21 Fascinating Ancient Civilizations Facts for Kids
Start each history lesson with a FASCINATING fact about Ancient Civilizations!
If your child (or you) dreads another boring history study, I dare you to read these surprising and unbelievable true stories of the people of Ancient Mesopotamia! This quick guide was made to use with the
FREE Ancient Civilizations and the Old Testament Curriculum
(or just to read for FUN!).
Bites of information seem to stick in our brain for some reason. Maybe it’s because these little bits of trivia spark our interest and make us hungry for more. That is why I wanted to write this series of posts. Start each lesson with one of these amazing facts and get EXCITED about learning this year!
If you’d like the Printable PDF of this for quick reference without need of your computer, or you’d just like to print for your history binder, you can find that
*The Beginning of Civilization- Week 1:
Day 1- Kid Archaeologist Extraordinaire- Fun Fact !
Did you know that one of the most significant archeological finds in recent years was discovered not by a famous archaeologist, but by a kid ? When a shepherd boy tending his flock near the Dead Sea lost one of his animals, he found something pretty amazing! Later named the Dead Sea Scrolls, this boy’s discovery included over 200 ancient scrolls containing every book (except Esther) from the Old Testament !
Want to know more?
Day 2- Clever Creation Fun Fact !
Have you ever thought about how perfectly the Earth was created for life?
The Earth (while rotating at almost 67,000 miles per hour!) and the sun were created just the right distance apart. They continue this precise and intricate cycle of rotation every single day to heat and cool the Earth.
If the Earth was positioned any closer to the sun, we’d come too near to the sun and all burn up! If it was postponed any further, we’d all freeze!
Day 3- Thanks Sumerians…Maybe – Fun Fact !
You can thank the ancient Sumerians for the first schools! But be glad that teachers today aren’t as strict. The Sumerians believed that in order for a lesson to be completely “learned”, it had to be BEATEN in. Children were frequently punished for making even the smallest mistake ! Maybe it was harder to erase when writing in cuneiform ?!
*The Sumerians & the Babylonians- Week 2:
Day 1- Who Invented the Wheel ?
What comes to mind when you think of the very first people ? Do you think of scientists, inventors, dentists, and architects? Or do you think of “Neanderthals” and grunting cave men ? Did you know that the people of the very first civilizations were some of the most brilliant inventors ? Do you know who invented the first written language? And the first sailboats? And the chariot? And a way to tell time ? And what about the WHEEL? Imagine life without those! You guessed it ! The people of Ancient Mesopotamia !
Day 2- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon Fun Fact !
Have you ever heard of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? They are considered among the7 Wonders of the Ancient World. These “gardens” covered the entire palace of the famous King Nebuchadnezzar. There were fruit trees, beautiful flowers, and even waterfalls! It is thought that the King built them for his wife who missed her beautiful green, mountainous homeland. No one is sure how people so long ago were able to build these gardens or water them! The ruins of the gardens have still not been discovered… anyone studying to become an archaeologist ?
Want to see what some think the gardens looked like ?
You can read more here-
Day 3- A Library of Heavy Books Fun Fact !
Imagine a trip to your favorite library. How many books do you think there are?
Now imagine that all of those books are written on large clay tablets… 30,000 clay tablet books to be exact ! They were part of the amazing Library of King Ashurbanipal, found in northern Iraq, in what used to be the city of Nineveh. (Yep! Same Nineveh that Jonah went to) It took almost 90 years (beginning in 1840) to dig them all out, but it was well worth the wait! There were books about medicine, religion, history, astronomy, daily life, and more! Much of what we know about Ancient Mesopotamia and the Assyrian Empire came from the translation of those books.
Find out what else they found-
The Ancient Chaldeans & Abraham- Week 3:
Day 1- Abraham’s Favorite Board Game ?
