The aim of this lesson idea is to introduce students to the civilizations of the Ancient World; to get them to compare and contrast different regions and periods in ancient history; and to see what developments took place over time.
This activity addresses chronology, change and continuity, cause and consequence, technology and society, global connections.
For a fuller discussion of what NCSS National Curriculum areas it addresses, please see Appendix 1, below.
1. Go to the map of the world in 3500 BC. Follow the links through to the following regions: Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia.
2. Take notes: What’s going on in each of these regions? What’s similar about them? What’s different? Are they all at the same stage of development? If not, which is the most advanced, technologically? – politically?
(If there’s time, the class might wish to discuss what is meant here by “developed” and “advanced”.)
What are the key regions of the world at this time? Which are “exporting” aspects of their culture? Which leading states have arisen or are on the “way up”; which have vanished or are in decline? What are the leading empires in the world at this time?
Supplementary questions: How widespread is farming? ..and hunter-gathering?
3. Now jump a thousand years to the world map of 2500 BC. Follow the same procedure as above.
What’s changed in the thousand years?
Is there evidence of linkages between the regions?
Which region is exerting most influence over others?
What technological changes have there been?
What political changes?
Has farming become more widespread than in 3500 BC? If so, where has it expanded?
What key trends are in play at this time.
Who was the greatest ruler mentioned at that time? The greatest empire? Discuss
Repeat step 3 for 1500 BC, 1000 BC and 500 BC.
(If you’ve got time you can continue on to 200 BC, AD 1 and AD 200.)
When you have finished, review:
What has been achieved in terms of technological advance in these regions between 3500 BC and 500 BC/AD 200?
Has any region not covered by this survey contributed any key technological innovations?
What has been achieved politically?
What has remained the same since 3500 BC?
What civilizations have risen and fallen between 3500 BC and 500 BC?
Which have risen and NOT fallen?
Draw a chart tracing the connections between the civilizations which have flourished between 3500 BC and 500 BC / AD 200.
More lesson plans here
For more teaching resources see our Dynamic History Maps