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Humanities - Essay Example

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Category A Question A1. [Cultural, societal, political and religious contributions from the Dark Ages] The period known as the “Dark Ages” extends from the fall of the Roman Empire in 455 until the period of European expansion which began with the crusades in around CE 1000…
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Download file to see previous pages... It was an age of migrations, missionaries and raiders, in which ideas as well as many different trade goods were exchanged across huge territories. One important consequence of the ransacking of Rome by the Germanic tribe called the Vandals in CE in 455 was that Germanic laws, based on local strong leaders rather than a centralized state apparatus, now became the norm ( Fiero, 2010, p. 251). These were enhanced also by a new social order which came to be known as feudalism, based on the majority of the people being tied in to service of these same chiefs and lords. The nomadic and shifting nature of these up and coming tribal encouraged the perfection of a number of portable art forms, such as engraved weapons, fine jewelry and practical utensils, all of which were found, for example in the Sutton Hoo burial in East Anglia, England, dating from ca. 630. (Fiero, 2010, pp. 253-254). The technique known as cloisonne allowed Viking craftsmen to embed semi-precious stones and colorful enamel into their objects, and thus vividly represent their lifestyle based on hunting and adventure, with many zoomorphic motifs. The Christian religion advanced across the continent under the protection of Charlemage. New techniques of manuscript production spread from Irish and British monasteries in the north west and instead of the rather clumsy and plain Roman style, a new elegant Celtic writing style became popular. It was known as the “Carolingian minuscule” and it was a rather small, but neat and legible script, with helpful punctuation and occasional elaboration through patterns and imagery drawn from the Celtic and Viking cultures. The world famous “Book of Kells” which is an eighth century Latin gospel, finely adorned with elaborate capital letters and celtic patterns, represents the finest example of this literary innovation. The influence of this script can still be seen in modern typefaces used in printing and on computers. Christianity influenced also the creation of liturgical objects of great value such as cups and plates used for the Eucharist, and magnificently carved ivory objects. Metalwork was adapted to the Church in the form of richly adorned clasps to hold the heavy pages. The copying of texts in the scriptorium of each monastery, was a key feature of the monastery culture that grew up in this period. It resembles the modern inter library loan system with the only difference, that of course production and transport of books took much longer in those days. More practical inventions such as the stirrup for horseriding (brought in from China via the nomadic tribes sweeping across Europe), rigging gear for sails (developed by the Vikings, and iron horseshoes revolutionized transport in the Dark Ages, paving the way for the expansion which then blossomed after CE 1000. Far from being a dark and ignorant age, this period was filled with new ideas and a passion for learning. Category B. Question B2. The Epic of Gilgamesh, as the title suggests, represents the ancient literary form of the epic. This implies a sweeping historical narrative, with heroic human figures seeking out their destiny against a background of worldly conflict. There is a strong divine element in this tale, and the notion of a quest for meaning and identity is key to the narrative. The hero of the Epic of Gilgames ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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