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Tips for Writing Ancient Culture Essays
A ancient culture essay is laid out similarly to a historical essay or an essay in sociology, though it has some unique components that are very important to pay attention to. There are also a number of stylistic considerations you should take into account before writing your ancient culture essay, or that you should at least keep in mind when editing the completed work.
The Overall Layout
Like an essay on other social science topics such as history, political science, government, or sociology, an ancient culture essay should have a broad and informative introduction section, followed by a development section that hones in on your question of utmost important. Following that, you should develop your ideas further in the argument section, and present your opinion and support it with evidence. After several paragraphs of argumentation, you should move into the conclusion section, which should return to the themes and questions mentioned in the introduction.
However, an ancient culture essay is more than just a recap of the historical period and the practices of the people living in that period. There are many other elements you should discuss, particularly in the development and the argument passages. Here are some examples.
Keep in mind the differences between the culture you are discussing and other more familiar, Westernized cultures that you may have learned more about in your history classes and government classes. Discuss in your paper the way the people from this culture lived, and how their way of life might have informed their beliefs and their behaviors. Try to explain or at least sympathize with the practices of the culture, even if they are very unfamiliar to you.
Do Not Be Eurocentric
Do not pass judgment on cultures, even if their beliefs and practices may seem unusual or even morally offensive and objectionable to you. Cultural historians operate under an assumption of moral relativism. That is, they believe that whether or not an action is moral is, in part, determined by what the surround culture believes and what its messages are for its people. Rather than judging a culture that practices cannibalism, for example, discuss why the culture believed this to be a sound or moral practice. Do not assume your culture’s way of life is superior.
Avoid Using the Term “Primitive”
Many students who are writing ancient culture essays make the mistake of referring to older cultures that are no longer in existence as “primitive”. This word choice is especially popular when the ancient culture being discussed did not take part in agriculture, did not have formalized government, did not believe in property, or differed from mainstream, modern Western cultures in other massive ways.
You should be careful to not refer to ancient cultures in a pejorative or condescending manner. These cultures were fully formed organizations of people, with intricate belief systems and rich practices and ways of expressing themselves. Do not use judging language. Your essay should appreciate unfamiliar cultures.