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History 101

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Question One: The Major Achievements of Egyptians

Great Architectural Designs

One of the greatest achievements of Egyptians was the establishment of great architectural designs, which were built from stone. A great number of stone excavations provided the large blocks of granite, limestone, and sandstone. These were the materials used for building temples and tombs (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Apparently, the architectural designs were made in such a way that the buildings were put up without mortar. In this way, the rocks used in the buildings had to fit accurately. It is also worth noting that only pillars were used in supporting the petite stone supports.

A good example was the temple of Karnak. This was actually a ramp of adobe bricks that led to the top of the temple wall. In most cases, the ramps were used to permit the workmen to carry stones to the apex of the structure. Additionally, the arrangement also allowed artists to make decorations on the top of pillars, as well as walls (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Even the pillars were constructed in a similar way. The addition of the height ensured the raising of the ground.

According to the Egyptian culture, whenever a pharaoh was named, the construction of his tomb had to be started. This was supposed to continue all through his life, and could only be halted on the day of his death. This implies that the tombs were extremely large and finely decorated. The kind of architectural designs were unique since they were based upon the perpendicular structures, as well as inclined planes.

The Pyramids

Another very remarkable and lasting achievement of the Ancient Egyptians is the pyramids they constructed. Over and above, the size, design, as well as the structure of the pyramids depicts how greatly skillful the draftsmen were. They were enormous testimonials and tombs for the kings (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

According to the Egyptians, the soul of a king continuously guided the dealings of the monarchy even after his demise. As a result, in order to ensure that the kingdom would continue benefiting from the blessings of the gods, his body had to be conserved through the process of mummification.

Therefore, the pyramids were constructed to protect pharaoh’s remains, being a symbol of hope. He was to ensure a proper union between the gods and the pharaohs. Of all the pyramids built, the most notable of them is the Great Pyramid built at Giza by King Cheops. It is 481 feet high, and 775 feet long at each of its four bases (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Art

Another great achievement of the Egyptians is their art. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian art was a clear reflection of every aspect of their lives. The wall and pillar drawings are actually the best known. Some of the drawings indicate the people’s lifestyles, as well as their day to day activities. These include socio-economic activities like fishing, baking, and marketing. One of the purposes of the drawings was to assist the departed to live forever by providing them with the right information which they would be in need of on their way to eternal life (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

In most cases, the good deeds were put on record, with the art surrounding their mummified bodies. This was meant to assist their spiritual self in order to get to the bottom of challenges related to life after death. The pictures of food, servants, clothing, as well as slaves were meant to assist the dead, just like the real things used by the person when they are still alive.

There are several perspectives comprised in the Egyptian art. Bright colors like blue, red, and orange were mainly used to develop pictures that fell off the life of the departed person. A sketch of a design would be done on a piece of pottery, which would be sketched on the wall with charcoal, when it was found to be satisfactory. Eventually, colors would be used to complete the image (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Paints, made from innately occurring minerals as well as prepared mineral materials were also used. During those days, the paint brushes were brushwood with leathery wood which had unraveled trimmings. The walls were mostly enclosed with sludge splash, coupled with emerald plaster.

Socio-Economic Achievements

The Ancient Egyptian kingdom was also recognized for developing complex systems of irrigation. Being quite a dry area, the irrigation system, which used the waters from River Nile, was instrumental for assisting the kingdom to feed itself. The hieroglyphic writing system was also initiated by the Egyptians (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

 The papyrus, which is a long thin reed, was used in making the writing material as well as other things. In as much as the hieroglyphics were very pretty, a lot of time was required to write in pictures. The writings were discovered on the walls of prehistoric Egyptian tombs and pyramids by archeologists.

 The ancient Egyptian kingdom was also one of the first ones to create an established system of government. In the Egyptian system of government, everything was owned by the Pharaoh, who had helpers who were members of the royal family, whose roles were to assist him in administering the kingdom. The king also had an organized army, a police force, and a large number of ministers, as well as government officials (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

The ancient Egyptian kingdom is also accredited for establishing a judicial system whose main role was to solve disputes among the people. The top most official, also known as the Vizier, was also the judge of the high court. Apart from settling disputes, he had to report to the king on a daily basis, for a daily briefing on the state of the kingdom.

