History 114

History 114.1: World History To 1500
Instructor: Dr. Maziar Behrooz
Fall 2018: W 4:10-6:45, HSS 317

Office Hours: MW 10-11, Science 223 or by appointment.
Tel: (415) 338-1776
E-mail: mroozbeh@sfsu.edu
Webpage: http://faculty.sfsu.edu/~mroozbeh

Course Description: This course is a survey of world history from pre-historic times up to the world around 1500s.  By nature the course has to be selective in order to be able to present the subject in a general and yet effective manner.  The main theme of the course is the view that world history is a process of increasing contact and interaction between societies leading to the modern period.  Films will be shown as time permits.

Course Outline:

Week 1: August 29
Introduction: What is history? What is a primary source and what is a secondary source?  Emergence of human communities to 500 B.C.E.; Nature, humanity and history: from food gatherers to agriculture; origins of agriculture; varieties of agriculture; life of food growers.

Reading: Bulliet, The Earth and its Peoples, Part I, Chapter 1, pp. 2-26

Week 2: September 5
First valley-civilizations (3500 B.C.E.-1500 B.C.E.) and the late Bronze Age: How civilization began; priests and warriors in early societies; Mesopotamia; Egypt; Indus valley.

Reading: Bulliet, Part I, Chapter 2, 26-52 & pdf article “Hammurabi”

Week 3: September 12
The Mediterranean world and the Near East (2000-500 B.C.E.): Assyrian Empire; Israelites and Palestinians; Phoenicia and early Mediterranean world; the Aegean world early Greek Civilization.

Reading: Bulliet, Part I, Chapter 3, pp.52-82 & pdf article "Moses"

Week 4: September 19
The Iron Age: formation of new cultural communities (1000-35 BCE); early China, Confucius, Confucian code and its place in place in Chinese history; early civilizations of the Americas; Celtic Europe.

Reading: Bulliet, Part I, Chapter 4, pp. 82-110 & pdf article “Confucius”

Week 5: September 26
Iran and Greece: The Achaemenid Persian (Iran) Empire; Zoroaster and his religion; rise of the Greeks; Homer and the heroic past; the development of the polis; Greece vs. Iran; Alexander and the Hellenistic synthesis.

Reading: Bulliet, Part II, Chapter 5, pp. 110-142

Week 6: October 3

Mid-term Exam I: October 3 (first hour of class)

An age of empire and expanding interaction: Rome: early Roman society; from republic to empire; rise of Christianity; Imperial China: dynastic cycles and change in China; the Han Empire and society.

Reading: Bulliet, Part II Chapter 6, pp. 142168  

Week 7: October 10
The tradition of India: Ascendancy of the Aryans; emergence of caste system; India's spiritual flowering: Jainism; Buddhism; Hinduism.

Reading: Bulliet, Part II, Chapter 7, pp. 168-192 & pdf article “Buddha”

Week 8: October 17
Iran: Parthian and Sasanian Empires and society; consolidation of Zoroastrian religion; Islam the formative years: Islam under Prophet Muhammad; the age of Caliphs; the Abbasid revolution; the breakup of the Caliphate; heritage of medieval Islam. 

Reading: Bulliet, Part III, Chapter 10, pp. 242-266 & pdf article “Muhammad”

Week 9: October 24
Emergence of Christian Europe: The Byzantine (or East Roman) Empire; Western church vs. Eastern Church; Byzantine civilization and the end of the ancient world; expanding network of communication and exchange.

Reading: Bulliet, Part III, Chapter 9 and 11 & pdf article “Constantine”

Week 10: October 31

Mid-term exam II: Friday October 31 (first hour of class)

Latin Europe: Rise and decline of feudalism; the Roman church; urban revival; rebirth of trade and the Christian Crusades.

Reading: Bulliet, Part II, Chapter 14, pp. 338-350

Week 11: November 7
Renaissance in Chinese civilization: Sui and Tang dynasties: rebuilding the imperial edifice; the Song Empire and its achievements; Mongol rule in China (Yuan Empire); emergence of the Ming dynasty in China.

Reading: Bulliet, Part III, Chapter 12

Week 12: November 14
Clash of Civilizations: nomadic invasions and its consequences; the Crusades; the Mongol invasion.

Reading: Bulliet, Part IV Chapter 13 & pdf article "Ginghis Khan"

Week 13: November 21 (Thanksgiving recess)

Week 14: November 28
Late middle ages 1200-1400: early modern world; Renaissance; new discoveries; emergence of Europe; the Ottoman Empire.

Reading: Bulliet, Part IV, Chapter 14 & pdf article "Da Vinci"

Week 15: December 5
Peoples and civilizations of the Americas: Aztec civilization; the Northern Peoples.
Islam in Africa: Mali and Sub-Saharan empires; East African coast; peoples and civilizations of the Americas.

Reading: Bulliet, Part II, Chapter 8, 192-218. 

Week 16: December 12

Class will finish the remaining lectures and reading; extra credit presentations; review for final exam.


