Cradles of Civilization (unit 2)

By , September 4, 2011 9:57 am

Welcome to unit 2 where we will learn what “civilization” is. We will study early flourishing civs such as Mesopotamia and Egypt. At the end we will dip our toes into Indus Valley Civ and to try figure out why it declined. 

Fri. Sept. 13: What are the pillars of civilization?

Activity to try to figure out what criteria (standards or reasons for making a decision) we might use to judge what is a ‘civilization.’

“Ms. G’s criteria when selecting a meal from a menu at a restaurant is that it is dairy free, has no eggs and no meat.”

CHW3M Pillars of Civilization Charts

HW: Finish your Paleo-Neo paragraph outline and send it to Ms. G by 6 pm on Sunday.


Mon. Sept. 16 – Thurs. Sept. 19: Mesopotamia Intro and Dragon’s Den Assignment

Mon. Sept. 16 – PERSIAT for Mesopotamia

  1. Mesopotamia_2018 (PPT overview) – you did not need to take notes on every word from this – just the main ideas and key words. You are encouraged to print it out for a future unit test. Please print multiple slides per page,  not just one – that wastes paper.
  2. Video
  3. Fill in PERSIAT for Mesopotamia handout using textbook (page #s are given on it). Share at your table. Finish for HW if not done.
  4. Introduction to HTC of historical significance and the criteria used to determine significance (that’s why we learned the word criteria yesterday). Just a mention today – will be the focus on Tuesday.
  5. Intro to Dragon’s Den Assignment and groups. Choose innovation tomorrow. Begin note-taking tomorrow.

Innovations to choose from:

  • cuneiform
  • agricultural improvements
  • written law code
  • the wheel
  • astronomy (calendar)
  • Assyrian weaponry
  • Ziggurats
  • math


key words:

social hierarchy (a pyramid shape of social roles, with more status assigned to those at the top than at the bottom; elite = top of social hierarchy),  polytheistic (having many gods)

Paleo/Neo paragraph is due Thursday on paper (with rubric). 

Here are some generic comments on the Paleo/Neo outlines:

Paleo/Neo Outline Comments (Sept. 16, 2019)

Good job overall. Here are some important general comments in addition to the individualized feedback shared with you on the google doc.

Most people could stand to improve the detail in their examples. Many do not even include the location of the archaeological site or date of the find. If this information is available, include it: What did the object look like? How big was it? What was it made out of? Where was it found? What could it have been used for? Think like an archaeologist describing what he/she has dug up!

Some people have not included objects from archaeological sites! Make sure these objects are the focus.

The arguments (connections to TS)  were okay,  however, some people were either comparing past life to us (not the focus of this paragraph) or arguing whether paleo or neo life was easier (not the focus of this paragraph). Your job is argue how the transition from paleolithic life to neolithic life was: was it easy or difficult?


Explain means make your thinking clear to the reader. I always say, “don’t just say it, explain it.” When improving your writing you must put yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to look at your own writing more objectively.

Your continuity/change vocab can really help you here to make deeper arguments. On the bottom of the unit 1 page of the blog you have lots of words related to transitions.

Please cite your sources in brackets after the example (Smithsonian).

Lastly, don’t forget that topic and concluding sentences can only be one sentence (plus semi colon) long. They are not a string of sentences. The argument has to be in these sentences.


Tues. Sept. 17 and Wed. Sept. 18: Dragons’ Den (see separate blog post attached to this one)





Dragon’s Den prep (HTC = significance) and presentation on Thursday Sept. 19.

Take notes in proper format: Name the source and give the author

Write-up is due on Mon. Sept. 23 or Tues. Sept. 24. You will have to hand in your notes on the presentations at the same time (in your HTC journal – Ms. G has given you all a journal).


Thurs. Sept. 19: Presentations

After the presentations we ranked the innovations based on:

  1. significance (using the criteria)
  2. importance to us today

Dragons chose irrigation as #1.

I explained the assignment – see Dragons Den tips page.

