Goals & Guidelines


Assignment Goal: to engage in greater depth a single pre-1550 culture, according to the student’s choice and interest; to learn to evaluate the past on its own terms.


Skills Learning Goal: to learn how to analyze a primary source (artifact) from the historical past; to develop research skills; to reinforce the idea and practice of writing as a process; develop skills in information management and organization; learn how to develop a thesis.


Guidelines:  Imagine you are a curator at the Smithsonian.   You want to acquire your artifact for the Museum, but need to secure funding from a major donor.  The potential donor(s) knows nothing about your artifact, nothing about the time period or the civilization that produced your artifact, and has no clue as to the significance of the artifact and why it is important for the museum to acquire.  In your paper, make a case as to why the Museum should acquire this artifact and why the donor(s) should fund the acquisition.


Incorporating your notes from your observation log and research, and using your corrected outline and thesis as a springboard, make your case in an 8-10 pp. paper.


Your paper should include:

  • A description of your artifact and basic historical context (when, where, what is it)
  • Research on the economic, social, religious, political life of the civilization that created your artifact.
  • An analysis of your artifact in light of your research on the civilization and specificity of your artifact, in which you demonstrate the ways in which your artifact is a window in on its civilization and establish what the artifact can reasonably tell us about the past.

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