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Midterm Review


The exam will cover up through Oct. 9 (Early Greeks and Italians). The exam will consist of several different kinds of questions:

  • Identifications (5 or so) — you’ll be provided with a term and you’ll need to give (a) a description of what it refers to and (b) its significance or importance.  

Note: All the identification terms will come from the names and terms on this sheet.

  • Multiple choice (6 or so) 

  • Map — you’ll need to be able to locate on a blank map some of the important cities and peoples  and key geographic features (seas, rivers, etc.) that we have discussed 

  • Short answer (1 or 2) — sort of like the quiz questions, a couple of paragraphs on a specific topic we’ve discussed 

  • Essay (1) — a longer discussion giving your interpretation and analysis of a major theme we’ve covered; you’ll be asked to give an opinion and support it with evidence in the form of examples from three societies we’ve studied  

For each section except Multiple Choice, you will have at least twice as many choices as you need, allowing you to pick the ones you’re most comfortable writing about. For example, if I ask for five identifications, I’ll give you ten or so to choose from.

Approach to Preparing

Make a list of the five or six most important milestone events in the periods we’ve discussed.

  • CAUSES — Make sure you can identify the most important factors that helped cause these events — including long-term factors (“the environment”) and short-term factors (“the spark”) 

  • LEGACIES — Make sure you can identify the legacies of the milestone event. How did it change the culture, society, etc.? What impact did it have on future milestones and events? 

For each of the questions below, see whether you have a strong idea how to answer, an okay idea how to answer, or a weak sense of how to answer. Review from the books and notes at least the “weak” ones.

Take note of the terms and review ones you’re unfamiliar with.

I’m not going to ask you for dates but you should know the period in which a people are important or an event occurs, and which events occur before or after which other events. You’re best off if you know centuries (e.g., Egyptian New Kingdom is 16th–13th centuries BCE).

Sample map



Introduction and Sources

  • What does Umberto Eco mean when he has William of Baskerville say, “Books are not meant to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry”? 

  • TERMS:   Primary source – civilization – empire 


For each people, you should be able to discuss the distinctive nature of their geography, social structure, religion, trade, gender roles, and other aspects of their society that we read about or discussed, as well as relations to each other.

  • Earliest Civilizations:   Sumerians – Egyptians (Old Kingdom) – Minoans 

  • Bronze Age:   Egyptians (New Kingdom) – Akkadians – Assyrians 

Indo-Europeans:  Hittites – Mycenaean Greeks

  • Iron Age:   Phoenicians – Hebrews – Aramaeans/Chaldeans/Babylonians – Neo-Assyrians – Etruscans 

Indo-Europeans:  Dorian and Ionian Greeks – Sea Peoples/Philistines – Persians – Medes – Latins


In addition to the locations of the peoples listed above, you should be familiar with key geographic terms and where they are in relation to each other, and how these places relate to the development of local cultures.

  • Southwest Asia:   Mesopotamia – Sumer – Tigris and Euphrates Rivers – Fertile Crescent – Canaan  

  • Cities:   Uruk – Akkad – Babylon – Assur – Jerusalem 

  • North Africa:   Nile River – Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt  

  • Eastern Mediterranean:   Anatolia – Aegean Sea – Crete – Peloponnese – Greek mainland 

  • Cities:   Troy – Knossos – Mycenae – Athens 

  • Western Mediterranean:   Italy – Etruria – Latium – Magna Graecia 

  • Cities:   Rome – Carthage  


For each, you should have an idea of the period and culture they belong to and the effect they had on it.

  • Mespotamia:   Gilgamesh – Innana/Ishtar – Enlil – Sargon – Hammurabi – Ashurbanipal – Nebuchadnezzar 

  • Egypt:   Osiris – Horus – Akhenaten – Tutankhamen 

  • Israelites:   Abraham – Moses – Saul – David – Solomon 

  • Persians:   Cyrus – Zoroaster 


  • What technological and social developments are necessary to create civilization? What sacrifices are involved? 

  • How does monumental building relate to the emergence of civilization? 

  • What were early Neolithic cities like? How were they physically different from Bronze Age or later cities? 

  • What types of government form in the ancient era? Who do they empower? What is the role of the citizen? 

  • What was the ideology of the pharaoh’s power? What were its realities? 

  • How does the arrival of Indo-European peoples affect the societies of the eastern Mediterranean? What innovations do they bring with them? How is their cultural background distinct from the peoples already living in these regions?  

  • Since they left no writings, how do we know anything about the Indo-Europeans’ origins? 

  • TERMS:   Paleolithic age – Neolithic age – Bronze Age – Agricultural revolution – ziggurat – citizen – city-state – palace-state – pharaoh – Greek dark age 

Trade and Empire

  • How did the Bronze Age civilizations differ from earlier civilizations?  

  • What is the purpose of empire?  

  • How does Bronze technology better enable cultures to create large empires?  

  • What effect does the arrival of the Bronze Age have on international relations? Why does the Bronze Age become more international and cosmopolitan? 

  • What might be some of the reasons why Egypt unifies under a single ruler, but Mesopotamia remains constantly divided and at war? How do these differences affect the cultures of each region? 

  • What differences separate the Egyptian New Kingdom from Egypt’s previous periods? 

  • How do the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures relate to each other? 

  • What was the Period of Calamities? What might have brought it about? What was the result for Bronze Age civilizations?  

  • What factors make the vast Persian empire so much more stable than the Neo-Assyrian Empire? 

  • TERMS:   Indo-Europeans – chariot – period of calamities – Babylonian captivity – satrap 

Religion, Philosophy, Language

  • How do people’s ideas about their relationship with their gods and the natural world relate to the emergence of cities?  

  • What kinds of ideas about mortality develop in ancient civilizations? How are they different and why? 

  • What different ideas develop about the relationship between a people’s ruler and their gods? What might explain them? 

  • How does the role of women vary among ancient cultures? What reasons can you suggest for these differences? 

  • In what ways does the idea of the flood play a central role for both Egyptians and Sumerians? What do these roles have in common between the two cultures? How are they different? 

  • What was the archetypical myth of Egyptian religion? How does it relate to Egyptian political power? 

  • Why is the development of writing crucial to an urban civilization? What stages are involved in the development of writings systems in the ancient Mediterranean world? 

  • What’s the significance of the Aramaic language in southwest Asia? 

  • How does the history of the Hebrews contribute to the Jewish religion — especially the importance of monotheism? 

  • TERMS:   ma’at – Zoroastrianism – polytheism, dualism, monotheism – cuneiform – hieroglyphics – Linear B – Phoenician alphabet 

Epic of Gilgamesh

  • How do the events and characters reflect Sumerian ideas about gods, humans, and civilization? Be ready to discuss the actions of the major characters in terms of how they represent the ideas of Sumerian culture.  

  • Why is the cure for Gilgamesh’s tyranny the creation of Enkidu? Why does intercourse with the harlot transfer Enkidu from the wild to civilization, and why is his process of civilization significant? What themes are involved in Enkidu’s death and Gilgamesh’s search for immortality? 

  • How does the depiction of the gods in Gilgamesh compare/contrast with the gods elsewhere — in Egypt, for example? What does the depiction of the gods in Gilgamesh suggest about Sumerians thought about the world? 

  • TERMS:   Uruk – Enkidu – Humbaba – bull of heaven – door of cedar – House of Dust