1. How would you describe the changes that contributed to the rise of democracy in
Greece after the end of the “Dark Ages”?
It is possible to describe the changes that contributed to the rise of democacy in Greece under three categories: Rise of polis, hoplite phalanx, colonization and economic expansion. This essay will explain these topics in detail.
“Polis” are political institutions controlled by nobility. During the eighth century BC, state was governed by a council of aristocrats. The council elected officials who executed the power that the council gave for one year. Moreover, there was the People’s assembly which was not open to very poor citizens; rather it was again controlled by the aristoctrats. Even though the polis system in Greece was politically aristocratic in its early stages of development, it was inherently more suitable than big states/empires for political participation of its members. Small size of a city, and close interaction of its members would be more condusive to direct democracy than a huge empire.
Hoplite phalanxes were heavy infantries composed of farmer-citizens. This mode of fighting had a leveling effect over the society. Since it placed the safety of the state in the hands of the average citizen-farmer, who fought and returned home, a large portion of the people had high stakes in the government. The demands of the masses could not be ignored
The third change was what may be termed as colonization and economic expansion. Merchants and growing urban manufacturers, whose power was increasing due to commerce, began to challenge the aristocracy. Related to the commercial expansion was the change in the economic structure of Greek cities was well. The opening up of the Greek economy to the outside world made it profitable for Athens to change its agricultural structure from grain production to intensive cultivation of olive oil and wine. Rising merchants challenged the aristocracy. The rise of merchants had a negative effect as well: Small farmers borrowed a lot of money that they could not pay back which resulted in enslavement. Many farmers lost their lands. These developments resulted in social and political protest. As a response, some politicians rose to the challenge in the sixth century, such as Solon and Cleisthenes, who turned the system into a democratic system in which the People's Assembly became the sole source of power.
Example - Short-Essay Question
1. What developed first, permanent settlements or agriculture? How do we know?
Permanent settlements developed first, then came agriculture. We know that the permanent settlements developed first because there are sites of settlements in the Near East that do not contain remains of domesticated species. The period we speak of roughly dates back to 10,000 BC – an age that is known as the end of the Ice Age. Our knowledge is based on investigations of carbonized plant seeds and animal bones from sites. Investigations can reveal whether domestication (genetic modification) of species has begun.
Example - Definition Questions
Great Wall - Constructed during the Qin Dynasty (ca. 220 BC) by the First Emperor to keep the nomadic invaders out of the Chinese lands.
Upanishads - The literary tradition that evolved as a reaction to the Brahmins' control of religious and political activities. Also known as the "forest literature," created by ascetic mystics who opposed the Brahmins. Date: ca. 800 BC