Advent of Agriculture in Mesopotamia!  Discover the past through authentic evidence from ancient archaeological sites.  Trace the shift from hunting and gathering to the development of agriculture in the ancient world.  Examine two real archaeological sites on the upper Euphrates River and uncover the changes in diet as people shifted from foraging to farming. Students will think like archaeologists as they apply the tools of scientific inquiry (observation, inference, evidence, context, stratigraphy, and chronology) to the investigation of nutrition. Surprisingly, the advent of agriculture decreased food diversity with significant consequences for human health even today.  Explore contemporary nutrition through student collected data and design a healthy eating plan for the school based on information drawn from the study of the past!

Subjects: social studies (world history, ancient civilizations), science, health enhancement (nutrition), language arts. This is 6th Grade Level, but easily adaptable to elementary and high school.



"I loved learning different ways to engage my students. I really think they will understand archaeology and where our information comes from when not from written language." – Teacher, Chicago

"The level of complexity is accessible to this age level (6th grade). The lesson is set up that the students discover the information for themselves. It is effective." - Eric Barker, teacher aide, 6th grade, Montana

"The more variety, the more nutrients because each food has different nutrients you need." - 6th grade student

When asked; why can’t the world go back to being hunters and gatherers, a 6th grade student responded: "The world could not sustain the population we have."


Enduring Understandings

This curriculum unit teaches enduring understandings specific to the theme of food, subsistence, and culture:

  1. Nutritional food is a basic human need.
  2. Cultures change when there is a shift in food production or consumption.
  3. Using the tools of scientific inquiry, archaeologists study what people ate and how they got their food.
  4. Subsistence practices and human nutrition have changed over time.
  5. The loss of archaeological sites reduces our ability to learn about the past and plan for the future.
  6. Understanding consequences of subsistence practices helps us understand the present and plan for our future.

Common Core State Standards

Project Archaeology: Investigating Nutrition provides many opportunities for students to practice English Language Learning per the Common Core State Standards with social studies and science content. Click here for alignments. Inherently interdisciplinary, archaeology allows students to seamlessly integrate knowledge across subjects: social studies, science, art, and literacy. The lessons engage students in discussion, collaborative work, and learning using domain specific words in context. Students read non-fiction texts for content, perspective, and key ideas and employ the graphics provided to enhance their understanding of the text. Lesson Six is a research project employing authentic archaeological data from two archaeological sites on the upper Euphrates River; data includes artifacts, animal remains, site maps, and stratigraphic cross sections. Students are required to write routinely throughout the unit, to report their findings both orally and in writing, and to use their knowledge to develop new products to communicate their understanding of archaeology and nutrition to the class and to the larger world. The entire curriculum guide teaches a deep cultural understanding for past cultures and gives students some of the basic skills and knowledge for a career in archaeology or a related field.