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Unit 1 - Introduction to Geography / Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Unit Question - What can geography and the past tell us about today?
  • Historical Context - Basic concepts, geography, and natural resources related to ancient civilizations including those of Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Final Assessment – Unit 1 Exam - Ancient Mesopotamia Test

Learning Geography
Human Geography

Use the Learning Geography Resources and/or read p. 2-15 in your new My World History: Early Ages textbook and answer the Learning Geography & Human Geography questions:

No book?  Try this:  Tools of the Historian

  1. How do people organize time?  
  2. How do historians and archeologists decide events important enough to be considered history or to be added in a timeline?
  3. What is a primary source?  Give an example.
  4. What is a secondary source?  Give an example.
  5. What do archaeologists do?
  6. How do archaeology and anthropology help us understand the past?
  7. What are the five themes of geography?
  8. What is the difference between your hometown's location and your hometown as a place?
  9. What can you learn from a scale bar?
  10. What is a historical map?
  11. What region and time period are shown on the map on page 15?  What does the key tell you?

BONUS:  Study p. 806-807 Landforms and Water Features key terms and definitions.  

Beringia: Theory of the First Americans 

The Land Bridge Theory, also known as the Bering Strait Theory or Beringia Theory, is a popular model of migration into the New World.  This theory was first proposed in 1590 by José de Acosta and has been widely accepted since the 1930s.  The Land Bridge Theory proposes that people migrated from Siberia to Alaska across a land bridge that spanned the current day Bering Strait.  The first people to populate the Americas were believed to have migrated across the Bering Land Bridge while tracking large game animal herds.  This theory is widely adopted by most modern textbooks.   Read more: University of Texas - Migration Theories

Beringia Resources:  

North American Cultures:  Clovis People as First Americans

Read p. 608-615 in your My World History: Early Ages textbook and answer the North American Cultures: Clovis People as First Americans questions in your COMP books:

  1. What is an artifact?
  2. How do archeologists and historians use artifacts?
  3. Describe a longhouse.
  4. What happened at potlatch?
  5. How did geography help shape the lives of Native Americans?
  6. Do we know for certain who the first Americans were?  Explain your answer.  Need help?  Try this article:  Scientific American: The First Americans & Oldest Native American Tribe? Video
  7. What is carbon-dating? Need help?  Try this video:  Carbon Dating: Mr. Andersen Video

The Stone Age:  It's Time to Stand Up Straight and Learn 
When does civilization, as we know it, start?  

It starts when we don't have to constantly worry about food! 

Stone Age Discovery Lesson (classwork)

  1. Students will silently read "Prehistoric-Stone-Age-Family" article. Review as a class  and  complete the quiz at the end of the article independently. 
  2. Half the class will read "Early Humans Stone Tools" and record the 5 key points.  The other half will read "Neanderthal Teeth" and record the 5 key points . 
  3. Students will then pair up and teach each other the 5 key points of their article.  
  4. Entire class will discuss the key points per article and make a top 5.

Read p.56-75 in your My World History: Early Ages textbook and complete Lesson 2 Early Farmers to New Stone Age WS.pdf (classwork or homework)

Early Humans and Stone Age Quiz 
Study Guide 
  • Old Stone Age = Paleolithic Era
  • Artifact
  • Nomad = Hunter - Gatherer way of life
  • Evolution
  • Hominid 
  • Homo- Habilis
  • Homo- Erectus
  • Homo-Sapiens
  • New Stone Age = Neolithic Era 
  • Agriculture Revolution
  • Agriculture & Domestication
  • Beringia 
  • Clovis People
  • Where the earliest species of man originated
        The Fertile Crescent - Civilization Begins! 

Read the article below and refer to pages 106-139 in your  My World History: Early Ages textbook and complete: Fertile Crescent WS.doc (homework)

          Humans lived as nomads for tens of thousands of years before slowly settling down in various parts of the world. Nomads are people who have no permanent home and travel in search of food and safety. The nomads would temporary camp in an area for a few weeks or months. A typical nomadic group might include an extended family of about ten adults and their children. The men would hunt animals while the women would gather fruit, grains, seeds and nuts. When the nomads exhausted the land, they moved to a new area.  Civilization developed slowly in different parts of the world. People began to settle in areas with abundant natural resources. 

           For thousands of years, people have given up their nomadic lifestyles to settle in a part of the world archaeologists later called the Fertile Crescent.  The Fertile Crescent is a boomerang -shaped region that extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. The Fertile Crescent is a rich food-growing area in a part of the world where most of the land is too dry for farming.  

Fertile Crescent Resources:

Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations


Sargon I

Mesopotamia: The World's First Emperor 

Read pages 118-123 in your My World History textbook and answer the Mesopotamia: The World's First Emperor questions in your COMP books:

  1. Who created Mesopotamia's first empire?
  2. How was the Akkadian empire formed?
  3. Why was Hammurabi's Code important?
  4. How is Hammurabi's Code similar to modern laws?

BONUS:  Why are we to believe Sargon existed and not Gilgamesh?

"Eye for an Eye" 
Hammurabi's Code of Law


This phrase, along with the idea of written laws, goes back to ancient Mesopotamian culture that prospered long before the Bible was written or the civilizations of the Greeks or Romans flowered.

"An eye for an eye ..." is a paraphrase of Hammurabi's Code, a collection of many laws inscribed on an upright stone pillar. 

