Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #5 - India
Author: BBC
Author: Robert Lindsay
                                                         Barbarians on the Throne
The ability for cultures to evolve and change to the point that it would be unrecognizable by previous members has been around since the Paleolithic era, as societies became more advanced and as they adapted to both their political and natural geography their traditions, opinions, and morals changed. This change became even more noticeable as written records came into existence, as it allowed for a clear change to be observed over the course of time. These changes usually occur fluidly, as cultures adapt to their worlds and poor ideas die off, however there are some cases during which a cultural shift is forced upon a society, often bringing massive repercussions to that entire region. Many this change is rejected initially, as the affected peoples attempt to regain their culture and society. Very few times do cultures easily make way to these shifts without resistance, as they attempt to hold on to their traditions and beliefs. 
An image depicting probable Aryan migration routes
The Vedas, written in Sanskrit
One clear example of a large cultural shift occurred in Ancient India, as the Indo-European speaking Aryans invaded and conquered India from it's original inhabitants, the Dravidians. The Dravidians were a scientific people, who were focused on technology and the arts. They lived in the Indo-Gangetic Plain of northern India initially. They had a rich culture, and were devoid of large scale conflict, and much like the Indus Valley Civilization, they were far more advanced than their neighbors. However, like the Indus Valley, they were devoid of large scale training and armies that other people's possessed. This meant that when the militaristic tribes of the Aryans migrated from Persia into their territory, the Dravidians were easily conquered and many were forced to move onto the Deccan Plateau of southern India. This initial encounter most likely changed the Dravidians, as they were forcibly moved from their home, they probably reformed, hoping to be more ready for the Aryan tribes. The Aryans followed quickly however, and in the end all of India was theirs, as the Dravidians were subjugated and forced to become second class citizens. It is also believed that the caste system developed from the subjugation of the Dravidians, who became the Sudra caste, the workers and farmers. The ruling Aryan class developed into the Kshatriyas, the rulers and warriors, and the Aryan priests became the highest caste, the Brahmins. The caste system developed because inter-racial marriage was banned, making the assimilation of the two peoples into one impossible. The Aryans also brought their religion, which were based off of the Aryan religious texts, the Vedas, and which had the Brahmin clergy. This was extremely different the native Dravidian religion, which was based off of folk lore, and wasn't centralized by any text or clergy. The Aryan Vedic pantheon would merge with the Dravidian pantheon to create the early form of Hinduism. In many ways the Aryans were the stark opposites of the Dravidians, and it's probably safe to assume the Dravidians didn't take it easily. Simply being conquered usually causes unrest, however to be subjugated by a people barbaric in comparison to the Dravidians would have been unacceptable to the now low caste subjects. The Aryans didn't leave many records for modern historians in terms of writing, so much of it must be assumed and guessed, however observation of other cultures in similar situations, such as the Gauls in France, give obvious clues to what probably ensued. The Dravidians most likely revolted, however obviously failed, in order to achieve freedom and regain their own society. It is most likely that these revolts continued for several generations, only stopping after the freedom the Dravidians one had was forgotten, and new generations acted more and more like their rulers.
Another culture which is resisting assimilation in modern times are the Uighurs. The Turkic Uighurs are a people living within the Xinjiang Province of China, which is the eastern most province of China, touching eight different nations. The Uighur people have had varying degrees of freedom throughout history, as the Russians, Mongols, and Chinese fight over the territory. Sometimes, however, the Uighurs have maintained independence from its neighbors. When the Xinjiang Province fell into the control of the current Chinese government, the Chinese began increasing the wealth of the province by increasing its petrochemical output, which now makes up for 60% of the province's GDP. In order to assimilate the Uighurs, and also to help run the new industry in the area, the
The Xinjiang Province
government of China has been moving Han-Chinese people into the province since 1990. This has caused ethnic tensions between the Muslim Uighurs and the Buddhist or non-religious Han, as the Uighurs believe the area to be theirs, and desire to separate from China. The Uighur peoples also believe that they have been discriminated and marginalized against by the current government. The separatist movement has received support from several Muslim organizations, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Movement. The separatists have been responsible for several protests, and also blamed for several terrorist attacks, such as bus bombings and attacking Han citizens. The government's response has been harsh, often executing suspected terrorists and moving the army into the Xinjiang province.
Both of these cultural clashes are based off of the attempt to conquer and forcibly assimilate one culture into another, however each are different for several reasons. Both peoples were conquered by those with completely different religions, however the Dravidians had an unorganized pantheon simply based off of local folk lore and legend, while the Uighur people are Muslim, and have a strict clergy and belief. It is easier to assimilate an unorganized pantheon because less of the actual history is known, and the conquerors can assimilate pieces of it into their own religion in order to claim that the conquered were mostly right, they just forgot one piece. This assimilation of beliefs occurred with
Muslim Uighurs Protesting
the Gaelic religions and Christianity, as Christianity merged with several Gaelic beliefs to become what was known as the Celtic Church. The Uighur people have codes, and know everything they need about their religion, making it very hard to try to convince them to switch. They both know what will happen if they do switch and, Buddhism is such a different religion that the concept would seem foreign and strange. Both peoples, the Dravidians and Uighurs, have been discriminated against by their rulers, however in different ways. The Dravidians were forced to stay poor, as it was their caste, and could never own their own land. The Uighurs claim that their jobs are being replaced by the Han, who they think are getting preference. They also believe that they are being paid less for the few jobs they get. This means many are unable to find a steady source of income, unlike the Dravidians, who while having poor jobs, they were still employed. Both peoples are also being controlled by a culture wildly different than their own. The technological and peaceful Dravidians were conquered by the backwards and warlike Aryans, while the Muslim and Traditional Uighur peoples are being controlled by the Buddhist and non-religious Han, who are also more progressive. The Dravidians are an extreme example of a people being conquered by stark opposites, however the Uighur people are being controlled by a capitalistic society who have much different ideas on morals and laws than the Uighurs. While both peoples were conquered at different times, the circumstances they have been put in have been very similar. The quote,"Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it" can be applied directly to this situation. It may very well be in China's best interest to let the Xinjiang province go, before the backlash for attempting a forced change on the Uighur peoples occurs.

