VA Essentials Teacher Activity, WHI.7a

Standard WHI.7a
The student will demonstrate knowledge of the Byzantine Empire and Russia from about 300 to 1000 A.D. (C.E.) by

a) explaining the establishment of Constantinople as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Essential Skills
Use maps, globes, artifacts, and pictures to analyze the physical and cultural landscapes of the world and interpret the past. (WHI.1b)

Identify major geographic features important to the study of world history. (WHI.1c)

Analyze the impact of economic forces, including taxation, government spending, trade, resources, and monetary systems, on events. (WHI.1f)

Printable Activity

Constantinople: The Capital of the Eastern Roman Empire

Interactive Whiteboard Activity

Project the "outline map of Europe (blank)" on the whiteboard.

In this activity, students will reflect on the geographic features of Constantinople and Constantinople's role as capital of the Eastern European, or Byzantine, Empire. After projecting the blank outline map of Europe on the whiteboard, divide the class into two groups. Ask a student from group one to label the city of Rome (in blue), and a student from group two to label the city of Constantinople (in green). (If either student labels the wrong area, correct the label at this time.)

Next, ask each group to label one of the two major seas surrounding Constantinople. Finally, ask group one to draw the borders of the Western Roman Empire and group two to draw the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Conclude by leading a class discussion about the political, economic, and military advantages Constantinople's location provided the Eastern Roman Empire.

Critical Thinking
Using Geography Skills Have students review the map and study Constantinople's location. Ask: What geographic features made Constantinople an ideal choice as capital of the Byzantine Empire? (It was an easily fortified site on a peninsula bordering the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Constantinople was distant from the Germanic invasions that brought about the fall of the Western Roman Empire and allowed for easy protection of the eastern portion of the empire.)

Drawing Conclusions Remind students that many of the geographic advantages of Constantinople pertained to its military defense. Ask: What other advantages did the physical location of Constantinople provide to the Byzantine Empire? (In addition to its military advantages, Constantinople was a crossroads for East-West trade, which made it an economically advantageous location.)

Answers to Student Activity
Students' slideshow presentations will vary. Slide two might include examples of Greco-Roman art, architecture, and legal codes. Slide three might include references to silk from China, spices from Southeast Asia and India, and jewelry and ivory from India. Slide four might include references to wheat and furs from southern Russia and flax and honey from the Balkans.