Bulliet, Richard. The Earth and Its People (Volume 1-6th Edition)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (provided to you at the end of syllabus in pdf format)

Course Requirements: Your final grade will be based two mid-term exams (25%) and a final (40%) plus a book review (10%).   Always have an exam booklet for your exams.  Lectures and readings assignments cover different aspects of the period under study therefore, lecture attendance is essential for receiving the desired grade.  Those who miss three or more lectures without valid explanation will lose points on their final grade.

Book Review: Gilgamesh

Your book review should be no more than 1000 words (four pages typed and double-space).  Answer the following questions.  Each answer should cover different points.  Do not go over the same material.  Integrate your answers in one single essay.  You may present your own ideas and you may also consult scholars' work in the library.  If you chose to use other people's work, you must give proper reference (author, name of the book, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page number) in the form of endnotes or footnotes, but if you are directly quoting from the text just give a page number in parentheses.  Reviews are due on the final exam day by email.

1. Compare and contrast the two journeys in the Epic of Gilgamesh.  There is a search going on in both journeys: what search?  Are they the same or different?  What is found on each journey?

2. What did you learn about the society that produced this epic? 

3. What are Enkidu's feelings on his deathbed?  What did you learn from these feelings?  Was there anything in this regard that moved you or that rang true for you?  Explain your answer whether negative or positive.

4. What did you like about the story?  What did you not like?  Give reasons for you answer.

Extra Credit: You can also receive 7 points credit toward your final grade by signing up to make an oral presentation to the class (seven to ten minutes) on a historical person or event of your choosing.  State why the person is important historically, why you are interested in him/her, a little about her/his life and significance.

Important: Do not miss any exams unless you have a very good reason and have prearranged everything with me.

Final Exam: Friday December 21, 1-3:15 PM


In order to keep the price of this textbook low, I have ordered the older 6th edition.  Your textbook may be bought at SFSU bookstore ($120), or rented ($60) or rented online ($25).

An alternative and less expensive way of accessing the 6th edition of Bulliet, The Earth and Its Peoples, Volume I (6th edition) , is to rent it directly from the publisher, Cengage Brain.



Please note the following information regarding university policy:This course fulfills both GE requirement and history major lower division requirement.

Academic Senate policy #S07-244 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor.  The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process.  The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu).”

Academic Senate policy #F14-257 requires that the following statement be included on the syllabus: “SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Dean of Students. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact:  The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/  Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/ For more information on your rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu


Sample Questions for each exam:


-What distinguishes human beings from their closest relatives, the apes?

-Discuss the Mesopotamian government structure.  What could account for it? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages?

-Why Is the Assyrian Empire considered to be the first in the world?  What where its attributes and legacies?

-Compare and contrast Sparta and Athens.  What differences and similarities can be seen in their histories, government systems, goals, and societies?  How did they interact?

What sort of society do you see reflected in the code of Hammurabi?

Was Moses a figure of myth or a figure of history? Discuss.

-Compare and contrast two of the following four societies.  Use your knowledge to give a brief historical background and describe each society in terms of its social, political, religious, and economic institutions.

A) Persian Empire (under the Achaemanids)

B) The Greek city-state of Athens

C) Assyrian empire:  911-612 BCE

D) Old Babylon

E) Sumer



Compare and contrast the empires of Rome and Han China.  How where they structured?  What methods did they use to keep order and gain prosperity?  How successful were they?  What weaknesses eventually led to their downfall?

Why do you suppose the teachings of B\Confucius came to play so fundamental role in Chinese civilization?

Discuss and analyze the unique aspects (political, social, cultural, and economic) of China during the Han period.

Discuss and analyze and explain the unique aspects (political, social, cultural, and economic) of the Roman Empire at its height.

Describe the system of succession for leadership of Islam.  How did it originate and why?  How did the schism occur, and what was its impact on Islam?

What sort of a man was Muhammad? Compare him to Buddha and Confucius.

How do you explain the rapid expansion and victories of Muslims during the seventh century?



Describe the transition from Roman society to medieval society.  Pay special attention to social, economic, religious, and political issues.

The Crusades were a major event in Europe of the Middle Ages.  Why were they conducted, who benefited from them, and how did they affect Christian-Muslim relations?

What were the main consequences of the thirteenth century Mongol invasion under Ginghis Khan?  Use examples from Chinese, Islamic or European worlds. 

How do you account for the traditional negative assessment of Genghis Khan and his conquests have received?

Discuss and analyze the unique aspects (political, social, cultural, and economic) of the Chinese civilization during the Song state (est. 906). 

Latin Christianity during the Middle Ages is identifies with feudalism.  Discuss, analyze and describe the unique aspects (political, social, cultural, and economic) of feudal Europe in this period.

Discuss the relationship between monarchs, nobles, and the Church during the feudal period.

Can Leonardo Da Vinci really be considered "the greatest engineer of all times?"  Give your reason.


PDF Articles:

Epic of Gilgamesh







Ginghis Khan

Da Vinci