Lesson: The Emergence of Civilization


Description: Three to five thousand years ago, many groups of people lived in the Mediterranean area of the world and created the first traditions that can be traced to western culture. These cultures and this part of the world have been called the "Cradle of Civilization." Does each group qualify to be a civilization? When do a group of people become a civilization? Who decides what elements constitute a civilization? Is civilization a good thing to achieve?

This lesson provides two online activities to explore the emergence of civilization. The first is an introduction to analyzing objects and what they can tell us about a culture. The second asks the students to organize ancient Near Eastern objects into an "exhibition" about the elements of a civilization.

  • Learn to analyze works of art as primary sources
  • To use museum objects as evidence of characteristics of emerging civilizations

Grade Level: Middle School and High School

Curriculum: Social Studies, Global Studies; Ancient World History; Anthropology; Art History

Estimated Time: 2 class periods
  • 1 day research using Odyssey Online
  • 1 day class presentations and discussion

Materials Needed:
  • Odyssey Online and hyperlinks provide all the content information needed
  • 1 computer for each student or small group

Advance Preparation:
  • Students need introductory information about the physical geography of the Mediterranean area and the location of the ancient cultures of the Near East.
  • Introduce the class to the concept of Civilization and discuss its various components.
  • Note: Odyssey Online is organized by culture (Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome) and then by topic (Daily Life, Death and Burial, Writing, Mythology and People). It is easy to access information either way.

Emergence of Civilization Links:
Teacher Procedures
Student Section

Return to Lesson Plan List

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact odyssey@emory.edu.
Last Update: