Homeschooling Online Catalog: 1st Grade History: Ancient World
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Grammar Stage History
for 1st Grade: The Ancient World
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This Page: The Ancient Near East
Many curricula overlook this important aspect of history, but the Ancient Near Eastern civilizations were just as powerful and influential as Egypt, and play the major role in the unfolding of Old Testament history.
The Ancient World for Older Students
If you are beginning classical education or homeschooling with older grammar stage students, or need resources to fill in the facts of history with dialectic and rhetoric stage students, these will do that at a higher reading level.
Ancient World Teachers Resources
The true history of the ancient world is misrepresented in many curricula, and many of us were probably not taught it ourselves. Here are the essential materials to help the homeschool parent correct that lack.
The Ancient Near East
Old Testament History
The remaining history books of the Old Testament are the narrative history spine for the Ancient Near East study. Begin with Exodus Chapter 15, which begins the account of the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, and continue through Numbers, Joshua, and the rest of the Old Testament from the Holy Bible, using Family References as desired, or from a Bible storybook; The Reese Chronological Bible is highly recommended for reading the Old Testament in chronological order.
The history books include: Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, Jonah. Some history may also be found in Leviticus, Isaiah and Jeremiah, interwoven with the law and the prophecies. The Reese Chronological Bible interweaves the law, the prophets, the psalms, and the proverbs with the historical accounts. It is up to each family to decide to whether to include these in with the narrative history reading, or to read just the history for this Ancient Near East study. Either way is acceptable. If you decide to eliminate the reading of the Law and the Prophets from your narrative history, please read a summary of them from a Bible storybook, so children can include them in their proper place in history in the mental maps they are building of Western Civilization. Please also be sure that children become very familiar with the entire Law and Prophets through family Bible reading.
If eliminating the reading of the Law and the Prophets from your narrative history, it is clear which passages to skip over in the Reese Chronological Bible; just read ahead and mark which passages you will be reading and which you will be skipping over or summarizing. At the proper places in the narrative, set the biblical account aside for a day or two, or a week or two, and read the following books to your children. (The proper place is indicated in each books description.) They elaborate on the events described in the biblical account, and provide a much more fuller picture of Near Eastern society and history.
Or, the Problem with Modern Books on Ancient History
On the minor nations encountered by the Israelites in the Old Testament: the Table of Nations found in Genesis chapter 10 is a wonderful guide. Teachers resources which explain, simplify, and verify the accuracy of the Table of Nations include All Through the Ages and After the Flood by Bill Cooper. The Amalekites (Exodus 17) were descended from Esau (Genesis 36:11). The Midianites were descended from Abraham through his second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:2). The Moabites and Ammonites were descended from Lot; the Edomites from Esau. The Kenites (meaning coppersmiths) were intermixed with the Midianites early on and were Canaanite in origin. Zobah was an Aramean kingdom (2 Samuel 8:3); the Arameans and the Syrians were the same people and descendants of Shem, the son of Noah. Sheba (1 Kings 10:1) was an Arabic kingdom where Yemen is today; most Arabs are descended from Shem, though a few of the tribes are descended from Ham.
It has been proposed that the Shishak of Egypt who invaded Judah in the days of King Rehoboam (1 Kings 14) was Pharaoh Rameses II. See the teachers resource Pharaohs and Kings by David Rohl for his compelling case for this and also for the revision of Egyptian chronology; and also the works of Immanuel Velikovsky.
Sumeria (modern Iraq) was the first post-flood civilization, the civilization founded by Nimrod, who introduced paganism as a perversion of the truth taught by Noah, and the civilization which built the Tower of Babel in rebellion against God. The confusion of the languages and the scattering of the people from Babel greatly weakened Sumeria, and it only held political power over the Near East sporadically in the millennium following the Babel dispersion. However, culturally, its influence was great. The ancestors of the nations carried with them paganism from Babel, and in some cases also tower-building (pyramids), as we can see from such diverse cultures as the Egyptians and the Mayans.
The spread of the anti-biblical culture of the Sumerians, and the danger that even Shems godly line, through which the Messiah would one day come, would become polluted with it, prompted the separation of Abram from the Sumerian city of Ur. Things were so bad that Terah, the father of Abram, was an idolater according to Joshua 24:2. Abram founded a new culture which was in reality a continuation of the God-honoring culture of Seth and Noah, charged with keeping the true history of Gods work and words among men; charged with keeping the worship of the one true God alive among each new generation. This was the culture and nation of the Hebrews. All the other nations of the ancient Near East and the world, for that matter, became contaminated with the paganism and rebellion which had its roots in Babel.
The best description of the rise of paganism from Nimrods rebellion at Babel is found in the teachers resources, All Through the Ages and Genesis: Finding Our Roots. In the chapter, The Book of Shem, the most important information is contained in Those Mysterious Sumerians and The Religion of Sumer. It will also be instructive for the teacher to read, in the chapter, The Book of Terah, the section, History in Cuneiform, to see that Sumerian history itself did not record long ages of progress from a hunting-gathering society, but rather an advanced civilization immediately following a great Flood. The Sumerians record 8 (in one place) and 10 (in another place) kings before the Flood. Genesis records 8 patriarchs before the Flood if one counts the generations of Cain, and 10 patriarchs before the Flood if one counts the generations of Seth. This section also exposes the evolutionary bias of many archaeologists who excavate and write about Sumeria.
Information presented in the following book which relates thousands of years for a hunting-gathering society does not conform with Sumerias own recorded history. Dates will also need to be harmonized with biblical chronology. The best tool for this at present is the Time Chart History of the World or All Through the Ages recommended in the teachers resources. From these sources, we learn that Sargon of Akkad ruled Mesopotamia while Jacob was working for Laban in Haran (~1800 BC), and Hammurabi, an Amorite, ruled Babylon toward the end of Josephs long governorship of Egypt (~1650 BC).
This title is part of the History Opens Windows series, which provides an overview of information in short sentences which 1st graders can read on their own. Two-page sections introduce aspects of everyday life and culture, social structure, history, and the fall of Sumerian civilization. Color illustrations and photographs depict domestic scenes, ruins, and period artwork. The text is large and easy to read with short sentences, and the content is easy to understand for young children. 32 pages. (Parents who want to find out more about Sumerian culture and history can read The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill, minding the caveats, and also The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character by Samuel Noah Kramer.)
Introduce this book following Genesis chapter 11 and the first introduction of Abram. Abrams native land, according to the Bible, was Ur of the Chaldeans (Sumeria).
Return to the study of Abraham in Genesis
Canaan & Phoenicia
The Canaanites are the next Near Eastern civilization we encounter as we read through the Old Testament. The origin of the Canaanites is from Ham, the son of Noah; Canaan was the brother of Mizraim, the ancestor of the Egyptians. The other sons of Ham were Cush, who was the father of Nimrod, the founder of Sumerian civilization (Cush was also the ancestor of the Ethiopians, the Nubians of Egyptian history), and Phut, whose descendants settled Libya (Genesis 10).
The sons of Canaan were Sidon the first-born; his city was named after him and was established on the sea-coast of the Levant; it eventually developed into the civilization of the Phoenicians. Heth, Sidons brother, was the ancestor of the Hittites, who became a great civilization in Anatolia (Asia Minor); and the rest were the Canaanites: the Jebusites, the Amorites, etc. The Amorites eventually conquered Sumeria (Hammurabi was an Amorite). The phrase in Genesis 10:18 is interesting: ... and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. With the Hittites in Anatolia, the Amorites over Sumeria, and the rest of the Canaanites living from the Euphrates to the Sea, from Egypt nearly to the Black Sea, indeed they were spread abroad.
Phoenicia was a Canaanite civilization. The Egyptians refer to the Caphtorim in relation to Phoenicia in their records. The Caphtorim are descendants of Mizraim. The descendants of Mizraim originally settled in what became Egypt, but could the spread of the Egyptians have forced the families of the Caphtorim to relocate in nearby Canaan, and together, the Canaanites and the Caphtorim on the sea-coast of the Levant became the Phoenicians? It seems plausible. The same thing could have happened to the Philistim (the Philistines), who were also descendants of Mizraim. (In many childrens history books, the Philistines are identified as the Sea Peoples written of by the Egyptians, a theory which undermines the biblical account. Please see After the Flood by Bill Cooper in the teachers resources for a convincing refutation of this theory. Were the Sea Peoples instead Phoenician? Cypriot? Minoan? Mycenaen?)
Even though this title is out of print, it is by far the best book for children to learn about the Canaanites and the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians are clearly identified as Canaanites on the very first page, and the information on the Canaanites contained herein greatly expands our understanding of the biblical narrative. Some things to look for: on page 20, the text describes figures of winged lions with human heads (sphinxes) that served as guardians, and on page 22, the god El is described as having four wings and two faces. These descriptions are amazingly close to the description of cherubim in the Bible. See Genesis: Finding Our Roots in the teachers resources for a discussion of ancient pagan worship of cherubim (in the chapter, Book of Adam). On page 22 there is also the mention of Astarte, the Phoenician name for Ishtar, the Babylonian Queen of Heaven. (Ashtoreth is the same name in Hebrew.) The Canaanites came from Babel and carried paganism with them. On page 23, the sacrifice of people and children to the Canaanite gods is mentioned, which is also mentioned in the Bible.