Dragons_Den_Ms_G_Notes (2019)

Dragons Den Presentation Notes (Feb. 22, 2018)



Fri. Sept. 20: Investigating how a law code reflects the pillars of civ – Hammurabi’s Code

By Milkau_Oberer_Teil_der_Stele_mit_dem_Text_von_Hammurapis_Gesetzescode_369-2.jpg: Luestlingderivative work: Fred the Oyster (talk) – Milkau_Oberer_Teil_der_Stele_mit_dem_Text_von_Hammurapis_Gesetzescode_369-2.jpg, Public Domain,


Hammurabi’s Code – Primary Source Documents (in handouts) – Read and answer the questions on each handout.

Hammurabi_Code_SHEG (PPT)

HTCs = primary evidence (evidence FROM the time period you’re studying, original), historical perspectives

Vocab and Concepts:

  • primary source = something original from the time period being studied
  • secondary source = what someone from another time period writes or says about something from a certain time period
  • bias = preconceived views/judgments on things (can be positive and/or negative)
    • Hammurabi’s biases:
      • he thought the gods chose him to rule and gave him the laws
      • he was pro-rich
      • he was anti-poor to an extent (how much?)
  • context = the situation/environment at the time of an event or document
  • polytheistic = a religion with many gods, not just one
  • “an eye for an eye” = the principle on which the code was based (supposedly – how true was it for everyone?)

Which pillar of civilization is most reflected by Hammurabi’s Code? (Ms. G loves this type of question for tests because they’re open-ended [no right or wrong answer], can be supported by evidence from the primary source document, and force you to argue a position.

A Closer Look at the Code of Hammurabi (Louvre Museum video) – you may want to watch this for interest.

HW: Dragon’s Den Reflection due between Monday or Tuesday. Please note that we start Egypt on Monday and there will be homework.



Mon. Sept. 23: Egypt: Intro to the Central Role of Religion in Egyptian Life – Did Religion Help Them Deal with Change?

Heart scarab, scarab,

While we will not study everything about Egypt, you should know that their long history can be divided into three main time periods:

The Old Kingdom, approx. 2500-2000 BCE – the pyramid age

The Middle Kingdom, approx. 2000-1500 BCE – prosperity, trade and foreign influence

The New Kingdom, approx. 1500-700 BCE – empire and eventual decline

  • within each kingdom there were different dynasties (families of rulers; dynasties were numbered – began with the first dynasty after unification of Upper and Lower Egypt – #1 to 25th. )

Minds On:  Egyptian_Religion_Inquiry_Amulets

Skill: making inferences from objects


  • they were superstitious
  • they believed in the afterlife
  • they were fearful of not getting into the afterlife

ka = spiritual duplicate PLUS MORE (p. 68 in textbook)

ma’at = the concept of truth, order, harmony, balance, justice (the way things should be) (p. 69 in textbook)

types/evolution of tombs: pit grave, mastaba (bench-like tomb), step pyramid (mastaba stacked upon mastaba), true pyramid (a gigantic advertisement for riches), rock-carved tombs in the Valley of the Kings (they got robbed, too).

hw: Activity: scavenger hunt handout CHW3M_Egyptian_Religion_Scavenger_Hunt.

HW: Finish the first two pages of the scavenger hunt activity (above) – open it electronically so you can see the live links. [Textbook pages for Egyptian beliefs: 68-74 if you need to corroborate (confirm) anything from the scavenger hunt.]



Tues. Sept. 24:  Family and Gender and the Case Study of a Female Pharaoh (Hatshepsut)

Statue of Hatshepsut,


Classes (Egyptian_Classes) and ka recitation activity (see ka recitation on PPT below)

Each group was given a class for which to write a ka recitation

Egypt_Intro_Feb_2018 (PPT) – 3 themes and HTC of continuity and change

  1. conservative (prefer tradition over change)
  2. religion is everything
  3. centralized state

Did religion help Egypt deal with change (a female pharaoh)?

HTC = continuity and change

By now you should be familiar with the basic concepts of Egyptian religion: afterlife, ka, “Book of the Dead”, polytheism (multiple gods), ma’at.

Now add the roles of men and women from the textbook (pages 77-79) – in the PPT below.

Hatshepsut_Feb_2018 (PPT – contains video links and questions for videos) – 22 – 27 mins.


