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Earliest Civilisations: Ancient Sumer
Inventions

The people of Ancient Sumer were amazing inventors. Be introduced to their greatest achievements, including the wheel, writing, astronomy and metal-working. Study Sumerian proverbs and law.

Session 1 The wheel

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilizations; characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as significance.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between economic and social history.

Science

  • Recognise that some mechanisms allow a smaller force to have a greater effect.
  • Identify the effects of friction that acts between moving surfaces.

Design and Technology

  • Understand and use mechanical systems in their products.
  • Generate, develop and communicate their ideas through discussion and cross-sectional and exploded diagrams.
  • Select from and use a range of materials and components.
  • Evaluate their products against their design criteria.

Teaching and Activities

Learn some theories about how the wheel was developed over time, both in Sumer and in other geographical locations. Explore the impact of the wheel and learn how to make a modelchariot based on the Ancient Sumer wheel.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To know that the wheel was invented in Ancient Sumer (and possibly other places concurrently).
  • To understand how the wheel reduces friction when pulling (or pushing) a heavy load.
  • To make a model Ancient Sumer chariot based on original images and clay models.

Children will:

  • Discuss possible theories for the development of the wheel.
  • Appreciate that the wheel may have been invented in more than one place at about the same time.
  • Understand the importance of the wheel in Ancient Sumer and today.
  • Make a model Ancient Sumerian chariot based on Ancient Sumerian contemporary images.

Provided Resources

  • The development of the wheel
  • The oldest known wheel
  • Ancient Sumerian evidence

You Will Need

  • World map
  • Card, wood dowelling and 1cm square strips
  • Wheels (card or wooden)
  • Matchsticks, lolly sticks
  • Glue gun and glue (adult support)
  • Hacksaws
  • Steel rules

Weblinks

There are no weblinks needed for this session.

Session 2 Writing

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations.
  • Characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, and significance.

Art

  • Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including sculpture with clay.

Teaching and Activities

Discover how the Ancient Sumerians developed writing, from pictographs/pictograms to ‘cuneiform’ writing. How this early form of writing was on clay tablets that were baked in a kiln to harden them, so they became permanent records which can still be read today.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand how early writing developed and how they became permanent records which can still be read today.
  • To make their own cylinder seal.

Children will:

  • Explain how the Ancient Sumerians developed the first-known writing.
  • Understand the importance of scribes in Ancient Sumer
  • Make their own cylinder seal.

You Will Need

  • Air-dried clay
  • Clay tools
  • Plasticine
  • String

Session 3 Maths

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations.
  • Characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, and significance.

Maths

  • Y5 Identify factors, including finding all factor pairs of a number.
  • Y5 and Y6 Solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
  • Y5 Know angles are measured in degrees.
  • Identify angles.
  • Calculate areas of rectangles.
  • Y6 Calculate areas of triangles.
  • Recognise angles meeting at a point total 360°.

Teaching and Activities

Discover how the Ancient Sumerians developed their mathematical systems. Explore the concept of a number system using a base of 60 and use Ancient Sumerian mathematics to calculate simple calculations and geometry.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To explain the development of the Ancient Sumerian number system.
  • To try some calculations based on Ancient Sumerian texts and using the Sumerian number system.

Children will:

  • Explain that the Ancient Sumerians number system had a base of 60.
  • List the factors of sixty.
  • Know how to find the area of a shape (square, triangle and circle).
  • Understand that the symbols used for counting gradually developed into a cuneiform style.
  • Appreciate that our mathematics is still influenced by the Ancient Sumerians.

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 night sky

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations.
  • Characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, and significance.

Science

  • Describe the movement of the Earth, and other planets, relative to the Sun in the solar system.
  • Use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day & night and the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky.