Muslim Uighurs:
Xinjiang Province:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Silk Road Map

Materials Traded:

Woven goods

Woven Goods

Middle East:

Rayy (Persia):
Wool rugs

Taxila (Afghanistan):

Patalene (Pakistan):

Samarkand (Kazakhstan):
Lap dogs
Lapis Lazuli

Pataliputra (India):

Lhasa (Tibet):

Xian (China):



Lop Nor:


Along the Silk Road, many things other than materials were spread. The Silk Road brought Buddhism to China, along with Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, and Nestorianism. Paper making, printing, gunpowder and the compass were all technologies that were brought from China to the West over time. Other things, such as karez, or the technique of storing water in desolate conditions, were also spread to the west. Islam spread to parts of China and India, while China also brought silk spinning to the rest of the world. Many towns and cities along the Silk Road were architecturally similar, as ideas on structure spread. Another thing that spread were types of music and dance, and it is known that music from Easter Turkestan and Central Asia were quite popular in China at the time.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Women in China

Conner Lewis, World History 4                                                             12/1/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Women in China

Women's Strange Relationship in China                  

As many religions do, Taoism and Buddhism both had many positions for female members, consisting of nunneries, theological discussions and debates, and leading temples and convents. These faiths were all practiced widely in China, and this gave women the ability to lead more independent and self sufficient lives, which was not considered the "norm" at the time. It also allowed for women to gain education in the areas of theology, and also taught women how to become literate. Taoism also believed that women were equal to men, as the yin is to yang, opposite and both essential. This even further enforced a woman's equality. This initial openness slowly empowered women to the point that women received a very open position in the world, at least in most dynasties. This is because as women became educated, they taught their children, and raised the expectations for their own daughters. Many women went on to become poets, historians, and artists. Some even became administrators, and took other positions in the government. Confucianism, which is a philosophy based around order and relationships, describes women as subordinates to their husbands in marriages, and that they should remain with the natural order by staying within their house. This belief was only exemplified by many people's assumption that women and men should perform different tasks and have different expectations. Over time all these beliefs developed into the belief that woman belong as subordinates to their husbands, and should do "women's work", such as weaving and housekeeping. This, like the education of woman, changed the standards, and degraded women's power in China. NeoConfucianism, which is a philosophy that comes as a mixture of old Confucian ideals and new cultural beliefs at the time, had even stricter laws prohibiting and monitoring women's social status. NeoConfucianism was a mixture of old Confucian ideals and the newly introduced Mongolian culture and ideology. The Mongols had strict rules for women, and many practices carried over to this new philosophy. The practices enforced on women were that of footbinding, limiting movement and harming a women's foot, chastity for widows, and the selling of unwanted daughters. These all harmed women's social status immensely, as the chastity meant widows were forced to not have any more children, whether they wanted to or not, and the selling of daughters further enforced the belief of a man's power over woman in the family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancient India Agriculture Assignment

