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Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece

posted May 16, 2014, 10:26 AM by Michael Dreyfus-Pai   [ updated Sep 11, 2016, 3:02 PM by kmcmillan@ctkschool.org ]
I'll be the first to admit that this isn't a technology project. I've always found the ancient world fascinating, and use this project as an excuse to share that passion with the students! That said, this project gives the 6th grade a great opportunity to explore the connections between economics, technology, politics, and culture.

Day 1: Introduction


Day 2: Supplies and Construction

Each student should bring in the following by Wednesday, May 14th. They can bring them earlier, too!  Also, please do not encourage your children to get creative with the materials or design for shields or spears. These were designed specifically to be as safe as possible. We will construct shields and spears in class, not at home.

For the aspis (shield):
  • 2 pieces of sturdy cardboard cut into circles 2.5 feet in diameter, preferably without any slits or cutouts  Making an aspis (hoplite shield) requires two layers of cardboard. Please cut the circles at home.
  • 2 strips of sturdy cloth 2-3" wide and 3 feet long each (total 6 feet), for making shield straps.  Canvas or cuts from old jeans would work well.
For the dory (spear):
  • Duct tape (for reinforcing the pool noodle)
  • 1 pool noodle for use as a dory (spear).  Available at the Dollar Tree for $1 if you need a new one.  I found that the kind with a flower/star shape seems to hold up better than the round ones:
  • Inline image 1
Students will take their shields and spears home at the end of the day to decorate them.

Forming a Phalanx

Day 3

  • In city-state groups, students elect a captain to lead military exercises
  • Students practice forming a phalanx with overlapping shields, advancing, retreating, and turning right and left
  • City states may join with their allies to form a larger phalanx
  • City-states may earn up to 5 points demonstrating their ability to maintain ranks 

Day 4

  • Students will warm up by practicing the skills they learned on day 3
  • City-states will join with their allies to form phalanxes of multiple rows with protruding spears
  • Alliances will advance, retreat, and turn maintaining formation
  • Alliances will drill rotating rows while holding a front line

Day 5

  • Students will answer questions about the role of hoplites in Ancient Greece
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