Should We Protect Ancient
Jean Wolph, Louisville Writing Project
A Mini-Unit on Teaching Argument:
Integrating Text-Based Evidence
Mini-Unit Overview
Close reading strategies
Writing & talking to
develop knowledge on
topic or issue
# of Lessons
Draft, Feedback, Revise,
evidence from
sources to
support a
3 Lessons
Entering Skills:
• Notetaking
• Annotating text
• Identifying
facts, and
statistics) to
support the claim
• Citing sources
Foundational Skills:
• Integrate
evidence from
several sources
to support a
Product: Draft
with revision to
integrate facts
from other
Peer Review
Coding text
Partner share
Should We
Protect Ancient
2 video texts
1 print text
Grades 6-8 Social Studies Writing
Standards Emphasized in the Mini-Unit
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant
b.Support claim(s) with…relevant evidence…demonstrating an
understanding of the topic or text.
Mini-Unit Sequence
Day 1
View Priceless Iraqi
Artifacts Destroyed by
Record facts and key
Partner Talk
View clip from the movie
The Monument Men
Write a response to the
Partner Talk
Class Discussion
Day 2
Read excerpt from “If great
architecture belongs to
humanity, do we have a
responsibility to save it in
wartimes?” by Jeff Sparrow
Code the article. Mark
compelling facts and key
Partner Talk
Write: Should we protect the
rights of the dead when we
cannot guarantee the rights of
the living?
Day 3
Peer Review:
Where could we add
facts from Day 1
Revise to add
additional evidence.
View this video:
Priceless Iraqi Artifacts Destroyed by ISIS / THU, FEB 26
We’ll watch it twice, recording facts and key words as we
view. See next slide.
Text #1
Record what you observe, including
facts and key words.
Writing #1
In pairs, share what you thought was
important from the video and from your
writing and notes. Add to your notes after
Partner Talk
During World War II, the Nazis steal countless pieces of art and hide
them away. Some over-the-hill art scholars, historians, architects and
other experts form a unit to retrieve as many of the stolen masterpieces
as possible. The mission becomes even more urgent when the team
learns about Hitler's "Nero Decree," which orders destruction of the
artworks if the Third Reich falls. Caught in a race against time, the men
risk their lives to protect some of mankind's greatest achievements.
--The Monuments Men, Film synopsis,
View this clip from the movie The Monuments Men:
<iframe width="560" height="315"
frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Text #2
Write a response to the movie clip.
• What did you think?
• What questions do you have?
Writing #2
In pairs, share what you thought about the
movie clip. Share your questions and try to
puzzle out answers.
Prepare to share your ideas with the class.
Partner Talk
Read the excerpt from “If great
architecture belongs to humanity, do we
have a responsibility to save it in
wartimes?” by Jeff Sparrow.
Highlight or code the article by marking
compelling facts and key words.
Text #3
Australia news /The Guardian Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2014
Monday 6 October 2014 22.25 EDT / Last modified Monday 6 October 201422.27 EDT
Excerpt from an opinion piece, adapted for classroom use (10.2)
Full article available at
If great architecture belongs to
humanity, do we have a
responsibility to save it in wartimes?
by Jeff Sparrow
The lands of Syria and Iraq gave rise to some the oldest societies we
know: the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the
Assyrians, the Parthians, the Romans and many others. Traces of
these peoples remain in important archeological sites.
And now they’re being destroyed.
Satellite imagery shows the cultural effects of Syria’s civil war. “The buildings
of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, has
suffered extensive damage,” explained Archaeology magazine. “The ancient
city of Bosra, the ancient site of Palmyra, the ancient villages of Northern Syria,
and the castles Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din have all been
damaged by mortar impacts and military activity.”
So too in Iraq.
Sometimes, the destruction is accidental (if that term means anything in
wartime). Sometimes it’s deliberate, with the Islamic State leveling ancient
religious sites.
After looters attacked Baghdad’s National Museum in 2003, Francis Deblauwe
started the (now defunct) Iraq and Archaeology site. He wrote:
War in this cradle of civilization … inevitably takes its toll on the
archaeological heritage as well. After all, this fertile flood plain and
surrounding mountains gave birth to agriculture, to writing, to cities, to laws, to
the 24 hours in a day, and many more things we take for granted.
