Ancient India: Back to the Future

A WebQuest for Ancient History

Introduction| Task| Process| Evaluation| Conclusion| Credits


Ancient India was a place of great beauty and mystery, a place that witnessed the birth of two great world religions, a unique culture that survives to this day, and numerous scientific and medical advancements. The ancient Indians also lived during a very uncertain time when unpredictable weather and nomadic invaders forever changed their way of life, their beliefs, and their future.

Although archeologists have made important discoveries about this land and people that existed so long ago (~2500 BCE), much remains to be discovered. What a help it would be if the people of ancient India had created and stored time capsules for modern-day researchers to find and examine, time capsules that contained important artifacts from their religions, their culture, their empires, artifacts that would reveal what life in ancient India was really like... 

The Task

You are a researcher that has been transported back in time to ancient India. Your team's mission is to construct a time capsule containing artifacts and information to bring back to the future for study. Because the civilizations of ancient India offer so much to sift through, you will go back on this mission to find, analyze, compare and contrast various items, concepts and works of art, then decide which to bring back in the limited space of their time capsule.

Each research team will focus on the following aspects of ancient Indian civilization: 

  • the daily life
  • medical advancements of ancient India
  • the origins, beliefs and spread of Buddhism
  • the origins, beliefs and spread of Hinduism
At the end of this Internet-assisted time-traveling experience, researchers will create a short paper explaining to the chief researcher what they determined to be the most important artifacts and information to bring back. 

These final presentations should entail an actual constructed time capsule containing artifacts that can be taken out, discussed, and share with the entire class. In this computer age the time capsule may be virtual, constructed with pictures, music, ect., but fully explained through the accompanied paper.

The Process

  1. First, you should go to the following website and enjoy the slide show about the excavated ancient Indian city of Mohenjodaro, which you can also read about in your textbook.
  1. Now that you have an appreciation for what ancient Indian civilization looked like, imagine that you are actually there through the miracle of time travel.
  2. It is time to begin research! You must focus on a specific area of each topic and you must find AT LEAST 5 important facts about each specific area. These should be in your paper. As you research, record your facts.
  3. Take notes you understand, in your own words. When you have your notes, you will create the paper discussing what you picked and why those items were important enough to put in the time capsule. Be prepared to present your team's project to the class or answer any questions the Chief Researcher might ask. Make sure your name is on your notes so you can turn them in with your time capsule.

Your mission 

is to build a time capsule filled with the artifacts and information your team thinks is most important and most revealing of what life was really like in ancient India. Since time capsules have limited space, you will focus your efforts on three aspects of ancient Indian civilization: daily life, medical care and religion.

To find out about daily life and medical care

visit the following websites, read about Harappan civilization, examine the various artifacts and read their descriptions. Based on all that you have seen and read, you and your team members must determine which 2-3 artifacts should be brought back to the future in your time capsule. Consider what would best reveal what daily life was like for the ancient Indians and what seemed most important to them. Be prepared to detail your reasoning, answer questions about your presentation, and explain why you didn't choose other items.

Ancient India Daily Life/Medicine websites:

For religion 

you and your group first need to decide which religion you want to study: Hinduism or Buddhism. Next, go to the following sites and learn all you can about the origins, beliefs and spread of either Hinduism or Buddhism. Then, for the religion your team chose, determine the following:
    • What object can you put in your time capsule that best symbolizes the religion? 
    • Which person or gods most influence(d) the religion? 
    • Which work of art best reveals the religion? 
    • What two beliefs make either Hinduism or Buddhism different from your own religion or different from each other?
    • Which one religious document should be brought back in your time capsule?
    • What are the two most positive aspects of the religion?
    • What is the most surprising thing you learned about the religion?
You will have many choices to make as you go about this project. So, it is expected that you will have good reasons for choosing the items and information that you bring back in your time capsule, reasons you will explain in your paper. Now, on to your research...and remember: you're expected to also use the books, including your textbook, and reference materials we have in the library in addition to the websites below! This is not a complete list of sites that can be used. If you use other sites make sure you varify the validity of the site.

The Hindu god ShivaMr Stutz's religion notes are here

Hinduism websites: 

Buddhism websites: 

Tips on organizing your findings: Make sure to take notes during your group's discussion and reflection regarding what will go in your time capsule, because what you write down will form the content of your presentation. Why your group chose what they chose is all important. Keep your group's notes together in class so that they're available if one of you is absent.


For your time travel expedition, you will need:

  • Our Social Studies Textbook
  • Books on Ancient India from the library
  • Internet
  • Rubric
  • Check out artifacts from Ancient India
  • Spend a day with a beadmaker's son, traveling the Indus River
  • Find Out about Daily Life in the Indus Valley
  • Explore ancient Indian culture and contributions
  • Visit a great India website for kids
  • Research the social class system of India


The following chart shows what is expected in each area of the project: 










Presentation shows minimal planning and research
Presentation shows some planning and research
Presentation shows substantial planning and research. Some pride is taken in the work;
Presentation shows superior planning and research; went beyond requirements. Great pride is taken in the work, evidenced by a near-perfect presentation.
Hindu Beliefs
Belief part of paper was difficult to follow or inaccurate.  No visual Belief not thoroughly explained.    Visual not useful. Explains one Indian belief.  Could be more thorough or interesting. Visual included. Thoroughly describes one Indian belief, including examples.  Includes a useful visual.
Buddhist Beliefs
Belief part of paper was difficult to follow or inaccurate.  No visual
Belief not thoroughly explained.    Visual not useful.
Explains one Indian belief.  Could be more thorough or interesting. Visual included.
Thoroughly describes one Indian belief, including examples.  Includes a useful visual.
Cultural Contributions
Contribution was difficult to follow or inaccurate.  No visual.
Contribution not thoroughly explained. Visual not useful.
Explains one Indian contribution.  Could be more thorough or interesting. Visual included
Thoroughly describes one cultural contribution and its importance to the world. Includes a relevant visual.
Daily Life
Daily life was difficult to follow or inaccurate.  No visual
Aspect of daily life not thoroughly explained.    Visual not useful
Explains one aspect of daily life.  Could be more thorough or interesting. Visual included.
.Thoroughly describes in an interesting way one aspect of daily life and gives examples. Includes a relevant visual.

Props and/or presentation aids

Few or no items/data, or quality of items is poor.
Some items/data; quality of items average/good.
Expected number of items/data; quality good.
Expected number of items/data; quality excellent, pride evident;
research notes note included Research notes more than 1/2 incomplete Research notes incomplete All research notes turned in and complete
Papernot done Paper less than 1/2 complete Paper not complete Paper complete and includes 5 important facts from each member


Through this project you have gained insight and knowledge about another time, another place, and different ways of viewing the world. We hope this experience has generated a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures.

Credits & References

Designed by Russell Tomlin, John Muir Middle School librarian & Stacy Kaplan JMMS History teacher
Original URL:

Graphics courtesy of Sudheer Birodkar at:

This WebQuest was originally created in November/December of 2002 using a template available from the Bernie Dodge WebQuest page (see below). "Ancient India: Back to the Future" was last updated on December 10, 2002.

Permission is hereby granted to use this "Ancient India: Back to the Future" WebQuest for educational purposes as long as its designers are acknowledged. 



Any suggestions for how to improve this WebQuest should be sent to Mr. Marchese,

Last updated on October 19, 2005 . Based on a template from The WebQuest Page