TBH Lesson Plan
Lesson Title: Who's Buried Where - And Why?
Finding Cultural Universals with the Ancient Egyptians and Texas Caddo Indians
Subjects: High School World History and World Geography Studies
Grade level: High School
This lesson illustrates that certain human values and practices do not change over time or with location.
Introduction: Cultural universals are the basic
behaviors practiced by all cultures, regardless of location or era. Studying
cultural universals helps us understand the customs of other societies both
historically and in today's multicultural world. Humans burying and honoring
their dead is one of these cultural universals. In this lesson, students will
discover that burial practices of the Caddo Indians in east Texas around 1000
years ago and those of the ancient Egyptians over 4000 years ago, had a number
of interesting differences and similarities.
Lesson Duration: Two 50 minute class periods or one block period
Objectives: Students will define cultural universals and work with a partner to conduct guided research on burial practices of the Caddo Indians in Texas and the ancient Egyptians. After collecting data on the two cultures, they will use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast burial practices of the two cultures and use their research data to write a comparison/contrast essay.
- Step 1: Write the term cultural universal on the board or overhead and ask students if they can define it (to define this and other words in bold, see Lesson Vocabulary). Guide them to the correct answer and write it on the board. All societies, everywhere, have some form of religion, government, marriage, etc, all of which are cultural universals. Have students brainstorm more examples. Note: See the following website for more on cultural universals:
- Step 2: Point out that one important cultural universal is honoring and burying our dead. Have students brainstorm reasons why human burials are so universally practiced. Why is so much attention paid to dead bodies? Have students give examples of how different cultures treat their dead, e.g., cremation, burial at sea, placement on platform, etc.
- Step 3: Ask students if a society's elite individuals are given more attention when they die than ordinary individuals. Have students brainstorm ways important individuals are honored in death, e.g., state funerals for presidents and royalty, elaborate grave markers such as statues for important people, etc. Explain that they will be examining the burials of important individuals from the Texas Caddo Indian culture and the ancient Egyptian culture.
- Step 4: Display the exterior image of Caddo Indian Burial Mound C in east Texas, followed by the exterior image of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Point out that these specific burial sites were built for important individuals in different areas of the world during very different time periods and there was no way these Texan Indians and ancient Egyptians could have communicated and shared information about burial practices with each other. Yet these burial sites exhibit some of the same characteristics. Display interior images of Caddo Mound C and the Pyramid of Giza. Explain that students will be researching both these burial sites to discover how they are alike, i.e., what makes them cultural universals, and how they are different. They will then write a comparison/contrast essay using their research data.
- Step 5: Have students choose a partner. Distribute one copy of the Caddo Burial Notes Graphic Organizer and one copy of the Egyptian Burial Notes Graphic Organizer to each set of partners. Explain that partners can divide their research, each student filling in one set of notes, or both students working on each set of notes simultaneously. Point out that the Caddo Burial Notes Graphic Organizer offers the following pertinent websites:
- Step 6: Have students begin researching and filling in their graphic organizers. Note: The teacher may use the Burial Notes Answer Keys to help guide students toward appropriate answers. Correct answers will vary slightly, as they will come from different historical sources.
NOTE: Neither the Caddo Indian Burial Mound C in east Texas, nor the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt contained many pottery grave goods, although we know such items have been found in other Caddo and Egyptian burials. Pothunters, also known as grave robbers, often take artifacts from archeological sites without permission.
- Step 7: When students have completed their research notes, display a copy
of the Who's Buried Where - And Why? Venn Diagram on the board
or overhead. Ask volunteers to offer one example of how the Caddo mound
and the Egyptian pyramid are alike. Write that answer on the board and repeat
process for an example of how the two are different.
- Step 8: Give each student a copy of the Who's Buried Where - And Why?
Venn Diagram (one per each student). Have them fill in the examples
of same and different characteristics displayed on the board and then work
with their partner to complete filling out their Venn diagrams, listing
at least four examples of same characteristics and four examples
of different characteristics. Partners should share information and
each partner should have identical information on his/her completed diagram.
Activity - Day 2
- Step 1: Re-display the definition of cultural universal on the board.
Remind students that today they will be writing a comparison/contrast essay using the research data they gathered yesterday.
- Step 2: Have students get with their partner and get out their completed Venn diagrams.
- Step 3: Briefly go over the basics of writing a comparison/contrast essay. Helpful instruction is available at the following website: https://www.sbcc.edu/clrc/files/wl/downloads/WritingaCompareContrastEssay.pdf
- Step 4: Refer again to the definition of cultural universal on the board and instruct students to discuss in their essays how the term is relevant to the burial practices of the Caddo Indians and ancient Egyptians.
- Step 5: Have students write their essays, utilizing the information on their Venn diagrams. Partners may work separately or together on their essays, but each individual student must turn in a separate essay.
- Step 6: Have students print out their completed essays or post them on a document sharing website and turn them in for grading.
- Closure: In today’s world, we meet and interact with people from many different world cultures. Understanding cultural universals helps us identify with other cultures, both regarding their histories and current everyday lives. Investigating rituals and practices surrounding death reveals much about two different groups’ culture, history, and spiritual beliefs.
- Discuss with students how today’s American burial rituals compare to those of the ancient Caddo Indians and Egyptians.
Modification for special learning needs:
- Decrease the number of questions in the graphic organizers to five (5).
- Supply pre-selected websites for Egyptian Pyramid research
Gifted and Talented
- Have students create a PowerPoint presentation on the 10 Cultural Universals, including burial rituals.
Assessment: Comparison/Contrast essay
Writing a Comparison/Contrast Essay
- Exterior Image of Caddo Mound C Burial - Courtesy of Texas Historical Commission
- Exterior Image of Great Pyramid of Giza - Wikipedia Commons
- Interior Image of Caddo Mound C Burial - Painting by Nola Davis, courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
- Interior Image of Great Pyramid of Giza - Wikipedia Commons