Ancient Mesopotamia
Created by Keri Steitz and Holly Quaratella


Introduction  / The Quest  / Process
Archaeological Explorations #1 #2 #3#4#5#6 / #7
Evaluation  / Conclusion



The first great civilization, located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was developed in 5000 B.C.  Archaeologists and historians discovered this "cradle of civilization" buried under sandy mounds of the vast plain which were the remains of Ancient Mesopotamia.  Mesopotamia is derived from the Greek words, mesos meaning "middle," and potamos meaning "river,"  which became known as the "land between two rivers."  Mesopotamia no longer exists today.  It is now known as all the land in northern Syria, southern Turkey, and most of Iraq.  Researchers believe the peoples of Mesopotamia influenced the development of the human race in many ways.

The Quest:
Recently, you have been hired by the Archaeologist Association to create an article for their publication to inform the public about the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia.  Prepare yourself for this adventure by researching the contributions the peoples of Mesopotamia have given to the existence of modern day society.

As a journalist for the Archaeologist Association you must research various online resources to collect background information regarding the great civilization of Mesopotamia.  Through your experiences you will gain vital data about the major contributions this civilization gave to the world.


Archaeological Exploration #1:  Mesopotamia Web Hunt

To develop your understanding of Mesopotamia you will visit the following web site to collect informational facts:

Mesopotamia Website

When the web site is downloaded follow the steps below.

Ancient Mesopotamia Web Hunt

1.  Scroll down to STUDENT AREA
2.  Click on Important Vocabulary.
3.  Write the definitions of the following vocabulary words.
a.  Tigris and Euphrates
          b.  Mesopotamia
          c.  Sumer
          d. City-State
4.  Click on the Back Button.
5.  In the STUDENT AREA click on Geography.
6.  Read the passage and answer the following questions:
          a.  What does "Mesopotamia" mean?
          b.  Where was Mesopotamia located?
          c.  What present day country would Mesopotamia
be located in?

7.  Click on the Back Button.
8.  In the STUDENT AREA click on The Sumerian City-State.
9.  Read the passage and answer the following questions:
          a.  What people established the first civilization?
          b.  What was at the center of each city-state?
          c.  Describe the people that lived in the city-state.
10.  Click on the Back Button.
11.  In the STUDENT AREA click on The Ziggurat.
12.  Read the passage and answer the following questions:
          a.  The ____________________ was the first major
building structure of the
          b.  Who was housed in the ziggurat?
13.  Click on the Back Button.
14.  In the STUDENT AREA click on Cuneiform.
15.  Read the passage and answer the following questions:
          a.  What is the name of the world's first writing

          b.  What did the Sumerians write on?
          c.  Did the Sumerians have the same writing we have

16.  Click on the Back Button.
17.  In the STUDENT AREA click on Contributions.
18.  Read the passage and answer the following question:
          a.  Describe four contributions that the Sumerians

19.  Close web page when completed.


Archaeological Exploration #2:  Cuneiform

Write the answers to the following questions in your journalist notebook to further your knowledge on Mesopotamia's writing system known as Cuneiform.  Visit the site below to gather the facts.

Ancient Mesopotamia


Mesopotamia's Writing System

        1.  Why did the Sumerians need to create a writing system?
        2.  What were the objects used to represent trade?
        3.  When did the earliest forms of writing begin? 
How was it created?

        4.  Who used cuneiform?  How were they chosen?

After collecting your data discover your name in cuneiform.  Go to the following site, complete the steps, and print the product.


Archaeological Exploration #3:  Government and - City-State

Write the answers to the following questions in your journalist notebook to further your knowledge on Mesopotamia's government system and classes of people.

Use the following site to find information on the classes:

     2. Recreate the following chart in your Journalist Notebook:


The Priest



The Upper Class




The Lower Class



 The Slaves


 The ancient Mesopotamians created a government that was a combination of monarchy and democracy. Kings ruled the people. Elected officials who served in the Assembly also ruled the people. Even kings had to ask the Assembly for permission to do certain things.