Conner Lewis         12/1/14
Period 4

          Agriculture within the Indian sub-continent has many unique features not found in other agrarian societies. These features developed in order to help guide farmers and keep agriculture successful. They have been enveloped in both the culture and religion of the region for so long that often times their worldly purpose is forgotten. One of these features is the sacredness of cows, who are forbidden to be killed in Hinduism. This belief developed due to the drastic climate of India and the agricultural importance of cows. Many farmers would turn to slaughtering cows for meat during droughts and monsoons, however this action is extremely narrow-minded and only benefit the short term situation. Cows, who birth the oxen to move plows, also provide services such as manure for heat and construction as well as milk. These benefits are more useful in the long run than some meat is at the time. Fine times farmers without cows also cannot gain any more ox for their plows, meaning they lose the ability to farm. This is why Hinduism developed the sacred cow as a belief, to give a spiritual reason for farmers to not succumb to short sighted desires.
             All of the agricultural features in India are due to the geography of India, which can be split
into two very broad sections, the north and the south. The north, which extends from the Himalayas in the north and the Satpura Mountains in the south, is almost completely covered by the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a very lush area, covered mainly by large plains. This area is also home to large amounts of rivers and lush valleys, such as the Indus River Valley. The south starts from the Satpura Mountains in the north to the tip of India in the south. This land is drastically different, being covered in mostly by the Deccan Plateau. This plateau varies from semi-arid to tropical climates, however this is all depending on the monsoons arriving. Because it is a plateau, there are very few rivers, meaning all of the water comes from monsoons.
           This reliance on monsoons causes another very important aspect of Indian agriculture, possibly the most important factor, is the prevalence of monsoons and droughts. The monsoon season occurs from the 25 of May to the end of November. These monsoons, however, are unpredictable, and while they occur at similar times when they come, there are times when the monsoon does not come. This is a vital part of rural life in India, as most of the farms rely on the yearly monsoon to stay fertile by the silt it brings as well as the nutrients and water that comes along. The entire agricultural calendar relies on the monsoons, because the farmers plant as quickly as they can after the monsoon season and winter end and harvest before it arrives. When this season does not come, however, it causes a massive drought across all of India. That is why these droughts are often directly followed by famines. This unpredictability causes many stable sources of water to become revered. This is why Hinduism reveres the river Ganges as a deity.
            This causes water conservation to be an important action for farmers to perform, as it is vital to do as a fail safe just in case the monsoon is late or absent. It also means that being near the rare reliable water sources is very important. All of this causes pollution in rivers to be egregious, as people attempt to gather water from it while hundreds of nearby farms irrigate in and out of it, bringing more salt into it, and it also means that waste often times finds a way into it. This is due to the large population centered on all the river's banks. This means that while it is important for people to attain water, most of the reliable water sources are contaminated beyond use. All of this makes
having fail safes in case of drought extremely difficult, and this culminates to mean that if monsoons do not come, famine is unavoidable.
              The possibility of famine would logically cause most Indian farmers to turn to more high yielding crops, such as wheat and rice, however lots of the most fertile land in the Indo-Gangetic Plain is used for cash crops, such as sugar cane and cotton. This is because these lands are ideal for growing massive amounts of cash crops, and these lands are also usually owned by very wealthy land owners. These land owners are more concerned with increasing their wealth, as they are not worried
about running out of food. This is why much of the most fertile lands are not used to maximize the food supply which could then be distributed to the starving, and why the lack of monsoons is such a problem for the poor and middle class. This also shows the different priorities for poor and wealthy, and this is only strengthened by the caste system in Hinduism, which justifies this large wealth gap.

The Twelve Agricultural Commandments

1. Thou shall not kill any cows, without exception.
2. Thou shall not drain irrigation directly into any freshwater rivers.
3. Thou shalt store at least 20 gallons of fresh water for each monsoon season.
4. Thou shalt plant no less than 20 acres of food crops to be granted to local granaries every in case of droughts if you are of the Kshatriyas class.
5. Thou shalt own no more than 200 acres of suitable farm land in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, to make way for both government owned farms and small independent farms.
6. Thou shalt grow only rice and wheat on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, to maximize food production.
7. Thou shalt charge no more than 236 rupees for a  bushel of rice.
8. All granaries shall save 50 bushels of wheat for Sudra and Untouchables if the yearly monsoon is absent the year before.
9. Thou shalt harvest all fields before the 23 of May, to allow time for these resources to be stored.
10. Thou shalt begin to plant seeds during the calends of February.
11. A village shall provide a cow for each farmer if that farmer's previous cow was stolen or killed.
12. All farmers owning suitable farm land of 50 acres or less are exempt from rule 4.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #4 - Egypt
Author: Paul Rogers
Creator Man. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Author: Unknown
From Castles of the Dead To Towers of the Heavens

           One main goal of all nations is to continue that nation's rule over its people and land. Throughout history it has been crucial for a nation to keep its people satisfied in order to keep stability. One main way for a government to maintain it's rule is to instill its people with a sense of nationality and comradery, which will make a nation's people more united in the idea of their country. Many nation's find different ways to accomplish this binding between individuals, and use methods that can range from slogans and banners to parades and speeches. Great Britain and many other nations during the 19th and 20th century are great examples of how nationalism can help keep a country both stable and prosperous. Ancient Egypt accomplished this sense of union through the construction of great wonders. These wonders would act not only as symbols of that nation's power, but also as symbols which could instill pride and comradery within its own people. These wonders were the pyramids, massive stone tetrahedrons which were constructed with uncanny skill, both mathematically and architecturally. These structures baffle even the scientists and historians of today, and are marvels of the Ancient World. They took huge amounts of manual labor to complete, which Ancient Egypt had to spare as the seasonal floods meant during the off season, farmers were free to work on other projects. These structures served two major roles for Ancient Egypt. They acted as symbols of strength for the nation, warning off foreigners by showing what the combined might of Egypt could accomplish. They also acted as symbols of unity and pride for the people of Ancient Egypt. These pyramids employed hundreds of thousands of workers to complete them, and this sense of being part of something large instilled many Egyptians with a sense of bonding to other workers. It also instilled others with a sense of wonder, as when the workers went home and spread the word of these massive structures, their families and villages would be in awe at the power of the state. In turn this awe and unity led to the legitimacy of the pharaohs, as it kept the people in line underneath them. This is because the workers, now feeling friendship and bonds towards others of the nation, felt pride in their country and pride in their current leadership. This national pride in turn led to stability, as people were content of their leadership. It is this stability and nationalism that allowed Egypt to remain for so long. Nobody wishes to rebel or overthrow a government that they are proud to be a part of. Even for the pharaohs who built no pyramids, they served as great reminders of the power behind the pharaoh. This stability in turn led to Egypt allowing itself to turn outwards, and focus on matters other than internal peace. This is why they were able to expand into an even vaster empire, and why they were able to leave such a mark on world history. In this way the pyramids contributed a great deal to the success and longevity of the Egyptian state, and why it is still remembered as one of the greatest powers of the Ancient World.
           Another great works is also underway in an area very close to Egypt, the Middle East, this time however, it is taking place in the Modern Era. The Kingdom Tower is currently being constructed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, very close to the city of Mecca. This tower is currently under construction, however will be the tallest building in the world upon completion, and is planned on measuring at a kilometer high. This construction is one of the most ambitious in history, and is supposed to have 200 floors serviced by 59 elevators. The total cost is planned on being 1.25 billion US dollars, and will be completed in 2019. This tower is supposed to serve as a national symbol for Saudi Arabia, and as a wonder to show the power of Saudi Arabia. It is also supposed to show the economic strength of the nation, and its nations ingenuity and worth.
           Many nations turn to construction and wonders as a way to ensure nationalism within their country for several reasons. While many would believe that such structures would be very inefficient, as their cost would greatly outweigh their worth, these critics are wrong. It is true that such structures cost fortunes of wealth, their contribution to a nation is far greater than the worldly cost. Firstly, these structures serve as symbols of a nations power. This power can be economical or militaristic. For the Egyptians it showed both the wealth of the pharaoh and also the sheer manpower he commanded. To create such a massive structure required a large workforce, and this large workforce could also be trained as soldiers and given equipment using the obvious fortune the pharaoh's held. This warned foreigners of the possible might of the Ancient Egyptians. The Kingdom Tower, on the other hand, shows the ingenuity and economical strength of Saudi Arabia. It shows that the economy is flourishing there, and that they have as much wealth as any of the nations often considered economically powerful. Either way it is used, these massive wonders serve a symbols for the power of a nation and its government. It also is used to boost the nationalism of all its people, and this way is most important. The Pyramids of Egypt boosted nationalism because it meant that all of the workers felt connected, and as part of something bigger than themselves. It also meant that any Egyptians passing it could feel pride in what their nation could accomplish. People would hear of it far and wide, of what they could accomplish as a group. The Arabians, however, use it to increase nationalism differently. They do not employ huge amounts of manual labor, and the comradery that comes from the towers is much more symbolic. Instead of gaining this unity through work, it instead is a symbolic way for the country to show its own power to its people. It shows their people what they can accomplish with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. In this way, while the Kingdom Tower is more a symbolic representation of Saudi Arabian power, it is just as powerful as the Pyramids.

