End of Module

I’ve been somewhat absent from ‘Winjah’ for the last few weeks, due to large amounts of Archaeology revision, and working on the Wiki- group task.
However; the lectures at the end of term were those by various groups, critiquing the existing wiki article that they were going to look at.
These were… mixed. Mostly, it was clear that at least one person in each group had made an effort, and perhaps they all had other work to do, but it was clear that little research had been done on the whole.
For our own, I felt we performed quite well, and had a fantastic end graphic to our PowerPoint, courtesy of a group member with a flair for such things (I’d better not mention names on the internet). The feedback was also pretty good, particularly as I one day hope to be lecturing myself (as an unfortunate side effect of research, obviously).
As I mentioned, our project was about Persian Government, and frankly, it’s fascinating. As Hegel described it (crudely paraphrased) “A true empire in the modern sense”; modern here referring to Napoleonic era empires.
[Aside: we say history is written by the winners, but if we’re calling it after a person, it’s always “Napoleonic” never “Welllingtonic”. Well, maybe the ugliness of the word is to blame here, but still: interesting]
Anyway, Persia is a kind of opposite to Rome, to my eyes. Obviously, they were both empires, but Persia operated on a hereditary monarchy, with few (Darius I the notable exception) coming to power by deposing the previous king; Rome, as we know, was first a Republic and then an Empire with a great fear of a monarchy, despite having an Emperor for the second half or so or its era. Of these emperors, particularly in the later periods there were any number of non-hereditary successors, many of whom came to power via bloodshed.
The Romans were pretty hands-off with their bureaucracy, after urbanisation, but their peoples adopted their culture pretty willingly (Of course, this is all horrendous oversimplification, but I’m not going into all this; Read Aspects of Roman History AD 14-117 by Alston or The Roman World by Goodman for proper discussion). The Persians seem pretty hands-on, at least in Fars, with state employed bureaucrats and so on, but other areas seem to have been left to their own devices, provided they paid their taxes. The Sakae, for example, seem to have been little changed by the Persian influence, despite being an elite part of their army.
Perhaps not a complete comparison, but one that raises interesting questions; throw in the Chinese “empire”, and you’ve got a monograph on disparity in structure and operation of large state societies in Old World Ancient History.
The last lecture of term (besides the summation next Wednesday) was more like a discussion tutorial. It made a nice change from simply sitting and making notes and made me wonder: why don’t we routinely have tutorials in Ancient History? I suppose it must be a question of staffing, but it’s still quite odd.
Over the whole period of study, I have become even more aware of the rift between archaeology and ancient history; a rift that makes no sense. The archaeologists, or so it appears from their literature, have this idea that looking directly at material culture is in some way superior to reading the ancient literature. Equally, a historian should not do something so base as to grub around in the mud for evidence; he must look instead to the carefully preserved writings.
For a joint-schools student, this is incredibly annoying. If the two disciplines had heads I would bang them together and cry “It’s all the same thing, damnit! Stop sniping at each other and focus on the subject at hand!”
This is not the view held by most of my lecturers (as far as I know), and I may well keep quiet about it for a few years yet.
And… that might be everything for today.
*Checks word count*
I really did rant for 600 words- clearly I am cut out to be an historian.


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