Do you like to play board games? What is your favorite game? Do you know who invented it? Can you imagine Abraham (or the oldest historical person you can think of) playing Monopoly? Ok. So maybe not Monopoly, but archaeologists have uncovered many games that show us that people have pretty much always enjoyed challenging each other to table top games! One game that has lasted a very long time is called the Royal Game of Ur (that’s the city Abraham was from). We even know exactly what this game looked like (at least in Ur) when a beautiful and perfectly preserved game board was found in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in 1920 during an excavation. How do we know the rules of play? Read the Week 2, Day 3 Fun Fact !
You can read more and try making this game-
Day 2- Gilgamesh, the Man Behind the Myth
‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ seems like a pretty far out tale of adventure! A sleepy king who is part human and part god, who travels through some pretty fantastical lands, meets some quite unbelievable creatures, and searches for the secret to eternal life. We know that the story isn’t true, but was Gilgamesh a REAL person? Lots of experts think he was. What do you think ?
Did you know that the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ also contains a flood story, with many similarities to the Biblical account? It’s amazing to see how peoples from almost all parts of the known world at the time have their own way of trying to describe the cataclysmic flood event!
Day 3- Ancient Air Conditioning and Flushing Toilets ?
When we think of Ancient Civilizations, we don’t think about such modern improvements as air conditioning and flushing TOILETS ! But, the people of the ancient Indus Valley town of Harappa were pretty far ahead of their time! They had excellent city planning and built all of the houses in their city facing just the right direction so that the wind would blow through the front and out the back door… voila! Ancient air conditioning. Well, pretty close anyway.
AND they had real “flushing” TOILETS! Archaeologists have discovered that most of the homes uncovered in Harappa had a private area with a toilet that connected to a sewer system which carried the waste away from their homes!
Or, If you want to read more about the history of toilets 😀
*Canaan & Israel- Week 4:
Day 1- Bible Guy Fun Fact #1- Hello…My Name is Laughter Loving.
When God promised Abraham that He would make his descendants as many as the stars that filled the sky, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed a bit. She was already really old and they had no children. Of course God always keeps His promises (sense of humor and all)! And so when it finally did happen, that Abraham and Sarah had their precious baby boy, they named him Isaac. Choosing a name for your babies was a very important event back then. So, do you know what the name Isaac means? Laughter loving.
You can read more here-
Day 2- Bible Guy Fun Fact #2- A Midnight Wrestling Match & A New Name
In Day 1, we learned that names were super important to the ancient People of God. Sometimes parents named their children something meaningful like Laughter Loving (Isaac) or Red Hairy (Esau). Sometimes, the names weren’t quite as entertaining. Isaac had 2 twin sons. He named them Jacob (Deceiver) and Esau (that’s the Red Hairy one). Wow. Deceiver. That had to be a tough name to live with. Imagine the introductions… Hi, my name is John, what’s yours? Hi, I’m Deceiver… So anyway, one night Jacob was all alone. A Man appeared out of nowhere. He started to wrestle with Jacob. It was such a fight that the two wrestled all the way through the night. Finally, the Man asked Jacob what his name was.. and of course, he had to reply, “Deceiver”. But the Man Jacob wrestled with was God. He told Jacob, that his name would no longer be Jacob (Deceiver), but Israel, which means God Fights. Israel (Jacob) became the father of a whole nation of People, that we still to this day refer to as Israel.
You can read more and try this fun activity-
Day 3- Bible Guy Fun Fact #3- A Baby Named ‘May God Add To’
Last of the Bible Guy name trivia! Can you guess who this Ancient Mesopotamian person from the Bible is?
He was joyously “added to” a very well known family.
He “added to” a total of 11 brothers and at least 1 sister.
Perhaps this boy “added to” the dislike of his brothers by telling them about a dream he had, and wearing a very regal coat given to him by his father.
Part of his life was very hard, but he “added to” the blessing wherever he went.
Did you guess who it is?
*Life of the Ancients- Week 5:
Day 1- People From Ur Were Never Bored!
The people from Ur sure did love games! We read earlier about one game they played. You may be surprised to know that another game that you have surely played was invented by the people of Ur. Checkers !