Kingdom Tower:
Pyramid of Giza:
WWI Poster:

Chinese Philosophy Activity

Chinese Philosophy Activity

Buddhists believe that life is suffering, and the main goal of any person is to break free of the cycle of life death and rebirth, known as samsara, and reach Nirvana. To do this, people must live by the Eight-fold Path which is a set of instructions teaching people how to live their lives. They also must have good karma, which is all the actions of their previous lives, good or bad. They also believe that based off of karma, people will be reincarnated as different beings. Good karma leads to better lives in the future or even the chance to leave the cycle of samsara and enter Nirvana.

Confucianism is a philosophy centered around an individuals place in society and family. It is centered around the responsibilities of individuals within certain relationships. There are five main relationships, Father to Son, Ruler to Ruled, Wife to Husband, Friend to Friend, and Oldest Sibling to Younger Siblings. Each party within these relationships had responsibilities, and while it was the duty of the Ruled to be obedient, it was also the duty of the Ruler to be just and honorable. Confucianism also believed that all men should be ethical, and that education was an important part of life. Family was the most basic unit of society, and people were taught to act as if the nation was a family, and the ruler was the father. It also believed that by following these basic tenants, even those of poor or lower class could become good men. The main goal of a leader is to act as both a role model and a benevolent ruler of their people.

Taoism/Daoism is a religion in China focusing on the worship of nature, inner purity and succession of personal desire. They believe in Tao, which is a natural force of reality. Daoism, or "The Way" is the natural order of the world. They are very passive, believing in non-action, and believe that order and equilibrium are the natural and best way of the world. They strive to achieve order, and in a way are very similar to Confucian beliefs, however are more spiritual. They believe that all things came from nothing, and appeared spontaneously due to Tao, without a creator being. Instead of believing in a divine being who controls the world, they believe instead in Tao, a natural force which exists everywhere.

Legalism is a philosophy in stark contrast to Confucian ideals. They believe in harsh and powerful governments to manage the people, and that they cannot lead themselves. They believe that a ruler should run their nation based off of a trinity. This trinity is that of Fa, Shu and Shi. Fa is the belief that laws should be public and equal. They also believed that upholding these laws is paramount, and that those who break them should be given no reprieve. These laws also controlled the state, not the ruler. This meant that these laws were not created to keep unfair rulers in check, but instead merely to control the nation. Shu is the belief that rulers should be secretive and should not allow the state to be lost to others.  Shi is the belief that the rulers post, not the ruler, holds power. This means that a ruler must be vigilant towards current events, should they wish to be a good ruler, as it is them but merely their position which holds the nation.

Religions and Philosophy differ in several ways. Religions are beliefs which explain creation, purpose and the afterlife. They explain not only what to do in this life, but particularly why individuals exist and what happens after death. It also covers how the universe came to exist. Philosophies focus upon how to live this life both ethically and morally. They focus on how to be a good person and what is expected of an individual in society. They do not concern themselves with divinity or spirituality, and focus upon this life and how it can be lived correctly.

