Ancient History


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Achievement standards


Unit 2: Ancient Societies

Unit 2: Ancient Societies Description

This unit involves an investigation of how people lived in the ancient world through an examination of the evidence of the social, political and economic institutions and structures of TWO societies. Students will also study ONE significant feature of society and how it relates to the institutions and structures studied. The significant feature may be the same for the two societies and teachers may choose to conduct a comparative study of this significant feature across the two societies.

Students are required to make connections between the social, economic and political elements of the society and the specific feature they study. In this unit there is a focus on analytical skills, which require identification and evaluation of a variety of ancient and modern sources for the society. The key conceptual understandings of this unit include: reliability and usefulness of sources, significance, perspectives and interpretations.

Unit 2: Ancient Societies Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students

  • understand the political, social, economic and other significant features of ancient societies and the relationship between them
  • understand that interpretations of the past change over time and are dependent on the perspective and context of the source
  • apply key concepts as part of a historical inquiry including evidence, reliability and usefulness of sources, significance, perspectives and interpretations
  • use historical skills to investigate the key features of ancient societies; and use a range of evidence to support and communicate a historical explanation or argument.

Unit 2: Ancient Societies 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 (ACHAH089)

Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding (ACHAH090)

Historical questions and research

Formulate, test and modify propositions to investigate historical issues (ACHAH091)

Frame questions to guide inquiry and develop a coherent research plan for inquiry (ACHAH092)

Identify, locate and organise relevant information from a range of primary and secondary sources (ACHAH093)

Identify and practise ethical scholarship when conducting research (ACHAH094)

Analysis and use of sources

Identify the origin, purpose and context of historical sources (ACHAH095)

Analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence from different types of sources to develop and sustain an historical argument (ACHAH096)

Evaluate the reliability, usefulness and contestability of sources to develop informed judgements that support a historical argument (ACHAH097)

Perspectives and interpretations

Analyse and account for the different perspectives of individuals and groups in the past (ACHAH098)

Evaluate critically different historical interpretations of the past, how they evolved, and how they are shaped by the historian’s perspective (ACHAH099)

Evaluate contested views about the past to understand the provisional nature of historical knowledge and to arrive at reasoned and supported conclusions (ACHAH100)

Explanation and communication

Develop texts that integrate appropriate evidence from a range of sources to explain the past and to support and refute arguments (ACHAH101)

Communicate historical understanding by selecting and using text forms appropriate to purpose and audience (ACHAH102)

Apply appropriate referencing techniques accurately and consistently (ACHAH103)

Historical knowledge and understanding

Students study TWO of the following topic electives, which are to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the end of this unit.

  1. Old Kingdom Egypt, 3rd to 6th Dynasties
  2. Egypt in the Ramesside Period, 19th and 20th Dynasties
  3. Bronze Age Greece: Minoans or Mycenaeans, 2000 – 1100 BC
  4. Sparta, c. 700 – 371 BC
  5. Persia, 559 – 330 BC
  6. Rome, 753 – 264 BC
  7. Rome, 264 – 133 BC
  8. Ptolemaic Egypt, 331 BC – AD 31
  9. China in the Qin and Han Dynasties, 221 BC – AD 220
  10. Israel and Judah, 961 – 586 BC
  11. Assyria, 721 – 612 BC
  12. India in the Mauryan Dynasty, 321 – 185 BC

For the chosen society, students investigate the chronological and geographical context, social structure, political institutions, economic activities; and ONE of the following features as appropriate for the society selected:

  • Slavery
  • Art and architecture
  • Weapons and warfare
  • Technology and engineering
  • The family
  • Beliefs, rituals and funerary practices

For each chosen society, students investigate the nature of the ancient society at the start of the period, including:

The chronological and geographical context

A broad chronological overview, from the origins of the society to the period that is the focus for investigation (ACHAH104)

The geographic location, including the nature of the environment and its influence on the society (ACHAH105)

Social structure

The main social hierarchies for example elites, workers, slaves, ethnic groups and foreigners (where applicable) (ACHAH106)

The role and status of, and attitudes towards, women (ACHAH107)

The role of, and attitude towards, children and education (ACHAH108)

Political institutions

The key features of political organisation for example monarchy, kingship, tyranny, republic, democracy (ACHAH109)

The role and function of key political institutions and political positions (ACHAH110)

The key legal structures (ACHAH111)

Economic activities

The nature and importance of economic activity for example agriculture, commerce, industry, trade and building programs (ACHAH112)

The organisation of free and indentured labour (ACHAH113)

Economic exchange for example tribute, taxation and coinage (ACHAH114)

In addition, for each chosen society, students study ONE of the following features as appropriate, which is to be taught with the requisite historical skills described at the start of this unit:


The forms of slavery and its significance, including:

the nature of the sources for slavery and evidence for the origins of slavery (ACHAH115)

composition of slave groups, occupations (of men, women and children) and treatment (ACHAH116)

the economic importance of slavery (ACHAH117)

attitudes to slavery, the status of slaves and their relationship with masters (ACHAH118)

the extent of slavery and significant events in the history of slavery , for example revolts (ACHAH119)

Art and architecture

The nature and significance of art and architecture, including:

the nature of the sources for art and architecture (ACHAH120)

themes and styles of art (ACHAH121)

the main features, materials, purpose and function of various forms of architecture (ACHAH122)

the role and significance of art and architecture, public and private (ACHAH123)

evidence for the spread of particular forms of art and architecture in the ancient world through trade, the movement of peoples, and conquest. (ACHAH124)

Weapons and warfare

The development of weaponry and methods of warfare, including:

the nature of the sources for weapons and warfare, and early evidence for military encounters in the ancient world (ACHAH125)

the composition and role of armies and navies and changes in forms of weapons and military tactics (ACHAH126)

the life of soldiers, their training and the conditions of service (ACHAH127)

the significance of the military (ACHAH128)

the political, economic and social impact of warfare and conquest. (ACHAH129)

Technology and engineering

The innovations in technology and engineering and their influence on daily life, including:

the nature of the sources for technology and engineering (ACHAH130)

technological feats in construction materials and methods related to buildings, structures and statues (ACHAH131)

forms of technology and their impact on the household and economic life (metallurgy, pottery, surgical tools, transport, water supply and sanitation)  (ACHAH132)

the use of technology in ancient times to access resources and control the environment (ACHAH133)

the impact of technological innovations on social, economic and political development and their legacy. (ACHAH134)

The family

The role and characteristics of the family, including:

the nature of the sources for the family, and early depictions of the family (men, women and children) in the historical record  (ACHAH135)

beliefs and practices that influenced family life, including: the purpose of marriage and/or betrothal, marriage rituals, divorce, concubines, infanticide, gender, leisure activities (ACHAH136)

different concepts of the family, family structures and family ties, and the roles and relationships within the family, including the role and status of women (ACHAH137)

concepts of childhood and childhood experiences, including: education, rites of passage, age of maturity (ACHAH138)

the significance of the family in social and political life.  (ACHAH139)

Beliefs, rituals and funerary practices

The different beliefs, rituals and funerary practices, including:

the nature of the sources for beliefs, rituals and funerary practices  (ACHAH140)

the dominant beliefs and rituals (ACHAH141)

the influence and significance of beliefs and rituals (ACHAH142)

attitudes to and beliefs about death, and the concept of an afterlife (ACHAH143)

funerary practices (burial sites, forms of burial, ceremonies) and their relationship to religious beliefs and social status. (ACHAH144)