Bringing Google Earth to Ancient Civilizations


The Ancient City State of Ur (from Google Earth)

I am always looking for ways to integrate maps into the classroom. For my ITGS students I have had some success creating simple GIS activities using ESRI’s web view, and importing KML data to google earth.  However for my Middle School Ancient Civilizations students I come up with a simpler project during our Mesopotamia unit.  Using Google Earth we started out in the Persian Gulf and then followed the respective river courses of the Tigris and Euphrates.  Students had fun trying to follow the windy river courses and saw first hand the landscape of the region.  Next students had to find their own city-states (they are concurrently researching and creating a report on an individual city state of Ancient Mesopotamia.

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Students have learned our globe came to be divided into 360 degrees, and our days into hours and minutes (All thanks to the first civilization, the ancient Sumerians very efficient base 60 math system). Students put this knowledge to work on Google Earth. Using Google Earth’s satellite imagery they investigated the current state of the city-states that they are studying. They also measured the current distances to the rivers that used to feed their cities.

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This exercise was particularly enlightening for students as the modern paths of the Tigris & Euphrates are very different from those of 5,000 years ago.  This changing geography is a defining characteristic of the region and has had a profound impact on the early civilizations cultures. Using google earth students were able to explore and measure the changing geography. They measured the distance from water and looked for evidence of old canals.


Another Mapping Exercise where students mapped the birth places of their classmates

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