Confucianism and Legalism are philosophies, they focus on how life should be lived and what is expected both morally and ethically of an individual and a state. They cover how people should behave in society and life, and not what comes after this life or what came before. Taoism and Buddhism are religions, but also philosophies. They cover not only how the universe was created, what the divine being is, and what comes next, but also how this life should be spent. Taoists believe that order and equilibrium should be the goal of all people, and that life should be spent in non-action. Buddhists believe in the Eight-fold path, which consists of teachings and instructions on how this life should be spent, and what the correct way of life is. It also states that this life should be spent doing good deeds so that others may be better than the last.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confucian's Confucing Concerns

Conner Lewis                                                                                                                    11/13/14
Thoughts and Reflections on: The Indifference of Confucius

Confucian's Confucing Concerns

          Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, was different from many others spreading their words throughout the world, as he never stated his teachings were those past down by divine beings. Unlike others, such as Jesus and Abraham, he never claimed to be a prophet of anything divine. In fact, Confucius was quite indifferent to attempting to know the afterlife and understand it foolish and not worthy of his time, and was entirely unconcerned with the creation of the universe. Confucius instead devoted his time, and his thoughts on matters of the present and of this life. He believed that men should focus on improving themselves from the lessons of their past, and of their ancestors. He also believed that to achieve this improvement, people had to learn to respect those higher than themselves, and he taught of the relationships which commanded respect. These relationships are also known as the five bonds; ruler to ruled, father to son, husband to wife, elder brother to younger brother, and friend to friend. However, each member of these bonds had to uphold standards, and it was the duty of those above others to be morally right and good men. This meant that even though it was the duty of the ruled to be obedient, it was the duty of the ruler to uphold themselves as a paragon of virtue, as to be a worthy role model for those beneath them. This belief was unconcerned with the ideas of an afterlife, and deities, and acts more as a social practice and sets of standards which are there to make life more orderly. Confucianism is a social practice and not a religion because it is not a set of stories and doctrines speaking of the origins of the universe, its purpose, and the afterlife. Instead, it focuses on how to be a worthy and model citizen in this life. 
Yin and Yang, often used as a symbol of Confucianism

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chinese Map Activity

          The physical features of China affected Chinese early development in a way similar to India. In China, the ways to the east, west, and north are blocked by terrain, similar to India. To the east, the Pacific Ocean and Yellow Sea stop most traffic from this route. Then to the north the Gobi desert stops settling and traffic from this direction, and finally to the west the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas stop settling or traffic as well. This means that the people of China are forced to settle in the area between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, which also is very fertile. This blocked in area means contact to outsiders is difficult, which helped support their theory of being the center of the world. This theory also supported the Chinese belief in superiority, which spewed hatred and bigot-ism towards those considered lesser. They considered most outside their realm to be barbarians, such as the Mongols and Xiongnu. This isolationism also meant that the large population, which grew due to growing high yield rice crops and fertile soil, was crammed in a small area of land. While this land was still the size of Europe, it also held a fourth of the world's population. This cramped society, along with the Mandate of Heaven supporting and justifying rebellions, meant that many dynasty's would rise and fall in Chinese history.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ancient India Activity

Shiva was believed to be a destroyer. He was believed to have destroyed the world periodically when it was in chaos and ungodliness state. He would then recreate the world an make it peaceful again. Shiva is one of the 3 principal gods of Hinduism. Shiva I is also believed to be the source of good and evil. He wears a 3rd eye to represent wisdom and untamed energy. Shiva is important to ancient India because it brings peace and order to the world when in a bad situation and allows people to have peaceful lives.

Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. Hinduism originated 8,000 years ago during the Neolithic Era. Hinduism was supposedly started in the Indus Valley. Hinduism has a large sphere of influence primarily in places: Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In Hinduism the soul is in a cycle of death and rebirth. The character of the soul is determined by karma. Hinduism is important to ancient India because it is the main religion but it also                

Ganesha was the lord of strength and wisdom. To represent strength and wisdom Ganesha had an elephant head. People in India prayed to Ganesha before a long journey to bring them success. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati. In many pictures of Ganesha his fingers are depicted pointing up as a gesture of protection. Ganesha is important to ancient India because they believe that he protects them and gives them strength.

Ganges River
The Ganges River is a river coming from the Himalayas which flows down into India and parallel with the mountains. It is crucial, along with the Indus River, in feeding the people of India. It provides water for over 1 billion people. For this it is revered by the Hindus as a god, as the god Ganga. They believe that Ganga was water of the heaven, however was ordered to go to earth. The gods were worried this would flood the earth, so Shiva caught her fall in his locks. His locks then became the rivers, and so Ganga is supposed to be within each river. It is considered so holy that even looking at the Ganges can cleanse a Hindu of sins from a previous life. People also cleanse in the Ganges for the same reason.

Lakshmi is the goddess of beauty , wealth, and prosperity. She is the associate of Vishnu. She is represented as a beautiful woman with four arms. She is also often depicted sitting or standing on a lotus bud. Her four arms each represent something. They are artha (worldly wealth and success), kama (pleasure and desire), dharma(righteousness), and moksha ( knowledge and liberation). She is usually holding something in each of her four arms. In her two front arms she is holding a lotus flower in each hand. They are the symbol of purity and fertility. In her back two arms she is holding gold coins in each hand. They are the symbol of wealth. Lakshmi is important to Ancient India because she is someone that the ancient Indians could pray to when they didn’t have much wealth or were in a bad place in their lives.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Milked For All They Got

Conner Lewis, World History 4 11/7/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Mother Cow
Article by Marvin Harris
Milked For All They Got

