Rise and Fall of Early Empires

HI 211

Winter 2008                      


Dr. Erika Lindgren                                                                                                        314 Luther Hall

erika.lindgren@wartburg.edu                                                                                        352-8201 http://faculty.wartburg.edu/lindgrene                                         

Office Hours:  T 8:30-9:30, W 2:30-3:30, F 9:10-10:10 and by appointment


Course Description

This course is a comparative study of pre-modern empires, focusing primarily on non-western civilizations. 


Course Goals:  By the end of the term you should be able to:

1.      Express a broad understanding of how early empires developed, maintained, and lost control.  This is the “Big Picture.”

2.      Show knowledge of the key historical figures, events and institutions that shaped these empires.

3.      Read, discuss, and write about the sources [written and artistic] of our knowledge of early empires, as well as modern scholarship on the topic.

4.      Understand how historians and art historians practice their craft.

5.      Uncover some of the links between our current society and that of the past.

6.      Have some fun!


The course satisfies the Diversity Across the Curriculum requirement.  This course is also Interconnected with Humanities/Fine Arts, and is linked specifically with the disciplines of Art and Architecture. 


Required Texts


Lindsay Allen, The Persian Empire, (University of Chicago, 2005)

Karen Farrington, Historical Atlas of Empires, (Mercury, 2004)

Richard C. Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999)

David Morgan, The Mongols, (2nd ed. Blackwell, 2007)


Other readings on reserve and online.

Website: http://faculty.wartburg.edu/lindgrene contains copies of the syllabus and assignments.



Readings- You are responsible for the readings assigned in this syllabus.  On the day that they are assigned you should complete them before class. Always bring the day’s reading to class. Taking notes on what you read, on your computer, in a notebook, or in the margins of the text, will assist you in summarizing and remembering the major points of the texts.  Despite its ease, highlighting is rarely helpful


Reading quizzes- At the professor’s discretion, reading quizzes will be given at the beginning of class.  These can not be made up.


Architecture Project- This assignment calls for you to work in a small group to examine a religious or political structure from an early empire from both a historical and art historical standpoint.  More details to follow.


Take home midterm- You will be given a choice of essays to answer related to the course material.  You may use the course books to write the exam.


Reflective essay- The essay will ask you to compare your culture with ones that we have been studying.


Take home final- You will be given a choice of essays to answer related to the course material.  You may use the course books to write the exam.


Late work will not be accepted unless prior arrangement has been made with the professor


Participation- All students are expected to contribute to the discussion of class readings and lectures.


Attendance- Attendance is required.  You receive 2 points for every class you attend.  No excused absences.  Please note that this is different from your participation.


Grading and Attendance Policy- out of 1000 points

Participation                             200

Reflective essay                        100

Architecture Project                  100

Take home midterm                  200

Take home final                        200

Reading quizzes                        126

Attendance                               74


Special Needs:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from illegal discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities.  Students requesting instructional accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodations by contacting Pathways Associate for Testing and Advising Carla Coates.  She can be reached at the Pathways Center, 314 Vogel Library, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA 50677, 352-8230, <Carla.coates@wartburg.edu>.   Presenting documentation of a student’s disability early (before the beginning of classes) is helpful and often necessary to secure needed materials in a timely way.  Accommodations should be requested PRIOR to affected assignment due dates.  For more detailed information, please see http://www.wartburg.edu/pathways/testing/AccomodationProcessStudents.pdf


Honor Code/Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the representation of the work or ideas of others as your own.  Plagiarism can result from failing to cite a source, giving sufficient credit to the original authors, closely paraphrasing without attribution, and direct copying.  The Academic Policies Committee of Student Senate and the Honor Council have asked faculty to remind students that they have a “…responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work”.  All forms of plagiarism and cheating will result in severe academic penalties.



By attending Wartburg College, students are demonstrating their dedication to the Honor Code.  The Honor Code reminds students of their responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work.  This is a reminder of your obligation to the Honor Code (from the policy developed by students and overseen by the Student Senate, the Honor Council, and the Academic Ombudsperson).



Classroom policies:

            1.   Arrive promptly

2.      Please turn off all cell phones, pagers, beepers, and noisy watches.

3.      You may only record my classes with my permission.

4.      If you know you must leave early, let me know before class and sit near the door.

5.      Limit exiting and reentering the classroom during the class period.  It is disruptive to your fellow students and distracting to the professor.

6.      Make sure you put your name on everything you turn in!

7.      Follow the directions on all assignments!  It will save headaches and heartaches.

8.      I have nothing against food and drink in the classroom.  Just make sure it is not too messy, smelly, or noisy- NO chips!!  AND PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF!


Schedule of classes: When texts are listed for a class session, students should arrive having already read and reflected on this material.  Assignments are listed on the dates they are due.