 Let's look at their system or code of laws. During the Babylonians rule there was a king by the name of Hammurabi. He did something which no one had ever done before. He created the first written set of laws. Go to the site listed below and have fun discovering the ancient laws. After you have reviewed a few sections of the laws, choose five laws that you think are unfair. Identify the laws, justify why you think it is unfair and change the law to be what you consider more fair.


Archaeological Exploration #4:  Math

Mesopotamia was a civilization full of many creations.  The people of Mesopotamia developed a mathematical system based on the number 60.  Other accomplishments included the creation of the first calendar and the worlds first clock: the sundial.  Evidence of their mathematical systems can still be found today such as the Arabic decimal system, 60 minute hour, and 360 degrees that make up a circle.

 After reading the passage above click on the following web site to help in the completion of these ancient mathematical word problems.  RECORD all work in your Journalist Notebook.

Ancient Mathematical Word Problems

        1.      Mesopotamia's king sent his slaves to buy 19 apples and 30 oranges but the slaves became very hungry.  They ate 5 apples and 10 oranges.  How much fruit did the slaves bring back to the king?  Using cuneiform symbols SHOW ALL WORK.  Explain how you found your answer.

        2.    The scribes made 12 clay tablets a day.  How many clay tablets will they have in 5 days?  HINT:  Use another method than addition.  Using cuneiform symbols SHOW ALL WORK.  Explain how you found your answer.

        3.    The priest decided they wanted to have a feast in honor of the lugal or "king".  They invited 50 guests.  They set up 10 tables.  How many guests could sit at each table?  Using cuneiform symbols SHOW ALL WORK.  Explain how you found your answer.

Archaeology Exploration #5:  The Wheel

Sumerians were creative individuals who wanted to improve their civilization.  Many inventions have led to great improvements in our society today.  One important invention that was developed was the wheel.  The wheel was used in transportation, farming needs, and in war.  Think about how the Sumerians invented the wheel.  Recreate this process in a three framed cartoon drawing on the comicstrip template.

The Wheel


Frame #1

The process of making the wheel


Frame #2

The process of making the wheel


Frame #3

Show how the wheel 
was used


Archaeology Exploration #6: The Empires of Mesopotamia

For our next exploration we will discover the importance of the empires of Mesopotamia. Go to the following site:

Once you are on this site look at the empires of Sumer, Babylon and Assyria. Create a graphic organizer that show the key characteristics of each empire.

Discuss the accomplishments of each empire from the papers that were given to you. Wow! Where would we be without the empires of Mesopotamia?


Archaeology Exploration #7:  Mesopotamia's Achievements - Written Report

The first civilization, Mesopotamia, made many discoveries and achieved many "firsts" in history, such as city-states and law, mathematical number system based on 60, the first written language, Cuneiform, and the invention of the wheel.  TELL and EXPLAIN the achievements Mesopotamia has given our world today.

1.  Construct a web of Mesopotamia's achievements with the research you have gathered in your Journalist Notebook or from the various handouts you have received.

2.  Use the link below to access the rubric for your written report.

Your article will also be assessed for written quality using the writing rubric

3.  Your 6 paragraph report on Mesopotamia's Achievements should resemble the format below.

Paragraph #1 

Introduction of Report


Paragraph #2

First Achievement


Paragraph # 3

Second Achievement


Paragraph # 4

Third Achievement


Paragraph # 5 

Fourth Achievement


Paragraph # 6

Concluding Paragraph


4.  Continue with the writing process and start your rough draft based on your prewrite web.

5.  After you complete your rough draft, meet with two peers and complete the peer editing checklist. Remember this should be an interactive process.

6.  Revise your rough draft based on suggestions form your peers. Complete a revision checklist.

7.  After your revisions are complete. Edit for conventions on your own.

8. Complete your final draft and remember to read over your final copy for any appearance mistakes.

9. Look at how you have presented your project. Is it eye appealing? Would you buy the newspaper that had your article on the front page?


A rubric is provided to guide the students in their writing about Mesopotamia's achievements.

Your article will also be assessed for written quality using the writing rubric



Mesopotamia, the first civilization, was were it all began.  While researching Mesopotamia the students have discovered many achievements and contributions that they have given to the world today.  Students will further develop their knowledge about Ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Greece.




Adapted from by Monica Daniels on 12-2-07