Exam Prep – General (now updated for Fall 2012)

I strongly suggest that you actively study for this exam rather than simply ‘going over’ your notes. Active study involves things such as making lists of terms, categorizing information (a good way is to split terms — people, places, events, ideas — up into sections that deal with each civilization we’ve covered), creating time lines, outlining historical arguments, etc. You will be asked for specific information (i.e. facts), so you will certainly need to know specific information on exam day.

Another way to study is by asking yourself, or better yet asking a classmate, the bigger questions about the material and creating a systematic answer that includes a THESIS (i.e. an argument) and is backed up by some specific issues and facts. The ‘bigger questions’ are those which we’ve addressed in class. Some examples: What exactly IS necessary for a civilization and why should we consider the Sumerians, Greeks or Hebrews civilizations? Why WAS it important that the Greeks won at Salamis and Plataea? What was the general progression (chronology) of the Persian conquests and the invasions of Greece and HOW did the smaller Greek forces end up defeating the Persians?

I. Objective Section : Your exam will begin with an objective section consisting of specific questions concerning the cities and civilizations we have studied. The format of most of these questions will be similar to the formats you have seen on your regular tests. Using your review sheets, as well as reviewing your class notes, the class readings, and the PowerPoints, is strongly advised. This section will most likely consist of some or all of the following components:
> Map – see your Maps of the Ancient Near East and the Greek World. You should know where to locate the major places we have discussed this semester and why these places are historically significant.
> Timeline – your review timelines should help for this, as well as the PowerPoints and timelines we have done in class. Try to boil down dates to the top 25-30 that we’ve repeatedly used in class.
> Multiple Choice – readings and notes are crucial here. So-called big issues might appear here (e.g. Which of the following is not generally considered a requirement for civilization? What city was constructed in honor of the throne of Djamshid? and so forth)
> Name That Civilization – be able to identify the significant and representative aspects of each of the civilizations we have studied (Sumerian/Babylonian, Hittite, Minoan, Mycenaean, Greek (Spartan), Persian, Hebrew).
> Name That Person – we have studied the actions of a number of significant people throughout the course. Why do we remember such people?  Make a list of them and categorize them under each civilization as a way to study.
> Whatever else I can cook up – who knows what other surprises might pop up!

II. Definitions: You have accumulated a rather extensive list of vocabulary words that may appear in many forms. Major Greek terms (hoplite, arete, acropolis, etc.)  that we have discussed may also appear.

III. Primary Sources: You have read a fair number of primary sources over the semester. You should be familiar with them (general content, author, date of composition) AND be able to explain why each was written (historical context!) and what we can learn from such documents. Sources include: the Enuma Elis, Epic of Gilgamesh, Hamurrabi’s Code, Egyptian-Hittite Peace Treaty, Medinet Habu, Pylos Tablets, Iliad, Tyrtaeus’ Code of the Citizen Soldier, Herodotus’ Histories, Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus, Aeschylus’ Persians.


IV. Historical Argument: The final part of your exam will consist of writing short essays in which you will be asked to construct more complex analytical arguments about cause and effect (similar to what you’ve seen on tests). Why did something occur? What is the significance of such-and-such? Why might we date something to a certain period? You will be asked to draw on information from all of the civilizations which we have studied.To review, these include: Sumerians/Amorites, Hittites, Minoan and Mycenaeans, Greeks, Hebrews, and Persians.

Here are a few ideas to focus your preparation:

1. Geography. How has geography affected the cities and civilizations of Mesopotamia and Greece? How did geography affect where and how cities were founded? How did geography affect the cultural, economic, and political development of civilizations? How did geography drive and change the way civilizations developed over time? Do not limit yourself solely to physical geography (although this is certainly a major factor) but also look at the role geography has played in other ways as well (i.e. religious attitudes, military impact, physical development of cities, etc.).

2. External Forces. How have external forces (famine, war, volcanoes, enemies, etc.)  shaped the course of each of the cities and civilizations we have studied? There is a wide range of ways in which external forces have both positively and negatively affected the lives of the Mesopotamians, Persians, and Greeks. For example, what role has war played in the ways each city and its people developed? Think of the effect the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians all had upon the Jews for example. What role has peaceful interaction with outsiders/foreigners played? Have external forces brought these cities together or torn them apart?

3. Role of the Individual in History. Does the individual matter in history? Can one man make a difference? How have individual men and woman shaped the development of their own communities in the ancient world? What impact can a single person have upon the vast sweep of history? What men that we have studied over the course of the semester, from the Mesopotamian, Persian and Greek civilizations, may be credited with changing the course of history? (think Xerxes and Themistocles here).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s