Writing assignment.

Same format as before: 3 questions worth 30 points each, exam graded out of 100. A good length for each answer is roughly 400-500 words. This is a take-home exam, which means that–I cannot stress this enough–you are free to use the internet and the library to look up information to help you answer the questions. Most of the information you need will be found in the texts I have already assigned, and I do not expect you to do a significant amount of research to complete the exam, but there’s always going to be extra bits of information or concepts some people don’t know, and it’s very helpful to look for these if you need them.

1. Compare the selections from Khatayi’s Book of China to what you have read about the Ming period of Chinese history. What does Khatayi capture accurately, what does he miss, &c.?

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2. Compare the conclusion of Khatayi’s Book of China (written in Istanbul, 1516) to European depictions of the Americas from the 1500’s and early 1600’s (sections 2, 3, and 4). The Qizilbash who Khatayi refers to were the enemies of the Ottoman empire at that time, followers of Shah Isma’il I, who conquered Iran and Iraq around 1500 and founded the Safavid empire–one of the 3 ‘gunpowder’ empires. They were in terms of technology and organization fairly typical of Middle Eastern and Central Asian armies of that time (lots of cavalry, &c.).

Three points to consider:

a) Who are the main groups described by Khatayi? Is there anything surprising about the way he describes their history?

b) Consider how and why do these different writers talk about cannibalism–why do you think that is a common theme in these writings? (Consider where else we have seen descriptions of cannibalism in this course.)

c) What do all of these texts together tell us about how the world changed between 1000 AD and 1500 AD?

3. Compare the Mali Empire to other states that existed around the same time (1200’s to 1500’s), both closer to Mali and further away. What other state(s) would Mali have interacted with most directly? To what extent are its architecture, and its military, reflective of regional or global trends between 1200 and 1500? (You may refer to the week 15 slide show for an overview of the monumental architecture built between 1300 and 1600–pay attention to the dates, some of the buildings in the slide show were built after 1500)

4. What existing connections did Ma Huan and Vasco da Gama depend on in order to navigate and understand “Calicut” (modern spelling Kozhikode)? Who/what did they find there that was familiar? (Hint: religion is relevant for both of them; remember to use whatever info you have on the biographies & identities of the authors, as well as the texts themselves.)

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