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National Geography Bee 2018

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According to our Social Studies Department's tradition, the couple of days after winter break are used to administer the qualifying rounds of the National Geography Bee sponsored by National GeographicMagazine, and held each year for students in grades 6-12.

Each Cluster at Pollard and High Rock will find a winner, and each grade level will have runoffs to determine a school representative for the regional championships. Eventually, students compete for the state championship, the winner of which will represent Massachusetts at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

The first rounds will be held in our cluster on the day after winter break. There are seven rounds, and each student has an opportunity to earn one point for a correct answer in each round.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Bee, the prizes, and previous years' winners, just check out this link:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/









Rock Out with the Mesopotamians!

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Check out this fun song from They Might Be Giants...



Also, you might be curious from the lyrics of the song:

Sargon was an Akkadian king who conquered all of the Sumerian city-states and created the world's first empire.

Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who created the world's first written set of laws for all to obey.

Ashurbanipal was an Assyrian king who ruled his empire from a huge palace in Nineveh. He collected a huge library of texts from ancient Mesopotamia.

Gilgamesh was the first epic hero in all of literature. The Sumerians wrote about his great deeds, including killing the Bull of Heaven and the guardian beast, Humbaba.



The Israelites

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent: The Israelites (Hebrews)

The Hebrews, also called the Israelites, were unique among ancient civilizations because of their monotheistic religion. Much of the information we have about the earliest history of the Hebrews comes from the Old Testament of the Bible. Modern Jews trace their religion and culture back to this ancient civilization.






Sources of information on the Hebrews/Israelites:
Harvard Semitic Museum
Wikipedia Entry
NYU Library Guide


The Phoenicians

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were known as the greatest sea traders on the Mediterranean, and left their legacy by creating the alphabet we still use today (with a few changes). From their bases in what is today Lebanon, the Phoenicians traveled the entire length of the Mediterranean, setting up far away colonies in places like Spain and North Africa. Their colony of Carthage actually challenges the powerful Roman Republic for dominance of the region in the third and fourth centuries B.C.

The Phoenicians built much of their wealth on selling a very special purple dye made from the shell of the murex, a snail-like creature. This dye was so valuable that in ancient Rome, only the emperor was allowed to wear all purple, and the noble families of Rome marked their togas with a purple stripe.





Sources for information about the Phoenicians:


Wikipedia Entry (a good starting point)
Ancient History Encyclopedia: Phoenicia
History World: Phoenicians
Histo…

The Assyrians

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent: The Assyrians

The Assyrians began their civilization in the ancient city-state of Assur over 3,000 years ago, and came to dominate the area of upper Mesopotamia that includes parts of modern day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The Assyrians were known by the Egyptians for being a fierce warrior race who knew nothing but bloodshed and destruction. Recent archaeology has shown that unlike the image in the Egyptians' propaganda, the Assyrians were actually an advanced civilization who excelled in the arts and the science of astronomy and mathematics.

The Assyrians were rivals of the Babylonians and the Egyptians, and produced strong kings with names like Shamshi-Adad and Tiglath Pileser I. Like the Babylonians, the Assyrians were powerful for a time, then declined, then returned as the "New" Assyrian Empire later. The modern country of Syria traces its name back to the ancient Assyrians.



Here are a few so…

The Babylonians

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Babylonians
Based in the ancient city-state of Babylon, the Babylonian empire stretched across the entire region of Mesopotamia and beyond at its height, around the year 1770 B.C. under its most famous ruler, Hammurabi. Hammurabi is most known for being a conqueror and a law-giver.

The Code of Hammurabi set out the concept of a punishment fitting the crime. He had his laws carved into stone and set in the center of the towns he ruled, so that all would know the laws. The thinking behind Hammurabi's laws can be summed up in the phrase, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." This means that if a man injures another by putting out his eye, then that man's eye will be put out as punishment.

The laws were more symbolic since most people in those days were unable to read and write, but Hammurabi created the concept of the rule of law, and the idea of fairness in the justice system.

The interesting thing about the Babylonian E…

The Persians

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Persians
The Persians lived in what is today called Iran. They built the largest land empire of the ancient world, and had a great capital city at Persepolis before its destruction by Alexander the Great. Some people know the Persians as the enemy in the movie 300, but there is so much more. The Persians' most famous leaders were Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, and Xerxes. At one time, the Persians took over the land of Egypt, and at another challenged the Greeks for domination of the lands east of the Mediterranean.


Sources of information on the Persians:
Wikipedia Entry
History for Kids: Persia









The Hittites

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Hittites
The Hittites were a fierce and mysterious people who lived in the central and eastern part of Anatolia, in the modern country of Turkey. The Hittites created a strong and important empire in the years between 1900 B.C. and 1100 B.C. (3,000 - 4,000 years ago), often battling or trading with the Egyptians, competing with the pharaoh Ramses the Great for domination over Palestine and the area of today's Syria.

