Help me study for my History class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.
Select a historical theme of interest and compare Abu Zayd al-Sirafi’s description of different societies in Accounts of China and India to what we know from historical scholarship including Reilly, class lectures, and any outside sources you research on the basis of that theme. Possible themes include, but are not limited to, political structure, social stratification/social structure, material technology, gender roles, law, medicine, arts and crafts (though Sirafi doesn’t say much about this), business contracts and trade, religion, and division of labor or economic specialization. Your analysis should take into account Sirafi’s vantage point–his name indicates that he came from the city of Siraf, which was then an important port on the Persian (northeastern) side of the Persian Gulf, and lived in Basra (a port at the far northern end of the Gulf, near the mouth of the Tigris & Euphrates, close to Baghdad). His view as a Muslim (of Iranian background) writing in Arabic is important, especially to how he perceived and wrote about religion, and more generally what he chose to write about, or ignore. Finally, note that these themes are all interconnected, so while you should focus on just one theme, themes naturally overlap a lot and you should discuss the relationship of other themes to your topic where appropriate. (For example, the religious life of China, India, and other places was related in important ways to their artwork and ways of life and to their politics.)
You should not need to undertake much outside research for this paper, but it may make your life easier to look up basic info on Wikipedia or library resources. Wikipedia is an appropriate source here for determining the basic geopolitical map–for example, what states or empires existed in a certain place (e.g. was India ruled by a single large empire or many small kingdoms?) and what languages they spoke and what religions they practiced–although you should definitely use whatever information Reilly has on this.
You are encouraged to incorporate other primary sources into your discussion, especially if these give you more to say about your topic.
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