Week 1       Some Very Early Empires


M 1/7               Introduction: Defining Terms


W 1/9              Mesopotamia

Read: Farrington, 6-21


F 1/11              New Kingdom Egypt

Read: Farrington, 22-31


Week 2       Persia

M 1/14             Background

Read: Allen, introduction and chapter 1


W 1/16                        Conquest

Read: Allen, chapter 2


F 1/18              Capitals

Read: Allen, chapter 3


Week 3       Persia


M 1/21             Regional Rulers

Read: Allen, chapter 4


W 1/23                        People and Religion

Read: Allen, chapter 5


F 1/25              Alexander and the Aftermath

                        Read: Allen, chapter 6; Farrington, 32-35.


Week 4       Persia and the Silk Road


M 1/28             Moderns trying to understand ancients

                        Read: Allen, chapter 7


W 1/30                        Religion and Trade

Read: Foltz, chapters 1 and 2


F 2/1                Buddhism and Christianity

Read: Foltz, chapter 3 and 4


Week 5       Silk Road and India


M 2/4               Islam

Read: Farrington, 66-71; Foltz, chapter 5


W 2/6              More Religion on the Silk Road

Read: Foltz, chapter 6 and 7


F 2/8               


Week 6       India


M 2/11             Silk Road conclusion


W 2/13            Mauryan and Gupta India           

                        Read: Farrington, 52-55 and at this site  http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html#FOURTEEN  the 14 Rock Edict and Kalinga Edicts [Last Name A-0], and Minor Rock Edicts and all Pillar Edicts [Last Name P-W]


F 2/15             Roundtable on architecture     Architecture project due



Week 7       China   


M 2/18             Early China

                        Read: TBA


W 2/20            Class cancelled


F 2/22             China   

                        Read: Legalist Policies    


Week 8       China


M 2/25            China

                        Read: Farrington, 47-51


W 2/27            China



Thursday 2/28  Take home exam due by 5 pm in my office


F 2/29              Tang China

                        Read: Farrington, 56-59


Week 9       Winter Term Break


Week 10     The Mongols 


M 3/10             Background of the Mongols

Read: Morgan, Introduction, chapter 1


W 3/12             Founding the Mongol Empire

Read: Morgan, chapters 2 and 3


F 3/14              Mongol Government

Read: Morgan, chapter 4


Week 11     The Mongols 


M 3/17             Mongols in China

Read: Morgan, chapter 5


W 3/19            Mongols in the West

Read: Morgan, chapter 6


F 3/21             Easter Break     


Week 12     The Mongols and Africa


M 3/24             Easter Break             


W 3/26             Read: Morgan, chapter 7


F 3/28              Aftermath of the Mongol Empire

Read: Morgan, chapter 8 and 9


Week 13     African Empires


M 3/31             North Africa

                        Read: Farrington, 62-65, 102-105


W 4/2              Mali and Ghana

                        Read: From the travels of Ibn Battuta


F 4/4                Benin

                        Read: TBA


Week 14     New World Empires


M 4/7               Central America

Read: Farrington, 94-97


W 4/9              Central and South America

Read: Farrington, 106-109


F 4/11              South America    Reflective essay due



Take home final is due at the beginning of the finals period assigned for this class, 11:30, on Tuesday April 15.  Bring the completed final to the classroom where we will meet.


The professor reserves the right to make changes to syllabus, and will notify students when she does so.





Grading standards for essays and papers          Dr. Lindgren


An “A” essay is excellent in nearly all respects.  An “A” essay:

-is well-argued and well-organized, with a clear thesis.

-is well-developed, with content that is original, specific, interesting, appropriate, and convincing.

-has logical transitions that contribute to a fluent style of writing.

-has varied and sophisticated sentence structure.

-has few, if any, mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or diction errors (less than 3).

-demonstrates command of a mature, unpretentious diction.

-uses the sources extremely well.


A “B” essay shares most characteristics of an “A” essay, but:

-may have some minor lapses in organization and development.

-may contain some sentence structures that are awkward or ineffective.

-may have minor mechanical, grammatical, or diction problems.

-may be less distinguished in its use of language.

-may not use the sources as well.


A “C” essay is competent, but compared to a “B” essay it:

-may have a weaker thesis and less effective development.

-may contain some lapses in organization.

-may have poor or awkward transitions.

-may have less varied sentence structures that tend toward monotony.

-may have more mechanical, grammatical, and diction problems.

-is likely to be less distinguished in its handling of the topic.


A “D” essay is likely to:

-present a thesis too vague or too obvious to be developed.

-display major organization problems.

-lack adequate support for its thesis.

-have confusing or non-existent transitions.

-have ungrammatical or poorly constructed sentences.

-demonstrate problems with spelling, punctuation, diction, or syntax that impede understanding.

-not cite sources.

-be sloppy.


An “F” essay is seriously flawed.  It is likely to:

-have no clear thesis or central topic.

-display random organization.

-lack adequate support or specific development.

-include irrelevant details.

-fail to fulfill the assignment or be unfairly brief.

-contain major or repeated errors in diction, syntax, grammar, punctuation, or spelling.



Adapted from Carol Engelhardt, Ph.D.