DBQ writing

Writing a Social Studies Essay
Document-Based Questions &
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
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.
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
Answer the question:
As time progressed, people contributed ideas in government, religion,
and technology.
Topic sentence:
The Sumerian people were polytheistic.
Polytheistic means they believed in many gods/goddesses.
Sumerians believed that the cities were the property of the
gods. They even built statues of Sumerians praying to the
different gods.
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
Topic sentence:
Government & Law
Topic sentence:
Hammurabi, the king of Babylon, created a set of written laws to keep
order in society.
The code of law is a set of rules protecting all classes of society.
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 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
The system of writing was called cuneiform.
Cuneiform was used for recording stories, laws, and songs. People
who learned how to read and write cuneiform were called scribes.
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
The people of the Fertile Crescent helped to make a
successful civilization.
The people used the land to help them advance in the areas
of government, religion, and technology.
Many of their ideas are still used today.

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