Author Archives: wrigh399

Bonus Blog: Joseph Wright

In the early part of the semester, the second day to be precise our class began our discussion on what were identified as the characteristics of states. Out of those characteristics there were six that were identified as primary: urbanization, agriculture, specialization, complex economy, stratification, and state authority. The other emphasis was placed on the secondary characteristics of civilization that included: monumental public works, writing, metallurgy, tribute and taxation, mass production of goods, state religion, sate art, and epidemics of diseases. Together all of these embody what is means for a band or small group to become a society or a state. Perhaps may opinion may be biased or incorrect, that seems to be a running theme this semester, but in my ideal view of what it takes for a band, group, society, etc. to be considered a state I belief that a complex economy needs to be in place.
Granted this perspective comes from and individual who is a self-identified communications marketing major, and as such I have a view that is biased towards business. Still based on the evidence presented in class there is reason to believe that my ideal is the correct one. Considering all of our advanced societies that we examined over the class period there usually existed some system of exchange for goods and services. It could be based off of the tributary economy, a system of work for goods and services, or ultimately it could just be like how our society operates today. No matter what commerce is usually at the forefront of societies evolution into a complex state. Complex economies are tied inherently to the other primary characteristics of states as well as its secondary characteristics.
Through the development of economic systems and taxation practices stronger and larger urban centers are able to be developed for urbanization. Agriculture is able to produce a profit and those that do not grow their own food are able to use a complex monetary system of purchase to acquire food or other agricultural resources. Specialization is able to exists because they are able to focus on a particular area of interest in the hopes of turning a profit, without being overly burdened by the day-to-day thanks to a reliance of an economic system. Finally states are able to build up authority and be recognized as the elites by their subjects basically because they exercise the power of the purse, to control tax and regulate economic affairs within their state. I realize that my ideal may not fit some of the other opinions of my classmates, but it is still my mentality that the presence of a complex economy is THE most important primary characteristic of states. Thank you.

Student Blog Post 4: Cortez

Few events in the history of the western world were as decisive or catastrophic than the arrival of Hernan Cortez in 1519. He and his army of 600 men were able to march through Mexico and led the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. In it noted that the figure of Cortez is hard to identify as a historic individual, as many of his historical depiction either paint him as a powerful leader and conquistadores or they paint him as a villain who used far too powerful weapons and mercilessly slaughtered the Aztecs. The fact as always is tied in a shade of gray of both. According to an article on seen here
Cortez began his time of conquest in 1519 in hopes of leading a Spanish Expedition of Mexico in the hopes that he would be able to make a name for himself and seize power. At the time of his arrival the Aztecs were ruled over by Montezuma II who had achieved the largest size the empire would eve achieve. Cortez and his 600 men arrived with a view horses and headed to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. He had made an alliance with the Tlaxcala’s, who were essentially the mortal enemies of the Aztecs. Cortez had also acquired a translator and mistress along the way, a Nahua woman known as Dona Maria who I had never heard of before discovering her in the research for this article. Dona Maria was seen as a ultimate betrayer by the natives who this stay still vilify her in works of art and fiction.
According to a work found on PBS, the arrival of Cortez aligned perfectly with the predicted return of the Aztecs main god Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent. Montezuma sent an envoy to greet Cortez and welcome him as the returned god. The Spaniards instead opened fire on them, marveling the Aztecs with the fire power. Eventually Cortez holds Montezuma hostage after the Spaniards had outlived their welcome, but they were forced on in June of 1520. He returned to capture Tenochtitlan with his indigenous allies and allies and they were able to capture Tenochtitlan. Ultimately the site of what was Tenochtitlan become Mexico City, in 1521 and in Cortez ruled from 1521 to 1524 as governor of Mexico. . Ultimately Cortez was named the Marquis of the Valley of the Oaxaca, He served frequently making several trips between Spain and Mexico, costing him a great deal of his once great fortune, and on December 2, 1547 he died at the age of 62.
Of course this is only a very simplified account of Cortez and his life, but it just felt necessary to understand how he was viewed and report some of the facts on this very polarizing figure in world history

Terracota Triumph

This is a resubmission, I attempted to submit on Wednesday but could not find it on the page. with that being said I present my blog post: Terracota Triumph:

In our study of the Ancient Chinese civilization and it’s people I found much of the material to be difficult to grasp and to understand. Ultimately I found that it mainly had t to do with a lack of western understanding of the Chinese study. Regardless of the reason why I found it difficult to focus, one image in particular stood out to me having recognized it from its dozens, if not hundreds of appearances in popular culture. Namely the terracotta warriors or as they are also known the Terracotta Army.
The terracotta warriors are right up there with the dragons when it comes to appearances in popular culture of China. I wanted to know a little bit more about these magnificent figures and what exactly their ties to the the civilization were. These artifacts were created during the time of the First emperor Qin Shihuang who sought to become even more powerful and remember after his death. He chased his dreams of immortality through his construction of a massive tomb that took many years to finish, with construction of the tomb being done but upwards of 700,00 laborers and slaves who were sometimes put to death in order to keep the tombs secret location a secret. Inside this tomb were not only the famous warriors, but horses, weapons, and armor for them. To carry on into the next life The
The structure was first discovered in 1974 and is often hailed as on of the greatest agricultural find of all time. According to some of the more recent discoveries have shown that 1800 individual statues have ben uncovered, but most of the complex containing the magnificent warriors remains unexcavated.
The structure had four main pits that were associated with the army. These pits were allegedly designed so that the emperor would be defended from his conquered states hence why the army is faced to protect from the East. The second tomb was designed for cavalry and infantry unit and chariots, meant to symbolize the emperors royal guardians. The third pit contained righ ranking officers and another chariot. Pit four contained nothing and is widely believed to be have either been graverobbeed or far more likely it was left unfinished by the builders of the structure.
Ultimately I found the structure to be an eye-opening look into Chinese architecture. Each of these figures serves as an individual and illustrates how great art and memorials can transcend the barriers of the time they are created and serve as an illustrious example for generations to come.

Pyramids Power and Pharaoh in Popular Culture

Let us take a look at something from the approach of someone who has no Anthropology training to speak of and instead considers themself a social scientist. I took a quick survey of my co-ed fraternity and I began with a simple ideal for this survey: put down the first word you thing of when you read the word Egypt. Out of the 100 members, a total of 63 forms were submitted to me with 35 being female and 36 male. Out of those forms, the results were not surprising with a staggering 60 people responding with Pyramid as the word that they most associate with Egypt.

I conducted this survey Monday afternoon after our discussion of The Great Pyramid of Kofu sparked my interest in the subjects once again. The Pyramid is seen as the defining image of Egypt for many reasons. It is one of the of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, being both the oldest and the only remaining of these wonders and is a magnificent feat of engineering and study to this day serving to awe tourists and visitors with it’s beauty and size.  Oddly though, these aren’t what drew me to The Great Pyramid however. What drew me in was its depictions in other media such as movies, cartoons, and comic books. I consider myself a die hard geek and so I recall The Great Pyramid in dozens of depictions ranging from Giant Robot, spaceship, living being, or being built by wizards, aliens, or ancients monsters.

Beginning with one of my favorite depictions of the pyramid was its depiction in the television shows Power Rangers Zeo. The great pyramid in actuality is the great robot known as Pyramidas that was able to fire massive laser beams, fly, and transform into it’s massive battle mode complete with arms and a face. However to most 90’s kids who were on the geekier side of the fence the most famous image of the pyramid came from the show Yu-gi-oh, in which the main character possessed a magical necklace shaped like a pyramid that contained the spirit of an Egyptian Pharaoh that allowed him to become the great king of games, a master strategist. He promptly used these ancient magical powers to play card games and stop ancient monsters (it was a simpler time). The final scene I would like to present is of the movie Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, in which the most powerful and evil Robot was actually fueled by a power beacon that it had hidden in the top of The Great Pyramid.

What is interesting to consider though is that one theme is present in the three example listed as well other depictions of Pyramids in popular culture: the theme of Power. Pyramidas was the strongest robot in the show, the evil robot in Transformers was the strongest in that, and the magical amulet in Yu-Gi-Oh was said to contain great power of the Pharaoh. If memory serves the pyramids were built as a sign of the Pharaoh’s power and authority and it would seem that from its modern depictions the Pyramid is still viewed as a sign of great power and authority some thousands of years later.


Blog Post 1 Joseph Wright

The article that I chose to examine was a New York Times article entitled “What Women Could Do In Ancient Egypt” a review of Egyptian Art published by Holland Cotter in 1997 originally. The article by begins by discussing the exhibit entitled “Queen Neferiti and the Royal Women” and was a visiting exhibit to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I originally chose this article as I was influenced by a discussion of gender roles that had been discussed in a few of my other classes this semester and I found it would be an enlightening experience if I had examined the role of women in perhaps the most famous ancient civilization of all time. I wished to see how this once great civilization was treating its population and determining how it might influence us today.
The article discusses that the role of women in Ancient Egypt extends more beyond the two most famous depictions of the Egyptian female in popular culture: the Cleopatra and the Fan girl. They explain that it is not a few simple roles that women filled but many roles that were high status include property owners and decision makers. The article however, does not stray away from the point that men were viewed as the dominant figure is most artwork, standing a head taller than the female in most depictions where they are together. Men are often depicted as named figures, while almost none of the women are named.
In most depictions that were seen women were seen as inferior to men, at least among the common people. In the elite of society however they were able to acquire wealth through work and were able to own land. There even existed a few female pharaohs, the most famous being the woman known as Hatshepsut, who reigned from 1486 to 1468 BCE. Ultimately the most common depiction that existed in the artwork of women was that of one that has persisted through the millennia, the role of motherhood. The article makes special note to examine that Queen Nefertiti and her young daughter are in a very famous pose both kissing the ankh, which is the symbol of life in a way showing that from females stems life.
Ultimately I enjoyed this article, It was brief and art focused but did provide me with the opportunity to examine a few of the images associated with Egyptian femininity and how it relates to the discussions in class and our modern viewpoints.