  • we used this worksheet to analyze how equal Egyptian women were to men, 10 being equal, 0 being not equal at all. The class average seemed to be about ?/10.  There is no doubt that Egyptian women had a lot of freedoms that other women in the ancient world did not enjoy. However, even Hatshepsut had to find ways to make herself accepted as a female pharaoh. That’s where ma’at comes in. Stay tuned.

HW: if you didn’t finish last night’s homework, please finish it. Please start getting ready for the Mesopotamia/Egypt unit test one week from today. Print off slides of PPTs (multiple slides per page).

Sites of interest:

Hatshepsut (PBS – Egypt’s Golden Empire) Hatshepsut

Tomb of Hatshepsut (Theban Mapping Project)

The Expedition to Punt (PBS – Nova)

The Queen Who Would Be King (Smithsonian)

Hatshepsut: Powerful Female Pharaoh (Live Science)

If you’re curious, read “Hatshepsut and Thutmosis: a royal feud?” (BBC)



Wed. Sept. 25: Akhenaton and the Challenge to Egyptian Religion and Art

Finish Hatshepsut – video above and questions relating to it. 

3 ways that she tried to persuade Egyptians that she was ruling within maat (the natural order of life).

What does Hatshepsut’s story tell us about Egyptians’ attitudes toward change? (0 = hate change, love tradition, 10= love change)


0                                                      5                                                  10


HTC =  continuity and change, historical perspectives (different groups had different views on Akhenaton).

PPT on conventions of Egyptian art (covers pages 75-76 in textbook).  Egyptian_Art_Conventions_Feb_2018(PPT) – you need to print these slides for the unit test!

Akhenaton (PPT) – you need to print these slides for the unit test! 

Akhenaton was the pharaoh who changed:

  1. the main god (from Amun to Aten)
  2. art styles
  3. the capital city


HW: Fill in the T’s and V’s on the “Akhenaton: Tyrant or Visionary” sheet in your handouts.


Thurs. Sept. 26:  Akhenaton Conclusions

Today you’ll be making a conclusion on Akhenaton: was he tyrannical or visionary? Don’t be presentist!  You must consider Akhenaton’s actions in the light of ma’at and his own time. You’ll be adding some input from a video. Use this worksheet to jot down your reactions to the  points presented in the video: CHW3M Akhenaton Video Worksheet

Please note that spelling differs but Amun, Amon, Amen were all the same god. Also note that Akhenaton didn’t invent the Aten (the sun disk god). He just elevated its importance. Aton and Aten are the same god – just different English spelling.

Video: Egypt’s Golden Empire – Pharaoh’s of the Sun (this is an active link to the video on YouTube)

20:45 to 45:00

heretic = someone who goes against accepted religious beliefs

Feel free to read this good summary of Akhenaton’s reign: “Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti’s Husband, Tut’s Father” (Live Science)

HW:  Make sure your binder is ready for the test on Tuesday. Make sure you have done the Scavenger hunt pages 1 and 2. Make sure you practice by filling in your Akhenaton Conclusion (written part). This would make a great test question!


Fri. Sept. 27 and Mon. Sept. 30: Decline of Egypt

There are certain factors that cause decline. First you will learn what they are, then you will see what actually happened in Egypt’s long decline and how it’s related to the factors.

Last known hieroglyphics, 394 CE


HTC = causes and consequences (see handout package)

  • Note that there are intended consequences and unintended consequences. We will not focus on these categories here.

Get an  overview of why and how Egypt declined by reading the 6 articles. Organize your information into categories (see below).

Decline of Egypt (PPT)

Here’s one of them: Nat Geo TV Blogs


We are focusing on factors, not dates!

  • Akhenaton (18th dynasty)                    – 1300s BCE
  • Ramessides (19th dynasty)                   – 1200s BCE
  • Sea Peoples
  • Third Intermediate Period                    – 1000s BCE
  • Nubian control (25th dynasty)
  • Assyrian invasion
  • Persian invasion                                       – 525 BCE
  • Greek control under Ptolemaic Dynasty – 332 BCE
  • Roman control                                             – 30 BCE


Remember that there are usually multiple causal factors that lead to something happening.