          Cows in India serve many functions, from housing to agriculture. Cow's manure is used for fuel in ovens as coal, wood, and oil are very difficult for low level farmers and Indians in general to acquire. This means having cows available also allows for continuous fuel as well as other benefits. Manure is also a common form of fertilizer, allowing for higher crop yields. It also acts as a housing material because if left to harden it can become a hard floor, which can be swept and kept clean. The main reason they are kept around however is that having cows available ensures the ability to acquire more oxen and milk. By keeping cows around, farmers can have an available source for oxen, which act as the main horsepower towing their ploughs. While the Indian zebu cow does not produce that much milk, it is enough to be worthwhile. All of this is even more useful as cows don't even feed off of what humans do, meaning that they can be left to wander and scavenge also still provide useful services for farmers. The real reason it is taboo for a Hindu to kill a cow is that in the extreme seasons of India, monsoons and droughts, it is very tempting for farmers to kill cows in the short term. However this is detrimental as although the food might be useful at the time, during normal seasons without a cow the farmers would slowly lose oxen and then have nothing to plough their fields. This would either kill them through famine or force them into cities. In the long term the cows are much more beneficial than the short term supply. Americans and other modernized nations perform the same task as cows and oxen by using tractors and chemical fertilizer. The tractors can pull our ploughs while fertilizer acts as the manure from cows. This is, however, less environmentally friendly than the Indian way, as the chemicals and pollution from tractors can be detrimental to the environment. Some pesticides, such as DDT, can cause harm to the fauna as well. DDT causes infertility in birds, which can greatly effect bird populations. Cows, on the other hand, act as part of the ecosystem, and do not cause harm to nearby environments. It is clear that Indians use their cows more efficiently, as they take every aspect of the cow into account and exploit it. When cows are alive they are milked, provide manure for houses, fuel, and fertilizer, and also provide steady streams of oxen to plough the fields. On top of that, upon dying their meat is fed to the Harijans, or untouchables. The Americans, on the other hand, tend to only use one aspect of the cow depending on breed. Certain cows are used for milk, and others meat, not both.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Unity of Sedentary Worlds

Conner Lewis, World History 4 11/4/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Caste
   Wall of Unity
          The caste system of Hinduism has been an integral part of India's history for millennia, however, now it proves to be both a blessing and a curse. The system gives people who follow it a sense of purpose, and this sense of purpose allows people to remain where they are in society, thus increasing national stability. However now this system also divides castes, as the lower classes hold much resentment for the higher and more "privileged" castes. The caste system is a system found in Hinduism which determines ones role in society and their dharma, or life goal. A person's caste is determined by their karma, which is the good and bad deeds they have performed in previous lives. If they do well enough in accomplishing their dharma in a previous life, through the process of samsara and reincarnation, they can move up in the caste in a next life. The ultimate goal is to leave samsara and achieve unity of their atman, or soul, with the god Brahman. This is moshka, and upon reaching moshka they achieve Nirvana. The caste system entered India after the nomadic Aryans invaded India and brought their religion, which was stored in the Vedas. The Aryan people became the Warriors and rulers who would later form the Kshatriyas, and the Aryan priests would later form the Brahmins. The conquered people's were the Sudra, and the merchants became the Vaisya. Because the Aryans would not marry out of their people, the hereditary caste system formed. The caste system gives a sense of unity to the Hindus and also a sense of purpose. It allows them to believe that hard work in this life will lead to a better life down the line, and that they should follow their dharma and not try to revolt in this life. The caste system still survives because people still resent marrying out of their caste, and also because lower castes are given aids by the government. This aid program attempts to level the playing field for all castes, however it just causes the caste system to persist longer as now there are economical reasons to know what caste you are in.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #3 - Mesopotamia
Author: British Government Communication Service
Speiser, E. A. "Ancient Mesopotamia: A Light That Did Not Fail." The National Geographic Magazine [Washington D.C.] Jan. 1951: 41-57. Print.
Author: E. A. Speiser
   Symbolic Kings

