Writing a Social Studies Essay Document-Based Questions & Essay Ancient Mesopotamia: Religion, Government & Law, Technology & Achievements The Introduction • Introduce the topic of the essay. This is your THESIS statement. (What is this essay about?) • Provide background information. • ANSWER the essay question WITHOUT explaining it. • Rephrase historical context using one to two sentences. –Do not copy it!!! Body Paragraphs • Introduce the topic of this paragraph. (What will this paragraph be about? What is the answer?)Do not use stuff, things, or ways. • Explain the answer to the essay question with detail and examples. • Each body paragraph explains one idea. • Define key terms, explain connections • Each body paragraph should be supported by a document. The Conclusion • SUMMARIZE the essay in two to three sentences. (What was this essay about) –Do not write this! • Re-answer the question without explaining it. • Include additional information. (What else do you know about this topic) • Only here can you add your personal opinion and EXPLAIN why you feel that way. Introduction Thesis Statement: The people of the Fertile Crescent developed a successful river valley civilization. Background Information: They used the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers for watering their crops, traveling, trading, and for transporting their goods. Answer the question: As time progressed, people contributed ideas in government, religion, and technology. Religion Topic sentence: The Sumerian people were polytheistic. Definition: Polytheistic means they believed in many gods/goddesses. Details: Sumerians believed that the cities were the property of the gods. They even built statues of Sumerians praying to the different gods. Document: Document 1 is a picture with a description of a Sumerian ziggurat. The top of the ziggurat was considered to be a holy place. Ziggurats were important because it was a holy place of worship dedicated to the city’s most important god or goddess. Religion Topic sentence: Definition: Details: Document: Government & Law Topic sentence: Hammurabi, the king of Babylon, created a set of written laws to keep order in society. Definition: The code of law is a set of rules protecting all classes of society. Details: It was written in cuneiform on a black diorite rock pillar. Cuneiform was the writing system consisting of hundreds of wedge-shaped marks cut into damp clay tablets. Hammurabi’s code of law was the first written set of laws for all to see and understand. Document: Document 3 describes Hammurabi’s code of laws and shows the stone monument with his laws on it. It describes how these laws were important because they were written down for all to see. An advantage of written law is that it cannot be changed and it made people aware of the consequences of their actions. Technology & Achievements Topic sentence: The invention of writing influenced the Sumerian government and society. Definition: The system of writing was called cuneiform. Details: Cuneiform was used for recording stories, laws, and songs. People who learned how to read and write cuneiform were called scribes. Document: Document 4 shows a chart about how cuneiform developed. The use of a written language helped to keep order and communication in society. In addition, cuneiform allowed the government to create the world’s first written set of laws. Today, the United States also has a written set of laws to help improve society and to protect citizens. Conclusion Thesis: The people of the Fertile Crescent helped to make a successful civilization. Topics: The people used the land to help them advance in the areas of government, religion, and technology. Closing: Many of their ideas are still used today.