Ancient History

Rationale/Aims

The Ancient History curriculum enables students to study life in early civilisations based on the analysis and interpretation of physical and written remains. The ancient period, as defined in this curriculum, extends from the development of early human communities to the end of late antiquity AD 650, with a particular focus on the ancient societies of Europe, the Near East and Asia.

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Structure of Ancient History

In Ancient History, students study the key institutions, structures and features of ancient societies and develop a broader and deeper comprehension of the origins, impact and legacy of ideas, beliefs and values of the ancient world.

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Links to Foundation to Year 10

The Ancient History curriculum continues to develop student learning in history through the same strands used in the Foundation to Year 10 history curriculum, although the historical knowledge and understanding strand includes a wider range of concepts and contexts for historical study.

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Representation of General capabilities

The seven general capabilities of Literacy, Numeracy, Information and Communication technology (ICT) capability, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Ethical understanding, and Intercultural understanding are identified where they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning.

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Representation of Cross-curriculum priorities

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures is addressed in this subject through the investigation of sites of significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the preservation and conservation of those sites.

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Achievement standards

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Unit 1: Investigating the Ancient World

Unit 1: Investigating the Ancient World Description

This unit involves an investigation of how the ancient world has been represented. This involves an exploration of the remaining sources and how they have been interpreted. This unit focuses on issues relevant to the investigation of the ancient world and builds on the historical skills developed in the Foundation to Year 10 curriculum to develop an introduction to historiography. Students will study at least TWO issues related to evidence including the authentication, preservation, ownership and/or display of material from the ancient world. Students also study how evidence has been used in interpretations and representations of ONE ancient site, event or change, individual or group through to modern times.

This study provides an opportunity to explore key artifacts, events, legends, personalities and controversies of the ancient world, focusing on an analysis and evaluation of the differing ways in which they have been interpreted and represented from ancient to modern times. Students investigate the past through an examination of issues relevant to the nature of the evidence including the ethical practice, ownership and representation of the ancient world. The key conceptual understandings of this unit include: the reliability and usefulness of sources, custodianship of the past, interpretations and representations.


Unit 1: Investigating the Ancient World Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students:

  • understand the nature of evidence of the ancient past (of a site, event or change, individual or group) and issues relating to the reliability and usefulness of the evidence in interpreting, and constructing representations of that past
  • understand issues related to the ownership, custodianship, preservation and display of material from the ancient past
  • apply key concepts as part of a historical inquiry, including evidence, perspectives, interpretation, and representation
  • use historical skills to investigate different representations of the ancient world, and use a range of evidence to support and communicate a historical explanation or argument.

Unit 1: Investigating the Ancient World Content Descriptions

Historical Skills

All the following skills will be studied during this unit. Relevant skills will be emphasised for each topic.

Chronology, terms and concepts

Identify links between events to understand the nature and significance of causation, change and continuity over time (ACHAH001)

Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding (ACHAH002)

Historical questions and research

Formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues (ACHAH003)

Frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry (ACHAH004)

Identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHAH005)

Identify and practise ethical scholarship when conducting research (ACHAH006)

Analysis and use of sources

Identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources (ACHAH007)

Analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain a historical argument (ACHAH008)

Evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestability of sources to develop informed judgements that support a historical argument (ACHAH009)

Perspectives and interpretations

Analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHAH010)

Evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective (ACHAH011)

Evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions (ACHAH012)

Explanation and communication

Develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments (ACHAH013)

Communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to the purpose and audience (ACHAH014)

Apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently (ACHAH015)

Historical knowledge and understanding

Students investigate the significant issues related to at least TWO of the following topics:

  1. Historical authentication and reliability
  2. Preservation, conservation, and/or reconstruction of ancient sites
  3. Cultural heritage, ownership and the role of museums
  4. Treatment and display of human remains

AND

Students study how at least ONE ancient site, event or change, individual or group, chosen from the following topic electives, has been interpreted and represented:

Ancient site

Events and changes

Individual

Group

Ancient Thera (Santorini)

Masada

The Battle of Kadesh

The destruction of Troy

The ‘Fall’ of the Roman Empire in the West

The Roman Games

Alexander the Great

Cleopatra

Cao Cao

The Celts

The Early Christians

There are opportunities to make connections between the significant issues and the ancient site, events and changes, individual or group studied, for example the historical authentication and reliability of Homer’s Iliad as evidence for the destruction of Troy.