          The role of monarchs differs from nation to nation, often based off of political and cultural beliefs of that area. Monarchs can fall anywhere on the spectrum, from supreme dictator, to a figurehead holding little or no power. This latter form of monarchy is often accompanied by some form of republic which holds true power of the nation. This form of government is often called a constitutional monarchy, in which the true power is held by a group of people. This form of government became prevalent in ancient Mesopotamia as a result of their religious, cultural, and moral beliefs. The Mesopotamian government first evolved through several different forms until reaching a government very similar to modern constitutional monarchies. Mesopotamian cities began acting as theocracies with features similar to a republic. The heads of temples and other religious centers shared the
power and together made decisions. While this is similar to a constitutional monarchy in that there is power delegated to a group of people, however the part that would make it a  monarchy, the monarch, is lacking. After this the city-states of Mesopotamia evolved into absolute monarchies, in which the monarch has absolute power. This is again only half of a constitutional monarchy, in that it actually has a monarch, but unlike the symbolic power of a constitutional monarchy, the monarch truly has complete control of their nation. The Mesopotamian cities then evolved into a system now recognized as a constitutional monarchy. This change happened due to the religious and cultural beliefs of Mesopotamia at the time. The people of Mesopotamia had a much greater sense of equality and human rights than other cultures of the time, and this was in part due to and solidified by their religion. The religion of Mesopotamia believed that all humans were held accountable under the same laws and expectations, meaning in this sense they were all equal. The gods of the Mesopotamian people were also considered very powerful and moody, meaning that pleasing them was a high priority. This belief sparked from the irregular floods of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which were believed to be in the control of the gods. In order to keep these essential floods coming, the gods had to be pleased. Because all kings were human, and fallible, and the gods had to be pleased, most kings created councils of trusted advisers to help them maintain a safe balance with their people and their gods. Over time, these councils grew in power, as the kings relied more and more on their support. This occurred until the kings had almost no power, and thus forming a constitutional monarchy. One in which a group of people, voting and deciding on decisions of a nation, are in power, while the monarch appears merely as a symbol of the nation.
          Constitutional monarchies have become even more prevalent as more and more nations are diverting power from singular rulers to larger groups of citizens. One nation which has developed a strong constitutional monarchy is the United Kingdom, which maintains a ruling monarch and a parliamentary government. The parliament holds two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Back when the class system was prevalent in the UK, the House of Lords and House of Commons were staffed by people of different backgrounds. The House
of Lords was staffed by the nobles of the nation. Meanwhile the House of Commons was made to represent the commoners and traders of the nation. These two separate houses create and withhold the laws of the nation, while the monarch acts as a symbol for the nation to unite behind. The monarchs of England have some powers, such as the ability to stop a prime minister to dissolve Parliament if it would lead to a minority party
from gaining power in the nation. They can also call Parliament into a meeting, and call for a new election for representatives into the House of Commons.
          This form of government has been created in many different places, and at many different times, however often for different reasons. The Parliament of England, which later evolved into the Parliament of the United Kingdoms, began due to nobles of England wishing to regain power within the nation as Henry III began to rely less and less upon their support. A revolution began, and after winning, the revolutionaries installed early forms of Parliament. This is radically different from the Mesopotamian evolution into a constitutional monarchy, and can give key insights into why this form of government can become prevalent. One of the most obvious reasons is that councils of people can be more trustworthy and reliable than individuals, as they can keep themselves in check and generally, with obvious exceptions, are less susceptible to personal bias influencing decisions. Monarchies are unreliable, as it is possible to have one good king, but then the next may be poor. Meanwhile councils in which representatives are voted in based on skill, and not due to family lines, are much more likely to have continually good members. People also often trust elected individuals more, as they are more sure of that individuals ability and beliefs. The second reason these governments have not evolved into complete republics is that monarchies often act as symbols from which nationalism and unity can form. This is why monarchies persist, as they are symbolic for the unity and power of the nation.

Mesopotamian Kings:
Parliamentary Elections:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Egyptian Sarcophagus

Conner Lewis
World History 4

The symbols placed upon my sarcophagus will help me in the afterlife in many ways. The first is that both the knife and the gun will protect me from any possible threats of violence. The band-aid and first aid kit will allow for me to preform simple medical procedures. The clothes are there for both decency and protection against the elements. The flashlight will allow me to see in the dark. The cross will allow me to continue my religious practices in the afterlife, and the false eye will protect my body from grave robbers. The door will allow my spirit to escape the sarcophagus and enter my eternal afterlife. The phoenix shall be the symbol of my rebirth, and is placed on my heart as a necklace as to be weighed against the Feather of Truth on Anubis' scale. The bike will allow easy transportation, while the glasses allow me to see the world. The image of my family will hopefully keep me company and allow me to find them in the afterlife. The key will allow me to enter through any gate or door I may come across. The Money was for the ability to have enough money to survive. The practice of creating a sarcophagus for individuals, and detailing them with very important items, shows that the Ancient Egyptians believed death to simply be a brief halt in life, and that after death came eternal life, at least if you were pious towards the gods. In order to reach the afterlife, one had to not only be a good person, but also recite many spells and passwords from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This belief probably came from the importance gods had in daily life, and that it would make sense that they would be important to reach the afterlife. The belief that life continues after death in the same way as before probably stemmed from the fact that life in Egypt had remained the same for so many centuries, and that life after death wouldn't change either.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Light That Did Not Fail

Conner Lewis, World History 4 10/16/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Ancient Mesopotamia: A Light That Did Not Fail
Article by E A. Speiser
Published By The National Geographic Society
Publishing Date: January, 1951

Mesopotamia, The Multicolored Light the Hardly Faltered
Mesopotamia was a melting pot for many cultures, and this helped it greatly in its road to success. Many cultures, for example the Sumerians, migrated into Mesopotamia and decided to settle down within the area because of the highly fertile lands and rich culture already in place. While the Sumerians migrated peacefully, as far as we can tell, many cultures came through conquest of Mesopotamia and decided to settle down in the area due to the rich and enticing culture which had developed in the area. Many of these conquerors, such as the Kassites, came from the mountains in the north, which is present day Iran. All of these people added to the diversity of the civilization developing within Mesopotamia. 
Mesopotamian ideals and beliefs still live on into modern day society, and many of these beliefs are the foundation of modern governments and communities. One of the most important ideals to survive is that of democracy, which appeared in part due to the belief that the kings of Mesopotamia were mortal men, prone to the same mistakes as commoners. Due to this belief, and to the belief that Nature was a dangerous and precarious being, kings relied on the word of councils to advise them on matters. This assembly grew in power due to kings relying more and more upon them until they acted as the parliamentary government of the state. This new council was that of a parliamentary democracy in which a group of people voted and decided upon matters of the state. Another belief that survives until today was that of equality. Equality stemmed similarly from the way of democracy, through the belief that all humans were mortal men under the command of the gods. This belief meant that under the eyes of the gods and nature and king and commoner were equal. From this stemmed the belief in personal security. This came about because laws were rules laid out by the gods, and applied to all people. This means that nobody was above the law, and that personal property was encouraged. Since Mesopotamian people were protected by the gods to own their property, nobody could take it legally.
People in Mesopotamia built mounds atop the covered ruins of old settlements for several reasons. One reason is that by tracing the layout of the old town, the inhabitants believed they could receive the blessings of the gods worshiped by the old settlement. Another reason is that by building atop the mound of a destroyed city, the new settlement was much more defensible. Now that it acquired higher ground it could more easily defend itself from outside invasions. The final reason is that by building atop another settlement, the new settlement acquired the prestige and influence of the old state. The influence of the old settlement tended to remain centered around its location, and most often times the new settlement would be a successor to the old, filling its place culturally.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mesopotamian's Environment

