Weekly Reflection essay


Inthis unit, we have been studying the book “The Humanities, Volume3rdEdition” by Henry M. Sayre. The book makes a connection acrosshumanities, and the reader enjoys it because it brings together thecultural history of the world. Henry Sayre uses narrativestorytelling approach as he conveys a multifaceted culturalexperience in a way the reader can easily understand, as well asremember the context even in the future. It has three parts. Part 1is about the history of human being and civilization. According toSayre (n.p), civilization is the political, economical, and socialentity that is distinguished by the capability to express itselfthrough written language and images. Historians urge that the firstcivilization arose together with agriculture especially along thefertile river valleys. Part 2 discusses the Medieval World and theShaping of Culture. During the Roman Empire, Christianity religiongrew stronger and stronger until the collapse of Western RomanEmpire. Afterward, there was a remarkable achievement and innovationthat was marked by Christianity, Buddhism, and Islamic ascendancy,and each of these cultures dominated its culture. Part 3 discuses therenaissance and the age of encounter. Renaissance means rebirth.Between 1400 and 1600, Western European culture underwent arenaissance of classical values and learning. Correspondingly, theseclassical values led to the emergence of humanism including therecovery, study, and the spread of literature and art of Rome andGreece. These changed the social life, politics, and education in thewestern cultures.

Chapter1 tells how the prehistoric people wrote on the caves walls duringthe period of Homo sapiens ascendancy. The stone artifacts of Homosapiens are the earliest evidence of culture. Homo sapiens werehunter-gatherers who greatly survived on animals, berries, nuts, andother edible plants as a source of food. They used complicated toolssuch as grinders, hand axes, cleavers, spearheads, and arrows. Inchapter 2, Sayre discusses the cultures of Mesopotamia, and thepeople of Mesopotamia, who were dependent on river Euphrates andTigris for their livelihoods. The emergence of agriculture led to theintroduction of new technology that correspondingly led to change ina social organization and later, bronze era. Up to date, most peoplestill practice Mesopotamia agricultural practices. People still plantcrops such as wheat, grains, lettuce, and millet, among others, andplants fruits like apples, melons, grapes, and figs, among others.People also domesticate animals such as pigs, cattle, sheep, andgoats. Besides, people still use irrigation methods used inMesopotamia such as the use of canals and ditches.

Chapter3 discusses the history of Nile, Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, theNew Kingdom, the Kushites, and the fall of Egypt. Egypt was alsoknown as Kemet to mean the “black land” due to the black, fertiledeposit from River Nile that covered the narrow strip of the land.The Egyptian history is divided into a three-achievement period- old,the middle, and the new kingdom. During these periods, peace andstability were enhanced in the country. Chapter 4 discusses on theAegean World and the Rise of Greece. The key feature of the Aegeanworld includes the city-states and political organization. Examplesof city-states include the Acropolis, which served as a religioussite and the Agora that served as the market and public space. Aegeanhad a feudal government where the Lords, Kings, or Mycenaean governedthe city, as well as protected their civilians. Chapter 5 discussesthe Golden Age of Athens and the Hellenic World. It tells about theAcropolis rebuilding after it was destroyed in a war. Citizens had adifferent view on its reconstructions. Some said it should remain inthe same state as a tribute to those people who lost their liveswhile others advocated for it construction to a bigger and a betterplace to signify victory. The chapter also traces the fall and therise of Athens since its victory over Persians.

Chapter6 discusses Rome: Urban Life and Imperial Majesty. Rome had apolitical organization of both republic and empire. As a republic,the state believed that its citizens were the source of sovereigntyand legitimacy of the government (Sayre, n.p). A Constitution andother governing bodies such as Senate and assemblies governed them.As an empire, Rome had centralized power. During the early history ofRome, citizenship was only for males, unlike today. In the modernRome, women have the right to citizenship. Furthermore, they have theright to vote, hold a public office, own properties, or even holdtheir own legal affairs. Besides, they are no longer considered asstay-at-home wife. They have equal rights just like their mencounterparts.

Chapter7 discusses the emerging empires in the East such as the AncientIndia and Imperial China. Ancient China composed of disparatecity-states and consolidation of city-states into empires such asShang, Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties. The Qin dynasty was thestrongest. It had an established centralized government, enormousbureaucracy, unified system of coinage, and a standardized Chineselanguage, weight system, and province system. In addition, it builtthe Great Wall of China. Chapter eight discuses on the flowering ofChristianity, and outlines the Judaic culture development after thesecond temple destruction. The rise of Christianity was after thebirth of Jesus of Nazareth in the year 4 BCE. His followersidentified him as savior and messiah. Later, Jesus was crucifiedoutside the city walls at a place called Golgotha. Even in themodern, Christians have a strong faith in God. They believed thatJesus came and died for their sins. They also believe that the Bibleis the ultimate word of God and God’s revelation. The Old and theNew Testament are very vital in a Christian life. They guideChristians how they opt to live, for instance, the Ten Commandmentsin the Old Testament. As the Bible puts it, Christians believe Jesusis the way, the truth, and the life. Christians are also spreadingtheir gospel to religion and influencing them to join Christianity.Currently, Christianity has almost spread to every part of the worldtoday.

Chapter9 discusses the “Rise and Spread of Islam” It entails ProphetMuhammad, the spread of Islam in Africa and Spain, and the art of theIslamic world. In Spain, the Jewish and Islamic culture merged toform an Islamic civilization. Up to date, Muslims believes thatProphet Muhammad is the mediator between God and his people. Theyalso have five major pillars fasting, charity, prayers, pilgrimage,and belief. Other Islamic practices include hijab, jihad, andshari’a. Chapter 10 discusses the “Fiefdom and Monastery,Pilgrimage and Crusade.” It elaborates the culture of Anglo-Saxonand the Carolingian culture. The Anglo-Saxon culture lasted from 410A.D to 800 A.D when there were a religious evolution and a politicalpower shift. Additionally, the culture revolved around its kingswhere each king had his own an estate. Initially, the Anglo-Saxonswere pagans but later converted to Christianity.

Chapter11 discusses “the centre of culture” especially in China, India,and the Southeast Asia. During the middle ages, the Buddhism culturedominated in Asia. Their missionaries spread the culture from Indiato Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan. Chapter 12 discusses the Gothicstyle, an architectural style that originated from Abbey ofSaint-Denis in the Northern Paris. Abbot Suger dedicated Saint-Denisin 1144. He wanted to come up with an architecture that would bringprominence to France and surpass any other architecture in beauty andgrandeur. Chapter 13 discusses on the Siena and Florence in theFourteenth Century. They were both rectangular buildings decoratedwith crenellations to evoke security and safety. Florence’s PalazzoVecchio had massive stonework that reflected the merchant classsolidity. Siena Palazzo Pubblico had windows that were composed ofthin marble columns to support the Gothic arches (Sayre n.p). Priortheir construction, government officials met in churches. Even in themodern society, Siena and Florence are very significant. This iswhere the government officials hold their official meetings. Today,Palazzo Vecchio is a significant feature of Florence City. It is notonly the home of mayor, but also a splendid museum where people learnabout its history and the vital features that shaped it. On the otherhand, Palazzo Pubblico still holds its initial functions. It stillholds the municipal offices of Siena, as well as act as a museum.


Sayre,Henry M. Humanities:Culture, Continuity, and Change.Place of Publication Not Identified: Pearson Education (Us), 2008.Print.