Introduction to the Ancient World

Grades 5-7

"Alea iacta est." - Julius Caesar, before invading his own Roman homeland

"Come back with your shields or on them." - Spartan women to their men before war

"Forget death and seek life!" - Gilgamesh, one of the first epic king-heroes

"Compared with the Egyptians, the Greeks are childish mathematicians." - Plato

"Eureka!" - Archimedes

"Is it not worthy of tears, that, when the number of worlds is infinite, we have not yet become lords of a single one?" - Alexander

"Carthage must be destroyed." - Cato's traditional ending to any speech made in the Roman Senate

"SPQR" - Letters that marked property of Senatus Populusque Romanum

Come and see the die Caesar cast that changed the course of Roman history, the shields that the Spartans valued more than their lives, the mathematical principles the Greek scholars shed their own blood over, the rise and fall of the oldest cities, empires, and cultures of the West, and the stories they left behind!

The goal of this course is to provide students with a solid foundation for understanding the ancient world, thereby giving them a framework for future studies. The ideas and themes touched upon in this course will assist students in gaining a broader appreciation and understanding of the cultures that laid the foundation for the western world. An emphasis will be placed on developing critical thinking skills as well as learning the basic geography of the regions covered in the course. Mapwork and excerpts from primary source material will be used frequently!

The class will include readings from primary texts (provided by the instructor), the opportunity to study fascinating artifacts, and in-depth discussions of military tactics, technology, prevailing philosophies and religions of the time.

"Mrs. Roe's history is my daughter's favorite class. She is such a fantastic history teacher, I wish we could take her classes every year. She's the kind of teacher who instills a love of the subject in students, which is a rare and wonderful breed."
- Bodie P. California

Assignments will include

  • reading and annotation of primary texts (20-30 minutes per day).  Homework will regularly include reading and annotating a text, responding to questions, brief essays (1-2 paragraphs), and observing images of historical artifacts.
  • Students will choose one novel-length book to read each semester. The book can be a history of a certain civilization, an empire, a dynasty, or a single person, as long as it is based on one of the topics covered that semester. It can also be a work of historical fiction provided it is based in the time period studied, or as a retelling of the myths of the time period. The title and author must be approved by the teacher. The student will submit regular updates on their reading progress, brief summaries, and simple analysis paragraphs. Example authors would include Padraic Colum, Rosemary Sutcliffe (2nd Semester), In The Land of Ur by Baumann, etc.
  • In place of a Final Exam, all students will choose a project to complete each semester that dives into an aspect of that semester's material that interests them. Past projects have included Minecraft Tours of the Pyramid of Giza, a watercolor landscape of the Acropolis, a report on the life of Hannibal, recitations of ancient poetry in its original language, handmade Phoenician pottery, reports on ancient musical instruments, cartoon retellings of famous battles, etc. Each project must be approved by the teacher, and will include regular check-ins and updates with the teacher to be sure the student doesn't become overwhelmed.
  • Assignments are designed for 5th and 6th grade students. 7th and 8th grade students are welcome to join the class as well. Adjustments to coursework will be decided in consultation with each family.
  • Students will not be graded on their writing ability, but are expected to be capable of answering prompts and questions with complete thoughts.

The first semester of Introduction to the Ancient World covers the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt as well as the Phoenicians, the Hebrews, and the Ancient Greeks, ending with the death of Alexander the Great. Students must be confident readers and be able to write their thoughts in complete sentences. Students will read selections from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Thucydides, Herodotus, Xenophon, Arian, Plutarch, and several secondary sources. Students will also become familiar with contemporary efforts of excavation, historical research, and historiography through articles, documentaries, video clips, and artistic renderings from our current day. 

The second semester of Introduction to the Ancient World, covers the history of Rome (Roots, Kingdom, Republic, First Emperors) and Late Antiquity (The beginnings of Christianity, the Roman Empire, and Late Antiquity). Students will also read and respond to excerpts from primary sources like Julius Caesar, Cicero, Quintillian, Augustine, Benedict of Nursia, Nero, Livy, and Plutarch.

"Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!  My son is typically not a fan of history or literature classes and I have seen him change this semester:). You definitely engaged him - I wish I could take your class myself! Thanks again for your feedback and also for being a wonderful teacher."
- Kristy S - Washington