The Ancient World Explorer



Dear Ancient World Explorer:

Have you heard about the meteorite which was found in Antarctica? Scientists are very excited about this discovery because it might mean that there was life at one time on the planet Mars. They are investigating the evidence carefully. When archaeologists dig up the artifacts of ancient civilizations, they make exciting discoveries too and try to find out what life was like for ancient people.

As you explore the civilizations of the ancient world, you will try to answer questions about how people lived thousands of years ago. It may be hard to answer every question because sometimes there is not enough evidence to support a conclusion. Historians may also look at the same evidence in different ways. Sometimes the experts have to change their answers as new artifacts are discovered.

In this activity, you will study the structures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. As you learn about these wonders of the ancient world, remember that there are many different ideas about why and how they were built.

Some people think that ancient people learned how to build these awesome monuments by aliens from outer space who were more advanced than earthlings. Others believe that one culture may have borrowed from other people on earth who already knew how to build. Still others think that people in these cultures created the monuments totally on their own without any outside contact.

We have been asked by your teacher to visit your classroom and listen to your conclusions at the end of your unit. We look forward to hearing your findings as you present them to our group, the Ancient World Architectural Review Board (the AWARB).


The Ancient World Architectural Review Board






You will work in a small group and will carefully research the monuments built by the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. You will plan a presentation together with others in your group to the Ancient World Architectural Review Board (AWARB) about your own conclusions. This board will ask you to present information and give your opinions on the following:

1. What do these structures look like? What are their dimensions?

2. What materials were used for their construction?

3. How do you think they were they built? What would have been difficult about their construction?

4. Compare and contrast these structures. Do any of them seem to use the same materials? Were they constructed in the same way?

5. Did you find any evidence of contact between any of these cultures?

6. In your opinion, were these structures built by these ancient people in isolation, or did they have help from other cultures or perhaps from more advanced beings from outer space?

(If you wish to study more cultures, you can add the structures of the Maya or the Inca in the Americas. Some scholars hypothesize that ancient people from Africa or Asia may have sailed to the Americas long before Columbus.)




Follow these steps carefully:

A. Your group should begin by dividing up the research tasks. Each student or pair of students within the group should gather information on one of the four cultures and share what is found with the rest of the group.

B. As you do your research, look for information which will help you answer the first three questions for the AWARB. (Keep track of where you got your information, take good notes, download some images, and draw some rough drafts of the structures from the culture you have been assigned.)

C. After you have gathered the information, share your diagrams, images, and information with your group. As a group, discuss the fourth, fifthand sixth questions you will have to answer for the AWARB. Someone in your group should record your ideas.

D. Finally, plan your group presentation to the AWARB. Can you construct some models, posters, or drawings which will illustrate the similarities and the differences between the various monuments you have studied? Is there a way you can present the information which will be well-organized? (Remember that you must give your group's opinion about how these structures were built. Did they have help from space aliens, another culture, or did they do this on their own? There are many possible answers. Even the experts cannot agree!)


There are many resources on the SCORE links which should help you to find the information for your presentation. Someone from your group should visit the sites which are listed for each culture and then information can be compared.

Ancient Egypt

Mark Millmore's Ancient Egyptian Page

DIA Galleries: The Ancient Art of Egypt

Color Tour of Egypt

Guardian's Meidum Homepage

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel

EGYPT has it all!

Ancient Mesopotamia

Archimedia - Architecture in Egypt and Mesopotamia

DIA Galleries: Ancient Art - Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia: The City of Ur

Ancient India

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

Architecture of India

Ancient China

Chinese Art

History Time Line for China

Welcome to Xi'an

Discovering the Great Wall

Xi'an and the Silk Road

Ancient Hebrews

Canaan and Ancient Israel

Solomon's Temple

King Solomon's Temple:
Biblical Account and Commentary*
*The material on this site was researched, compiled, and designed by
Salim George Khalaf and has a non centrist point of view.

Ancient Greece

The Acropolis of Athens

3D Reconstruction of Miletus

Greek Art and Architecture

History of Plumbing on Crete

Ancient Rome

Virtual Tour of Rome

Roman Aqueducts

Roman Roads

Roman Art and Architecture

To explore the idea of ancient astronauts, you might want to visit Nova Online Hot Science:

Alien Evidence??

Your social studies textbook should contain very useful information for this activity. There are also CD-ROM or traditional encyclopedias which will help you learn the facts about these ancient structures. Finally, there are also a number of very good books and educational videos on these structures. Look in your school library for books like Pyramid by David Macauley or the Eyewitness Books series on Ancient Egypt or Bible Lands.


You will find that the information from the different web sites will need additional research from other materials.

You will also find it very important to work cooperatively with others in your group because one person cannot find all the necessary information in the time which your teacher has given you to do this work!

Make sure that you use your time wisely in and out of class!




You will develop a rubric together with your teacher and the rest of the class to evaluate your group research and presentation. It will include how well you answered the questions listed under "The Task," elements of the organization of information, the presentation itself, and especially your ability to give evidence supporting your opinion.




After you have finished this activity, do the following:

1. Explain why you think monuments and public buildings like the ones you just studied are so important to both ancient and modern cultures.

2. Complete the Web Treasure Hunt on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (if you have not already done so.) This is listed under General Resources on the Sixth Grade SCORE Page and will extend your knowledge of these ancient structures to the Greeks and Romans. At the end of the quest, you can nominate your choice for the "wonders" of the modern world.



1. What did you learn during this activity that surprised you the most?
2. How well did your group work together? Why is group research important in an activity like this?

3. How did the SCORE sites on the Internet help you complete this activity? Would you use the Internet again to find information?

4. The next time you do an activity such as this, what might you do differently?

5. Did you find some web sites which were not on the SCORE page that you would like to recommend for future students? Submit your recommendation in an email message to SCORE.


Submitted by: Ty Benoit, History Instructor and former middle school teacher,
Butte Community College, 3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville, California 95965,

Technical questions on the website to:

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Last Revised 3/20/06