Lesson 13: Human Rights in the Ancient World

GRADES: 6-12

LENGTH: 2 class sessions of 80 minutes each

AUTHOR: Adam Leonard, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington NJ

DESCRIPTION:
In this lesson, students will wrestle with the common perception that the ancient world was a period in history that largely ignored human rights. By examining both Hammurabi’s Law Code of 1754 B.C.E. and Rome’s Law of the Twelve Tables of 450 B.C.E., the students will discover that specific opportunities, rights, and positions within society were detailed for men, women, children, slaves, and other groups, along with the limitations that one would expect to find in these documents. By conducting a thorough document analysis, comparing the two law codes, and discussing their findings in a Socratic Seminar, the students will develop conclusions about ancient notions of human rights and the changes (improvements or losses) that occurred over time.

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