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Thematic Essay Civilization

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C.Classical civilizations

  1. Chinese civilization
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Chinese contributions (engineering, tools, writing, silk, bronzes, government system)
    3. Dynastic cycles
    4. Mandate of Heaven
  2. Greek civilization
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. The rise of city-states—Athens/Sparta
    3. Contributions: art, architecture, philosophy, science—Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plotemy
    4. Growth of democracy in Athens versus the Spartan political system
    5. Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture—cultural diffusion
  3. Roman Republic
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Contributions—law (Twelve Tables), architecture, literature, roads, bridges
  4. Indian (Maurya) Empire
    1. Human and physical geography (monsoons)
    2. Contributions—government system
  5. Rise of agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica—Mayan (200 BC -900 AD)
    1. Human and physical geography
    2. Contributions (mathematics, astronomy, science, arts, architecture, and technology)
    3. Role of maize
    4. Religion
  6. The status and role of women in classical civilizations
  7. The growth of global trade routes in classical civilizations
    1. Phoenician trade routes
    2. Maritime and overland trade routes
      1. Linking Africa and Eurasia
      2. Linking China, Korea, and Japan

Focus Questions

  • What makes a civilization “classical?” What were the contributions of classical civilizations to human history?
  • What was the status and role of women in the classical civilizations?
  • How do the geography and climate of an area influence the success or failure of a civilization?
  • How did geography affect the rise of city-states in Greece and the rise of the Roman Empire?
  • What impact did the monsoons have on the historic and economic development of the Sub-Continent?
  • How did the institution of slavery fit within the Athenian concept of democracy?
  • What forces caused the rise and fall of these classical civilizations?
  • How are contemporary democratic governments rooted in classical traditions?
  • What impact did Greek civilization have over time?
  • Why did the Chinese define their history in terms of dynastic cycles?
  • How did agriculture begin in the Americas? What were the earliest crops? How did the Mayan civilization and its subsequent decline compare to the river valley and classical civilizations of Afro-Eurasia?
  • Do the Mayans exist today?

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bronze ageOlmec
cultural diffusionpyramid
dynastic cyclessenate
emperorslash and burn agriculture
Golden Ageslavery
glyphsSocratic method
Mandate of Heaventerrace farming
maritime/overland trade routestriumvirate
MayaTwelve Tables

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Helpful Hints

  • Basic research on the different areas of classical civilizations can begin through text work, films (Art of the Western World series, by Michael Wood), and the Internet. Comparisons can then be made according to the criteria of what a classical civilization is. These criteria should be explored as a follow-up to the criteria for distinguishing a civilization from a culture (most likely done earlier).
  • Emphasis could be placed on the effect of geography and climate in the development of these areas, and how these factors made them strong civilizations. The essential question, How do physical and human geography affect people, places and regions? is important. Use maps to illustrate these points.
  • Government is another strong theme, with the introduction of democracy in Greece and the Roman Republic. Look at documents illustrating government systems. How do they compare with present-day governments around the world?
  • Where appropriate, compare earlier law codes, such as Hammurabi's Code and the Ten Commandments.
  • The introduction of the Mayas helps students appreciate that there were cultures and civilization in the Americas that date back before 1492.
  • Emphasis should be placed on appreciating the complexity of an indigenous culture prior to the encounter.

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Resources for Teachers (Books/Articles, Visuals/Music)

Antoniou, Jim. 1999. Cities Then and Now. New York: Book Sales, Inc.

Ehret, Christopher. 1998. An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400. 1998. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia.

Freeman, Charles. 1999. The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World. New York: Viking.

Gallenkamp, Charles. 1985. Maya: The Riddle and Rediscovery of a Lost Civilization. 3rd ed. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc.

Grant, Michael. 1987. The World of Rome. New York: Meridian.

Grant, Michael. 1991. Founders of the Western World. New York: Scribner Maxwell Macmillian International.

Grousset, Rene. Transl. Naomi Walford, 1970. The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Henderson, John S. 1981. The World of the Ancient Maya. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Isichei, Elizabeth. 1997. A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kitto. H.D.F. 1957. The Greeks. Baltimore: Penguin Books.

Mann, Charles C. 2005. 1491:  New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf.

McNeill, William. 1991. The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, with Retrospective Essay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Martin, Thomas R. 1997. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Mumford, Lewis. 1961. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformation, and Its Prospects. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Shirokauer, Conrad. 2005. A Brief History of Chinese Civilization. New York: City University of New York.

Schirokauer, Conrad. 1978. A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Smith, Bonnie, ed.2004-05. Women's History in Global Perspective. Champaign, Ill: University of Illinois Press.

Time-Life. 1997. What Rome Was Like When Rome Ruled the World: the Roman Empire 100 B.C.-A.D. 100. Alexandria: Time Life books.

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Learning Experience(s)

Roman Coins
Live from Antiquity
Who Were the Ancient Maya? Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6

Available in PDF, HTML, WORD

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Editor's Note: All state examinations are aligned to the New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies and Social Studies Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. The chart below specifies where these alignments have occurred (from June 2000 to the present).