An alternative study of an ancient site, event, individual or group may be up to circa AD 650 from any part of the world, for example Lake Mungo; the Classical Maya; the Etruscans; Hannibal; Ashoka the Great; Boudicca, the assassination of Julius Caesar. Any topic other than the suggested topic electives should be chosen on the basis that the ancient site, events and changes, individual or group has been interpreted and represented in different ways, and has been the subject of some controversy.

Students study at least TWO of the following, which are to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the start of this unit: Historical authentication and reliability

Historical authentication and reliability

How evidence from the ancient world has been lost, destroyed and re-discovered (ACHAH016)

Problems of authenticity, including the identification and origin of ancient artefacts, human remains and documents; and the reliability of ancient writers who did not witness the events they describe (ACHAH017)

Methods of authentication, including scientific and comparative dating techniques for documents and objects and cross-referencing of ancient sources (ACHAH018)

Ancient sources that have been deemed to be fakes or forgeries over time and the difficulties of authentication associated with these sources (ACHAH019)

The motivations of the perpetrators of fakes and forgeries, and the significance of the evidence they were intended to provide about the ancient past (ACHAH020)

Preservation, conservation, and/or reconstruction of ancient sites

The nature of the site/s, and the condition and extent of the remains (ACHAH021)

Issues of conservation and preservation of the site/s, including factors which threaten the integrity or survival of the ancient site (for example environmental factors, war, terrorism, pillaging, poverty) (ACHAH022)

The effectiveness/appropriateness of methods used to preserve, conserve and/or reconstruct the site/s, including relevant national or international charters or conventions (for example, UNESCO) and international efforts to protect ancient sites of world heritage significance (ACHAH023)

The reconstructions of the ancient site/s, for example paintings, historical fiction, film, documentaries, museum displays, and virtual worlds; and use for propaganda. (ACHAH024)

Cultural heritage, ownership and the role of museums

The nature and significance of the cultural property for the society to which it belongs (ACHAH025)

The arguments for and against the return of the cultural property to its original home (ACHAH026)

The nature and impact of looting and the illegal trade of antiquities on cultural heritage (ACHAH027)

The role of museums in acquiring, collecting, and storing artefacts/cultural materials (ACHAH028)

The contributions of museums to our understanding of ancient ways of life and the question of whose past is represented in museum displays and exhibitions (ACHAH029)

Treatment and display of human remains

The condition of the human remains and how they were preserved, discovered and/or removed from where they were found (ACHAH030)

The methods and results of scientific analysis (forensic techniques) and modern preservation of the remains (ACHAH031)

The significance of the human remains for an understanding of the life and times in which they lived, including the social status of individuals, the beliefs and practices of the society, the health of ancient populations, and the nature of the environment (ACHAH032)

The ethical issues relevant to the treatment, display and ownership of the remains, for example the use of invasive methods of scientific analysis (ACHAH033)

Students study at least ONE ancient site, event, individual or group, from the following, which is to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the start of this unit:

Ancient Thera (Santorini)

The geographic and historical context of Ancient Thera, including the location of Thera/Santorini in relation to mainland Greece and Crete, the Bronze-Age Aegean period, the origins of the Theran settlement, the rediscovery of Akrotiri and excavations at the site (ACHAH034)

The nature of the sources most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example Plato's dialogues about Atlantis (Timaeus and Critias c.360 BC), the Akrotiri wall paintings (the Spring Fresco, the Naval Campaign Fresco, The Young Boxers and the Fisherman Fresco), pottery, sculpture and other artefacts, and the site layout and architecture for Thera and Akrotiri (ACHAH035)

