Rivers can mean life itself. The Nile is the best example of a rivers dominance over a culture, both ancient and modern. The prosperity and political stability of ancient Egypt were totally dependent on the geographical and meteorological factors affecting the Nile. The predictable flood each year from July through October brought farmers the rich silt needed for planting. The season of the flood created an available work force for the building projects of pharoahs. If several years went by without flooding, this meant famine and, often, political instability.
In his article "Journey Up the Nile," Robert Caputo wrote: "The Nile is a thread that connects the African and the Arab worlds, the present with the ancient past. Almost 5000 years ago at the mouth of the Nile, the ancient Egyptians built mountains of stone, the Great Pyramids-a mirror image of the gleaming white peaks at the other end of the Nile-the 'Mountains of the Moon.'" I like Mr. Caputo's metaphor of a river as the "thread that connects." Perhaps rivers can help us define who and what we are better than manmade boundaries and political units.
This article examines three great river systems-the Nile, the Rhine, and the Mississippi-in terms of several journeys. These journeys move through space and time to consider geography, history, and literature and the arts. Each journey is followed by a class activity designed to help students integrate what they have learned about the three rivers. The article also includes River Research Contracts for individual students to fulfill. What they learn can be added to the class projects to enrich understanding of each river system.
A Journey on Three Rivers: Geography
Vast River Systems
One commonality shared by the Nile, the Rhine, and the Mississippi is being the most important river on a continent. Each river system is vital to the agriculture, industry and transportation of the people living within its basin, as well as to people living in other parts of the world.
The Nile is the longest river in the world (4,000 miles) and the most important geographical feature in Africa. Its importance to the desert countries of Sudan and Egypt is illustrated by comparing the average yearly rainfalls in Entebbe, Uganda (60"), Wadi Halfa, the Sudan (0.16"), and Aswan, Egypt (0.03"). The Nile is the only source of water for millions of people and all the wildlife inhabiting its banks. Only a narrow strip of land-four to five percent of the total land in Egypt-is fertile enough for farming. The Nile Delta, a marshland 135 miles wide, has been drained and irrigated to produce many food crops as well as the famous long-fiber Egyptian cotton.
Europe's Rhine basin drains an area of 97,300 square miles, and supports agriculture and vineyards along much of its length. The Rhine is the most traveled, most densely settled, and most industrialized waterway in Europe. Some 30 million people get their drinking water from the river and Lake Constance. Europoort, near Rotterdam in the Netherlands, is the world's largest port.
The Mississippi River basin covers 1,247,380 square miles-one third of the area of the United States. The Mississippi and its tributaries drain the great plains between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain chains, and serve the nation's most agriculturally and industrially productive area. Sixty percent of all inland waterway transport in the United States is carried on the Mississippi. The "Father of Waters" is the longest river in the United States, and the third longest in the world.
Class Activity: Maps of Three Rivers
1. Begin this activity by giving students individual maps of the three river systems. Ask them to locate: (a) geographic features, including the river's source and outflow, major tributaries, waterfalls, and basin; (b) political features, meaning the countries or states through which each river flows; and (c) most important cities.
2. Have students work in three groups to create large mural maps of each river system. The groups should agree on the use of map symbols, but could adopt different artistic styles. Suggest that the maps be large enough to allow for additions.
From Source to Outflow
The Nile, dating back 54 million years, is the oldest river in our journey. It is formed from the confluence of two great rivers-the Blue and White Niles-at Khartoum in the Sudan. The source of the Blue Nile is Laka Tana in Ethiopia. The sources of the White Nile are the Kagera River, in Burundi and Rwanda, which flows into Lake Victoria, and the Lake Albert system, which is fed by the ice fields of the Ruwenzori Mountains (the "Mountains of the Moon") in Uganda and Zaire. After the joining of the two Niles, which has been called "the longest kiss in history," the river flows northward to descend through six cataracts to the lower Nile Valley in Egypt.
