Symbols of Hierarchy: Things of Bling in the Pre-Columbian Americas

byRalph E. Russo

Symbols of Hierarchy: Things of Bling in the Pre-Columbian Americas is an introduction to Pre-Columbian civilizations of Central and South America. Activities in this unit will help high school students examine artifacts that were symbols of status and things of importance from representative societies of South America and Central America. The unit aims also to help students make connections to things of importance in our society today. The unit addresses district, state, and national curricular standards and goals for history and social studies. An essential question is framed to help students connect their study of the Pre-Columbian Americas with characteristics of contemporary society; how can ancient things of importance teach us about the relationship between material goods and social status in both ancient civilizations and in our society today?

The unit is aimed at urban ninth grade world civilizations classes in New Haven Connecticut. Activities include working with multiple texts.

(Developed for World Civilization, grade 9, and U.S. History I, grade 10; recommended for World Civilizations and U.S. History I, grades 9-12)

Comments (1)

    Ralph E. Russo (Wilbur Cross, New Haven, CT)
    Subject taught: United States History, Grade: 10
    Things of Bling in PreColumbian America
    Students and I had fun with this unit. Grade ten students really appropriate status or lack of status to material goods. They particularly enjoyed drawing the "ultimate teen" adorned in all the trappings of material culture. Subsequently, they were much more involved in analysis of Pre-Columbian artifacts.

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