Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 10, “In and Near Istanbul” and “The Mountain Wars of Fiji”

StrataImage-webTwo new features in the video news-magazine series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute, examine the complex elements of a culture’s past that continue to influence modern times.

“In and near Istanbul” tours the region surrounding Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, including the storied capitol city Istanbul, which is renowned for its visible reminders of antiquity.  This is an archaeological and historical wonderland that draws visitors from all over the world.  “The Mountain Wars of Fiji” relates a horrifying piece of Fijian history. Across the islands of Fiji, hilltop fortresses tell a tale of a warfare and cannibalism going back a thousand years, when the war gods demanded tribute or revenge.  Yet people have been on these islands far longer and things have not always been the same.

Strata: Portraits of Humanity is a monthly half-hour video series available online and on select cable channels. Strata is a showcase for unique and diverse stories about the world’s cultural heritage. Stories come from across the globe with segments produced by Archaeological Legacy Institute and dozens of producer and distributor partners around the world.

Click on the image below to view the program on The Archaeology Channel and scroll down to see the curriculum developed by AntiquityNOW to accompany this episode’s videos.

Strata August 2015

Lesson Plans


  • To introduce students to the concept of culture evolving over the expanse of time
  • To think about how cultures are absorbed or integrated
  • To realize that people have vastly different ideas of what a society should be


  • To grasp how history is a living force that continues to be a part of the life of a culture
  • To reflect upon the course of change: how a culture can adapt over time in response to internal and external forces, or how a sudden event can shatter a culture and challenge its resilience
  • To understand how the history of a society may comprise practices that seem primitive or even horrible to modern sensibilities
  • To appreciate how these same practices were embraced as active truths by earlier people
  • To think critically about how societies evolve—some in isolation, others through intercultural exchange—and how values are shaped in response
  • To appreciate that archaeology is as much about investigating how people lived as it is about the artifacts that reflect their lives

Lesson Plan 1

In and Near Istanbul

Project Idea #1

  • Group Discussion
    • When you see the churches and mosques in this area of Turkey, their beautiful decorations immediately catch your eye. Why did people decorate their houses of worship so elaborately? How do you think a deity is worshiped through these decorations?
    • Literacy was not universal in earlier times. Looking at the decorations, how did these appeal to worshipers who could not read the religious texts?
  • Draw figures that show the qualities that worshipers should have. How would you depict kindness? Love? Generosity? Now draw the interior of a house of worship and decorate it in ways that illustrate different virtues that worshippers should strive for in their lives.

Project Idea #2

  • Unscramble the following words that are derived from the video:



agHia iphaSo




hkiTurs btah


Gdran aarBaz


kisTuhr cpetar




wdenoo hsroe


mosaicsm, fresco, Hagia Sophia, obelisk, mosque, sultan, Turkish bath, Istanbul, Grand Bazaar, Constantinople, Turkish carpet, Troy, Homer, Dardanelles, wooden horse

Project Idea #3

Lesson Plan 2

The Mountain Wars of Fiji

Project Idea #1

  • Research why cannibalism occurs. Make a list of the reasons you find.
  • What was the specific reason it is thought the Fijians started practicing cannibalism? What caused cannibalism to die out in Fiji?
  • Group Discussion How do you think Fijians think of their past? If you were a Fijian, how would you talk about this period of your history?

Project Idea #2

  • Early Fijian culture was one that was in a constant state of war. What would it be like to live in such a time?
  • Write a series of diary entries (500 words) as if you were living during a war. You can use the links below of actual diaries for inspiration.
  • For further reading:
    • The Diary of Anne Frank chronicles two years in the life of a young Jewish girl hiding with her family in an attic during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
    • Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries, from World War I to Iraq is a series of diary entries that gives a glimpse into the youthful lives affected by war across the globe and through time.
    • Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries contains the stories of twenty-three young people, ages ten through eighteen, as they try to survive under extraordinary circumstances.

Web links:

Fiji (–Official Tourism Portal of Turkey

History of Fiji (Wikipedia)

History of Turkey (Wikipedia)

Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Turkey

Rich History Found in Fiji’s Tavuni Hill Fort (Fiji Times)

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