The different interpretations and representations of Thera and the eruption (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), including the portrayal of Ancient Thera as the legendary Atlantis, the significance of the site as a trading or religious settlement, the relationship of ancient Thera to the Minoan civilisation on Crete, and the extent of the impact of the Theran eruption on the Minoan civilisation on Crete and on the wider Mediterranean world (ACHAH036)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of Ancient Thera and why these have changed over time, including the legends surrounding the Aegean volcanic island of Thera, the role of scientific research into the date and size of the Theran earthquakes and eruption, the evolving portrayal of Akrotiri’s features and its significance as a result of archaeological excavation and analysis (ACHAH037)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of ancient Thera, including the written and archaeological evidence for the Atlantis legend, the dating of the Theran eruption and the extent of its impact, the interpretation of the Akrotiri wall paintings, the commercial and religious significance of the Theran sites, and the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH038)

Masada

The geographic and historical context of Masada, including its location and physical features, an overview of the Roman control of Judaea and the organisation of the province, the problems between the Jews and the Romans leading to the outbreak of war, the course of the siege of Masada, the role of Jewish rebels, and the Roman occupation of Masada (ACHAH039)

The nature of the sources most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example Josephus Flavius’ The Jewish War, written and archaeological evidence for Roman military tactics and siege warfare, and the excavation work of Yigael Yadin (ACHAH040)

The different interpretations and representations of Masada (from the ancient past to the more recent past, to today) including the notion of the event as a Roman victory, and re-evaluations of Masada as a symbol of Jewish persecution (ACHAH041)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of Masada, including the accuracy of Josephus Flavius’ account in The Jewish War, debates about the meaning of the events at Masada in AD 73-74, the role of archaeology, and the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH043)

The Battle of Kadesh

The geographic and historical context of the Battle of Kadesh in the reign of Rameses II, including the nature of the Egyptian empire, Hittite expansion, the location of the battle on the Orontes river, and the causes and course of the battle (ACHAH044)

The nature of the sources most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example the reliefs of the battle in the Abu Simbel temple, inscriptions including the ‘Poem’ and the ‘Bulletin’, the references to the battle in Hittite texts, the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty inscription; and the significance of the sources in the reconstruction of the battle (ACHAH045)

The different interpretations and representations of the Battle of Kadesh (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), including the portrayal of the battle by Rameses II as a decisive Egyptian victory, and more recent portrayals of the battle as a stalemate (ACHAH046)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of the Battle of Kadesh and why these have changed, for example the importance of the warrior pharaoh ideal in Rameses II’s depiction of events (ACHAH047)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of the Battle of Kadesh, including the role of Rameses II in the battle; and the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH048)

The destruction of Troy

The geographic and historical context of the destruction of the Troy, evidence of different layers of Troy throughout the ancient past, including Anotalian (Troy I-V) Bronze Age (Troy VI and VII), and ancient civilisations linked to Troy: Bronze Age Greece, the Myceneans and Hittite Empire in 13th Century BC, King Hattusili and the Ahhiyawa Kingdom (ACHAH049)

The nature of the sources most relevant to the representations portrayed, for example the Homer’s Iliad; archaeological evidence from Mycenae; Hissarlik/Troy and the foreign office records of the Hittites including the Manapu-Tarhunda letter and Tawagalawa Letter; the discoveries at Troy by Schliemann, Dörpfeld, Blegen; the significance of the sources in the reconstruction of the Trojan War; and the evidence that Wilusa is Troy (ACHAH050)

The differing representations and interpretations of the destruction of Troy (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), including the tradition of the ‘Trojan War’; the role of Paris and Helen in the Trojan War; and that Troy was destroyed by earthquake and fire (Dörpfeld’s reinterpretation of Troy II and VI) (ACHAH051)

The historical context of the representations and interpretations of the destruction of Troy and why these have changed over time, for example maritime archaeology; the importance of the discovery of the Hittite foreign office records at Hattusa; excavations by Dörpfeld, Blegen and Korfmann (ACHAH052)

