Learning for Fun: The History of the World

Discover the incredible history of some of the people throughout time as illustrator Caroline Selmes takes us on a trip to meet The Sumerians to The Aztecs…

The Sumerians

You may never have heard of the Sumerians, but you’ve probably used some of their inventions! They settled in what is now Iraq in around 4500 BCE, and they invented the wheel, the sailing boat and a system of irrigation. And that’s not all – their scribes developed a system of writing called cuneiform.

The Sumerians were some of the first people to live in cities. Outside a city, farmers worked hard in hot sun, raising crops and animals to feed the people of the city. Cities had grand temples where gods and goddesses were worshipped. Inanna (the goddess of love) and Enki (the creator god) were two of the most popular. Musicians would play on lyres and other instruments, at temples and for celebrations. But all their inventions couldn’t stop the Sumerians from being taken over by other groups around 2000 BCE. 


The Vikings

From about 700 to 1100 CE, one name was feared throughout Europe: the Vikings. These fierce raiders came from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Their sailors travelled in longships, which were speedy but small, and could sail up rivers using either sails or oars. Viking religion had a lot to do with fighting. They believed in powerful gods such as Odin, who rode an eight-legged horse, and Thor, whose magical hammer was the ultimate weapon. Viking warriors hoped that if they died in battle, their soul would be carried to paradise by a beautiful valkyrie.


The Discovery of the New World

In the Middle Ages, most Europeans thought that the Atlantic Ocean stretched all the way to Asia, with no land in between. Asia was an important source of spices, silks and other goods, but at the time it could only be reached over land – a long and dangerous journey. Christopher Columbus thought that he could reach it by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean, and in 1492 he set sail to give it a try. After a journey of several weeks, Columbus’s sailors spotted land. He thought he had reached Asia, but he was in the Bahamas. He claimed the land for Spain and his navigators started to map it.


 The Aztecs

More than 25 years after Columbus’s first voyage, most of the Americas were yet to be explored by Europeans. In central Mexico, the Aztecs had built up a powerful empire. Their fierce soldiers struck fear into neighbouring peoples. In their capital city, Tenochtitlan, racks called tzompantli displayed the skulls of defeated enemies. The Aztecs were warlike, but they also had a complex culture. They worshipped gods such as Huitzilopochtli, who was a god of the sun – and of war as well. Tenochtitlan was built in the middle of a lake, so the Aztecs used canoes to travel. They imported chocolate from other parts of their empire, and they spent their free time watching athletes play a complicated – and dangerous! – ball game.


Create your own incredible picture of the world, and even the future, using fun stickers of characters and artifacts with Sticky History of the World by Caroline Selmes. Published by Laurence King. RRP £12.99


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