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6th Grade: Early Centers of Civilizations: Mesopotamia
Big Idea
Where a group establishes settlement determines the cultural system of those individuals.

Civilizations are influenced by scientific and cultural achievements of civilizations that came before them.

The values of the culture determine the governance.
Essential Questions
  • How do natural resources effect where and how we live?
  • How did the domestication of animals and plants lead to development of early societies?
  • How were the Tigris and Euphrates essential to the development of early Mesopotamia civilizations?
  • How did cultural and scientific innovations contribute to the development of later societies?
  • What religious traditions of India and Sumeria helped to shape their culture? What impact did Monarchy have on early civilizations?
  • Compare and contrast the difference between the cultural norms for men and women.
  • How did the laws of Hammurabi influence the Mesopotamia civilization?

Describe factors (i.e., farming methods, domestication of animals) that led to the development of cultures and civilizations from hunting and gathering societies.
Analyze the impact of cultural and scientific contributions of ancient civilizations on later civilizations
  • Mesopotamia - laws of Hammurabi
  • Egypt - mummification, hieroglyphs, papyrus
  • China - silk, gun powder/fireworks, compass
  • Central and South America - astronomy, agriculture
Identify factors (e.g., river/coastal civilizations, trade that influence the location, distribution, and inter-relationships of economic activities over time in different regions.
Describe the importance of the following river valleys in the development of ancient civilizations
  • Tigris and Euphrates - Mesopotamia
  • Nile - Egypt
  • Huang He - China
  • Indus- India
Discuss the character traits (e.g., respect, responsibility, fairness, involvement) that are important to the preservation and improvement of constitutional democracy in the United States
Identify cultural norms that influence different social, political and economic activities of men and women.
Compare the forms of government of the following ancient civilizations
  • Mesopotamia - laws of Hammurabi
  • Egypt - theocracy
  • China - dynasty
Describe the structure of the following governments
  • theocracy
  • dictatorship
  • republic
  • monarchy
  • democracy
  • anarchy
Describe ways geographic features and conditions influenced settlement (e.g., near waterways, on high terrain, with adequate fresh water, on good land for farming, in temperate climates) in different periods of time, places, and regions.
Describe the religious traditions that helped shape the culture of the following ancient civilizations
  • Sumeria, India - polytheism
  • Egypt - belief in an afterlife
  • China - ancestor worship
  • Middle East - monotheism
Describe the factors that cause regions and places to change.
Explain why specialization improves standards of living.
  • Describe how the domestication of animals helped to improve quality of life.
  • Describe how the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were essential to the development of Mesopotamia.
  • Analyze how the innovations of early cultures affected later civilizations.
  • Describe the factors that contributed to the location of the Mesopotamia civilizations.
  • Describe the impact that geographic features have on ancient settlements.
  • Describe the religious traditions of Sumeria and India.
  • Describe the monarchy government.
  • Discuss the differences between the roles of men and women in early centers of civilization.
  • Compare the laws of Hammurabi to early forms of unwritten society order.
Content/Core Ideas
  • Human populations that settled along rivers, in rainforests, along oceans, in deserts, and in mountains made use of resources such as fertile river lands and landscapes to sustain life.
  • The achievements, values, and structures of ancient societies shaped classical civilizations and are reflected in contemporary societies.
  • As the ancient river valley civilizations turned to agriculture, world populations grew, and as a result these civilizations created centralized systems of government to provide structure and order.
Academic Vocabulary
  • decipher
  • innovation
  • division of labor
  • surplus
  • monarchy
  • absolute authority
  • bureaucracy
  • cuneiform
  • social classes
  • merchant
  • conquer
  • empire
  • standing army
  • centralized government
  • code
  • principle
  • decree
  • territory
  • relief (writing)
  • scribe
  • city-states
  • ancestor
  • cavalry
  • chariot
  • infantry
  • inscription
  • Persian
  • rajah
  • noble
  • taxation
  • warfare
Electronic Resources
Mesopotamia Links