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Wonders Of The WorldWonders-Of-The-World

  • Subject: Ancient Civilizations
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Throughout the ages, humans in all cultures created works of art that may be considered wonders of the world.
2. Observers of art generate criteria by which to judge individual works.


For this lesson, you will need:
Access to art historical and historical reference materials
Photocopy machine
Materials that students can use to mount and label visuals to accompany their oral presentations


1. The term Seven Wonders of the World denotes works regarded by ancient Greeks and Romans as the most remarkable structures up to their day. Conduct a project in which students will evaluate which works of sculpture, architecture, and landscaping that postdate ancient Greece and Rome merit the label wonder of the world. Begin by working with students to figure out what starting date they should select to indicate "the period after ancient Greece and Rome" ?probably around A.D. 476, when Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed. Be open, however, to other dates suggested by students for the fall of the Roman Empire if they can offer persuasive facts and logical thinking.
2. Proceed by drawing up a list with students of the criteria that ancient Greeks and Romans seemed to use in putting a work on the list of the original seven wonders of the world: (1) The Pyramids at Giza, (2) The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (3) the Statue of Zeus by Phidias, (4) the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, (5) The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, (6) The Colossus of Rhodes, and (7) the Pharos of Alexandria. If students are blocked, initiate the list by suggesting monumentality or complexity of construction.
3. Tell students they will research major works of sculpture, architecture, and landscaping from the period that begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and continues up to, say, 1950. Consider assigning groups of students to specific historic periods or regions of the world so that the class as a whole conducts research in a comprehensive manner. Such periods and regions might include the following:
  • Byzantine Empire (A.D. 500—1453)
  • Western Europe during the Middle Ages
  • Western Europe from the Renaissance forward
  • Mayan civilization from the ninth century forward
  • Aztec Empire
  • Inca Empire
  • Russia prior to the Revolution of 1917
  • China from the sixth century forward
  • Early black African kingdoms such as Dahomey, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, and Nigeria
  • India from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century
  • North America from A.D. 500 forward
4. Direct students to printed books, electronic sources, and other materials (such as travelogues) in which they can read about and see photographs, drawings, or paintings of buildings, monuments, or landscaping of a period or region.
5. Ask each group, based on its research into a period or region of the world, to nominate a certain number of works of architecture, sculpture, or landscaping as candidates for the label wonder of the world . You may want each group to hand in a list of reviewed sources and give the class an oral presentation with visuals of each work they nominate. In that report, each group should also state which criteria of greatness beyond those already on the list (see second step, above) led them to nominate these works. Keep a running tally of all criteria. (Some criteria might be endurance for more than five hundred years, usefulness, beauty, originality, religious significance, and so forth.)
6. When all groups have made their presentations and you have (a) a list of nominations and (b) a list of criteria for nomination, involve the class in devising a simple way for judging the nominees against one another and for determining which qualify as a wonder. One approach is to create a matrix with the horizontal axis labeled criteria and the vertical axis candidates . Then ask the class to decide on a scoring system—that is, how many of the criteria does a work have to exhibit in order to qualify as a wonder? Fill in the matrix's axes. Give each work a check mark for each criterion it exhibits. How many additional wonders of the world has the class has come up with?

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Adaptations for Older Students:
Use more specific art-historical terminology in working with older students—for example, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Romanticism.

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Discussion Questions

1. What are the qualities of an object that is considered a "wonder of the world"?
2. Which of the seven wonders shown in the program would you choose to visit? Why?
3. What important prerequisites would a society need in order to create a wonder?

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You can evaluate your students on their group's work using the three-point rubric:
  • Three points: Many sources consulted; very well organized and very well delivered oral presentation; well-displayed visuals
  • Two points: Minimum number of sources consulted; moderately well organized and moderately well delivered oral presentation; acceptable display of visuals
  • One point: Insufficient number of sources consulted; poorly organized and delivered oral presentation; poorly displayed visuals
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining how many reference sources should be consulted and what constitutes a well-organized and well-delivered oral presentation.

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What Makes a "Wonder" a Wonder?
The seven ancient wonders of the world were, geographically speaking, relatively close to one another. That is, they all were found in Asia Minor, the eastern Mediterranean, and Egypt. Make a list of qualities that these seven wonders shared. Then consider other areas of the world with developed cultures before A.D. 500. Did these societies construct any buildings, statues, or other structures that share some of the qualities of the famous seven or exhibit other qualities that would rank them as significant as the famous seven?

Money, Money, Money
Follow up on the information given in the documentary about the advent of money and its contribution to the development of humankind: During the period of the seven ancient wonders, pure gold was successfully isolated and minted into money.

Have students keep a journal containing all of the events in their daily lives in which money is exchanged for goods and services. (You may want to designate that students keep the journal for a certain number of days or for a minimum number of transactions.) Next, ask students to imagine that they are living in a barter society. How would their transactions be different in a barter society? What would they barter—that is, use as alternatives to money?

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Suggested Readings

"Oxford First Ancient History"
Roy Burrell, with illustrations by Peter Connolly, Oxford University Press, 1994

"The Seven Wonders of the World: A History of the Modern Imagination"
John and Elizabeth Romer, Henry Holt, 1995

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The Ancient City of Athens
"The Ancient City of Athens" was created by a professor of Greek art and archaeology at Indiana University. The flavor of the time is expertly captured through the by-play of the images and text. The creator of the link makes recommendations of print sources and even displays a link entitled "Cool Things My Students Have Done," which can certainly be used as a springboard for other student activities.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
This is an intriguing site, with images and information on all the wonders. One example is a map of the ancient world where the locations of all the wonders can be seen at a glance. Other links that can be found here are "forgotten" as well as "modern" wonders. The Great Wall of China is here, as is Machu Pichu. Did you know the Statue of Liberty is included as a modern wonder?

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    catacomb
Definition: A subterranean cemetery of galleries and recessed tombs.
Context: In an ancient catacomb close by Saint Peter's tomb, a gold mosaic shows us Christ as Helios rising in his chariot.

speaker    Hellenistic
Definition: Anything related to Greek culture, art, and history after the reign of Alexander the Great.
Context: He (Helios) came to power really in the great cities of the east in the Hellenistic cities like Pergamer and Rhodes.

speaker    mausoleum
Definition: A large, stately tomb, usually above the ground, and constructed of stone.
Context: The world's first mausoleum.

speaker    translucent
Definition: The quality of admitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be clearly seen.
Context: They (the stones) are warm and translucent, like human skin.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: world history
Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia from 600 to 200 BCE.
Understands major scientific and artistic achievements of Hellenistic society and knows the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: world history
Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia from 600 to 200 BCE.
Understands the impact and achievements of the Hellenistic period.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: world history
Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia from 600 to 200 BCE.
Understands how conquest influenced cultural life during the Hellenistic era.

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Summer Productions, Inc.

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