Early Medieval Cultures Essay

Early Medieval Cultures Essay

Compare the development of one specific Islamic and one specific Christian location between 632-1000 C.E. When discussing each location, provide a more specific timeline, and consider adding examples of significant leaders, political and social structures, beliefs, and cultural products (stories, philosophies, theologies, artifacts, art, and architecture). Your comparison should identify similarities and differences in the two religious-based cultures, and also indicate influences they share. Be careful not to compare the religions as a whole but instead focus on a range of cultural elements in your two specific locations because cultures may vary even within one religion depending on time and place. What insight about the historical development of these two cultures did you gain from the comparison?

Step 1: Review the section of the Unit V Study Guide entitled, “Be Careful When Making Historical Assumptions.”

Step 2: Choose two appropriate sources, not including the textbook. At least one source must come from the CSU Online Library. The Academic Search Ultimate and eBook Academic Collection databases in the CSU Online Library would be good places to start your search. Resources from outside of the library should be credible and peer-reviewed by historians and cannot include Wikipedia, Biography.com, History.com, or any other .com site; resources should also not be taken from any type of message board or other encyclopedia-type sites, including those listed in the CSU Online Library research guides, which are provided for quick reference only and not for paper research.

If you need additional help with using or locating information in the CSU Online Library, there are library video tutorials available on the main page of the online library under the heading “Research Guides.”

Step 3: Complete your research. Choose one interesting comparison that illustrates the main point that you want to make about these cultures during this period. Gather details about your choice.

Compare similar features (known as “comparing like terms”). For example, compare cities to cities, education systems to education systems, technologies to technologies, stories to stories, ideas about the nature of God to ideas about the nature of God, and other features. Make sure you complete the comparison for all features or note why you think there is not a like term for some features.

Comparison includes consideration of both similarities and differences.

Here are some examples to consider:

  • the promotion and use of learning by leading figures;
  • the relationship between religious and political authority;
  • the shaping of artifacts (leader, idea, practice, or structure) by time period and environment;
  • the shaping of societies by artifacts and whether different people were affected differently; and
  • the way that different elements of culture reflect power arrangements, goals, hierarchies, and/or challenges.

Step 4: Prepare your introduction, including your thesis statement. A thesis is prepared after you have completed your research and includes the comparison of what you found. It should be a one- or two-sentence statement of the conclusions you drew from the comparison.

Step 5: Write your essay. Your essay must be at least 500 words in length.

Step 6: Reflect on how this comparison paper shaped your understanding of how to practice cultural history ethically, as discussed in the “Be Careful When Making Historical Assumptions” section of the Unit V Lesson. Write one paragraph to be placed after the concluding paragraph of your essay, reflecting on how the guidelines in the unit lesson shaped your understanding of how to use historical evidence, including artifacts, to practice cultural history ethically. (“Be careful when making historical assumptions” is attached to bottom of paper)

Please review the guidelines on essay writing that were presented in the Unit III Scholarly Activity; they will help guide you in this assignment.

Be sure to consider the following guidelines in your essay.

  • The introduction should engage the reader and clearly present the essay’s thesis and summarize the main points that clarify your point of view. The last sentence of the introductory paragraph should be your specific thesis.
  • Organization should clearly present points arranged to illustrate your opening thesis. Paragraph order and organization should clearly present points arranged to illustrate your opening thesis rather than to narrate the chronological story.
  • Writing should be clear and concise with no spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors.
  • The number of sources should meet or exceed any expressed assignment requirements, and the sources should be peer-reviewed or academic in nature. At least one source must be from the CSU Online Library.
  • APA guidelines should be used for reference entries and in-text citations.



Be Careful When Making Historical Assumptions As we come closer and closer to our own time and see familiar names and institutions, the temptation to assume similarity and to assume we already know what they mean becomes stronger. Historians have specific guidelines to prevent these assumptions from distorting our understanding of the actual data from the times. Distortion of data can come from projecting our own beliefs onto the past, resulting in error. The measures we take to avoid error are also the measures that help to ensure the ethical study of other cultures. This involves five main practices students can apply in this unit’s essay assignment. All academic departments (disciplines) have different subjects and methods, but all have a version of guidelines to ensure ethical study and sound conclusions. 1. Historians seek to understand the past for itself. Of course, we all think about where our society came from and what we value or regret. That is an important outcome of historical thinking for citizenship. However, when we create knowledge about the past, we commit to learning about the past for its own sake and try to determine the significance of change for those in the past—not for us. The task is to learn what really happened before we try to apply it. 2. Historians adopt intellectual empathy to recreate the multiple points of view in past cultures. This does not mean that historians feel for or agree with the people they study but, rather, that they must try to understand how specific people actually experienced events and acted within their own worlds. 3. Historians use only evidence from specific times to generate and explain insights about those times. This is a fundamental rule of logic—you cannot understand the past by using data that did not come from it. Anachronism, which is the insertion of subsequent developments or ideas into the past and projection of present values onto the past, mars our views of the past. In this unit especially, we will see that the meanings of words we think we know very well used to be different. Whether studying Christian, Muslim, Irish, Persian, or Viking culture, students of history ideally realize that while they are studying a variety of cultures out of which theirs may have evolved, these past cultures are not the same as a student’s own culture. Beliefs and meanings of words and phrases change, so historians create definitions reflecting what was meant at the time. 4. Historians expect to be surprised and remain eager to learn what they do not know! Generalizations erase actual variations among cultures, within cultures, and across time. We look for the unique and complex to deepen our understanding. We allow these understandings to evolve with new data. We read accounts that counter our own to enhance the complexity and reliability of our work; this is called anticipating objections. 5. Historians pay attention to different types of evidence. HIS 1305, Western Civilization I 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Exploring cultures that ranged widely in how they recorded events and ideas requires reading artifacts for what they tell us about their societies. During this period, cities, spaces, technologies, and images all provide clues to culture. Students of history, then, seek to recreate as nearly as possible the culture in its own moment. With these guidelines, students can enter that unfamiliar world of the past with the mindset of an explorer of the unknown, making strange what we might assume is familiar. Learning the complex details of early medieval life enables us to learn from the past as well as to enjoy our fictions about it.


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