The reliability and contestable nature of the representations of the destruction of Troy and the historicity of the Trojan War, including the significance of gaps in evidence, source selection, omission and emphasis (ACHAH053)

The ‘Fall’ of the Roman Empire in the West

The geographic and historical context of the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire in the West, including the Battle of Adrianople in AD 378, the Sack of Rome in AD 410 by Alaric and the Visogoths, and the abdication of Romulus Augustus as the last Roman Emperor in the West in AD 476 (ACHAH054)

The nature of the sources most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example the writings of Julian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Orosius, Augustine City of God, and Zosimus (ACHAH055)

The different interpretations and representations of the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire in the West (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), including Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and his view that the Roman Empire fell as a result of barbarian invasions and the promotion of Christianity; and the modern understanding of the “fall” of the Roman Empire in the West as a period of transformation (ACHAH056)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire and why these have changed over time, for example the importance of the Pagan versus Christian interpretations of events at the time and various modern reinterpretations (ACHAH057)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire, including the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence, for example debates about what is meant by the ‘decline and fall’ of the Roman empire (ACHAH058)

The Roman Games

The geographic and historical context of the Roman games, including their origin as funerary commemorations, Etruscan influences, Caesar’s games for Julia, the violent nature of Roman society, types of gladiators (male and female) and their training, the role of amphitheatres as foci within Roman towns, and the significance of the Colosseum and Circus Maximus as venues (ACHAH059)

The nature of the sources most relevant to the interpretations and representations of the games, for example the writings of Juvenal, Cicero and Tacitus; the graffiti from Pompeii; and statuettes and mosaics (ACHAH060)

The different interpretations and representations of the games (from the ancient past to the present), including the cruelty of the gladiatorial games (Seneca and Christians), the political nature of the games as ‘bread and circuses’, the role of blood sports in Roman society, and modern portrayals in novels and films (ACHAH061)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations and why these have changed, for example romantic representations, Christian interpretations, and modern versions of gladiatorial contests (ACHAH062)

The reliability and contestability of interpretations and representations of the games, including the origins of the games (foreign or roman); debates about the political significance of the games and the power and authority of the Emperor, the senatorial class, and the masses; and the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH063)

Alexander the Great

The background to Alexander, including the nature of Macedonian kingship and political institutions; the expansion of Macedon under Philip II and the emergence of Macedon as a Mediterranean power; and Alexander’s education, early experiences and accession to the throne (ACHAH064)

The nature of the sources most relevant to the interpretations and representations of Alexander, for example: the writings of Plutarch, Arrian, and Curtius Rufus (including their own sources); Macedonian and Hellenistic representations (for example coins and statues); and Roman (literary and portraiture), Medieval (including art) and modern representations (including film and the work of modern historians for example Robin Lane Fax and Brian Bosworth) (ACHAH065)

The different interpretations and representations of Alexander (from the ancient past to the present), including Alexander as ‘the great general’, the philhellene, the founder of cities; and representations of his character and personality (for example Alexander’s official portraiture), Alexander as god (Siwah), his relationships with his generals and troops (the murder of Cleitos), and his relations with Persia (the burning of Persepolis and the marriages at Susa) (ACHAH066)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations and why these have changed over time, including romantic representations, the model of generalship, and changing ideas about violence and imperialism (ACHAH067)

The reliability and contestability of interpretations and representations of Alexander in ancient and modern written sources, images and film, including the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH068)

Cleopatra

The background to Cleopatra, including the kingdoms of the Hellenistic world, the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt and the role of Ptolemaic women, the significance of Egypt within the Mediterranean world at the time, Egypt’s relationship with Rome, the significance of Egypt in Rome’s civil wars, and how Cleopatra rose to power (ACHAH069)

The nature of the sources most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example Plutarch, Horace, Shakespeare, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, portraiture from different periods, and representations in film (ACHAH070)

