Greece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the Past
Greece: Secrets of the PastAbout Ancient GreeceGreece: Secrets of the PastAbout The IMAX FilmGreece: Secrets of the PastRelated TopicsGreece: Secrets of the PastFor TeachersGreece: Secrets of the Past
Greece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the Past
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For Teachers

Greece : Secrets of the Past

Like many other films, the strength of this one gravitates towards affective rather than cognitive learning. Although there are opportunities to pick up number facts and to learn more about scientific processes, it is in the realm of motivation and inspiration that the film does its best work. Part of that has to do with the spectacular setting within which the film unfolds and the magnificent cinematography which shows a level of visual detail that is possible only with the IMAX technology. The IMAX mantra, that it is “the next best thing to being there” seems, if anything, understated as the camera guides us across the Greek Isles around the azure waters surrounding Santorini and then unto the Athenian acropolis. The evident passion of the archaeologist and the vulcanologist, who work as a team to discover the secrets of a Bronze Age civilization sealed in a time capsule by a volcanic eruption some 3,500 years ago, clearly resonates with students.

Following are some of the topics which are dealt with in the film; some are explored in depth while others are just touched upon lightly:

Archaeology, as a multidisciplinary process, as a career, as a tool of discovery; the volcanic eruption that destroyed the ancient Bronze Age civilization of Thera (modern day Santorini), a virtual reconstruction of the event using a blend of computer-generated imagery and stock footage; a virtual reconstruction of the Parthenon using state-of-the-art special effects and real-time footage; an examination of murals and frescoes painted prior to 1647 B.C.; the invention and evolution of democracy; the Greek legacies left to Western Civilization; the development of the Greek alphabet, the spread of writing, the invention of drama; the Olympics, the evolution of sculpture and the spread of philosophy and science.

The specific learning outcomes that one can expect through exposure to the film and/or Web site can be summarized briefly as follows:

  • Ability to identify the time period and geographical locations of ancient Greece (including differentiation between Bronze and Golden Age).
  • Understanding of the environment and social structure of ancient Greece.
  • Understanding the impact of the geographical environment on the Greeks.
  • Appreciation of how we can learn about ancient civilizations through the material culture they left behind and the science of archaeology.

The following grid provides information which can be derived from the film and/or the associated Web site. It is structured to correspond to curriculum expectations and achievement levels for teachers in Ontario and Quebec as well as the U.S. National Education Standards. It is understood that there are provincial and state standards which may vary from these but often just in wording not in intent. It seems self-evident that conscientious and creative teachers will be able to take advantage of these resources to teach a variety of subjects to a wide range of students — that has historically been the case. Both the film and the web site feature content that should be of interest to teachers of social studies, history, geography, art, science and language arts.

Greece : Secrets of the Past works equally well as an initiating activity (pre-unit preparation) or as a culminating activity (post-unit reinforcement). It is a remarkable film that provides an overview of a civilization that has had an enduring impact on our system of government, our laws, our literature, the art we admire, the whole core of our philosophy, our religion, science and medicine.

Subject Film Topic Web Topic Grade/Standard Comments
Geography Yes Geology &
Grades 1-6
Cycle 3 & up
NSS-GK-12.1, 12.2, 12.6
  • Physical features & climate
  • Places & regions
Social Studies Yes Democracy
Daily Life
Golden Age
Grades 1-6
Cycle 3 & up
  • Early democracy in Greece
  • Understanding other cultures
  • Values & beliefs
Art Yes Parthenon
Greek Art
Activity: mosaics
Activity: frescoes
Grades 1-8
Cycle 2 & up
  • Visual arts
  • Overview of the development of sculpture
  • Frescoes
History Yes The Minoans
The Mycenaeans Timeline/Activity Golden Age
Grades 1-6
Cycle 3 & up
  • Early civilizations
  • Economy, trade
  • Milestones in Greek history
Science Yes Science &
Grades 1-8
Cycle 2 & up
NS.S 8.7
  • Science as a human endeavor
  • Innovation & invention
Language Arts Yes The alphabet &
The theatre
Grades 1-8
Cycle 2 & up
  • Evolution of alphabet, the speed of writing
  • Invention & evolution of theatre
  • Myths & legends