Document Analysis Paper

Using the primary source documents in Thinking through Sources, chapter 2, in conjunction with the relevant secondary material from chapter 2 of Ways of the World, examine the class hierarchy of one of these ancient societies:  Mesopotamia, Egypt, or China.  What social classes are evident in the primary sources on your chosen society?  Which classes were in a privileged or elite position, and which were treated as inferior?  As you tie your paper together and come up with an overall argument, ask yourself what mechanisms held this hierarchy together and what problems threatened it. 
For Mesopotamia, use Source 2.1 and 2.2A-B.  Larger versions of the Standard of Ur (2.2A-B) can be viewed here (Links to an external site.).
For Egypt, see Source 2.3 and 2.4.  There are many photos from the Tomb of Menna (Source 2.4) available on the internet, but I wasn’t able to find a higher-resolution version of the panel in Thinking through Sources.  Here (Links to an external site.) is a link to a low-resolution photo that shows the larger panel to which the illustration in the book belongs.  (If anyone has luck finding a better image, please email the link to me so I can update this!)
For China, see Source 2.5 and 2.6.  The British Museum website has a great zoomable picture of the Mei Situ Yi gui(ritual food container) here (Links to an external site.).  The images at the bottom of the page can be clicked on to see the bowl from different angles and to look at the inscription inside, and there are three very useful (secondary source!) comments by the museum curators paraphrasing the inscription text and its historical significance.  The inscription text (a primary source!) translates as follows:
“The King, having subdued the Shang country, charged the Marquis Kang to convert it into a border territory to be the Wei state. Since Mei Situ Yi had been associated in effecting this change, he made in honour of his late father this sacral vessel.”  (Source of translation: (Links to an external site.))  [Dr. Whittaker’s note:  Marquis K’ang is a translation of Kang Hou–he was a vassal of the Zhou ruler King Cheng.  Mei Situ Yi was apparently a subordinate of Marquis K’ang–his name includes a title (situ) that means “master of the students,” which probably meant that in addition to his military duties, he was charged with educating Marquis K’ang’s sons.]
As you prepare to write your paper, study both the primary source text and the visual source carefully and take notes.  Extract quotes or make paraphrases of the primary source text that seem relevant to understanding your chosen society’s social hierarchy, and describe in your own words features of the visual source material that seem relevant.  If you find relevant secondary source comments in Ways of the World or any other source, extract a quote or make a paraphrase as well, but try to rely on primary source evidence as much as possible, using the secondary sources to help guide your interpretation (or argue against, if the primary source evidence doesn’t fit what the secondary source is saying!).  Make sure to note where you got each quote, paraphrase, or description, so that you can provide citations and avoid plagiarism.
Once you have assembled your primary source evidence and decided how to put it together, you are ready to start writing and assembling your argument.  If possible, try to write a rough draft, then get help from the campus writing center for pointers on how to revise and improve it.  Your paper should be about 2-3 pages (500-750 words), but I’m not imposing a strict word count.

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