A key step in the intellectual history of the world has been taken - in two very different locations. One is in the Eastern Hemisphere and the other is in the Western.
Stone Age hunter-gatherers and farmers live in much of the world. In one small area, however, cities are appearing, literacy is developing, and civilization is emerging.
The rise of civilization here has been astonishing. By this date, some of the most spectacular structures in all world history have been built - the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
Great new centres of civilization have appeared, in China and the Mediterranean. One major civilization has vanished, however, for reasons we still don’t understand.
Game-changing innovations are appearing which will lead to massive population growth, greatly expanded trade, wider access to education, and other major advances.
Some of the greatest thinkers in all world history are living at this time. Their teachings will have a lasting impact on the history of humanity, right up to the present day.
Great leaders have made their mark. Their conquests have reshaped the maps of huge areas of the world, and left a lasting legacy of political and cultural change.
In Asia and Europe, this is an age of empire. It is also the first great age of international trade. Ideas, innovations and art forms spread from one civilization to another.
Great religions spread along the trade routes of the Eastern Hemisphere. Meanwhile one of the largest cities in the whole world now flourishes in the Western Hemisphere.
Between them, two enormous empires span the entire Eurasian landmass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They house the leading civilizations of the day.
Asia is home to brilliant civilizations of great scientific advance and technological progress. Europe, however, remains chaotic, backward and ignorant.
China has become the great powerhouse of economic and technological development. Chinese inventions will be key to humanity’s progress in the coming centuries.
All the advances made in all regions of Eurasia have now reached Europe. Here, they combine and fizz, and begin to change every aspect of European civilization.
Europeans have pioneered maritime trading systems which, for the first time, span the entire globe. These lead to vast changes in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
The Chinese empire of the Qing dynasty is the wealthiest and most populous state on the planet. However, the commerce of the globe is dominated by Westerners.
Westerners control a globe-spanning trading and political system. The wealth that this brings has sparked the greatest economic revolution since the rise of farming.
A truly world-spanning civilization is emerging, based in Europe and America. It is characterized by unceasing scientific, technological and social advance.
Western industrial civilization has swept all before it. European empires, above all the British empire, rule much of the world.
Titanic conflicts between 1914 and 1945 have gravely weakened the European nations. Their world-wide power has gone and new superpowers dominate the world.
The USA as the world’s leading power. This is a brief period of global economic growth and the spread of democracy. Grave new anxieties are emerging, however.
Mesopotamia Web Sites
The British Museum: Mesopotamia
The British Museum site includes interesting images, simulations, and other resources to make the study of Ancient Mesopotamia enticing for students. Topics include Georgraphy; Gods, Goddesses, Demons and Monsters; Time; and Writing. The Geography section includes a zoomable map and an illustrated story of Gilgamesh. The Gods and Godesses section includes a comparison of gods, goddesses, demons and monsters of Mesopotamia, an illustrated story about gods and godesses, and a challenge game to “get the gods” using a cuneiform tablet. The Time section includes a Mesopotamia timeline and a story of how the history, languages and culture of the peoples of Mesopotamia were rediscovered in the last two centuries. The section also includes Shockwave-generated challenge to figure out how the objects archaeologists find get under the ground. The Writing section explores how scribes worked and recorded information and presents the story of how one cuneiform symbol evolved. The challenge activity prompts students to put together a broken ancient tablet. Overall, a great introduction to ancient Mesopotamia for kids, though the hyperlinked stories design and multimedia are not as fresh and enticing as what can be found at some other sites aimed at children.
Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia
The Internet History Sourcebooks are wonderful collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts for educational use by Paul Halsall of Fordham University. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook contains hundreds of well-organized sources and also includes links to visual and aural material, as art and archeology play a prominent role in the study of Ancient history. The Mesopotamia section is organized around ancient near Earst civilizations such as the Sumerian, Akkadia, Babylonia, Assyria, Chaldea, Syria, and features primary source works such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Sourcebook also has secondary source articles on various issues in Ancient Near East history, such as Mathematics, Gender and Sexuality, and Arts and Architecture. (The “Modern Perspective” link appears broken.) Last update in 2007.
ABZU is a comprehensive scholarly guide to the Ancient Near East via the Internet. It provides a helpful index of resources for the study of ancient Mesopotamia, including links to the latest news, publications, research archives, archaeological sites, maps and atlases. There is a handy search engine, a listing of publications by author, and a list of recently added to ABZU. A search (ex. “temples”) elicits a mix of books, articles, and websites.
Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean World
The University of Chicago Library preserves deteriorated research materials relating to the history, art, and archaeology of the Ancient Near East and the ancient Mediterranean world. The project focuses on materials published between 1850 – 1950, drawn from two of the Library’s complimentary collections: the Ancient Near East and Classics Collections. This is an excellent research collection for primary source materials.
