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Earliest Civilisations: Ancient Sumer
Ancient Sumerian Religion

Learn the significance of temples to the Ancient Sumerians as the homes of gods and goddesses. Discover the structure of a ziggurat and the significance of its shape. Find out about Ancient Sumerian religion, including some of the main gods and goddesses and priests. Study their beliefs about death and the afterlife and discuss the evidence we use to support our knowledge.

Session 1 Temples and ziggurats

Objectives

History

  • To know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations.
  • Characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • To understand historical concepts such as similarity, difference and significance.
  • To gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between cultural, religious and social history.

Maths

  • To identify 3D shapes from 2D representations.
  • To draw 2D shapes using given dimensions and angles.
  • To recognise, describe and build simple 3D shapes, including making nets.

Teaching and Activities

Learn that temples were considered by the Ancient Sumerians to be the homes of gods and goddesses. Discover the structure of a ziggurat and the significance of its shape. Use nets tobuild ziggurats with temples.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To describe the structure of a ziggurat and explain the significance of its shape.
  • To understand that the temples were considered to be the homes of gods and goddesses and were therefore sacred.
  • To draw nets to make model Ancient Sumerian ziggurats with temples.

Children will:

  • Understand that temples were considered by the Ancient Sumerians to be the homes of gods and goddesses.
  • Learn the structure of a ziggurat and the significance of its shape.
  • Use nets to build a ziggurat and temple.

Provided Resources

  • Images of Ziggurats
  • Ziggurat background information
  • Architect’s plan of a temple
  • Reconstruction of a temple at Uqair
  • Example Ziggurat model
  • Net for a Ziggurat platform

You Will Need

  • Card
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Glue and/or sticky tape
  • Paints and brushes

Session 2 Gods and goddesses

Objectives

History

  • To know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • To understand historical concepts such as similarity, difference and significance.
  • To gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between religious and social history.

English

  • To note and develop initial ideas, drawing on reading and research where necessary.
  • To use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text.

Teaching and Activities

Learn about some of the main Ancient Sumerian gods and goddesses. Create a fact file about one god or goddess.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To find out about the major gods and goddesses in which the Ancient Sumerians believed.
  • To understand that each city-state was associated with one particular god or goddess.
  • To research and write a fact file about a god or goddess.

Children will:

  • Know about some Ancient Sumerian gods and goddesses.
  • Understand that each city-state in Ancient Sumer was associated with one particular god or goddess.
  • Create a fact file about one particular god or goddess.

Provided Resources

  • The Sumerian creation story
  • Sumerian Gods and Goddesses
  • Divine family tree
  • Gods and Goddesses research links

You Will Need

  • Laptops, tablets or computers

Session 3 Priests

Objectives

History

  • To know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations.
  • Characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • To understand the methods of historical enquiry.
  • To gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between cultural, religious and social history.

English

  • To participate in role play.
  • To use spoken language to develop understanding through imagining and exploring ideas.

Teaching and Activities

Find out more about the role of priests in Ancient Sumer. Examine evidence that helps historians to understand the role of Ancient Sumerian priests. Use role play to explore the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.
  • To explain how historians know about the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.
  • To use role play to act out scenes related to the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.

Children will:

  • Understand the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.
  • Use role play to explore the role of priests in Ancient Sumer.
  • Describe evidence that helps historians to understand the role of Ancient Sumerian priests.

Provided Resources

  • The Warka vase
  • Temple images
  • Sumerian priests fact sheet
  • Hymn to Inanna

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.

Weblinks

There are no weblinks needed for this session.

Session 4 The Royal Tombs of Ur

Objectives

History

  • To know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • To understand the methods of historical enquiry.
  • To gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between cultural and religious history.

English

  • To retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction.
  • To use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader.
  • To use devices to build cohesion.

Teaching and Activities

Discover the Ancient Sumerian beliefs about death and the afterlife. Discuss the significance of the finds in the Royal Tombs of Ur. Write a telegram in role as an archaeologist.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To describe the Ancient Sumerian beliefs about death and the afterlife.
  • To understand the significance of the archaeological finds in the ‘Royal Tombs of Ur’.
  • To write a diary in role as Leonard Woolley or one of the excavation workers at the Royal Tombs of Ur.

Children will:

  • Understand the Ancient Sumerian beliefs about death and the afterlife.
  • Understand the significance of the finds in the Royal Tombs of Ur.
  • Write a telegram in role as an archaeologist.

Provided Resources

  • Date cookies
  • The Royal tombs of Ur
  • Tomb telegram
  • Telegram template

You Will Need

  • A globe
  • Optional: ingredients and equipment for baking