You are on page 1of 14


This DBQ assignment, if used within the unit, would fall at the end of the unit to be used

as a review-like aid for the students along with a study guide. The assignment is created for 9th

(or 10th) grade World History. The two week long unit covers the early civilizations of

Mesopotamia and Egypt. Students are asked to think about what qualifies a civilization

throughout the unit and are given an example relating to each of the pillars of civilization

during the unit. This DBQ would fit well into the end of the unit because it looks back on some

of the concepts students have been learning about such as government, trade, religion, and

communication. This DBQ is meant to be given to students to work on the questions at home

(Part A, as homework/study material) and then the following class day will be set aside to have

the students write their essays (Part B). These essays are not assigned as homework. Students

who complete essays ahead of time will be asked to write another one in class.

Grading Criteria: Total Assignment worth: 40 Points

Completion of questions within DBQ: 7 Points (One point per document set of questions)
Mechanics of Essay (is there a clear introduction, thesis statement, and conclusion): 5 Points
Information from at least five of the documents is included within the essay: 10 Points
Essay prompt is properly answered, thesis well-supported through analysis not just summary of
documents: 10 Points
Documents are cited within essay (i.e Document 1): 5 Points
Grammar, spelling, and Punctuation: 2 Points
Name on paper: 1 Point

Mesopotamia and Egypt DBQ

Directions: This assignment is used to help strengthen your skills as a student
historian by testing your ability to analyze and decipher information from historical
documents. You will use the documents 1-7 given in Part A to answer the
following prompt in a well-organized essay in Part B:

Identify and describe at least three (3) contributions from Mesopotamia and Egypt that
helped influence the foundations of a civilization.

*Some of the documents have been edited for the purpose of this assignment.

Map it Out! Before you start, think about some of the materials we have gone
over in class and brainstorm these thoughts here.

Part A: Analyze the following documents (1-7) and answer the question(s) relating to each
document. These questions will help guide your thoughts for your essay in Part B.

Historical Context:
Part A: Analyze the following documents (1-7) and answer the question(s) after
each one. These questions will help guide you for writing your essay in Part B.

Document 1: Early Forms of Writing


Historical Context: Around 3500 BCE, nomadic people were forming permanent settlements
around the river valleys. After settleing, people started to meet together and develop ideas, some
of which helped make life easier, provided way to communicate, and created explaination for
things people just could not explain. The great early civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia
provided these ideas and also foundations of early government and internal structure that helped
form future civilizations.

Part A: Analyze the following documents and answer the question(s) after them. These
questions will help guide your thoughts for your essay in Part B.

Document 1: Early Forms of Writing

Image Source: Fernandez-Armesto, F. (2010) p. 88

Note: Mesopotamians created the wedge-like shapes of cuneiform so that it could be easily cut
into clay tablets that were used to keep daily records. Cuneiform literally means wedge shaped

in Latin. Egyptian hieroglyphs are stylized pictures that were used to provoke mental
associations with ideas based off of how they sounded when the word the represented was
spoken. These methods were passed on through generations, which is why scholars are able to
identify their meaning easier than symbolic languages that failed to be passed down.

1. Compare and contrast Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform.

2. How might the use of symbols help other civilizations understand these written languages?

Document 2: Images from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Image Sources: Book of the Dead -

(Above: Image from Egyptian Book of the Dead, Hunefers Page. Below: Up close image of the
Scale of Judgement seen throughout the Book of the Dead.)

Note: The Book of the Dead was a collection of spells to enhance the travels of one through
purgatory and into the afterlife. Written on papyrus (paper made from reeds), the Book of the
Dead displays many vivid images, thick with symbolism and many stories of the lives that each
page is about. The above image describes the life of Hunefer, a philosopher/teacher who is led to
the Scale of Judgement where Anubis weighs his heart against the feather of MAAT, who stood
for justice. If his heart was found lighter, then Hunefer would be able to pass into the afterlife,
where Osiris overlooked. A heavy heart meant that one has led a non-ethical life, and their heart
would then be eaten by the crocodile like god Amnut. A closer up image of this process is seen
in the below image.

1. From the images in Document 2, what might someone infer about the way Egyptians viewed
the afterlife?

2. How were those deemed worthy enough to proceed to the afterlife?

3. What kinds of things did The Book of the Dead display?


Document 3: The Fertile Crescent

Image Source:

1. Why do you think this area of land is named The Fertile Crescent?

2. What geographical features may have aided the agricultural and economical abundance of
Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations?

Document 4: Hammurabis Code Excerpt (18th c. BCE)

Source: Schwartz, S., & Wimmer, L. (1997) p. 40

Note: In 1754 B.C., Hammurabi conquered and united all the cities of Mesopotamia under his
rule. He created his code of laws through divine intervention, where he stated all must follow
them or else they would face the wrath of the gods. It is important because it created a set of
rules that helped to govern a civilization while trying to protect people even if they had little
political power. The laws also gave women some power within their own lives. The laws called
for different punishments based on the classes of the lawbreaker, and who the crime was
committed against.

1. What was the purpose for the creation of Hammurabis Code?

2. How does this excerpt show us the difference between social classes in the Mesopotamian
culture during Hammurabis reign?

Document 5: Growth of Trade Map

Image Source: Fernandez-Armesto, F. (2010) p. 96-97

1. How did the spread of trade also help the spread of resources and
culture? Use the map and key and list 2 examples.

Document 6: Excerpt from The Tale of Si-nuhe (~1960 BCE)

Source: Schwartz, S., & Wimmer, L. (1997) p.46

Note: The tale is about an Egyptian official who goes into voluntary exile after the death of the
Pharaoh he had served under, fearing the reign of the new Pharaoh. Scholars are unsure if this
tale may have been told about a real person, or it was written to describe court officials who fell
out of favor during a transition between rulers. However, this excerpt shows us how a person of
Egypt reacted and felt in the presence of the Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt.

1. How did Si-nuhe feel in the presence of the Pharaoh? Did he feel worthless? How did the
Pharaoh feel about Si-nuhe? What did he do for him? Explain using examples from the

2. How might this help us better to understand how Pharaohs were viewed in Egypt?

Document 7: Pillars of Civilization Image

Image Source:

1. List the concepts from this image that you have seen throughout the documents you have
observed above.

Part B: Write a well-organized essay that has a well-developed thesis statement

and uses at least FIVE of the above documents for evidence. You may include
additional outside knowledge you may have used within your brainstorming. Your
essay must answer the prompt:

Identify and describe at least three (3) contributions from Mesopotamia and Egypt that
helped influence the foundations of a civilization.

Guidelines and Helpful Tips:

In your essay, be sure to:
Develop all aspects of the task
Incorporate information from at least FIVE documents
Incorporate relevant outside information
Support the theme with relevant facts, examples, and details
Proper citations (i.e. Document 1).
Use a logical and clear plan of organization, including an introduction, thesis statement,
and a conclusion

When you have finished be sure to:

Check spelling and punctuation
Read over your essay to check for clarity
Ask yourself if you have answered the prompt
Ask yourself if you have included everything needed within your essay (Conclusion,
thesis, introduction, used at least FIVE of the above documents, etc.)


Book of the Dead - Ancient Egypt Facts for Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from

Dowling, M. (n.d.). Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent. Retrieved November 22, 2015, from

Fernandez-Armesto, F. (2010). The World : A History (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice


Schwartz, S., & Wimmer, L. (1997). The Global Experience: Readings in World History.

New York: Longman.

Seymour, J. (n.d.). World History - Characteristics of civilization Module 1, Slide 7. Retrieved

November 22, 2015, from