Political Narrative in the Ancient World

Although I move chronologically through time, I also like to combine that with thematic lessons. I cover the Palette of King Narmer with The Code of Hammurabi and the Standard of Ur from the Royal Tombs at Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar) in a lesson I call “Political Narratives in the Ancient World;” this lesson is 100% student led.



I put the students in groups of three, with each student getting an 8×10 color image of their assigned art piece and two articles that cover different parts of FFCC. They spend the first half of class reading, highlighting, and annotating the articles while I have guiding questions on my PowerPoint to help them identify the most important information.

  • What is the historical/political context of the piece? How does that affect the content?
  • Be able to identify all the important symbols and storyline that demonstrate the political context.
  • Do we know the political leader depicted? Who are they in the art piece?
  • How are the human figures depicted to demonstrate relative importance?

When I call time (usually 20 minutes in) I give the students the last 30 minutes of class to teach their group mates on their pieces; I provide suggested time limits of 10 minutes per piece.


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