Core Curriculum: Global History and
Geography Regents:
  1. Greek Civilization
    1. Alexander the Great and Hellenistic culture— cultural diffusion

January 2004 DBQ, Change (Individuals Who Have Changed History)

  1. Roman Republic

January 2007 Thematic, Human Rights Violations

  1. Indian (Maurya) Empire

January 2002 Thematic, Geography

  1. The status and role of women in classical civilizations

August 2001 DBQ, Role of Women

  1. The growth of global trade routes in classical civilizations
    1. Phoenician trade routes
    2. Silk Road
    3. Maritime and overland trade routes
      1. Linking Africa and Eurasia
      2. Linking China, Korea, and Japan

August 2006 Thematic, Movement of People and Goods: Trade

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home>units> unit 1 >Classical civilizations

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The definition of this essay type tells us that an author is supposed to develop and reveal the major theme in a concrete literature work using various literary techniques, such as metaphor, personification, comparison and other devices. It is necessary to identify and disclose the main subject of the studied work. The author ought to use the evidence, facts, and examples to fully uncover the theme.

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The next stage of writing a thematic paper is to determine the proper method of how to write a thematic essay. Your target is to compose a coherent essay that has an introduction, supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. These are three inevitable elements of any academic assignment.

Writing an effective essay requires careful attention to detail and ability to organize your thoughts regarding the main subject of your research. This is particularly true for thematic essays, which require you to answer specific questions or analyze definite arguments.

Thematic Essay Introduction

To write a proper introduction, you’ll have a need for:

  • Relevant topic;
  • Intriguing beginning;
  • Clear explanation of your major purpose.

Thematic Essay Conclusion

Your conclusion should be:

  • Short;
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How to Write a Thematic Essay for English

Please, consider the following tips, which will help you to understand how to write a thematic essay:

  • Brainstorm. After you receive or choose a topic, you should determine the main theme. In order to receive the desired results, it is necessary to write down all the thoughts associated with your assignment. In such way, you will get some brilliant ideas to introduce in your paper and will identify the right theme.
  • The thesis statement. This is the most important part amongst all components of any essay. This is a brief claim, which is supposed to tell the readers your central message. A single sentence has more significance than other sentences. Using it properly, you may secure your luck or lead yourself to a total failure.
  • Introduction. The first paragraph of your writing should be a short introduction. Its prerogative is to highlight the main purpose of your research and attract the attention of your readers. There should be used the skills of a good narrator.
  • The main body. The main body of the text contains at least three paragraphs that develop your research. They should present the evidence, some examples, and proven facts. Each element proves your main claims if introducing it correctly. Use only trustworthy informative sources to support your arguments. Conduct some analysis to prove your theory and explain your main claims.
  • Conclusion. The closing of your assignment should summarize the major discussion. Your objective is to write a brief review of the work you have already done to make clear each point that is most significant for your paper. Make sure that all questions were answered.
As you can see, the structure is similar to other essay types.

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US History Thematic Essay

Amongst the most popular themes for a thematic paper is the US history thematic essay. There is a great variety of topics that can be used to write impressive pieces of academic writing. Nevertheless, you should learn some other necessities if you want to create a proper project.

For instance, you will require an outline. If you have an effective plan, the things will run smoothly and quickly. You will have a clear view of how to put the whole staff together. They say that reading and fulfilling each point of the plan gradually is a reasonable strategy.

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Mind your references. You must follow a definite format and quote the informative sources you use correctly. Define the required style and follow it.

Mind that it is important to consider the number of words, the length of paragraphs, page count, title, appropriate language and other essentials.

Remember these recommendations for good, and you will sufficiently increase your chances for the highest grade.

You may choose out of the following thematic essay topics:

  • The years of Great Depression.
  • The Era of Progress in the United States of America.
  • The influence of the mass media on history.
  • The consequences of the Civil War.
  • The issue of racism in the U.S.A. and its links with the world.
  • Slavery on the territory of the Northern America.
  • The expansion of the U.S.A.
  • The U.S.A. in two World Wars.
  • The reasons to begin the Cold War.
  • Outcomes of the war in Vietnam.

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Global Regents Thematic Essay

If you wish to write the global regents thematic essay, you should make stress on the following points:

  • Changes;
  • Crucial points;
  • Belief systems;
  • Environmental issues;
  • Economic affairs;
  • Alterations in political sphere;
  • Cultural affairs;
  • Intellectual development;
  • National peculiarities;
  • Social issues;
  • Human rights;
  • Scientific development;
  • Technological progress;
  • Confrontation;
  • Globalization etc.

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Thematic Essay Topics

The correct choice of a topic is utterly important. If choosing the wrong topic, one can hardly count on the interest to his/her work. Be selective and cautious. Choose the one which would be relevant for the readers and pretty easy to write for you.

Belief Systems Thematic Essay

  • The development of philosophy in Europe.
  • The judgment of the death penalty.
  • Main issues of single-parenting.
  • The influence of Buddhism.
  • Personal development regarding social norms.

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