A Journey to Mesopotamia

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A Journey to Mesopotamia is comprised of six reading passages. Each passage includes ten Common Core-aligned comprehension questions and an answer key, and is differentiated at three Flesch-Kincaid text levels: Grade 3, Grade 5, and Grade 7.

Passage 1: The Rise of River Valley Civilizations

In this informational text, students are introduced to river valley civilizations. They will learn about:

  • How early humans lived before the rise of large civilizations
  • Why early humans settled near rivers
  • What the first civilizations had in common and where they were located

Vocabulary: river valley • scarce • civilization • Mesopotamia • isolated

Passage 2: Sumer: The First Civilization

This informational text describes how the first civilization arose on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Students will learn about:

  • The importance of flooding to early farmers
  • The use of irrigation to control flood waters
  • The qualities that made Sumer important and unique

Vocabulary: arable • silt • ditch • irrigation • architect

Passage 3: The Code of Hammurabi

This informational text introduces students to Hammurabi’s Code. Students will learn about:

  • Why Hammurabi wanted to set down laws
  • The crimes and punishments laid out by Hammurabi’s Code
  • The impact of social class on law in Babylon

Vocabulary: cuneiform • code • warlord • patriarchy • commoner

Passage 4: Humanity’s Greatest Invention

This persuasive passage aims to persuade readers that humanity’s greatest invention was writing. Students will learn about:

  • How writing led to the development of a more complex society
  • Why written contracts helped Sumerians to run businesses more effectively
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh, the myth of a hero on a quest for eternal life

Vocabulary: effective • contract • epic poem • eternal • critique

Passage 5: Visit the Ziggurat!

This passage is written in the style of a travel brochure, and aims to convince the reader to visit Sumer through persuasive language.. Students will learn about:

  • The design and purpose of a ziggurat
  • The religious practices associated with visiting a ziggurat
  • The rule of King Shulgi who oversaw the building of the Great Ziggurat of Ur

Vocabulary: step pyramid • ziggurat • hub • dwelling • offering

Passage 6: The First System of Writing

This informational passage describes how Sumerians used cuneiform writing to set down laws, contracts, and works of art. In it, students will learn about:

  • The transition from pictures to symbols to an alphabet in early writing
  • The methods used to create cuneiform tablets
  • The effect of cuneiform writing on Wumer

Vocabulary: symbol • tablet • reed • preserved • durable

Total Pages
50 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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