A beheaded looted sculpture in Iraq's archeological
museum in Baghdad. Photograph: Patrick
Iraq takes its name from Uruk. Uruk was the ancient city said
to have been ruled by Gilgamesh, sometime between 2,500
and 2,700 BC. In the epic poem that bears his name,
Gilgamesh leaves Uruk. He had built Uruk. But he was
grieving the death of his friend. After many adventures, he
accepts that only the gods endure forever. He then returns to
Uruk with new appreciation. A city is a human achievement.
It offers the only immortality humans can expect.
David Ferry’s translation describes Uruk as follows:
The outer wall
shines in the sun like brightest copper; the inner
wall is beyond the imagining of kings.
Study the brickwork, study the fortification;
climb the great ancient staircase to the terrace;
study how it is made…
Uruk’s ruins were rediscovered in the 19th century, 250kms south of Baghdad. That
means we can study the brickwork, the fortifications and the outer walls Gilgamesh
once saw. When we do, we are met with the same questions about eternity he pondered
4,500 years ago.
The ancient stones show the persistence of our culture. Preserving culture, as the poem
suggests, is our only comfort for the fact that we all will die someday.
That’s why, in The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Victorian art critic John Ruskin argues
that we have a responsibility to such artifacts. He warns:
They are not ours. They belong partly to those who built them, and partly to all the
generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead have still their right in them:
that which they labored for, the praise of achievement or the expression of religious
feeling, or whatsoever else it might be which in those buildings they intended to be
permanent, we have no right to obliterate.
Great architecture, Ruskin says, belongs to humanity as a whole. It does not belong to
“those mobs who do violence to it”. It’s an argument that surely applies to the relics of
ancient Mesopotamia, caught between Islamic State fighters and US strike bombers.
But can we – or, rather, should we – protect the rights of the dead when we cannot
guarantee the rights of the living?
Nearly 200,000 people have already died in Syria’s civil war. Estimates of deaths from the
2003 Iraq invasion vary from several hundred thousand to over a million. In the midst of
unimaginable blood and suffering, is it wrong to care about the walls of Uruk?
“I wish to be absolutely clear,” writes Deblauwe, “no epic Sumerian cuneiform tablet,
majestic Neo-Assyrian lamassu sculpture or any other Mesopotamian artifact is worth a
human life, be it Iraqi, American, British or other.”
The bluntness of that statement, from a man who deeply cares about Sumerian cuneiform
tablets, contrasts with Ruskin’s comments. He champions the past over the flesh and
blood of today’s people. He privileges a bygone world over the one in which we actually
There’s a long, disgraceful tradition of revering the ancient world while belittling anyone
with the nerve to live in those cities today. When cultural treasures were seized from
“lesser” populations it was often on the basis that the ignorant locals couldn’t appreciate
the stuff’s value. That’s how major British museums built their collections, from the Elgin
Marbles to the bones of Aboriginal people.
Yet it’s worth thinking about the need for such actions.
In pairs, share what you thought was
important from the article.
Add to your coding or highlighting of
important facts and key words as you
Partner Talk
What do you think? How important are ancient artifacts and monuments?
Should we, as the author Jeff Sparrow asks, protect the rights of the dead when
we cannot guarantee the rights of the living?
Use evidence from the article to support your claim. Remember to cite the
• According to Jeff Sparrow, author of “If great architecture belongs to
humanity, do we have a responsibility to save it in wartimes?”
• Victorian art critic John Ruskin argues that ___________
You may want to skip a line between each row as you write because we’ll be adding
to our writing.
Writing #3
Should we protect ancient artifacts and monuments during
• Re-read your draft. Underline your claim.
• Re-read your notes from the videos.
• What evidence from the videos is RELEVANT (applicable)
to your claim? Find 2-3 places in your draft to add specific
facts, key words, and examples from these texts as evidence
to support the reasons you have given.
• OR add new reasons/evidence from the videos that you did
not use in your first draft.
• Remember to cite the source of the information.
Integrating Research
• Read your partner’s draft.
• Put a star each time they used evidence from the article
to support their ideas.
• Put a question mark each time you recognize a fact from
the article or video that does not include the source.
• Suggest 1-2 additional relevant facts that they could add.
• Trade papers back and use your partner’s feedback to
improve your draft.
Peer Review/Revision