Hammurabi is the best known and most celebrated of all Mesopotamian kings. He ruled the Babylonian Empire from 1792-50 B.C.E. Although he was concerned with keeping order in his kingdom, this was not his only reason for compiling the list of laws. When he began ruling the city-state of Babylon, he had control of no more than 50 square miles of territory. As he conquered other city-states and his empire grew, he saw the need to unify the various groups he controlled.

A Need for Justice

Hammurabi keenly understood that, to achieve this goal, he needed one universal set of laws for all of the diverse peoples he conquered. Therefore, he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws. These laws were reviewed and some were changed or eliminated before compiling his final list of many laws. Despite what many people believe, this code of laws was not the first, but it is the first to be documented.  Read more:  Ancient Civilizations: Hammurabi

Hammurabi was the King:  Hammurabi's Code of Law

Code of Law

Assyrians to Chaldeans (Neo Babylonians) to Persian Empire

Darius of Persia

Assyrians to Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians) 

Empire under Nebuchadnezzar II

  Under Nebuchadnezzar II’s rule of Babylon around 604 B.C.E. became an impressive city with towering walls, the famous Hanging Gardens and upwards of 50 temples. His forty-three year reign was marked by the conquest of Jerusalem. He was the one that enslaved the Ancient Jews in their Babylonian captivity.

Rise of the Persian Empire 

 In 539 B.C.E., Babylon fells under Persian rule when one of Cyrus the Great’s generals enter the city without opposition. After this point, Babylon never regained its former glory. For a short while Babylon was conquered by Alexander the Great and the city prospered again, but following Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.E. the city fell into deserted ruins.

Read pages 124-131 in your My World History: Early Ages textbook and answer the Assyrian and Persian Empire questions in your COMP books:

  1. How did Darius change the Persian system of tribute?
  2. What is a standing army?
  3. What is a cavalry?
  4. How is Cyrus the Great remembered by the Ancient Israelites (Jews)?  HINT:  Try this:  History of Iran: Cyrus the Great
  5. Who were the "Immortals"?
  6. How did Darius unify the Persian Empire?

Assyrian - Chaldeans (Neo Babylonians) to Persian Empire Resources:

Babylonian Ziggurat

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Ishtar Gate in Babylon

Cyrus the Great Cylinder

The Phoenicians

Phoenicia was an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what is now Syria, Lebannon and northern Israel. The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships.  Read more:  Ancient History: Phoenicia

Read p.132-137 in your My World History textbook and answer The Phoenicians Questions in your COMP books: 

  1. How did the Phoenicians use imports?
  2. Where does the word alphabet come from?
  3. What is cultural diffusion?
  4. How did geography affect the development of Phoenician civilization?
  5. How did the Phoenicians influence later peoples?
  6. How did the Phoenicians trade with other peoples?

                              Ancient Israel and The Birth of a Monotheistic Religion

The Ancient Israelites will struggle to survive amongst the power and aggression of the early civilizations we have learned about (see above), but will succeed in creating possibly the world's first monotheistic religion (belief in 1 god). Read more here: University of Penn: Canaan & Ancient Israel.  

Ancient Israel Resources:

Ancient Israelites WS (classwork or homework)

SLIDESHOW: Ancient Israel PPT

Moses - Ten Commandments - Mel Brooks (Video) [Just for fun!]

The Bronze Age (c. 3500 B.C.E.-c. 1200 B.C.E)

Why so many wars?  Well, because they could!  

The Bronze Age allowed for stronger weapons and tools.  

See the Sea Peoples for more information. 

Bronze Age / End of Civilization - Discussion Questions:

  1. How does owning land or settling in civilizations like those of Mesopotamia lead to warfare and the need for bronze (and later iron)?
  2. How can trade lead to the end of the civilizations in the Bronze Age?
  3. Can the same thing happen to us today? Meaning, if there was a major disruption in international trade could it lead to the collapse of civilization(s)?

The Bronze Age Resources: 

Who were the Sea Peoples?

Relentless attacks by groups known as the Sea Peoples around 1200 BCE virtually destroyed all the major powers of the Mediterranean, and cleared the way for the rise of the Greeks, Romans and Western civilization. Surprisingly for such a pivotal moment in world history, the events which took place at that time are not well understood and widely debated. Read more: Sea Peoples and Phoenicians

Analyze the information from the following articles and videos, then decide for yourself: 

Directions: Time to decide!  Answer the following questions (the best you can) in your COMP (notebooks) and be ready to discuss in class: 

  1. Who were the Sea Peoples and where did they come from?  
  2. Why don't we know more about the Sea Peoples?  How do we even know if they even existed?
  3. Why don't they settle into one area, in which we would know who they were?  
  4. Critical Thinking:  Are these Sea Peoples the first pirates in the world?
Unit 1 - Ancient Mesopotamia Test Review:
Critical Thinking: What can geography and the past tell us about today?

Want to discover more of MANKIND and Ancient Mesopotamia? 
CRASH COURSE: Mesopotamia
History Channel's MANKIND:  The Story of All of Us the Website

Jeopardy: Ancient Mesopotamia 

BONUS:  Petra - The Lost Civilization of Jordan

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.  Read more: UNESCO: Petra

  1. When is Petra thought to have been built?
  2. How was Petra built?
  3. Who built the city of Petra?
  4. Why did they build a civilization so far away from a source of water?

Petra - The Lost Civilization of Jordan Resources: