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Ancient Civilizations

Using Donna Simmon’s 5th grade curriculum, I built up the lesson according to her model.  The block starts off by visiting Ancient India, and follows the basis of their religious beliefs. I found there was similarities with the Norse mythology and Christian beliefs. Same stories under different names. It’s obvious we are all connected, coming from the same origin.

Ancient India

Brahman breathed his warm living breath over the waters. A beautiful golden egg immersed, brighter then the sun. Time beyond measure passed and finally the egg opened and Brahma was born. Brahma took one half of the egg shell and created the earth, and from the other half he created the dome of the heavens.

Brahma being the creator the supreme being. Placing his intelligence into an egg, and thus forming the dome of the sky and bottom half forming the earth.


When Brahma exhales, he’s awake and the universe exists. When he inhales, the world ceases to exist. His vibration is “A” (ah!)

Vishnu is known as the preserver. He can stride across the universe in three steps. The first is sunrise, the second is high noon and the third is sunset. It is too dangerous to see Vishnu in his brilliance so he appears in ten different forms. World upon worlds are created when Vishnu joins Brahma. To enter a deep state of meditation, Vishnu’s vibration is “U’ (oo).

Shiva is the Destroyer and Re-Creator. He is also known as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance. His dance moves the stars, planets and the elemental forces all in harmonious beauty. When his third eye is open, his focus aids Brahma and Vishnu in the creation and when it is closed he sleeps. Shiva’s vibration is “M” (mmm).

All three gods are the divine Trinity, together their vibration sound is “AUM” (ahoommm). It is the sound of the creation of the universe.

Manu and the Flood

“Long ago, so long ago that the Earth hardly remembers, people lived in a land called Atlantis. The people had learn to use magic and entrance their population. Great harm was done, although their eyes were open, their minds and their hearts were asleep.”

This story is about a man who builds a boat because he is forewarned about an upcoming flood. He leads many people aboard, after several days at sea, he is helped by a large fish who pulls him to the shores of a land later known as India.

This story bears so much resemblance to Noah’s Ark, I wonder if it might be the same legend. It also coincides somewhat to our present day society, eyes are open but minds and hearts are asleep.

Then we moved along to the story of the Mahabarata, an epic story of India, Tristan truly enjoyed it. I did not have time to re-create a scene, or make something for this section. Dying silk in a batik fashion might have been really rewarding.


Then we talked about the Persian Empire. Living in such a vast land with such harsh conditions. There beliefs were quite different compared to the Hindus. They believed in duality, good and evil, the dark versus the light, whereas Ancient India was based in “all is one belief”.

When Ahura Mazda, Master of Wisdom, saw how evil had spread all over the world, he decided that a man would be born in the land of Persia. He would become a great leader. This boy was named Zarathustra, which in the Persian language means Golden Star. Ahriman, the deadly deceiver and his evil helpers were determined to end this boy’s life. They attempted on numerous occasions but failed each time. It seemed he was protected by Ahura Mazda.

Zarathustra’s parents realised that their king Duransarun was listening to Ahriman’s wicked ways, so they decided to flee to keep their boy safe. Arriving in another part of Persia where king Vishtaspa ruled. This king was not evil but knew nothing about Ahura Mazda and he was counseled by evil priests. Zarathustra’s mission was to convince the people to worship Ahura Mazda and to follow and obey the kingdom of light. In time Vishtapa became ruler of a great empire where all the people worshipped the God of Light. Many temples were built and the holy fire was kept burning day and night.

Mesopotamia – Babylon

For our fourth week we visited Mesopotamia and more precisely Babylon. First known story every to be recorded surfaced from Babylon; the epic of Gilgamesh. After reading the story “Gilgamesh the Hero” by Geraldine McCaughrean which came with Donna’s curriculum, we summarized the story together.

Long ago, a powerful king ruled over early civilization. High above the city of Uruk, his palace was set. He was smitten to place his mark on the world, fame was everything to him, nothing did he fear. His name was Gilgamesh.

Longing to prove the gods of his worthiness, accompanied by his best friend Enkidu, he set out to slay the Bull of Heaven. He succeeded but only to find death had took hold of Enkidu’s injuries. Fear of mortality had engulfed Gilgamesh’s heart, so he embarked on a perilous journey to seek the wisdom of immortality.

After such trials, he succumbed to the conclusion that death took hold of all living things and there were no escaping it.

At last, on the day his first son was born he walked through darkness and so glimpse the light; for was he not holding new life in his arms, a true likeness of himself. Immortality hence achieved. He called his son Prince Enkidu.

I used the visual aid of DK’s Mesopotamia (not Waldorf in anyway) to draw real Babylonian artifacts, forms and design. I like this series because of the clear photographs and historical information, I find them to be like a printed museum. The Babylonian’s were the first to use mathematics in their architecture, the arch was develop through the newly acquired geometry, so I thought geometric borders would suit the theme. We haven’t touched upon geometry just yet, i’m curious to see if Tristan will see a connection. I’m always amazed at the sequencing in this curriculum. Just like the Babylonians, my son will be taking his first steps in the complex world of geometry. Here’s a few examples using geometric patterns and a Babylonian carved boulder depicting granted farmland with cuneiform writing at the bottom, inspired by the true stone.

“Hear me, great ones of Uruk, I weep for Enkidu, my friend. Bitterly moaning, I weep for my brother. All the wild tailed creatures that nourished you weep for you. All the paths where we walked together weep for you. The mountain we climbed weeps for you.” The Epic of Gilgamesh

Tristan also tried his hand at cuneiform writing, he rolled out some air drying clay, chiseled a stylus from a hardwood dowel (there’s no reeds in our area) Donna suggested trying with a cattail stem, and wrote what was suggested in “Learning about the world through modeling”. For his mathematic lesson that week, we learned about the unique mathematical forms of Babylonia. I could have spent a lot more time on the subject, it’s too bad the day goes by so quickly.

Ancient Egypt

Our last two weeks were spent on Egypt. Using Tales of Ancient Egypts by Roger Lancelyn Green which Donna Simmon’s had included in the curriculum package, we started the week with the story of Ra, the sun God. I focused most of our week on this story. Tristan copied the poem “Hymn of the Sun” and drew a rather stunning representation of Ra and his name in hieroglyphs.

The beginning of our last week we read the story of Osiris and Isis, and Horus the Avenger. By this time, Tristan no longer had any desire to write so I suggested just a drawing of Horus the third Pharaoh of Egypt, he is known by an eagle. Yet again Tristan rendered a beautiful expression of this great Pharaoh, son of Osiris and Isis. Besides working with these stories, he drew maps of the regions we were learning about, the one just above is my chalk drawing of Egypt for Tris to copy and the one below is a final map to mark the closure of this incredible 6 wk block. We did not get around to writing hieroglyphs on papyrus, i’m hoping to get around soon enough, although we have started a new block of US geography. To tell you honestly, i’ve not been feeling myself lately. I decided to place some of my crafted toys in two local stores, which took much of my energy to achieve and sent our home life out of balance. It’s part of the process I feel, of this journey, and having to balance all other aspects of life as well as creating wholesome lessons can be challenging. When we get around to making that papyrus i’ll post a copy of the photo below. Thank you for visiting us!

What a journey!



4 Responses to Ancient Civilizations

  1. courtney m lyons

    I’m so happy I found your block post. One of my boys is just about to start Gilgamesh in his ancient history block and I see lots of good ideas for that and the upcoming Egypt block. thanks for sharing

  2. Kathryn

    Thank you so much for detailing this block! Your son’s work is lovely! I am planning for grade 5 now and this was very helpful.

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