The Hittites had their capital city at Hattusa, and were known in the ancient world for their skill in smelting and metal working, particularly using bronze and iron to make weapons.



Some great sources on the Hittites:

Wikipedia Entry
The British Museum
Archaeological Site of Hattusa














Living in an Early Farm Town

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This week's work involves illustrating a scene from the Neolithic Era.

You will have a better understanding of this time period by reading a passage from A Message of Ancient Days (p. 118-133) and answering four questions about life in one of the earliest Neolithic (Stone Age farming) communities.

In this case, the town is called Çatal Huyuk and it is located in the present day country of Turkey.


After looking at the readings on the early Neolithic period (Message of Ancient Days pgs. 127-133), the text asks you to answer the following questions:

1. What was life like in a Neolithic farming town?

You would live in a mud-brick house and take care of fields of crops outside of the village. Besides growing food, your family would continue to hunt wild animals and gather plants and berries. There would be different jobs for the different people in the town. The town would have a surplus of grain to trade with other people nearby. The people were polytheistic and they worshiped thei…

The Sumerians

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Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Sumerians
The earliest people to grow into a flourishing civilization in the Fertile Crescent (or anywhere) were the Sumerians. Just northwest of the Persian Gulf, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Sumerians built a series of city-states that were later incorporated into an empire. Impressively, the Sumerians invented the wheel, irrigation, writing, trade, the sailboat, organized government, and a number system based on 60 (which we still use to measure time).

The Sumerians were a polytheistic society, believing in a few principal gods and thousands of lesser gods and goddesses. The had one well-known creation myth involving a great flood and a hero named Gilgamesh. This story may have been the inspiration for the Noah's Ark chapter of the Bible.




Some great sources for information about the Sumerians:

BrainPOP
The British Museum
Wikipedia Entry
LookLex Encyclopedia
National Geographic Article

Barter Day 2017!

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As part of our study of ancient civilizations, students will be learning about the development of the first economies. Key concepts of this unit include surplus-scarcity, supply and demand, and trade; money was not used. To give students a clearer understanding of the concept of trading, or bartering, we will have “Barter Day” on Thursday, December 7th.

On Barter Day, students will become artisans in a marketplace and trade their “goods” with other students to learn about the challenges (and fun) of bartering. In the process, students learn about the importance of supply and demand and about competition in the marketplace.



To participate on Barter Day, students should look around the house for unwanted tacky knickknacks, trinkets, toys, or other junk treasure. The items that students bring in should be no more than can fit all together on a desk. The things that students bring in are for trading. Students should not bring in anything of value, or anything that is special to them. So…

Ancient Near East Map

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In class we started mapping the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, where the ancient civilizations we study were located.


Our focus of study for the Mesopotamia unit is really the entire Fertile Crescent: An area that stretches from the Nile Valley of Egypt in the west, northward to Palestine, westward across the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and southward to the Persian Gulf. Surrounded by inhospitable deserts, the Fertile Crescent is an area that has good soil for farming, rivers for water, and is in a strategic location for trade.

Here are copies of the Ancient Near East maps that we are completing in class. Click on it for a larger version.


On the Ancient Map, locate:
Mediterranean Sea
Black Sea
Caspian Sea
Red Sea
Dead Sea
Persian Gulf

Euphrates River
Tigris River
Nile River
Jordan River

Anatolia
Persia
Mesopotamia
The Fertile Crescent
Egypt

Zagros Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Caucasus Mountains

Syrian Desert
Arabian Desert

Mesopotamia itself comes from the Greek meaning "…

Animal Domestication: Some Fun Videos

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In class, we talked about some of the differences between wild and domesticated animals. Sheep, for example, looked more like mountain goats and lived in the wild. Over time, humans bred them to be dumber, bigger, woolier, and more tame.


In the first video, a farmer in Wales (in Great Britain) demonstrates two domesticated animals working to create quite a light show--the trained shepherd dog that arranges the sheep according to the farmer's whistle commands, and the sheep that are herded around the hill side.




In another funny video, an Australian man sets the world record for speed sheep-shearing!







The Agricultural Revolution

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The Agricultural Revolution

After reading this article, you should know:

How humans started to farm Some advantages and disadvantages of farming How life in villages differed from hunter-gatherer lifeWhere the first villages of the Fertile Crescent appearedNew technology that developed in farming villages How trading began

Ancient Near East Vocabulary

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In your notebook be sure to copy the words and the definitions for our Mesopotamia/Ancient Near East Unit. You only need to copy the definition, not the example sentence.

1. Agriculture:
Agriculture means the growing of crops and the raising of animals for food (also called farming).

The discovery of agriculture was a huge development for humans. Instead of hunting and gathering and having no permanent homes, agriculture allowed people to build cities and to produce more food than they needed to survive.


2. Domesticate:
To domesticate means to make plants and animals more useful to humans.

At the same time humans started to farm, they also domesticated animals, including chicken and pigs for food, cows for pulling plows, bees for making honey, and sheep for wool.