Archeologists discovered a variation of this familiar game in an excavation. It was the same game (called Alquerque) played by Egyptian Pharaohs who also really liked to play games !
You can read more below-
Day 2- The First Fish Keepers
Did you know that the Ancient Sumerians were the first people that we know of, that kept animals as pets? And even more surprisingly, they were the first to keep fish in small ponds- as part of their religion and also to enjoy as a hobby! I was amazed to read this!
Learn more about how they did this here-
Day 3- Beeswax, Barley, and Cedar Oil
A toothache is the worst! Today we have many tools and trained dentists to fix our dental problems in a jiffy. But what did the Ancients do when they had a cavity, or a cracked tooth? Surely this happened quite a lot without the benefit of fluoride and regular dental visits (not to mention the lack of toothbrushing)! You may be surprised to know that the even many thousands of years ago, there were some brave folks who had their teeth worked on by fellow Ancients. Some of the remedies included things like “drilling” out problem areas with flint-tipped bits, stuffing cavity holes with beeswax, ground barley mixed with honey, and cedar oil!
*Ancient Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley- Week 6:
Day 1- Oh My! Lions, and Tigers, and Unicorns ?
It is apparent from the art of Ancient Mesopotamia that many wild animals roamed around the region in great numbers. The people of that time seemed quite familiar with animals like lions, elephants, large birds, and hippopotamus. But what about unicorns ? A mysterious script written on square plaques may hold the secret about the existence of the unicorn. What was the one horned animal in the engraving ? We’ll have to wait… no one has been able to decode the language as of yet. What do you think? Maybe you will be the one who can figure out the mystery!
Day 2- Ancient Fashionistas!
We know the Egyptians loved beauty products and makeup, but what about the first Ancients ? Did you know that piles of exquisite jewelry have been discovered in the Indus Valley? These discoveries have told us a lot about the people who lived there, and even have influenced what our modern jewelry looks like !
You can see some pictures of this jewelry here-
And read more about what we can learn from it, here-
Day 3- Barley Mush & Beer
For many years archeologists thought that the people of Ancient Mesopotamia ate mostly a kind of mushy porridge made from barley and beans, and drank a beverage that is much like beer.
For all of their amazing advancements…dentistry, city planning, written language, even TOILETS…this diet doesn’t sound very advanced (or tasty)! However, recently when an archeologist cracked the code on some ancient clay tablets, a list was discovered that included the names of hundreds of types of soups and breads, and even cheeses ! That sounds more like it!!
Want to read more?
*Final Facts- Week 7:
Day 1- Bomb the Ziggurat ?
Did you know there are different types of pyramids? And not all of which are found in Egypt! The Great Ziggurat of Ur is one of the most intact pyramid of it’s type anywhere in the world. It has survived thousands of years of wars and weather. But did you know that it was almost destroyed in the 1980’s? Then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, intentionally parked his war planes beside the Ziggurat in confidence that ally forces would not bomb them and risk damaging the archeological site. His plan was not successful. While the Ziggurat did sustain minor damages, the planes were destroyed.
Day 2- The Giant Pointing Finger (AKA The Code of Hammurabi)
Did you know that the Ancient Mesopotamian code of law, called Hammurabi’s Code, was not written on scrolls, nor on clay tablets, but carved on a huge, solid piece of black stone that fittingly (though most likely not intentionally) looks like a giant pointing finger ?
You can see a picture of it here-
And read more about it here-
Day 3- Dress Like a Mesopotamian
Have you ever wondered where fashion designers get their ideas for new styles of clothing? Sometimes they look to the past for inspiration. And sometimes they look WAY into the past for inspiration! The Ancient Mesopotamians might be flattered to know that many of our styles today were influenced by theirs, THOUSANDS of years ago!
You can read about what Mesopotamian Clothing was like here–
And you can see some examples of modern clothing (2019) that is clearly inspired by the ancient-
I hope you have been EXCITED and INSPIRED by some of the fascinating facts about Ancient Civilizations !
Coming up next…
21 Fantastic Facts From Ancient Egypt