Teacher's Guide for DIG TM MegalithsSeptember 2004
Teacher Guide prepared by: Alyssa Loorya, Brooklyn College Archaeological Research Center, Brooklyn College, CUNY.
"NEW WORLD HERITAGE SITES" (p. 4)
- Theme/Unit Activity:
- Hang a world map in the classroom. As you read through each article in this issue of DIGTM locate the Megalith sites on the map. At the end of the unit determine which country and/or region has the most megalith sites.
Objective: Students will gain an understanding of the scope and variety of archaeological heritage on a global scale.
Aim: What are "World Heritage sites"?
Introduce students to UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization that recognizes archaeological and architectural sites of cultural significance around the world. (www.unesco.org)
Follow-up: Have students work in groups of four to research a World Heritage site. Have students present their research in a report (with visuals) that they can share with the class.
Provide students with a world map. On the map locate the world heritage sites listed in DIGTM. Provide students with a list of other world heritage sites that they will locate on the map. Are any of the Megalith sites in this issue of DIGTM World Heritage sites?
"WHO'S ON FIRST" (pp 6 - 7)
Objective: Students will be able to translate descriptive text into a visual representation.
Aim: What was the original layout of the Temple at Ggantija?
Follow-up: Discussion - 'Where is Malta?'; 'How were the temples constructed?'
- Read the article aloud as a class. Have students take notes about the temple and its layout as the article is read.
- Locate Malta on the world map.
- Based on the article text have students draw a map of the temple complex.
Additional Activity or Extra Credit: How long would it take the class to construct the temple at Ggantija if it took 131 men 3 months a year for 3 years or 15,500 man-days? How many man-days would it take the class?
"MYSTERY OF STONEHENGE" (pp 8 - 12)
Objective: Students will understand the magnitude and mystery of Stonehenge.
Aim: What is Stonehenge?
- Ask students if they have heard of Stonehenge. If so what do they know about Stonehenge?
- Have the class read the article.
- Locate Stonehenge on a map of England; on a map of the United Kingdom; on a map of Europe. Locate Stonehenge on the world map hanging in the classroom.
- Who has been credited with building Stonehenge? Identify who these people were as mentioned the article text. (i.e. Who was Merlin; who were the Druids?) Provide students with information on these groups/people.
- Why was Stonehenge built? What was its function?
Homework: Write a short essay (1-2 pages) based on the following question: Why do you think so many people have been fascinated by Stonehenge over the centuries?
Aim: How heavy are the stones at Stonehenge?
- Students will be able to translate metric tons into pounds.
- Students will be able to calculate weights.
- Based on the text have students answer the following questions. (Either write them on the chalkboard or hand out a work sheet that includes the remainder of the activity - see below.)
- What is the average weight of a sarsen?
- What is the weight of the largest sarsen?
- What is the average weight of the smallest stones at Stonehenge?
- Ask or provide students with the following: What is a ton? How many pounds are in a ton?
- Answer the following questions based on the above information.
- How many pounds does the average sarsen weigh?
- How many pounds does the largest sarsen weigh?
- How many pounds does the average smallest stone weigh?
- Weigh all the students in the class. Determine the average weight of a student in the class.
- Based on the average weight of a student in your class:
- How many students would it take to equal the weight of the average sarsen?
- How many students would it take to equal the weight of the largest sarsen?
- How many students would it take to equal the weight of the average smallest stone at Stonehenge?
Discussion - Now that students have an idea of how heavy the stones at Stonehenge are have them consider the following: How were the sarsens moved to and put in place at Stonehenge?
Wrap-up: Explain that we still do not know how the sarsens were moved to Stonehenge; that while archaeology answers many questions, there are still others that remain unanswered.
Have students brainstorm ways in which the sarsens could have been moved to Stonehenge. Their ideas must account for the same limitations faced by the builders of Stonehenge (e.g. no powered vehicles or tools, etc.).
Extra Credit Activity: Provide students with a map of England that already has Stonehenge located on it. Students should locate and mark the other sites mentioned in this article on the map.
"THE MAOI" (pp 16 - 17)
- Identify some of the modern problems facing Stonehenge (e.g. graffiti; damage from vibrations of a nearby highway; large numbers of visitors).
- Discussion: How can archaeologists and preservationists protect Stonehenge? Have students brainstorm ideas how Stonehenge can be protected for future generations. Be sure to identify the pros and cons of these ideas. Ask, 'why is it important to preserve Stonehenge'?
