World History to 1500 Essay

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BANTU:

This term can be applied to two different contexts, being the Bantu tribe which can be found mostly in South Africa but is spread across the entire African continent, and the Bantu language, composed of some 400 various dialects and currently spoken by well over 60 million people. In general terms, the Bantu people are not simply a single group of Africans, but are part of a much larger cultural group. Historically, the Bantu people originated somewhere in the northern regions of Africa around 4,000 years ago and then slowly migrated southwards, creating along the way various cultural identities and communities based on agriculture, metalworking, and trading with other tribes. Around 500 A.D., the Bantu people had migrated as far south as the Congo River basin and due to an intermingling of different tribes, the Bantu language evolved into other dialects and tongues, such as Basaa, Tsonga, and especially Swahili, currently the main language of most native Africans.

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As a result of this migration southwards, the Bantu people created a number of important African kingdoms, but with the arrival of white Europeans in the 1600's, these kingdoms slowly began to disappear, due partially to being dominated by the Europeans from such countries as the Netherlands, Great Britain and France. By the early decades of the 20th century, white Europeans had taken complete control of South Africa and forced millions of the Bantu people to either leave or be converted to Christianity. At this time, the system known as apartheid was widespread in South Africa, thus making the term "Bantu" racially and ethnically offensive to most native Africans.

THE MAYA:

Essay on World History to 1500 Assignment

As one of the most important and influential Indian civilizations, the Maya occupied the moist lowlands of what is now Guatemala, Honduras and the Yucatan Peninsula, and as a cultural group reached a stage of development unequaled by any other civilization in what is known as Meso-America or the regions situated between Mexico and South America. Like all Meso-American cultures, the Maya possessed only tools of stone, wood and bone, even during the Classical Period, circa 250 to 600 A.D., when they erected huge limestone structures with richly-carved decorations at such urban centers as Copan, Tikal, Uaxactun, Yaxchilan and Palenque. Generally, the social rulers of the Mayan civilization, composed of priests, astronomer-priests and nobles, constituted a theocratic government that dominated its people, most of whom were farmers and artisans. Agricultural activities were probably regulated by religious tenets and Mayans from all over the empire traveled to visit the ceremonial centers, such as in the cities of Tikal and Palenque, for festivals and markets.

Although there currently remains a huge assemblage of Mayan buildings and temples, such as at Chichen Itza and Palenque, the intricacies of Mayan culture are virtually unknown, due in part to the non-existence of written documentation and records. However, scholars and archeologists have managed to discover that the social divisions in Mayan culture were made up of priests and nobles at the top and the peasantry at the bottom. Of course, there was also the Mayan king who generally ruled through heredity. There was also a religious hierarchy with the head priest at the top and lesser priests below him. Certainly, as shown by recent archeological evidence, the Mayas practiced human sacrifice, perhaps as part of certain religious ceremonies aimed at pleasing the gods or to ensure a good harvest.

CYRUS THE GREAT:

Between 560 and 530 B.C.E., the powerful kingdom of Persia (now modern-day Iraq and Iran) was governed by Cyrus the Great, considered as the first king of the Persian Empire and the first Zoroastrian Persian Emperor, after overthrowing the monarchy of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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