Student sheet – Early Civilizations

The river valley civilizations and their offshoots, 3500 BC to 500 BC

1. Activity


You should have the Timemap of World History open on your computer, in a separate window or tab from this sheet (if it has not been printed for you).

1. Go to the map of the world in 3500 BCE.

To do this, either follow the above link (open it in a separate window), or go to the Atlas home page (one of the options in the menu at the top of the TimeMap screen). Once there, use the Regional list of maps, under the entry heading “world”, to find the map.

Once in the correct map, follow the links through to one of the following regions: Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, as directed by your teacher.


What’s going on in this region? How did different peoples live in their environment:

  • what communities and houses did they live in?
  • how did they gain their food?
  • what technologies did they use?


From your exploration of the world in 3500 BCE:

What was the world like? How was it different from ours?

Are they all at the same stage of development? If not, which is the most advanced, technologically? – politically?

What major change has affected the way humans relate to their environment over the previous few thousand years?

What critical turning point in history occurs at around the time of this map (3500 BCE)?

Supplementary question:

Why do we call the Sumerians the “first civilization” ?

Give reasons for its rise.


2. Now move forward 1000 years to the next map, dated 2500 BCE, and then to 1500 BCE, 1000 BCE and finally 500 BCE.

For the period covered by these maps, note what key changes occur, including…

  • did new kinds of state or governing institutions appear?
  • what technological developments were there, and when?
  • how did the major trade routes change over time, both within and between regions?
  • what cultural or technological exchanges were there within the region?
  • what cultural or technological exchanges were there between regions?
  • what migrations occurred?
  • what new beliefs or teachings appeared?

Using the above points as a check list, distill your notes into a concise presentation for the rest of the class. This could be by way of a PowerPoint or other presentation tool, or a simple talk. Aim to make the presentation 5-10 minutes in length.

2. Presentations

Each group prepares and gives a presentation, so that all students in the class hear about the histories of all the regions.

The presentations should be made up of the headings and key points; but you should talk around these points, so as to link each into a rounded overview of the topic.

It is usually more interesting for audiences to hear different voices, so try to have different members of the group taking different parts of the presentation.

Students not in the presenting group should take notes on the points covered in the presentation.

Your teacher may finish the unit off with a plenary discussion about the contributions of your region to world history as a whole. While you are preparing the presentation, think about the wider context of the events and developments you are covering.