Basically, these achievements influenced late societies since a lot of information was drawn from the Egyptian discoveries. For instance, the world today uses paper, which was drawn from the papyrus that Egyptians use (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). The Egyptian system of government is also the one used today in many countries. It consists of cabinet ministers, a justice system, an army, a police force and an overall leader.

Question Two: The Role of Qin Shihuangdi in the Unification of China

Qin Shihuangdi was the First Emperor of a united China. He was able to reign for 35 years, after managing to create a magnificent, united and powerful country. As the First Emperor, Shihuangdi administered the vast land with strict discipline as well as outstanding organization (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). This was instrumental in helping to establish a united China. In his system of administration, he subdivided China into approximately 36 parts, which were also known as ‘commanderies’. For the sake of unity, he personally chose the officials who administered the 36 regions (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

In order to instill discipline, Qin went against tradition, by abolishing the aristocracy as well as granting the posts on the basis of performance. Qin also created a central bureaucracy, which was continued even after his demise. Throughout his reign, Qin used the philosophy of Legalism (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). According to the philosophy, human beings, being wayward by nature, were in need of regulation according to law.

Additionally, Qin rewarded obedience, even though there were distinct castigations for every crime committed by people. Apparently, no one was immune to punishments. The philosophy of Legalism that he used was different from the teaching of Confucius, who was of the view that individuals would follow good examples. Confucianism is actually one of the philosophies that flourished prior to China’s unification.

However, Qin was of the view that such philosophies posed a great threat to his authority. As a result, he ordered the burning of all literature that was not related to his reign. Additionally, following his instructions, approximately 460 scholars with different schools of thought were buried alive, as a result of disagreeing with him. An additional 700 were stoned to death. From then on, the only approved school of thought was Legalism, which forced all and sundry to follow his laws, or face the consequences (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Unification

As the First Emperor of a unified China, Qin came up with coins to reinforce unity. The coins, which were called banliang coins, were used in the new Qin Empire as the only single currency. As a result, other forms of currencies, like the bronze money, were discarded. Consequently, the standardization of coinage was seen as a great symbol of Qin’s authority, as well as being vital for economic development (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

The shape of the coins, which was circular, had a square hole within. The connotation of this comes from the fact that in early Chinese cosmology, they were of the view that the earth was square, with the heavens being regarded as being domed (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). In this way, the coin was considered as being a powerful symbol that united both the earth and heaven.

Another key step taken by Qin towards the unification of China was the announcement that standard weights as well as measures were to be used all over China. Additionally, he standardized written Chinese characters in order to come up with a script that could be read everywhere (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Previously, Chinese words were written in several other ways. By and large, by establishing standardized written Chinese characters, the reform gave him the impetus to govern and be in command of the cohesive empire more easily. Apparently, the Chinese still use the same characters based on Qin’s innovations (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

For the sake of reinforcing unification of China, the emperor also developed an extensive network of roads as well as canals. This was instrumental in improving trade and security between the provinces of China (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). He also decided to abide by five elements. These included water, the earth, metal, wood and fire. As a result of his birth element being water, he took the black color, with black becoming the color for flags, pennants and garments.

Protection and Defense

In order to guarantee the unification of China, the First Emperor constructed a great wall to protect the land from invaders, most of who came from the North. In order to complete the gigantic project, Qin captured well over 300,000 soldiers who lived, worked, and died in the remote parts of the empire (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

During his reign, Qin grappled with several assassination attempts that arose as a result of the extreme anxiety among the neighboring kingdoms (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). As a result, he set up a very powerful army, forcing neighboring rulers to tremble at the thought of his invasion. At some point, following a devastating earthquake that rocked another powerful kingdom, called Zhao, Qin capitalized on the catastrophe and invaded the entire region (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

The Foundations of His Political Philosophy

In order to strengthen his rule, Qin introduced the philosophy of Legalism, after doing away with Confucianism. Qin therefore established his rule based on the philosophy of legalism. According to this philosophy, strict laws are upheld, with severe punishment being meted out on those who were not obedient. Deeds which benefit other people were greatly rewarded while those which harm others were severely punished (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Additionally, legalism advocated for social reform and opposed old conventions. The philosophy of legalism was also based on the belief that agriculture should be developed and coupled with the establishment of a powerful army, resulting in a prosperous state. The development of agriculture was believed to result in abundant supplies of grain and cloth. On the other hand, a powerful army was meant to strengthen the power of the state.

