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Exploring Ancient Civilizations with Interactive Resources

by Andrew Roush
ancient civilizations

Looking for resources to make geography or world history classes more accessible and interactive when you return to the classroom? Check out the resources below, which include games, texts, videos, and other digital resources for teaching about ancient civilizations, including the societies of Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley civilization, and ancient China.

The Fertile Crescent: Ancient Mesopotamia

  • You can play like the ancients. The royal game of Ur, an ancient board game, has been studied well enough that we can still play it — even online. Play the game here, and learn more about the royal game in this video from the British Museum.
  • For a modern game designed to teach about the Fertile Crescent, try Excavate! This game lets grade 4–7 students take on the role of an archeologist exploring Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. 
  • Hone your archeological skills even further with this Pyramids and Ziggurats infographic from National Geographic.
  • For research-based projects and primary sources readings for older students, check out Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia, packed with relevant texts.
  • Learn how you and your students can make your own cylinder seals from the University of Chicago here.
  • Explore this interactive timeline and map with borders, water sources, and climate zones, called The Fertile Crescent – Where Past Meets Present.

The Indus Valley: The Indian Subcontinent

  • Get a sense of life in India’s earliest civilizations and its evolution through history with the interactive photo gallery, timeline, and more in this online companion to PBS’ Story of India.
  • The Asia Society provides this outline of the Indus Valley civilization and early India, providing detail for a place and time about which learning resources are sometimes scant.
  • One hallmark of the Indus Valley civilization, and one major source of understanding, is its art and physical culture. Check out these image-filled artifact timelines for two different eras of the Indus Valley societies here and here, from the Met museum.
  • Step into ancient India and Pakistan by reading about a day in the life of a baker’s son or exploring an interactive map of the Mohenjo-daro site here
  • Go in-depth and learn about language and culture, watch videos, explore maps, and much more at Harappa, named for a site in modern Punjab, Pakistan.

Imperial Beginnings: Ancient China

  • Visualize Chinese history from the ancient Shang dynasty onward in this interactive map from TimeMaps.
  • Go all the way back to the foundations of Chinese society in prehistory and the Xia dynasty, alongside images and video, in this interactive timeline from PBS. 
  • Get a great start to understanding the history of China with this resource article from National Geographic, which will scale the reading to various grade levels from 3–12. 
  • Go up close with ancient Chinese art and literature with images, maps, and timelines from the World Digital Library. Learn more about the WDL here.
  • Looking for research aids for secondary students? Check out this extensive list of primary sources on ancient Chinese life, religion, philosophy, and more from Kansas University Libraries

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Photo by Navneet Shanu from Pexels

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