The different interpretations and representations of Cleopatra (from the ancient past to the present), including how Cleopatra represented herself in monuments and inscriptions; her portrayals as the enemy of Rome, a femme fatale, the saviour of Egypt, and a victim; and modern feminist representations (ACHAH071)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of Cleopatra and why these have changed, for example her Macedonian ancestry and her depiction using traditional Egyptian artistic conventions (ACHAH072)

The reliability and contestability of interpretations and representations of Cleopatra, including the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH073)

Cao Cao

The background to Cao Cao, including an overview of Later Han dynasty society and the imperial bureaucracy, and the rise of Cao Cao (AD 155-220) as founder of the Wei kingdom (ACHAH074)

The nature of the sources most relevant to the interpretations and representations of Cao Cao, including his poems and autobiography (AD 211) (ACHAH075)

The different interpretations and representations of Cao Cao and how these have changed (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), including his portrayals as a usurper, a brilliant but flawed tyrant, a military leader and hero, and as the ‘man from the margins’ (Rafe de Crespigny) (ACHAH076)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of Cao Cao, including the interpretations of his rise to power at the imperial court, the Chinese tradition of the heroes of the Three Kingdoms, the Battle of Red Cliff (AD 208) and the Battle of Guandu (AD 200) (ACHAH077)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of Cao Cao, including Cao Cao as a ‘tyrant’ versus a ‘good administrator’; the accuracy of the portrayal of Cao Cao as a villain in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms; issues of political slander and propaganda, and the influence of contemporary circumstances on reassessments of Cao Cao; and the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH078)

The Celts

The geographical and historical context of the Celts, including main Celtic groups and cultures – Urnfield (1200-600BC), Hallstatt (700 – 500BC) and La Tène (500BC – AD100); social structure; cultural practices; Celtic art; technology; religious beliefs and Druidism; death and burial; interaction with other civilizations; conquest by the Romans; significant individuals for example Vercingetorix, Boudicca (ACHAH079)

The nature of the sources and sites, including Vix and Hochdorf Burial; relevant excepts from Caesar’s Gallic War VII, Dio Cassius Roman History Books 40 &43 (Vercingetorix) and Book 62 (Boudicca), Tacitus The Annals Books 14 (Boudicca), Asterix series, statues and other artistic representations of Boudicca and Vercingetorix (ACHAH080)

The different interpretations and representations of the Celts (from the ancient past, to the most recent past, to today) including depiction as barbarians and/or rebels by Roman sources, freedom fighters in British and Gallic tradition, propaganda by Napoleon (ACHAH081)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of the Celts and why these have changed over time, for example Ancient Roman interpretations, modern imperialist and nationalistic propaganda, Celtic cultural legacy (art, music, language and beliefs) (ACHAH082)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of the Celts, including the significance of source selection, omission, bias and gaps in evidence (ACHAH083)

The Early Christians

The geographic and historical context of the Early Christians, including an overview of the life of Christ and the crucifixion; the Jewish and Hebrew tradition, key aspects of Graeco-Roman religion; the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire; the Roman response including riots during Claudius’ reign, Nero and the Great Fire, the persecution of Christians by Marcus Aurelius, Decius, Galerius, and Diocletian; and the Edict of Milan (ACHAH084)

The nature of the sources and sites most relevant to these interpretations and representations, for example relevant excerpts from the Gospels, St Paul’s Letters, The Acts of the Apostles, Josephus, the Martyr Acts, the Catacombs, Eusebius, Antioch and Alexandria and the significance of the sources in the reconstruction of the lives of the Early Christians (ACHAH085)

The different interpretations and representations of the Early Christians (from the ancient past, to the more recent past, to today), as revealed in St Paul’s Letters, anti-Christian graffiti, Suetonius’ Life of Claudius, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Renaissance art, and films for example Ben Hur (ACHAH086)

The historical context of the interpretations and representations of the Early Christians and why these have changed over time, for example the importance of Constantine’s ‘adoption’ and legalisation of Christianity (ACHAH087)

The reliability and contestability of the interpretations and representations of the Early Christians and their treatment in the Roman Empire to AD337, including the significance of source selection, omission, emphasis and gaps in evidence (ACHAH088)