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As the course textbook states, “the arts give form to what is imagined, express human beliefs and emotions” (xv) and “for the majority of their history, artists have expressed the dominant beliefs of a culture” (xv). When studying the humanities, you can examine written works, musical works, works of art, and architecture to get a sense of what the creators of those works and the cultures from which those creators came believed. Much of this involves placing these artifacts into the context of what is known from other sources about the creators and cultures. A major part also involves looking at just the artifacts themselves to examine and interpret what their form and content reflect. This assignment asks you to follow this process of looking at the artifact itself. With that in mind, select one of the following artifacts from the textbook and answer the questions that follow:

  • Woman of Willendorf (Figure 1.2, page 7)
  • Standing man (Figure 1.6, page 10)
  • Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (Figure 1.7, page 11)
  • Tribute Bearers Bringing Offerings (Figure 1.13, page 16)
  • Pharoah Mycerinus and Queen Khamerernebty (Figure 1.19, page 23)
  • Musicians and Dancers (Figure 1.27, page 30)
  1. Describe the artifact in your own words. What do you see when you look at the artifact? What is depicted and how is it depicted?
  2. Identify and explain some beliefs that this artifact reflects. What might this artifact and the way in which it portrays its subject matter suggest about what the author (and her or his culture) believed and how they saw the world?
  3. Provide specific examples from the artifact that you have chosen and clearly explain how these specific details illustrate your points in response to the questions above. Do not simply rely on the discussion of the artifact that the textbook provides. While you may refer to the points in the textbook or use them as a starting point, you must build your paper upon your own observations and the conclusions that you draw from those observations. This assignment is asking you to develop your own interpretations from what you see when you look at the picture of the artifact in the textbook. You will not be graded on whether your interpretation is “correct” or not. Rather, you will be graded on how well you state what beliefs the artifact reflects, how well you explain how the artifact reflects those beliefs, and how well you show what specifically about the artifact provides the basis for your conclusions.
  4. If you do use the textbook, be sure to cite it appropriately. See Step 8 of the “General Instructions for Papers” in this lesson for directions on how to cite the textbook properly.
  5. Create a fitting, descriptive title for your paper. You can summarize the content to follow in the title, or you can devise a clever title that connects to what you discuss in the body of your paper.
  6. Be sure to have a clear introduction and a clear conclusion to your paper. At the end of your introduction, you should provide a statement that gives the reader a specific sense of what your overall conclusion(s) in the paper will be. In this sentence, summarize the specific beliefs that you will suggest that the artifact reflects.

Paper Length: 3 word-processed pages, double spaced

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