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Earliest Civilisations: Ancient Sumer
Literature

Become familiar with Gilgamesh, the world's oldest recorded story, and compare it to flood myths including Noah’s ark. Find out about 'The city of Rainbows' and Sumerian debate poetry. Write your own myth inspired by ancient stories of this region.

Session 1 Gilgamesh

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.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts.

English

  • Read an increasingly wide range of fiction.
  • Increase their familiarity with a wide range of books including myths, legends and traditional stories from other cultures and traditions.
  • Participate in discussion about books they have read.
  • Infer characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives.
  • Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph.

Teaching and Activities

Explore the oldest recorded story: The Epic of Gilgamesh. Discover how fact and fantasy are often interwoven.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand that the Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest recorded story that has been discovered.
  • Explain that the clay tablets recording the story have been fragmented over time, which makes it difficult for translators.
  • Retell the story of part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
  • Write a letter in role to the gods explaining why either Gilgamesh or Enkidu should have died in the story.

Children will:

  • Explain that the Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest recorded story.
  • Retell the story of Gilgamesh.
  • Understand that the story does contain factual information as well as fantasy.

You Will Need

  • Gilgamesh the Hero retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Gilgamesh the King
  • The Revenge of Ishtar, and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh retold by Ludmila Zeman,
  • Oxford Reading Tree TreeTops Myths and Legends: Level 17: The Legend Of Gilgamesh by Geraldine McCaughrean

Session 2 Flood myth

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, religious and social history.

English

  • Make comparisons across books.
  • Summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph.
  • Participate in discussion about books that they read.

Teaching and Activities

Explore the similarities between The Epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Noah’s Ark from the Bible.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To compare the flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh with Noah’s Ark story from the Bible.
  • To compare and discuss stories written in two different cultures about a great flood.

Children will:

  • Compare two stories about a great flood that were written in different cultures.
  • Explain how the finding of a story similar to a Bible story caused a sensation in Victorian times.

You Will Need

  • The Last Quest of Gilgamesh retold by Ludmila Zeman
  • Gilgamesh the Hero retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Oxford Reading Tree TreeTops Myths and Legends: Level 17: The Legend Of Gilgamesh by Geraldine McCaughrean

Session 3 The City of Rainbows

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.

English

  • Increase their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths from other cultures.
  • Identify themes and conventions in a range of writing.
  • Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning.
  • Select the appropriate form and use other similar writing as models for their own.
  • Note and develop initial ideas.
  • Describe settings, characters and atmosphere and integrate dialogue to convey character and advance the action.
  • Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
  • Proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors.
  • Perform others’ compositions.

Teaching and Activities

Explore the Ancient Sumerian myth 'The City of Rainbows', recognise what a myth entails then write their own mythical story.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To listen to and understand another Ancient Sumerian myth.
  • To identify features of myths and write their own based on Ancient Sumer.

Children will:

  • Listen to an adult reading a myth and make notes.
  • Recognise and list the features of a myth.
  • Write their own myth set in Ancient Sumer.
  • Evaluate another child’s myth.
  • Edit and redraft their myth.

You Will Need

  • The City of Rainbows retold by Karen Foster, University of Pennsylvania Museum

Weblinks

There are no weblinks needed for this session.

Session 4 Debate poems

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.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between cultural and social history.

English

  • Read and discuss a wide range of poetry.
  • Increase their familiarity with a wide range of texts from other cultures and traditions.
  • Select the appropriate form and use other similar writing as models for their own.
  • Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.

Teaching and Activities

Discover the Ancient Sumerian concept of debate/dispute poems and how children can use this to write their own debate/dispute poems about modern life.

Teaching Outcomes:

  • To understand that the Ancient Sumerians wrote poems about things that were important in their daily lives.
  • To write a poem in an Ancient Sumerian style reflecting modern daily life in the UK.

Children will:

  • Explain that the Ancient Sumerians wrote debate/dispute poems that reflected daily life.
  • Understand that the things used as opponents were personified.
  • Write their own debate/dispute poem.

You Will Need

You do not need any particular resources for this session.