Introduce this book following Numbers chapter 13, the sending out of the twelve spies to spy out the land of Canaan.
Out of print. Search AddAll.com or BookFinder.com via an author search using odijk and a title search using phoenicians; see locating out of print books.
The Assyrians are descended from Asshur, the son of Shem. Assyria was north of Sumer at the head of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Nineveh, the Assyrian capital city, was built by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12), the founder of Sumerian society. Asshur was deified after his death, and the Assyrians also worshiped Nimrod as Nimurda, the Assyrian god of war. The Assyrian empire reached its greatest height during the time of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, then Assyrian civilization declined sharply when the Babylonians and Medians combined forces and destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC.
This title introduces the history and culture of the Assyrian empire, influential in the development of Mesopotamian civilization. The book begins with the obligatory chapter describing the prehistoric hunting-gathering society which we already know contradicts the recorded history of the Mesopotamian peoples themselves. The subsequent chapters focus on the rise and ultimate demise of the Assyrians, and cover daily life, customs, social structure, notable rulers and their accomplishments, advances made in law, arts, agriculture, and science, and the decline of the Assyrian empire. The text is smoothly written and easy to understand, utilizing large type and open pages. The frequent use of maps, full-color and black-and-white photographs and illustrations of artifacts and architecture enhance its usefulness.
Introduce this book following the book of Jonah in the chronological reading of the Old Testament. Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II king of Israel (2 Kings 14:25). Amos, who followed Jonah in prophesying in Israel, predicted Israels destruction by the Assyrians (Amos 8). In 721 BC, Shalmaneser V, King of Assyria, besieged Samaria and took it, and deported the ten tribes away (2 Kings 17:5-6).
Since Sargon of Akkad first conquered Sumeria in the days when Jacob was working for Laban for his wives Rachel and Leah, the area where ancient Sumer stood was often controlled by various peoples other than Sumerians. The Sumerians were descended from Nimrod, the Akkadians were of Shem (Semitic), the Amorites, from Canaan, took over at one point, and an Amorite king of Babylon became famous for a law code (Hammurabi). The Assyrians, the Elamites, and the Chaldeans all ruled Sumeria at various times. The people who were known as the Babylonians were mixtures of all these various peoples, who came to live in the region which had been ancient Sumer, but was now known as Babylonia, over the millennia since the Tower of Babel dispersion.
The Babylonian civilization reached it greatest height beginning in 612 BC when the Babylonians joined forces with the Medians and overthrew the yoke of the Assyrians. Then the Babylonians inherited all the land which had been held by the Assyrians, and they ruled from the Nile to the Zagros Mountains beyond the Euphrates. It was the Babylonians who finally carried Judah into captivity beginning in 605 BC (Daniel, as a member of the Israelite nobility, was in the first group of captives to be taken to Babylon), and who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BC.
This title introduces the history and culture of the Babylonian empire, influential in the development of Mesopotamian civilization. The book begins with the obligatory chapter describing the prehistoric hunting-gathering society which we already know contradicts the recorded history of the Mesopotamian peoples themselves. The subsequent chapters focus on the rise and ultimate demise of the Babylonians, and cover daily life, customs, social structure, notable rulers and their accomplishments, advances made in law, arts, agriculture, and science, and the decline of the Babylonian empire. The text is smoothly written and easy to understand, utilizing large type and open pages. The frequent use of maps, full-color and black-and-white photographs and illustrations of artifacts and architecture enhance its usefulness.
Introduce this book following Daniel chapter 1, which tells of the first test of Daniel and his friends in the court of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.
Out of print. Search AddAll.com or BookFinder.com via an author search using landau and a title search using babylonians; see locating out of print books.
Science in Ancient Mesopotamia
As the other books in the Science of the Past series, this book examines the uses and achievements of the ancient Mesopotamians (Sumerians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Babylonians) in science, mathematics, agriculture, and other branches of science, with one chapter devoted per topic. Nicely illustrated, it also contains a list of Internet sites to visit for further study. One caution: the book assumes the truth of evolutionary theory and long ages of man to civilization.
Introduce this book following the conclusion of Babylonians, by looking at the contributions Mesopotamian civilization has made to mankinds knowledge of science and technology.
