Early Centres of Power

LESSON 1 : How did prehistoric peoples interact in Asia?

Subject History / Social Studies
Topic How did prehistoric peoples interact in Asia?
Key idea During prehistoric times, cultures in Southeast Asia developed in very similar ways. Archeology and the study of grave goods help understand what was important for people.
Key concepts Prehistory
Grave goods
Level Lower secondary
No. of periods / lessons 1 period (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)
Facilities needed Sources and handouts for distribution
Prerequisite Knowledge No prerequisite knowledge is required.

Learning objectives:
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness about prehistoric
    grave goods and what they signify about
    their communities.
  2. Identify how communities were not
    isolated, and how Southeast Asian cultures
    interacted in prehistory through exchange,
    in order to meet their needs – and how we
    do this today.
  1. Practice analysing photos showing
    archaeological sites, like graves with
    valuable materials.
  2. Use maps to re-imagine prehistoric trade
  1. Develop empathy for people in history by
    comparing their own valued possessions
    and their cultural rituals surrounding death
    to those of ancient people.
  2. Appreciate the interdependence of cultures throughout Asia


Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and activities suggested below.

1. Pre-teach

Before this lesson, the teacher asks students to bring in their most prized possession – something valuable and important to them (e.g. an item of clothing, or jewelry).

2. Hook activity: Bring in your prized possessions

In pair, students explain to each other why the possession they brought is important to them, and what it means to them. Some students present to the class.

3. Teacher talk

The lecture introduces how, by studying items found in graves and the resources to make them, archaeologists can understand how people moved around and met.

4. Group work: Analysis of burial sites

In pairs or small groups, students  look at images of burial sites, identify what things are buried with the person, and discuss why they think these things were buried with this person.

5. Group work: Mapping activity

Students analyse a map with communities and resources and discuss how communities can get additional resources.

6. Reflection on mapping

Students discuss and compare exchanges of goods in prehistoric times and nowadays.

7. Looking at a map of Southeast Asia

Students look at a map of Southeast Asia, identify resources and discuss how  communities could acquire these resources.