the Eastern Hemisphere (algebra, sugar, etc..) are introduced into Europe and China. Muslims adopt certain practices from conquered regions. Muslims are generally tolerant of non-Muslims (jizya). Discuss the rule of the Ummayads and Abbasids.
Originally animist; Christianity takes hole in East Africa early centuries C.E. – Coptic Christians are dominant in Egypt; Islam introduced in the Trans-Saharan trade (see “Interactions – Middle East and Africa).
Aryans introduce caste system – blends with Dravidian ideas – Hinduism evolves. Early centuries B.C.E. – Buddhism develops (adopted by lower caste) – eventually pushed out by Muslim invaders to the North. Islam gains a foothold on the coasts – Arab traders. Changes in the composition of caste system.
Social (Select ONE region)
Discussion of the development of the Caste System – rigid social hierarchy/reincarnation – the development of Buddhism (adopted by lower caste). The treatment of women (suttee/sati and female infanticide). Introduction of Islam and the development of subcastes. India remains primarily Hindu with a sizeable Muslim population by the end of the time frame.
Athenian Democracy – status of women and non-citizens; Roman Republic – struggle of the plebians and patricians; feudalism (code of chivalry and general status of women); effects of Crusades and the growth of towns and trade.
Status of women (Hammurabi’s Code); women and early Christianity; Women under Islam (veiling of); status of non-Muslism.
China – Filial Piety; Five Relationships (Confucian values) – its formation and development of merticracy under the Tang and Song Dynasties; footbinding, female infanticide.
Japan – Status of women in Feudal society, discussion of class systems in Feudal Japan – warriors, merchants, etc…