Mesopotamia - The Cradle of Civilization

Research Projects for Mrs. Desler's 6th Grade History Class

In the development of civilizations, Mesopotamia is known for its "firsts": first writing system, first wheels, first sail boats, first city-states, first written laws. The ancient inhabitants of this area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have left us many clues about their contributions to civilization as well as their everyday lives.

Your task is to research and recreate an aspect of their life and times. Choose a topic from the list below and begin the research cycle:

  1. Write a letter to the editor of the Babylonian Times in response to one of Hammurabi's laws. In the letter, clearly state the code number you wish to discuss, your opinion of the code, and why you feel the way you do. If you disagree with the code, you should offer suggestions for Hammurabi to consider. Generally, it is recommended that one signs a letter to the editor. However, when dealing with Hammurabi, that may not always be advisable. He may add code 283 to his list which could possibly be aimed at disrespectful citizens who disagree with his divinely inspired judgments. (Adapted from P. Martin's Hammurabi Teacher Page)
  2. Create a display on the development of writing. Make sure your display is labeled.
  3. Construct a model of what a typical Sumerian house might have looked like. Leave one wall open so we can have an inside. On a 5" by 7" index card, discuss the architectural style.
  4. Create your own standard, in the style of Ur. Your standard should reflect your family, school, and home town. Use paints, colored pencils, bits of colored paper, etc., to simulate mosaics.
  5. Create a model of a Sumerian irrigation system.
  6. Make a model of Babylon or Ur.
  7. Make a detailed, labeled chart of inventions from Mesopotamia.
  8. Make an alphabet book of Mesopotamia. Mrs. Desler has a separate handout for this task.
  9. Create a detailed, illustrated brochure for a scribe school. Include daily life activities and accommodations so potential students would know how to prepare for their educational experience.
  10. Research the foods that were available to the Mesopotamians. Prepare some samples to bring to class. You may work by yourself or with a partner. Extra credit for appropriate Mesopotamian meal-time music!
  11. Create a picture book/story book to explain the roles of men and women in Mesopotamia. Go to A Question of Status for directions. You may team up with another classmate for this project.


Your grade will be based on our 4-Point History Social Studies Rubric. Use of class research time will also count!

Useful Sources
Start with our History textbook; scan the books from Mrs. Desler's Mesopotamia library (note: these books are for classroom use only); explore CD ROMs; then move on to Internet sites. Some useful sites are:

The SCORE web site. Always a great starting point for research! From the 6th grade page, click on Mesopotamia:

University of Pennsylvania Museum:

Galleries of Ancient Art:

Timelines of the Ancient World:

University of Chicago Museum:

Emory University Museum:

Women in Mesopotamia:

A Compilation of Mesopotamia Sites:

Hammurabi's Code of Law:


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