Students study a map to gain familiarity with the Babylonian and Neo-Babylonian empires and those that came between them.


5 - 8


Anthropology, Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Human Geography, Physical Geography, Social Studies, Ancient Civilizations

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Idea for Use in the Classroom

The Babylonian Empire can be difficult for students to grasp. Both Hammurabi’s empire and the Neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar II adopted the name, and the empires overlap with the area of Sumer, the Hittite Empire, and the Assyrian Empire. Have students use the map to identify the areas covered by each of the five regions shown in the key, while ignoring the Hittite invasions.

Have students practice using the map by inviting volunteers to ask the class questions based on the map information, the answer to which is one of the regions. For example, questions might include:

  • Which empire was confined to the land around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers?
  • Which empire had its capital at Ashur?

Next, have students describe, then compare and contrast, the geographical features of each empire. Highlight the importance of waterways, which would enable irrigation, agriculture, and therefore civilization, by noting the centrality of waterways in each empire. This can lead into a discussion of why so many empires arose in Mesopotamia. Encourage students to speculate about why the map is called Babylon.

Then have students rank the regions by size. Students can compare sizes to duration of existence to see that, on the whole, empires expanded over time. Encourage students to hypothesize about what factors enabled empires to expand.

Finally, have students focus on the Hittite invasions. Have them compare the geographical features of the Hittite region with those of the Mesopotamian empires to deduce what goals the Hittites might have had for seeking territory in the regions they moved into.

Media Credits

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
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Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
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Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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