Module 1: Beginnings Until recently, history textbooks throughout Europe and North America began with the rise of the Greek city-states (perhaps with...
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After reading the Week 1 narrative and reading links, post a minimum

300-word main post by Wednesday evening eastern time comparing the development of an individual to the development of a society. The module narrative does a good job of explaining the factors that influence societal development, and these are also factors that influence individual development that makes each of us what we are. As the narrative points out, understanding society today means understanding how it developed; in a similar manner, understanding an individual means having a grasp of what makes that individual what they are today. Sometimes we misread people because we mistakenly apply our own cultural construct to another who has a different one. The same happens with understanding societies and historical context. Using examples from a specific life (yours is fine if you prefer) plus examples from a specific society described in the assigned reading will help make your point(

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Module 1: Beginnings Until recently, history textbooks throughout Europe and North America began with the rise of the Greek city-states (perhaps with a brief nod toward Mesopotamia and Egypt), traced the rise and fall of Rome, and focused almost exclusively on the political history of central and western Europe. As we enter the twenty-Frst century, however, we confront two unavoidable facts. ±irst, to live in the twenty-Frst century requires all of us to comprehend the histories of regions outside of Europe as a necessity of modern life. Second, scholars working across numerous disciplines are demonstrating time and again that from the earliest human societies there have been extensive contacts and cultural exchanges among the world's civilizations. No civilization truly developed in isolation; the study of each unique civilization suggests that there were patterns of growth and decline that were common to all. In brief, by studying one speciFc civilization, we are in a sense studying just a single example of the human adventure. An attempt to study all of the world's history has obvious drawbacks. If nothing else, the sheer quantity of information available is overwhelming. Within the limits of our course we can only focus on speciFc aspects and highlight certain patterns. Naturally, no one faculty member is a researcher specializing in every area covered by this course, but as a trained historian, your faculty member will prove a knowledgeable guide and companion through your studies. The study of world civilizations requires the student to discern and grasp those events and concepts unique to individual historic contexts and societies as well as to demonstrate the ability to compare, contrast, and generalize so as to reach a broader appreciation of the past. This global perspective requires imagination and organization. Your instructor will use weekly conference discussions to assist you in viewing the past di²erently and in organizing the information you will encounter. The study questions at the end of each module will prove invaluable as you prepare for your assignments and examinations. Cultural Interpretation: A Caveat The study of human origins fascinates many, and for some remains a heated topic of debate. Although we can study the discussions surrounding human evolution and divine intervention as historical phenomena, as human beings we need to recognize that the ultimate answer to those debates will always elude us precisely because we are human and will never possess absolute knowledge. What we can discuss, however, are the Fndings of the remains of hominids or protohumans as an example of the rapid changes in scholarly outlook and the implications for our studies in world history.
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It is useful to remember that the roots of modern academic disciplines and sciences—including the study of human origins—really date back only two or three hundred years. The discoveries of bones that indicated the existence and disappearance of creatures before recorded history led to an intellectual explosion still fueling popular debates and leading to continuing research. A case to consider is that of the Neanderthal, Frst identiFed in the nineteenth century and portrayed then as brutish, crude, and of limited intelligence. ±indings over the next century have altered that view considerably as evidence has accumulated suggesting the Neanderthal cared for ill or injured group members, that some form of spiritual life was evident among some Neanderthal groups, and that perhaps there were rudimentary cultural achievements, such as the possible creation of musical instruments. The disappearance of the Neanderthal, however, has always been wrapped in changing cultural interpretations. During the late nineteenth century as vulgarized notions of DarwinÂ’s theories became popular, it was common to portray the Neanderthal as destroyed, usually violently, by modern Homo Sapiens. More recent theories suggest displacement or replacement of the Neanderthal by more e²cient Homo Sapiens hunters and gatherers, or even the possible blending of some Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens communities, theories that are much more in keeping with the immediate cultural preoccupations and ideals of our contemporary world. It is unlikely that any one of these explanations will ever be "proven," but we can be certain that this small portion of the human past will continually be reinterpreted according to the preoccupations and ideas of the human present. Indeed, during just one week in July 2002, two major discoveries were announced that further complicate our understanding of human origins, as reported in the respected scholarly publications Science ("More Migrating Hominids," Volume 297, Number 5578 July 5, 2002) and Nature ("Human Revolution: The Earliest Known Hominid," Number 418, 11 July 2002). As one researcher noted recently, we need to stop thinking of human evolution as a linear family tree and start thinking of a "very tangled bush." Race and Racism: A Cultural Construct The example of the Neanderthal leads us to another very contemporary and very divisive issue. During recent e³orts to update the Smithsonian Institute's displays on human prehistory, a surprisingly nasty debate erupted around the issue of the skin tones to be used on the Neanderthal models. With apparently no consensus among the specialists in the Feld about the issue, the display was long delayed.
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