Ancient cities grew up around rivers, for the rivers were the source of life for all the people and animals who lived there. The waters of the Nile were no different. They flooded every year, making the soil rich for growing crops.
In time, a civilization arose by the Nile whose wonders can still be seen today. From the Valley of the Kings to the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, the almighty pharoahs of Egypt left monuments to celebrate their glory for eternity.
You needn't take a boat, an airplane, or even a camel to discover this ancient place. You can discover lots about Egypt on the Web and in the library. Unearth the Nile's secrets with our Ancient Egypt book list to guide you.
Wouldn't it be cool if even a few of the old stories were true? Legends say that giants walked the Earth; Atlantis vanished under the sea; and Greece and Troy fought a devastating war over a beautiful woman. Amazing, but true: all these stories are based on facts.
Archaeologists digging in China discovered the fossils of Gigantopithecus, a giant ape standing 9 or 10 feet tall. These huge but probably gentle apes died off 500,000 years ago. Traditionally, villagers collected their bones and made them into medicines. They called their finds dragon bones. Some have wondered whether pockets of the animals may have survived into later centuries, giving rise to the legend of Big Foot.
The First Emperor
China's first emperor was named Qin Shi Huangdi. He brought together all the warring states and made them his subjects in 221 B. C. Qin is pronounced "Chin" and ever after the country was named China. He took the name Shi Huangdi which means "first emperor." Qin was an unusual man. He standardized writing, bureaucracy, scholarship, law, currency (money), and weights and measures. He built a capital and many roads. He connected the old walls along China's northern frontier to form the Great Wall, to protect his country from invaders. But he was also cruel. He killed and banished many people who disagreed with him and destroyed books from the past.
You know, because you've been told, that the Earth revolves around the Sun. You also probably know that planets other than our own have moons, and the way to test to see whether or not something is true is by experimenting. Thousands of years ago, these things were not widely known. The heavens above were anyone's guess, and the way things were was just the way the gods had made them. It was felt there was no need to truly understand them or put them in any kind of order.
Gather your family together for an hour or two of face-to-face gaming with a twist: you can make the games yourselves to match your family's interests.
In the beginning
Rome grew from a small band of villages in central Italy to the greatest empire of its time. Roman law and sciences spread throughout the Western World, changing forever the ways of the Europeans and North Africans. Romans built coloniae (colonies) on their western frontier by very strict standards, making certain that the people who lived there knew they were a part of the Empire. The ruins of Roman forts and bath houses can be found in England, at the edges of Roman rule, and the parts of the great Roman roads can still be seen today.
Getting lost in a cornfield maze is an October tradition for many families. Aside from tall fields of corn, mazes can be made with stone walls, hedges, mirrors, and more. Finding your way out of the puzzle can be a heck of a good time, and mazes have a lot of history behind them, too.
If you were visiting the ancient Olympics, you wouldn't see:
Women: The women were forbidden to participate in or even observe the games. Any woman discovered there could be thrown off a cliff! The women (young, unmarried ones) competed in a separate series of foot races called the Heraea, named in honor of Hera, the queen of the gods.
Water Sports: Despite miles and miles of beautiful coastline, water sports such as swimming were never a part of the ancient Olympic Games.
Team Games: In ancient Greece, each athlete competed on his own.
No World Records: No measurements were recorded of the length of a jump or javelin throw. Likewise, no times were kept for the running events. Winners' names might be recorded, however.
In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond reviews parts of history in order to theorize how different cultures became civilization's haves and how others became its have-nots. Diamond is a biologist, and here he seeks to explain why Eurasians--rather than Native Americans, Africans, and Native Australians--became successful conquerors. Diamond argues that rather than race and culture, factors such as food production and animal domestication allowed Eurasians to economically dominate the world.
Do you like learning about mummies? Well, Bodies From the Bog, by James M. Deem, tells us about a type of mummy that you have probably never heard of before. One morning in April 1952, Danish workmen digging in a peat bog made an astonishing discovery. Their shovels struck the head of a dead man – his face flattened by the weight of the peat and his skin as brown as the earth in which he lay. Who was he and how had he come to be there?