Ancient Civilizations (EHMS ELA 7 Kinney)

Angkor_Thom_Porta_Sud_interior.jpg
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In Lois Lowry's The Giver, the elders follow a set of practices, rules and norms to keep the society strong to avoid collapse. Throughout history many civilizations, or societies, have collapsed for various reasons. Dr. Jared Diamond, a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, studies and teaches about collapse of societies. Dr. Diamond is an expert in his field. He has written two books, Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail. He is a Pulitzer Prize Winner. Dr. Diamond identifies five reasons why civilizations fall. The collapse of some civilizations will include one or more of these reasons. Here are factors that may lead to collapse of a society:
  • Human Impact on the Environment (or environmental damage caused by humans)
    • Examples of environmental damage impact: soil erosion, deforestation, over-hunting or fishing which may lead to decline in production of food for the society
  • Climate Change
    • Examples of climate change impact: climate becomes colder or drier which may lead to a depletion of resources for food or a change in living conditions
  • Hostile Neighbors
    • Examples of hostile neighbors impact: war or resources spent protecting borders which may lead to resources such as food or labor being taken away from society
  • Friendly Neighbors (Trade)
    • Examples of friendly neighbors (trade) impact: should a neighboring community with which a society trades for resources necessary for survival collapse, then the society would be effected as well and could collapse as well
  • Cultural Response (Dysfunctional political and cultural practices)
    • Examples of the impact of poorly functioning political and cultural practices: the society fails to recognize problems that will lead to the downfall of their society or the society recognizes the problems but fails to act to solve the problem.


You will research an ancient civilization that no longer exists. At one point in its history, your civilization thrived. Explore your civilization's history and culture. Discover when and where it existed, and how we know it existed. What have archaeologists, historians and scholars learned about your civilization? Develop a working background knowledge about this society.

Ancient Civilizations (List of Ancient Civilizations to research)


Locating Information:

Use WebPath Express from the Library Catalog. (Once in the library catalog, find WebPath Express in the left-hand menu). Conduct searches using key words about your topic.

Use our databases: Grolier, EBSCOHost and Culture Grams on the Library Webpage. (u/n: mthsmustangs pwd:ehmscolts) Conduct searches using key words about your topic.

Internet: Find sites by experts. Evaluate any webpage before you begin gathering information (cutting and pasting, note-taking) by these guidelines. If you are unsure of the quality of the website, ask a teacher librarian.

Organizing Information:

Use NoodleTools on the Library Webpage to help you keep track of your sources and keep notes. If you do not have a Noodle Tools account set up, ask your teacher librarian to assist you.

Use your Google Drive account to record information.


After you have developed background knowledge about your ancient civilization, determine the reasons for the collapse of this society. Compare your discoveries with Dr. Diamond's Five Reasons for Collapse listed above. What judgments can you make about this society that you can support with evidence from your research? Is there anything this civilization could have done differently to insure its survival?

Thinking back to The Giver, what particular solutions (rules or changes) did Jonas's community have in place to avoid what led to the downfall of the ancient civilization you researched? Decide which of these solutions would have been the most beneficial to the society you researched in helping it avoid collapse.