Questions From a Worker Who Reads

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Weeks 1-2

Slavery – Pt. I Preface-p.45
Primus Reader - Egypt: Gods, Rulers, and the Social Order

Slavery – In the Valley of the Nile

Questions From a Worker Who Reads


Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will find the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
And Babylon, many times demolished
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished
Did the masons go? Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song
Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis
The night the ocean engulfed it
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.

Was he alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Did he not have even a cook with him?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada

Went down. Was he the only one to weep?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Year's War. Who
Else won it?

Every page a victory.

Who cooked the feast for the victors?
Every ten years a great man?
Who paid the bill?

So many reports.

So many questions.

Bertolt Brecht

  1. What is history? “History is about the sequence of events that led to the lives we lead today. It is the story of how we came to be ourselves. Understanding is the key to finding out if and how we can further change the world in which we live. “He who controls the past controls the future,” is one of the slogans of the totalitarians who control the state in George Orwell’s 1984. It is a slogan always taken seriously by those living in the palaces and eating the banquets described in Brecht’s “Questions.”

  1. Slavery as old as civilization

  1. Ancient slavery – color not a dividing line

  1. All of our ancestors were slaves (and masters) at one point

  1. Thing -- Or Person?

  1. Chattel

  1. Before Class: “A combination of scientific evidence shows that [the first] societies were not characterized by competition, inequality and oppression. These things are, rather, the product of history and rather recent history”

  1. The Real Eve

  1. hominids to homo sapiens

  1. definition of culture

  1. necessity

  1. band societies/hunter gatherer/foraging

  1. small scale kin/clan networks (90% of human history)

  1. labor hours/division of labor

  1. oral traditions

  1. shamans

  1. cave paintings

  1. Paleolithic ice age

  1. horticulture/fixed villages

  1. clearing land

  1. domesticated animals

  1. Neolithic cultures and independent invention

  1. Venus of Willendorf

  1. Stonehenge (burial mounds, religious sites and ________)

  1. Definition of civilization

    1. _____________ architecture (e.g., Mesopotamian ziggurat)

    1. _____________ stratification

    1. division of labor

    1. kinship

  1. surpluses and class structures

  1. priesthoods & granaries

  1. religions of farming communities

  1. status of women in class societies

  1. food supplies of class societies (_____ varied & _____ nutritious)

  1. population diffusion and infiltration of foraging land space

  1. River civilizations and floodplains (silt and water)

  1. Mesopotamia (Sumer third millennium BCE)

  1. Mesopotamian myths (e.g., Epic of Gilgamesh and human vulnerability)

  1. anthropomorphism

  1. Mesopotamian agriculture (canals and irrigation)

  1. Sumerian king-priest (lugal)

  1. Sumerian class structure: two basic classes – then princes, priests, soldiers, scribes, merchants, artisans, peasants and slaves

  1. Sumerian writing and mathematics

  1. Western Semites or Amorites (from Syria and western deserts apx. 2000 BC)

  1. Babylon and Hammurabi

  1. Mesopotamian imperialism (wood, metals, stone)

  1. Bronze (tools and ______)

  1. fertile crescent

  1. Assyria

  1. Assyrian militarism/imperialism

  1. Assyrian slave armies

  1. King Ashurbanipal II (884-859 BC)

  1. Neo-Babylon

  1. King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC)

  1. Capture of Jerusalem (Judah) -- Puppet king Zedekiah – exile of Hebrews

  1. Revolt of Hebrews under Zedekiah

  1. Jeremiah

  1. Persian conquests under king Cyrus (538 BC)

  1. Egypt and geography

  1. Egyptian and the Nile (how different from Mesopotamia?)

  1. Egyptian culture (e.g., “ma’at”) --- fundamental concepts based on ________

  1. theocracy

  1. Pharaoh (why no law code?)

    1. Bureaucracy

    1. Army

    1. Legal decrees

  1. Egyptian writing

  1. Sun god and resurrection

  1. Egyptian art and social elite

  1. monumental architecture

  1. Egyptian corvee labor

  1. Hebrews enter the Delta (1700 BC)

  1. Hyksos invasion (1720-1710 BC)

  1. Pharaoh Hatshepsut (1503–1482 BC)

  1. Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479–1425 BC)

  1. Pharaoh Akhenaten (1353 BC – 1336 BC)

  1. slavery in Egypt

  1. Children of Israel

  1. Abraham (Ur to Canaan about 1850 BC)

  1. Hebrew God

  1. Moses (13th century BC?)

  1. Conquest of Canaan

  1. Twelve tribes under “judges”

  1. King Saul (about 1000 BC), King David, King Solomon (d. 940 BC)

  1. After death of Solomon -- Israel in North, Judah in South

  1. Hebrews and slavery

  1. Deuteronomy

  1. Leviticus and Jubilee

  1. Essenes

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