Oriental Institute Virtual Museum
The Oriental Institute Museum is a showcase of the history, art and archaeology of the ancient Near East. The Museum exhibits major collections of antiquities from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria, Palestine, and Anatolia. The Oriental Institute Virtual Museum makes use of a series of Apple QuickTime VR panoramic movies to take you on a tour of each of the Museum’s galleries, accompanied by descriptions of each alcove and their artifacts. Where appropriate, links to related materials, such as the Museum’s Highlights From The Collections, the Photographic Archives, and relevant Oriental Institute Archaeology and Philology projects elaborate on the most significant objects in greater detail.
Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur
A presentation by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, this is an exhibition from the School of Art and Design at San Jose State University featuring 157 Sumerian objects that were excavated by the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, director of the joint excavations of the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum at ancient Ur in the 1920s and 1930s.
Ancient Near Eastern Art: New Light on an Assyrian Palace
The central gallery of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery for Assyrian Art recreates an audience hall in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859 B.C.) at Nimrud in northern Iraq. Objects in an adjacent gallery illustrate the ivory carving and other art of the Assyrian empire and its neighbors. Learn more about the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, the city of Nimrud, and the stone reliefs and carved ivories of the Assyrian empire through the following sections: map of Assyrian empire, Excavations at Nimrud, Ivories from the Northwest Palace, and Releifs. View a virtual reality reconstruction and a drawn rendering of the interior of the palace.
Collection: Collapse of Ancient Civilizations
Part of the Annenberg/CPB exhibits, this site focuses on the fall of ancient civilizations in four areas: Maya, Mesopotamia, Chaco Canyon (southwest U.S.), and Mali and Songhai. Nice images and interesting presentation.
The Ancient World Mapping Center
The Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a series of online resources related to the Barrington Atlas and other aspects of ancient geography and cartography. Go the Free Maps section for small-scale ancient geography reference maps for classroom and personal use. (A blank version of each map is usually available.) You can also find updates to the Barrington Atlas; free, downloable maps for educational use; and articles about new discoveries.
Diotima is an interdisciplinary scholarly resource on gender in the ancient Mediterranean world and as a forum for collaboration among instructors who teach courses about women and gender in the ancient world. Diotima offers course materials, essays, bibliography, images, good links to related sites, a search feature, and a section on biblical studies. Last update was in 2006.
Mr Dowling’s Electronic Passport: Mesopotamia
Mr. Dowling’s Electronic Passport helps kids browse the world in his virtual classroom. He introduces you to many civilizations with clear explanations, engaging graphics for kids, and “cool links.” His helpful study guides, homework assignments and exams are free and available for you to print or to edit. However, the site’s dated design and lack of interactivity are not so “cool.”
The Odyssey Online project was developed to help educators teach using works of art from the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Africa. Designed for elementary and middle school-aged students, the major sections include People, Daily Life, explores archaeology, Mythology, Death and Burial, and Writing. Sections include games and puzzles for kids. Last updated 2005.
History Links 101: Ancient Mesopotamia
History Links 101 is a broad gateway to Ancient Mesopotamia web sties. You’ll find many links to Mesopotamian Art, Daily Life, Maps, Research, and Biographies. Unfortunately some of the links are to older web sites that are not actively maintained.
Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities, and more
Course Models: The Beginnings of Civilization in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush
This course model is produced in collaboration with the California Department of Education and is aimed at sixth graders. Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush.
Mesopotamia Web Site Staff Room
The British Museum site on Mesopotamia offers a ‘Challenge’ — an activity that allows pupils to practice certain skills (historical, analytical, mathematical, observational) within the context of a theme or topic relevant to Mesopotamia.
Mr. Donn’s Ancient History Page: Mesopotamia
Don Donn of the Corkran (Maryland) Middle School provides a complete unit with daily lesson plans and unit test for sixth graders. There are also links to multiple K12 lesson plans and activities.
You Be the Judge: Hammurabi’s Code
Using Hammurabi’s Code, you decide the proper punishment for shoddy workmen, straying wives, and abusive landlords.
Accessing Women’s Lives in Mesopotamia
From the Women in World History Curriculum
Create Your Own Sumerian City-State – A Problem-based Activity
A 6th grade WebQuest activity: “This is your Mesopotamia City Designing Supervisor. I have invited you all here to do one thing and that is to Design A Sumerian City-State.”
Classroom and Museum Lessons Plans: Mesopotamia
From the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The First Cities Lesson Plans: Ancient Jobs in Mesopotamia
Ancient History Simulations: Akbar’s Dilemma
Students will identify the role religion played in the everyday lives of ordinary Mesopotamians. They will recognize that Mesopotamian religion stressed ritual for the here and now as opposed to any concern for the afterlife.
BBC History: Mesopotamia Gallery
By 3,000 BC, the Mesopotamians had already invented the wheel, developed writing, and created the world’s first cities and monumental architecture. Find out more about the many aspects of Mesopotamia’s rich legacy through these BBC images.
Brief Review in Global History and Geography: Document Based Essays and Practice Tests
PH@School’s Brief Review in Global History and Geography Web site provides multiple-choice questions from actual Regents exams. You can also practice your test-taking skills on document-based essay questions (DBQs), with the option of e-mailing answers directly to your teacher for review.