Map Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean


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Lesson 1.3: An Enclosed Sea Connected to Many Places (Geographic Journaling for Mediterranean History)


Lesson 1.3: An Enclosed Sea Connected to Many Places (Geographic Journaling for Mediterranean History)


Topic 2: Where Is the Mediterranean?


This lesson provides the materials for creating an annotated classroom map of the Mediterranean and surrounding regions that is added to with study of OSPM Modules 1-6, which helps students become familiar with bodies of water and landforms and their relationships and record their historical learning from each module in a geographic context. NOTE: This set of lessons (on winds, currents, trade routes, etc.) can be divided among groups of students who then teach the material to the class.


Susan Douglass


Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators


Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University




2014, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, published under Creative Commons – Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 License


1-2 class periods for initial map, 1 period each for additions to map for other modules (alternatively, maps may be assigned as a journaling project throughout the world history course)


• Students will identify features and sub regions of the sea, islands, adjoining bodies of water, features on land and inland to describe and infer their effects on human life

• They will make inferences about geographic relationships of people and the environment to surrounding regions (e.g. Sahara, Central Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Europe north of the Alps, trade with the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean in various eras)

• They will draw connections between geographic and historical scales (local, regional, global) and their effects at different timescales (e.g., contrasting the effects of a local storm on a battle vs. the effects of a volcanic eruption on the climate over a decade, vs. a long period of increasing aridity, or the effect of horse-riding nomads on the Eurasian Steppe creating trade links with the Far East.)


1. Maps from online folder and Student Handouts 1.3.1 (world topography satellite map), 1.3.2 (world outline map with latitude), 1.3.3 (Mediterranean region physical map with country borders, cities)

2. Projection device for outline map (optional for discussion or for drawing collective or individual classroom maps)

3. Additional types of maps such as climate, vegetation, elevation, population density, etc. as appropriate for Modules 1-6, from atlases or online sources.

Lesson Plan Text

1. Create an annotated classroom map of the Mediterranean region using Student Handout 1.3.1, an atlas, and Student Handouts 1.3.2 and 1.3.3. This will be used with Modules 1-6 of this OSPM series to record important features and relationships between the Mediterranean and adjacent and non-adjacent regions. The outline map could be projected onto smartboard, large paper, or a bulletin board wall, or students can create their own larger versions by printing out in larger format. A separate map can be created for each Module 1-6, or the class can annotate a larger map with color-coded entries for each era.

2. To introduce the map activity, students work in groups or as a whole class, gaining familiarity with the Mediterranean region using a physical maps and satellite images. Begin by identifying the seas, basins and islands of the Mediterranean Sea, and adjacent seas and straits. Then explore the coast and the lands behind it by starting at the Strait of Gibraltar and moving clockwise around the sea, exploring and identifying geographic features from the Iberian Peninsula eastward toward Asia Minor and the Levantine coast, and back to North Africa.

3. Students also discuss the relationship of nearby bodies of water to the Mediterranean (the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, Indian and Atlantic Oceans). What historical factors have determined their importance (e.g. navigation technology, date of Suez Canal and earlier attempts to connect the Nile and the Red Sea, knowledge of trade)? What implications has proximity and/or connection to the Mediterranean had for developments in these other maritime zones, and vice versa? Similarly, discuss the relationship of landforms such as the Alpine Mountains, the Sahara Desert, and the Great Arid Zone.

4. For the initial map (Module 1), use the atlas and provided maps to label topographic features such as rivers, islands, mountain ranges, deserts, seas within the Mediterranean, islands, and adjoining bodies of water. For each labeled feature, create a number. On the border of the map, the back, or on a separate sheet, create a map key that will contain the number of the feature, its label, and a brief statement of its importance in Mediterranean history. (for example, “#X-Sicily-largest island in the Mediterranean, part of the central navigation corridor linking its African and European shores” or #XX-Central Asian Steppe-origins of the horse and horse riding, origin of Turkic migrations into the Mediterranean region, the Silk Roads)

5. For later modules, students will note the location of settlements, cities, empires, and trace migrations, trade routes, technological and cultural changes.

6. This activity can also be used to correlate with the multiple timeline activity described under Module 1, Topic 3, Lesson 6, below.



Susan Douglass, “Lesson 1.3: An Enclosed Sea Connected to Many Places (Geographic Journaling for Mediterranean History),” Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: Teaching Modules , accessed August 11, 2020,