River Valley Records Instructions: As you read about River Valleys this week, consider the following pieces of historical evidence. I have included stories, poems, pictures, and proverbs that reflect the civilizations we have been studying. After each example, I have written a series of questions for you to consider. Write at least 150 words for each example. When you are thinking about what to write, you might look at specific phrases or particular pictures. Does the mention of crime remind you of modern-day news anchors? What about the comments about the importance of learning? Is it interesting that they might use one very strong word, like “choke” or “struggle”? If you want any help, feel free to talk it over with me or in the Cybercafé. China: We can see evidence of cultural markers in one of the earliest Chinese writings to survive. The Book of Songs celebrates Zhou culture by writing about the exploits of heroic leaders following the Mandate of Heaven. And yet, life was not always perfect. Read the following complaint about life under the Zhou Dynasty and consider the questions below it. Heaven sends down its net of crime Devouring insects confuse men's minds, Ignorant, oppressive, negligent, Breeders of confusion , utterly perverse These are the men [politicians] employed to tranquilize our country Insolent and slanderous The king does not know a flaw in them. We, careful and feeling in peril, For long in unrest, Are constantly subjected to degradation. As in a year of drought, The grass not growing readily As water plants attached to a tree; So do I see in this country, All going to confusion. The wealth of former days Was not like our present condition. The distress of the present Did not previously reach this degree. Those are like coarse rice, these are like fine Why do you not retire of yourselves, But prolong my anxious sorrow? (Source: “Song 265” http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/chinese/shijing/AnoShih.html) Questions: What elements of ancient Chinese culture do you detect? Do you recognize comments that people say about modern US society? Write at least 150 words considering what this essay tells us about Ancient Chinese culture and the concerns of the author, or indeed, of authors throughout time.
. Indus River Valley: The evidence unearthed from the Indus River Valley have not yet led to a breakthrough in reading their script. Nevertheless, many important images have been recovered and these can give us some ideas of what was important to society. Look at the following images and try to figure out what they are saying.
Questions: If you found these inscribed on a pot, how would you interpret this scene? First, what do you think these images are? What can we guess from the Indus society based on the images here? Write at least 150 words on what kinds of ideas we can read into these images based on the history of the Indus people. If you want help with knowing where to start, feel free to open a discussion in the Cybercafé.
Mesopotamia and Sumer: The following is a Sumerian proverb. Poverty is a human condition common to all recorded societies. Some societies celebrate the sacrifices of the hard-working poor; for instance, early Christians believed that the meek would inherit the Earth. Other societies believed that poverty was a curse sent to those who sin. What do we learn about Sumerian attitudes towards paupers in this proverb, found on various stone tablets? How lowly is the poor man! A mill for him is [merely] the edge of the oven; His ripped garment will not be mended; What he has lost will not be sought for!
Egypt: Many written records survive in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Some of the most interesting surviving ideas survive on the sides of Egyptian temples and pyramids. Consider these words of wisdom: • The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth [is] Nature. • For every joy there is a price to be paid. • If his heart rules him, his conscience will soon take the place of the rod. • Exuberance is a good stimulus towards action, but the inner light grows in silence and concentration. • Not the greatest Master can go even one step for his disciple; in himself [the disciple] must experience each stage of developing consciousness. • True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of consciousness which goes through successive stages. • People bring about their own undoing through their tongues. • If one tries to navigate unknown waters one runs the risk of shipwreck. • Leave him in error who loves his error. • Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions. • To know means to record in one's memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself. • There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Never believe a word without putting its truth to the test; discernment does not grow in laziness; and this faculty of discernment is indispensable to the Seeker. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error. • Love is one thing, knowledge is another. • An answer brings no illumination unless the question has matured to a point where it gives rise to this answer which thus becomes its fruit. Therefore learn how to put a question. • Understanding develops by degrees. • There grows no wheat where there is no grain. • The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness. (Source: http://www.duboislc.org/html/Proverbs.html) Questions: Based on these philosophical and religious sayings, what can we tell was important to the Egyptian people? Does it seem to be a product of their history or culture? What elements of their leadership and administration might have encouraged these ideals? Write at least 150 words considering what these wise maxims tell us of Ancient Egypt.