Persia began as a dual kingdom, the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The Medes were descended from Japheth; the Persians are a bit of mystery. Their own history is silent about their origins. Some Bible scholars make them rise from the Elamites (whose capital was at Susa), but others disagree, saying that the Persians and the Elamites were two separate kingdoms. At first the Persians were under the rule of the Medians as vassals, but Cyrus, the Persian prince, threw off their yoke and became sole king of the two peoples. Cyrus eventually conquered Babylon, and the Persians became sole masters of a great empire. They continued to expand their conquest until they ruled from the Indus River in the east to the Nile in the west, and north to the coast of the Black Sea.
It was the Persian kings who allowed a remnant of Jews to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon to rebuild the Temple and the walls (Ezra and Nehemiah); and it was to a Persian king that Esther was married. It was the Persians whom Alexander the Great finally defeated in 331 BC. The period of history between the testaments take place during the Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great and the four kingdoms into which his empire was divided, which eventually came under the dominion of the Romans.
Esther is the young Jewish girl, born in exile, who became a Persian queen and saved her fellow Jews from annihilation. The tale is told in the form of Esthers diary: we see through her eyes how she came of age in a strange land, recording her hopes, joys, fears and sorrows as she moves from quiet teenager to exalted queen. The lavish illustrations are meticulously researched, and allow us a peek in at the opulent Persian court which we can only imagine from the biblical narrative. The combination of illustration and carefully crafted first-person narration breathe new humanity into this grand and glorious story.
Introduce this book when reading the book of Esther in the Old Testament.
Out of print. Search AddAll.com or BookFinder.com via an author search using wolkstein and a title search using esthers story; see locating out of print books.
Cultural Atlas for Young People: First Civilizations
Erica C.D. Hunter
The Cultural Atlas series is an excellent introduction to the ancient, classical and medieval worlds, illustrated with beautiful National Geographic-quality photographs and large, full-page, full color maps. First Civilizations begins with an illustrated timeline of events; their dates will need to be harmonized with biblical chronology. Part One covers the mostly the imaginary history of the hunting-gathering society; however, the two-page spreads on the Physical Land; Archaeology; Animals; Building, Pottery, and Trade; Cylinder Seals; Writing; Ziggurats; and Religion and Ritual are helpful. Part Two covers Kingdoms and Empires from 2350 BC to the conquest of Alexander the Great. The Akkadians, the Assyrians, the Israelites, the Babylonians, and the Persians are all treated, as well as topics such as Law and Society, Everyday Life, Warfare, and two-page spreads on the Mesopotamian sites of Uruk, Nippur, Ebla, Ur, Kalhu (biblical Caleh), Asshur, Nineveh, and Susa. The dating and chronology is sometimes obscure and hard to follow, but if you stick with Old Testament chronology you will be alright.
Use this book during the entire Ancient Near East study as a supplement for the helpful full-page maps, beautiful photographs of artifacts and historical sites, and when the topics covered are mentioned in the Old Testament or any of the other books used (for example, read the two page spread on the Late Assyrian Empire when Shalmaneser begins threatening Israel with conquest).
Out of Print. Search AddAll.com or BookFinder.com via an author search using hunter and a title search using cultural atlas; see locating out of print books.
Jane Chisholm and Anne Millard
You may use this book if Hunters First Civilizations is impossible to find. This Usborne Illustrated World History book covers ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian (Near Eastern) history until the time of the Roman conquest. The vast majority of the text deals with Egyptian civilization. The only caution is that it takes the evolutionary view of long ages to civilization, and some of the earlier dates will have to be harmonized with the Biblical account. But like all the Usborne books in this series, this one is packed with illustrations and lots of detail, while providing a clear historical outline of the time period under study. This book replaces Anne Millards Warriors and Seafarers, which is now out of print.
Using the Online Catalog
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Locating Out of Print Books
Sometimes books go out of print, or the publisher runs out of stock. Any book not available from Barnes&Noble.com for any reason can be searched using AddAll.com, a book shopping site which will scan Barnes&Noble.com as well as Amazon.com, Powells Books, Book Close Outs and many other new and used book sites. Be sure to also check BookFinder.com for out of print book searches.
If all else fails, and you cannot find a book you need, check it out from the library, or request it from your library through interlibrary loan. Once you have the book home, take it to a copy store and copy it. You can even have color copies done of key maps or photographs. Copy stores can now do nice bindings on your copy projects. The U.S. Copyright Law contains a fair use provision which allows an educator to make a single copy of out of print (not in print) works if needed for use in teaching (not for profit or publication). Then return the book to the library, and you have your own book to keep, usually for less than it would be from a collectors book shop.
Still have questions? Ask me!