Conner Lewis, World History 4 10/1/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Cadillac Desert
Article by Marc Reisney

Mesopotamian Environment Change
The Mesopotamians lived in the Fertile Crescent, between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, which is a great place for farming. However the Mesopotamians did not live within the confines of their environment because they used irrigation to allow for crops to grow even when rain did not come. Irrigation allows for a good harvest to be mostly ensured, because even if a drought occurs they can rely on water coming from the nearby water source through their canals. It also keeps soil healthy because the nutrients needed for soil to keep plants alive is brought and absorbed into the soil from the canals. Mesopotamians such as the Sumerians allowed for safer farming through irrigation but they also allowed for farming to occur in places it otherwise wouldn't have and on a much grander scale. Instead of being forced to farm along rivers and in very fertile areas, they could dig canals and irrigate land they wished to use. This meant even more land was viable. Irrigation also allowed for farming to occur over much larger areas because since more land could be kept fertile, a farmer could own larger amounts of land instead of small sets of fields along natural streams and rivers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #2 - Agrarian Era
Author: The World Religions & Spirituality Project
Author: Zachary Beauchamp
                                                       Religion and Empire
The Sassanid Empire
The invention and use of irrigation is what most historians believe to have led to the creation of cities and eventually states. The manpower and organization needed to successfully create and maintain irrigation systems is very large, however because farming with irrigation allows for such high crop yield most populations turned to it. The use of irrigation leads to food surplus since agriculture is much more efficient at producing large quantities of food. This food surplus leads to both population growth and specialization of labor. The growth of population means tension and disagreement also rise as people grow less and less attached and connected to everyone within the community. This, along with the specialization of labor, leads to the creation of organized religion. Religion allows for people within a community to feel connected with others of their religion, which leads to much less rivalries and unrest. In this way religion was a necessity to keep early civilization from crumbling from the inside. The creation of cities then leads to the creation of nations and states as cities begin to conquer nearby cities and as they begin to grow in influence and power. Naturally as the cities gain more land and people, they spread their beliefs and religion to the population they now control. Before long, these fledgling states start growing until they form large empires covering hundreds of miles of land. Again, they continue to spread their original religion, until the religion has been forced on so many people that it becomes large enough to be called a world religion. In this way the success of the religion is based in most part with the success of the city or nation it belongs to. The success or failure of the state will directly affect the religion, at least initially. An example of this is the Sassanid Empire. Along with the Achaemid Empire, the Sassanid Empire grew and spread Zoroastrianism. However upon the collapse of the Sassanid Empire, the Rashidun Caliphate rose to power in the Middle East. The Rashidun Caliphate was a Muslim state, and after rising to power Islam replaced Zoroastrianism as the prominent religion in the area.
Current ISIS holdings: Red
Claims: pink
Uncontrolled/Unclaimed: White
Although the empires of the Agrarian age have fallen and been replaced, many of the religions still exist, and they are just as tied to nations as ever. A perfect example of this is the ever growing organization ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is an unrecognized state which has been gaining traction in the Middle East. The main area which they contend over is found within Iraq and Syria. They are an extremist sect of the Islamic faith which is attempting to reform the caliphate, which is an Islamic state ruled by a leader who is the head of both the empire and the Muslim faith. The last caliphate with any power was dissolved when President Ataturk of the Ottoman Empire reformed the government in 1924 and abolished the institution. ISIS follow Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They wish to restore the Sunni Caliphate as well as abolish other religions and beliefs from the Middle East. If fact much of the reason for ISIS' existence is that they are a Sunni organization, and they often fight to take land from the Shia Muslims, whom they believe to be heretics. Many believe the faith and thoughts of ISIS are not that of most Muslims, and many disagree with their actions.Currently ISIS is classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdad

The organization of ISIS is a perfect example of how religion still follows expansion of states the way it did during the Agrarian Era, however with several twists. Both times the belief of a state has been forced upon the people it has conquered, whether that be peacefully or not. It is important to note however, that the religion being force upon conquered peoples may not be different fundamentally, but the way it is practiced is. For example when ISIS forces its religion upon Shiite Muslims, it is spreading its particular beliefs, and even though Shiite Muslims believe in Muhammad as well, what exactly they believe in and how they go around practicing is different. This is important because even though most the Middle East is Islamic, ISIS is still spreading it's particular views. It is also very likely that if ISIS and Caliph Abu Bakr fall, the particular beliefs of ISIS will, for the most part, dissipate with it. This is speculated because most of the Islamic community has shown their disagreement with ISIS, and so when ISIS falls, their personal beliefs on Islam will fall as well.