Objective: Students will be familiar with the statues of Easter Island.
Aim: What are the Maoi?
- Post images of the Easter Island statues around the classroom. Read the article together as a class.
- Locate Easter Island on the map.
- Discussion: What was the purpose of the Easter Island statues?
- After reading the article and the discussion have students sketch one of the Easter Island statues. Students should write a brief description to accompany their sketch.
Have students create their own Easter Island statue. Either clay or paper mache can be used for this activity. The statue should represent a person just as the Easter Island statues did. Provide the statue with a nickname. Write a short paragraph about your statue, who it represents; why you chose the nickname you did?
Have the class create their own Easter Island display.
If possible acquire samples of tuff (of soft volcanic rock) that students can experiment with. Have students observe the rocks noting its properties and conduct tests with a variety of tools (e.g. wooden popsicle sticks, a piece of stone, a wooden stick from the park, etc). Students should document their experiments. Students should assess how effective or ineffective each tool was. Based on the properties of the rock have students assess the ease or difficulty of shaping this material with hand tools.
"AN ARMY OF STONES" (pp 18 - 20)
Objective: Students will be able to define the difference between fact and theory.
Aim: What is a theory?
Activity: Based on the article draw your interpretation of what Carnac may have looked like when it was intact.
- Have students read the article quietly to themselves.
- Locate Carnac on the world map.
- On the chalkboard compile a list of some of the theories proposed about Carnac in two columns; 1) who built Carnac, 2) Carnac's purpose.
- Define "theory" and "fact." Then ask students why the items on the list the class made are theories and not facts.
- For each theory ask the following: Is there any evidence to support or discount this theory?
- Have students debate which theory or theories, of all those proposed and listed on the chalkboard, are the most probable.
Homework: In one to two paragraphs explain the difference between fact and theory. Why are the explanations for Carnac in the article theories and not fact?
"THE STONE CIRCLES OF ORKNEY" (pp 24 - 26)
Objective: Students will continue to develop their reading comprehension skills.
Aim: What have archaeologists learned about the Stone Circles of Orkney?
Extra credit: Based on the article draw a floorplan of the room investigated by Beverly Ballin Smith and Gert Petersen.
- Locate Orkney on the world map.
- Have students read the article quietly and then answer the following questions. When students are finished discuss the questions as a class.
- What did archaeologists learn about the Ring o'Brodgar?
- When do the Stone Circles of Orkney date to?
- What does 'neolithic' mean?
- Why was the site investigated by Beverly Ballin Smith and Gert Petersen reburied?
Homework: "The Stones of Stenness . . . were originally a type of monument called a henge." (p.24) How are the Stone Circles at Orkney similar or dissimilar to Stonehenge? In your answer define henge.
"GIANT TOMBS" (pp 27 - 29)
Aim: Does a huge stone tomb in Ireland tell us more about birth that death?
Homework: Answer the following in at least 2 well-thought out paragraphs:
Why do archaeologists believe that Newgrange represents life and rebirth as much as death?
- Locate the Boyne Valley (north of Dublin) on the world map.
- Discuss the Winter Solstice and its importance in early Ireland. The dome of the tomb intentionally catches the rays of the sun during the 5 days of winter solstice. Why might the tomb builders have included this feature? What does their accuracy say about the importance of the winter solstice?
- Hypothetical Discussion: Could other megalithic sites have some relation to the winter or summer solstice?
- Research the Winter Solstice and write a short report on this holiday. Do any present-day holidays resemble traditions first associated with the winter solstice?
- Explore the solstice calendar. Are their comparisons to the Gregorian calendar that we use today?
- Explore the agricultural life cycle by planting seeds. Students should observe, take notes and research the life cycle of plants. Once the seeds they planted have grown into plants have students create an outline defining the life cycle.
Other ideas that can be discussed as an extension of this issue of DIGTM.
- Today winter solstice represents a change of season. Explore the seasons of the year and their importance to early societies.
- Explore how the winter solstice is celebrated in different countries around the world.
END OF UNIT FUN QUIZ
- Why were the Druids attributed with the construction of so many megalith sites? Who were the Druids?
- Megaliths are a popular feature in science fiction stories (e.g. the television show Stargate SG-1). Why do myths continue to crop up around megalith sites despite increasing archaeological evidence as to their true origins, functions, and construction?
- Are there similar structures in the Americas?
- What is the largest megalith site?
- What is the largest megalith?
- How much does the largest megalith weigh?
- Which country has the most megalith sites?