Factor Categories:

  • Long-term
  • Medium-term
  • Short-term (triggers)
  • Internal
  • External
    • Political
    • Economic
    • Religious
    • Social
    • Intellectual
    • Artistic
    • Technological


To help you remember facts about Egypt’s long decline:

Foreigners rubbing salt into self-inflicted wounds. 

UDICO: unnecessary change, division, invasion, corruption, overwork


Tribute = payments made to a country for the privilege of trade and friendship of another country. Egypt had become wealthy from tribute.


HW: Prepare for  Meso/Egypt test on Tuesday Oct. 1. Just because it’s open book does not mean it will be easy. There is a time limit, for one thing.  

Here are some tips for how Ms. G scores tests:

CHW3M Test Scoring Leading Into Test #1

A checkmark can be seen as a rubric. This is the way Ms. G scores answers.  

Criteria ¼ ½ ¾ 1







Missing key detail (very general, basic, generic, vague)


Little explanation or incorrect

Some detail but expected detail is missing



Some explanation

Mostly detailed





Mostly explained

Fully detailed






Fully explained


Written test questions operate on the same principle as the see-saw of evidence and argument. On tests, you have the evidence in front of you (in your notebook). Your job is to use it in support of an argument. However, students tend to give general information on the test. It is your job to provide historical details, not vague general ideas. 


Imagine the reader is someone who doesn’t know much about the topic. Remember that the reader needs to know what you mean, clearly. The reader can’t assume what you mean. Don’t imagine that Ms. G is your reader.

For HTCs, use the correct vocabulary and be very direct.




Links for decline of Egypt:

Egypt: The End of a Civilisation – BBC History

Did Climate Change Lead to the Downfall of Ancient Egypt? Daily Mail

Climate Change May Have Brought Ancient Egypt to its Knees (PBS, Nova)

Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period (Metropolitan Museum)

Other Resources on Decline

Ramses II Colossal Statue (Digital Karnak)

Ramses II (PBS – Egypt’s Golden Empire)

Egypt in the Late Period (Metropolitan Museum)

Ramesses the Great (BBC History)




Tues. Oct. 1:

Meso and Egypt  Test – full period.


Wed. Oct. 2 and Thurs. Oct. 3: Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization


Pillars of civ in Indus Valley:

Indus_Valley_Decline_Causes__Consequences_Oct_2019  (PPT)


Get a nice overview of the Indus Valley Civ here.

Lots of visuals here.

CHW3M Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization_Theories


Links are inside the document.


1.Given all the evidence, what do you think caused the decline of the Indus Valley civ? (could be a combination of theories)

2.What physical evidence are you relying on when you make this determination? (show that you are using criteria)

3.What level of certainty do you have (red light, yellow, green). Use vocabulary accordingly. Note the examples of red light vocabulary on this PPT.

4.Answer in your HTC journal. Make sure it’s carefully written. Due Mon. Oct. 7.



Fri. Oct. 4,  Mon. Oct. 7 and Tues. Oct. 8: CCA Step 1

in library

see CCA handout: 2018_CHW3M_CCA_Overview


see separate CCA blog post

Due Thurs. Oct. 10. 



List of Approved Websites



Additional Unit Resources


Lost City of Pyramid Builders – new excavations (Daily Mail, 2014)

Dr. Zahi Hawass explains Ancient Egyptian Mummy Recipe (video, 3:06)

The Mummification Process – Mummy from Roman times (Getty Museum video, 2:44)

Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings – part 1 video

Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings – part 2 (death) video



Tomb of Thutmes III (Theban Mapping Project)

Thutmose III (British Museum), Thutmose III (PBS – Egypt’s Golden Empire)

Anals of Thutmosis III (Louvre Museum)


Metropolitan Museum- Egypt

Mastaba tomb

Shabti from Dynasty 18

Funerary Papyrus Dynasty 21

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Egyptian Art – searchable


Old – not used:

HTC Journals:

  1. What is civilization, in your opinion?
  2. For each of the five pillars, why is it different from paleo/neo society? (Note: this is continuity and change).
  3. Write a sentence that proves you understand the definition of criteria.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy