Ancient objects invite us to ask questions about making, meaning, and original use. This lesson looks at material and design innovations as well as the lifestyles, customs, and values of civilizations revealed in everyday and ritual objects from ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Like archaeologists and historians, students are encouraged to look closely at a single object or to compare artifacts, to shift their attention from details to the whole, and to synthesize observations of the object with the broader context that produced it. Thinking like an archaeologist encourages students to consider and ask thoughtful questions about making, use, and meaning in relation to historical objects and their own contemporary worlds.
Highlighted here are key objects you can use to generate in-depth investigations. Appropriate for an entire class or for small-group or self-guided learning, each object analysis provides relevant information, possible discussion questions, and suggestions for writing, making, and doing. You can choose a single artifact or a sequence of works; download, project, or print out images; learn about one object for a presentation or to lead a discussion; and choose or customize discussion questions and activities that address your teaching goals and learning objectives.
The inclusion of primary-source artifacts in classroom teaching builds fluency in the Common Core Standards for ELA and Literacy and History/Social Studies. In particular, this content guides and supports independent and collaborative work as student engage in close reading and evidence-based analysis. Students will deepen their understandings of historical content while applying and developing critical thinking, and will enhance their abilities and motivation to investigate, research, and think about the past. The lesson includes discussion questions, sample texts to investigate alongside the object, and suggestions for research, writing, and making to stimulate further inquiry.