3. Surplus:
A surplus is an extra of something, especially crops.

Because early farm towns produced a surplus of food, people were able to have different jobs like priests, builders, government officials, artisans, and merchants. …

Paleolithic Art: The Lascaux Caves

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In 1940, in southwestern France, a group of school boys stumbled upon an amazing sight--a huge cave complex housing over 600 paintings and over 1500 engravings. The images showed several kinds of animals--birds, as well as cattle, bison, deer, and horses--and hundreds of "signs," shapes, dots, and other patterns. After archaeologists had a chance to study the cave art, they determined that the imagines were left by hunter-gatherers more than 15,000 years ago.


The caves at Lascaux contain some of the earliest known art in human history, dating back to somewhere between 15,000 and as far back as 27,000 years ago. The Paleolithic cave paintings consist mostly of realistic images of large animals. The other common theme of the paintings is a number of human hand prints. Pigments (paints) are made from ingredients such as plants, berries, rust, charcoal and dirt. The paintings demonstrate the advancement of Cro-Magnon humans and their way of life, and actually show the quality o…

Prehistoric Life

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Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherers

After reading this article, you should know:
How humans lived before the invention of farmingHow humans migrated to new areas of the worldEarly examples of human cultureWhat the Ice Ages were, and how humans adapted

Iceman Murder Mystery

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Here's the PBS NOVA episode of the Iceman Murder Mystery we started in class. A few things to look for:

How did Iceman die?
What was prehistoric life like?
Why was the axe so special?



One day about 5,300 years ago a man left a small village in the Italian Alps. He might have been selling flint to other Neolithic settlements on the northern side of the mountains, in what is Austria today. However, his journey took a tragic turn when he got caught in a nasty snow drift and died. In 1991 a couple of hikers came across the body sticking out of a melting glacier and called for help. A group of archaeologists took the body back to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and "Otzi" became an instant celebrity.

After some intensive studies and examination of the Iceman and his belongings, archaeologists have learned a great deal about the Chalcolithic period of European history. Just try busting that word out at a party: Chalcolithic! It's just a smart word to describe the p…

The Age of an Artifact

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The Age of an Artifact
After reading this article, you should know: ·How archaeologists find out how old an object is ·The difference between relative and absolute dating ·Some scientific methods of absolute dating including: oRadiocarbon dating oTree ring dating oPotassium-argon dating ·What stratigraphy is ·Some examples of commonly found artifacts at dig sites

Historical Evidence

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Historical Evidence: How Historians Learn About the Past
After reading this article, you should know: How historians and archaeologists learn about the pastDifferences between written and non-written sourcesWhat is oral traditionHow historians evaluate sourcesDifferences between primary and secondary sources

Archaeology Unit Vocabulary

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This month we will be starting our Cluster 3 archaeological dig!

Here are the vocab words and definitions. You should have these in your notebook.

Archaeology Vocabulary
Get ready to dig…Like in the DIRT!!

ARCHAEOLOGY
Archaeology is the study of past civilizations by examining artifacts and other remains.

ARTIFACT
An artifact is an object that was made by humans and was used in the past.

EXCAVATION
An excavation is the careful digging out of a site.

STRATUM
A stratum is a layer of dirt.

IN SITU
“In situ” is a Latin phrase that means “in the place it was found.”

STRATIGRAPHY
Stratigraphy means removing one layer of dirt at a time.

HISTORY
History is the study of past events.

PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a document written during the same time period as it describes.

SECONDARY SOURCE
A secondary source is a document written at a later date.

ORAL TRADITION
Oral tradition is when history is passed down from older people to younger people by storytelling.

PREHISTORIC
Prehistoric means a time bef…

Archaeologists at Work: Time Team America

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There is a great series from PBS called Time Team America. In it, a group of professional archaeologists, scientists, and technicians travel to an active dig site and help the local archaeologists do their work. They teach about different methods that are used to find and interpret artifacts, how items are dated, and how to reconstruct a past civilization.



In class we'll watch the PBS show Time Team America all about the archaeological dig at Range Creek, Utah. In class, you started answering questions on your worksheet that go along with the video clip. Be sure you've written these notes on the bottom:
Range Creek, UtahFremont IndiansOver 1000 years ago granary = a place for storing grain
pictograph = a picture that represents an idea
midden = an ancient trash pile


Aside from Time Team America, there was a great article in the August 2006 issue of National Geographic all about the area of Range Creek, including some detailed photos of the petroglyphs (rock art), the granaries…

A Message about Greek Day

For Great Greek Day, many students will wear a chiton. Please watch the video to learn how to prepare your chiton...BUT REMEMBER--YOUR COSTUME WILL BE DIFFERENT ACCORDING TO YOUR CHARACTER and that's ok. Feel free to bring your costume into school and put it on during advisory.