Another key foundation of Legalism is the centralization of state power, with hereditary systems of governments being opposed (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Old fiefdoms and hereditary systems were thought to lead to feudal divisions as well as the rise of warlords. According to the philosophy, a strong and centralized state power would be instrumental in bringing subjects under control by using the combination of law, power and strategy.

Question Three: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Caste System

The Indian Caste system is traditionally one of the main dimensions in which people in India are socially differentiated through religion, class, tribe, gender, and language (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). There is no doubt about the existence of various forms of differentiation that is common in many societies (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). However, it becomes a big challenge, especially when one or more of the dimensions of overlapping become the sole basis of systematic ranking, which leads to disproportionate access to valued resources like income, power, wealth, and prestige (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Advantages of the Caste System

Instrument of Order

One of the main advantages of the Indian caste system is that it acts as an instrument of order. Since it offers the freedom of changing to a different caste, it is a mutually understandable order (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). As a result, people are in a better position of understanding their position in the society. This means that there is no chance for strife or prejudice that can take place in such a society.

Additionally, if one is not satisfied with his caste, he is able to arrive at another as a result of his hard work without choosing to engage in unsociable activities. The caste system is also instrumental in ensuring proper division of political, financial, physical, as well as religious powers (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Proper Division of Labor

Another key advantage of the Indian caste system is proper division of labor. In every society, one is bound to come across social misfits. This mainly happens as a result of somebody not finding pleasure in the kind of work they do (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). As a result, they are forced to do particular traditional occupations even if they do not want to. However, in the original caste system, there was provision for an individual to change his occupation, in accordance with his interests. This eventually makes easy an improved and appropriate division of labor (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Preservation of Culture

As a result of retaining its original statute, it has been able to preserve its cultural elements. For instance, the folk dance, rituals, and rites provide a particular community with the key advantage of preserving its unique cultural identity (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Since it provides vital insights into the human psyche, preservation of culture is instrumental in giving researchers a better perception of the society at large (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Disadvantages of the Caste System

The System Impedes Development

The caste system is known for dividing the society, thus impeding fiscal development. Some of the conflicts of castes lead to needless overheads on the part of the government (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). The funds used in controlling agitations and riots can be used in doing other developmental activities. In most cases, the caste system can lead to regionalism which is an extra burden to the leadership (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

The Castes System Hampers Peaceful Coexistence

Due to the fact that there is lack of appropriate unifying factor amongst the populace, the caste system can lead to disorder and variance in the society (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). In most cases, abhorrence becomes widespread, both in its active as well as dormant forms. In many ways, a society that is marred by such events is likely to fragment and become prone to antagonistic emotions. As a result, peace becomes elusive (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Misuse of Caste Status

In some cases, a high or a low caste status is used in achieving unjustified advantages. In order to be admitted in certain institutions, people create or bribe officials to fake documents in order to present themselves to be belonging to a low caste. In some cases, in order to access wealth from a wealthy groom, individuals end up faking their identities to be perceived as the high caste (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

How the Caste System Reflected the Indian Society

The division of castes makes up one of the most elementary features of India’s societal composition. The caste reflected the Indian society by the way in which the actual social interactions form the ideal schemes of values (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). As a matter fact, members of diverse castes are expected to conduct themselves in different ways as well as have diverse values and ideals (Deshpande, 2010). By and large, the differences are sanctioned by the traditional Hindu religion, which is the dominant religion in India (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011).

Historically, the caste structure of stratification was actually justified through conventional Hindu religious texts. The system was actually rationalized in ancient Indian society (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). On the whole, the original caste system was established to maintain harmony and co-operation in the Indian society. People were assigned varnas (caste system) on the basis of their aptitude and qualities. Due to the fact that it was subject to change, it was flexible and therefore it encouraged a healthy social life in a society (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). 

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