Teaching and Activities

Discover how the Ancient Sumerians studied the night sky and used this knowledge. Explore the star constellations and how this relates to the zodiac. Learn how to make a star constellation viewer or a planisphere.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand that the Ancient Sumerians were the first known astronomers.
  • To understand that the movement of the Earth relative to the Sun and the Earth’s rotation explain the apparent movement of stars across the sky.

Children will:

  • Explain that the Ancient Sumerians studied the movement of the Sun, Moon and inner planets.
  • Know that the Ancient Sumerians saw pictures in the stars and identified some constellations.
  • Understand that the apparent movement of the stars (including the Sun) across the sky is due to the Earth’s movement relative to the Sun and its rotation on its tilted axis.
  • Create a star constellation viewer or a planisphere.

You Will Need

  • Kitchen towel inner tubes or similar
  • Black sugar paper
  • Pins
  • Pair of compasses
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Sellotape
  • Globe
  • Torch

Session 5 Bronze

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as significance.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between national and international history.

Science

  • Y5 Compare materials on the basis of their properties, including their hardness and their melting temperature.

Art

  • Record their observations.
  • Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing with pencils.

Teaching and Activities

Discover how the Ancient Sumerians learned how to make Copper objects and then progress to making alloys especially Bronze. Learn how the Ancient Sumerians used the ‘last wax process’ to make a variety of Bronze objects.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To learn about the Ancient Sumerians discovery of bronze.
  • To understand the properties of key materials used in the construction of weapons and tools.
  • To make an observational drawing of an Ancient Sumerian bronze artefact.

Children will:

  • Know that the Ancient Sumerians knew how to make bronze from copper and tin.
  • Understand that the properties of bronze made it very suitable for making tools, weapons and statues.
  • Know that this time period was known as the Bronze Age and that the people living in the UK also experienced the Bronze Age.
  • Make an observational drawing of a bronze artefact.

You Will Need

  • Bronze ornament if available
  • Drawing pencils and paper

Weblinks

There are no weblinks needed for this session.

Session 6 Proverbs

Objectives

History

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

English

  • Read and discuss an increasingly wide range of non-fiction.
  • Increase their familiarity with texts from other cultures.
  • Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read.
  • Participate in performances.

Teaching and Activities

Learn about how the Ancient Sumerians used proverbs and wrote them down. Discover the similarities between Ancient Sumerian proverbs and the English proverbs we use today. Learn to use proverbs in a day-to-day situation.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand that the Ancient Sumerians wrote down proverbs that had probably been passed down orally for hundreds of years.
  • To define a proverb and list some English examples.
  • Read and suggest explanations of Ancient Sumerian proverbs.
  • Write a short play script using dialogue leading up to the use of an Ancient Sumerian proverb.

Children will:

  • Define a proverb and list some English examples.
  • Understand that Ancient Sumerians wrote down proverbs (wise sayings) which had probably been passed down orally for hundreds of years.
  • Understand the meaning of proverbs (both English and Ancient Sumerian).
  • Write a short play script leading to the use of an Ancient Sumerian proverb.

You Will Need

  • Props for short plays

Session 7 Laws

Objectives

History

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies.
  • Achievements of mankind.
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, similarity, difference and significance.

English

  • Listen and respond appropriately to their peers.
  • Articulate and justify opinions.
  • Give well-structured explanations.
  • Participate actively in collaborative conversations.
  • Use spoken language to develop understanding.
  • Consider and evaluate different viewpoints.

Teaching and Activities

Learn about how the Code of Ur-Nammu was developed. Explore how laws are necessary for a community and produce a set of laws that can be used.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand the Ancient Sumerian set of laws and appreciate the necessity of laws.
  • To work in a group to establish a set of ‘laws’ for a new society in Ancient Sumerian times. Discuss their ideas with the rest of the class and draw up an agreed set of ‘laws’.

Children will:

  • Define a law and understand how important it is for society to have a set of laws that everyone lives by
  • Describe the Code of Ur-Nammu
  • Create a class set of ‘laws’ for a new society in Ancient Sumerian times

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.