Category Archives: Early Humans & Civilizations

9/30 Review for test

JQ: None today.

In Class

1. The exam is Monday. Our review sheet is under Course Documents.

2. Tips for studying:

  • Be sure you have a basic understanding of the readings we’ve done (ie. BC/BCE, “Worst Mistake, etc.) Think about whether you could explain the article to someone who hadn’t read it. What was the author trying to say?
  • Complete the reviews at the end of each section and each chapter in the Heath text. These will prepare you well for the objective parts of the test.
  • Review the notes/tables we’ve generated in class. When you have a grid of information how can you explain and compare the information within it?

3. Bring a pen or pencil with you to class, as well as a book to read for after you have finished the exam.


9/28 Religion in Mesopotamia

JQ: What evidence of religion do you see in our society? Where does the evidence exist? In media? Architecture? Politics? What role does it play in our society?

In Class

1. Discuss the differences among Sumerian religion, Judaism, and Zoraster religions. (based on Heath text chapter 2) (How have religions spread over time and space?)
2. Complete handout comparing them.


1. Complete notes for Chapter 2 in Heath (pp. 38-49)

2. Complete Comparative Religions handout.

3. Embedded Honors: Post response (about a paragraph long…) to the following: What part did religion play in Mesopotamian culture? Why was religion so important to the people there, what forms did it take, and what did it teach succeeding civilizations?

4. Optional Humor: Why are there only 10 commandments?

9/27 Hammurabi’s Code

JQ: Which laws do you think are critical to the functioning of civilization? Which laws would you change?

In Class

1. Who was King Hammurabi? View Turning Points in History: Hammurabi’s Code. Here are the specific laws (translated of course!)

2. Read about the laws he established. How do they compare with our own? Complete handout for homework.


1. Finish Hammurabi Code handout.

2. Continue work on the Chaldeans, Persians, and Assyrians handout. Due tomorrow. Complete notes for Chapter 2 in Heath pp. 38-49; Spielvogel pp.31-49)

3. Continue to study for Friday’s exam. (Unit review sheet)

4. Embedded Honors: What do the 12 laws from Hammurabi’s Code discussed in your text tell you about the nature and concerns of this king and his people? Post a response discussing why historians say it is based on the principle of an “eye for an eye.”

5. Optional: Watch/listen to:  The Mesopotamians by TMBG

Related Resources

9/26 Empires begin

JQ: What are the different ways in which you’ve seen newcomers treated: to school, your neighborhood, team, or club? What affects how you decide to treat the newcomer?

In Class

1. Finish geographic obstacles discussion. How can geographic obstacles be overcome? What are some of the differences between physically and socially constructed environments?

2. Beginning of Assyrian empire—one of soooo many!

3. Read sections 2.2 and 2.3 and complete the grid. Who were the newcomers to Sumer? How did they respond to the Sumerians?


Read pp. 38-43 and take Cornell notes (or other approved method on them.) Begin completing the grid comparing the Newcomers. Grid is due Wednesday.

Begin reviewing for test which is this Friday. Review sheet is in the Course Documents section of this site.

9/23 Geographic dilemmas

JQ: In what ways does Madison’s geography impact our way of life?

In Class:

1. Look at and complete ancient maps of the Middle East and a political world map. (Check out TMBG “The Alphabet of Nations“)

2. What problems are created as a result of geography? What are potential solutions?

3. What geographic problems do we face today? How does our environment, both that which is physical and socially constructed, impact us?

  • Attacking the Obesity epidemic by first figuring out its cause
    EH: What are the differences between a physical environment and one that is “socially constructed?” How do approaches to overcoming geographical challenges differ between those that physically or socially constructed? Which are more challenging? Explain.

4. When and where did different crops originate?

9/22 Proverbs, Tools & Cuneiform

JQ12: What types of tools do you use at home? What jobs are they doing for you? How could the job be done without the tool?

In Class:

1. What tools did the Sumerians master? How did those before them survive?

2. Finish watching Sumer clip from yesterday. Toys, clay and business! (0-6:00 in the clip; beyond that is post-Sumeria) Cuneiform helped Sumerians’ communication. Records mean keeping plans for the future!

3. What do we value as a society? What are some common sayings? Decode their Proverbs—complete the Sumerian Proverb handout.


Complete notes for chapters 1 & 2 in Heath (5-15 in Spielvogel) and journal entries 1-12. Journals will be checked in today through Monday. Unit One test is Friday (9/30) of next week.

9/21 Life in Sumer

JQ 10: Which aspect of civilization would be the most challenging to live without? Explain.

In Class

1. Share journal responses with a partner. Walk and talk…talk history.

2. Consider how civilization looks in Sumer. Toys, clay and business! (0-6:00 in the clip; beyond that is post-Sumeria)

3. Prove it! Add content about Sumer to your “Madison as civilization” grid. Create a third column in between those two called “in-between.” Think about what a mid-point would be for each given trait. For example, the written record began using clay and a stylus. We now have digital archives of documents. What may have happened in a civilization “in-between” those two?

4.  Review and discuss notes taken last night. Generate questions based on the readings. Distinguish your questions between comprehension questions and more analytical ones. Generate at least 3 comprehension and 2 analytical questions.