I was talking with my friend Geoff via instant chat this morning, and he recommended that I teach my students how to use Excel or some other spreadsheet program. “Kids really need to understand how to work with numbers, and how to understand the bureaucracy underlying a modern government,” he said. We brainstormed a few ways to do that in a history class, and he recommended that I find a block of Egyptian or Mesopotamian economic data — pyramid-builder payrolls or property records from Babylon — and ask my kids to build a database or spreadsheet around that data.
I think it’s a great idea.
My difficulty is, I’m used to working on ancient literature, not ancient data-sets. Does anyone know of some online sources of such information? I’m hoping to find it before March 4, so that I can play with it myself before I assign it in the spring. Preference would be for Egypt or Mesopotamia, followed by Phoenicia or Israel (I suppose I could take some of the number-sets from the Bible… but not my first choice) but I would take China, India, Greece or Rome if that’s what was available.