Ancient History Lesson Plan: Key Themes in the Ancient World

1. Introduction

The idea of this activity is to give students a broad overview of some of the key themes which run through ancient history (and indeed, world history as a whole). Students learn that different civilizations and empires face similar challenges, and respond sometimes in similar, sometimes in contrasting ways. They also learn that some themes, such as the development of technology, run through many civilizations, linking them together with continuous strands as each builds upon the achievements of its predecessors.

2. Instructions

Divide into small groups, with each group taking one of the themes listed here:

Society and economy – including settlements, social classes, trade and industry

Technology – “know-how” in obtaining food, using different materials, communications, science and so on

Religion and ideas – new religious movements, new philosophies

Government and administration – new kinds of states (kingdoms, empires, republics and so on) and key developments within them

Conflict – different kinds of wars, different causes, key developments in warfare

Each group traces its theme through history, remembering to look at different regions, in particular Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia.

The students identify key developments within their theme, noting what that development was, where possible its cause and its effects.

What they should look for is not so much the details (e.g. Religious teachings, how a new technology works etc) but on the impact of a particular development upon history at large.

They prepare a presentation about their theme as a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation.

3. Conclusions

When the groups have created their presentations, they deliver them to the class.

At the end, the class discusses the ways the different themes interacted with one another in the Ancient World.

Finally, the class thinks about whether these themes are in play in today’s world, and how hey are interacting with one another.

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