The source of the Rhine is the Rheinwaldhorn Glacier in the Swiss Alpine canton of Grisons. Viewed in geological time, the Rhine is a relatively young river (30 million years old), and its present course was formed during one of the Ice Ages. The Rhine flows circuitously to form the northeastern border of Switzerland before entering the Rift Valley. This extends roughly from Basel in Switzerland to Bingen in Germany, and may be related to similar rift valleys in East Africa and Jordan. The river is fed by four major tributaries-the Neckar, the Mosel, the Main, and the Ruhr-in its 820 mile course through the Netherlands to the North Sea.
The Mississippi River is a mere 2,000,000 years old, having been formed from glaciers during the Pleistocene Epoch. Its source is Lake Itasca in Minnesota, from which it flows south 2,340 miles to the port of New Orleans to dump into the Gulf of Mexico. Its major tributaries are the Illinois, the Missouri, the Ohio, and the Arkansas Rivers, causing it to receive all the waters that drain east from the Continental Divide.
A Journey on Three Rivers: History
From Settlement to Civilization
Just as it is the oldest of the three rivers, the Nile was first to give birth to advanced civilization. The 5,000-year-old civilization of ancient Egypt was the world's first nation-state and produced the first written language used to store important information over a long period of time. The Egyptians kept accurate records of the grain surplus created by the fertile silt of the Nile. Visiting Egypt in 460 B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt "the gift of the Nile" after traveling up the river as far as Aswan.
South of Egypt lay the ancient kingdoms of Nubia and Kush in the Sudan. In 150 A. D., the Hellenistic geographer Ptolemy made a remarkable map of Africa extending to the upper reaches of the Nile. It indicated two sources of the Nile, located in a region of mountains and two lakes near the Equator. We know these lakes today as Albert and Victoria, and the mountains as the Ruwenzori.
Roman influence in North Africa extended up the Nile to Aswan and the first Nile cataract. Early Christianity penetrated farther to establish monasteries on islands in Lake Tana in Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia). These Coptic monasteries have served as centers of learning and nature preserves since the fourth century A.D.
The history of the Rhine basin includes the emergence of Neanderthal Man, already a clever hunter and implement maker, near Dusseldorf in Germany almost 100,000 years ago. Even older traces of human bones dating back to 500,000 B.C. have been uncovered in the Neckar Valley.
A dominant theme in the history of the Rhine has been its role as a political frontier. Before the conquests of Julius Caesar, the Rhine separated Celts on its left (western) bank from Germanic peoples on its right bank. In the middle of the lst century B.C., the Germanic tribes forced their way into Celtic territory. Caesar's conquest of Gaul in 51 B.C. established Roman hegemony over the Celts, while the Rhine became the northeastern frontier of the Roman Empire. Augustus Caesar failed to establish Rome's sway beyond the Rhine when three of his best legions were defeated by the Germanic leader Armenius in 9 A.D.
The earliest known settlements in the Mississippi Basin are those of the Mound-builders, and date from about 700 to 1700 A.D. The people of this culture built some of the oldest cities in North America. Their largest mound, at Cahokia in Illinois, is 16 acres in size and has a base larger than that of Egypt's Great Pyramid.
The rivers on our journey have all inspired great works of literature and music. In his poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Langston Hughes pays homage to both the Mississippi and the Nile:
I've known rivers
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood and human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten wrote of the Nile in A Hymn in Praise of Aten (ca. 1365 B.C.). The hymn speaks of the "daily festivity" along the Nile's banks:
All cattle rest upon their herbage,
All trees and plants flourish,
The birds flutter in the marshes,
Their wings uplifted in adoration to thee.
Class Activity: Timelines of Three Rivers
Have students work in three groups to create timelines of history for all three rivers. This activity can be flexible in terms of place (e.g., how far up the Nile) and time (e.g., how far back in history or prehistory). Suggest that students make their timelines large enough to allow additions as they continue their study of rivers.
Magnets for Culture and Conflict
Their very desirability for human habitation has made river valleys heir to both culture and conflict. The victory of Islam in Egypt dates from a momentous battle between Muslim and Byzantine Christian forces on the banks of the Nile near Cairo in 641 A.D. Throughout the seventh century, great generals such as Amr ibn-al-As continued to extend the boundaries of the Muslim Empire throughout northern Africa.
During the "dark ages" that followed the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the triumphant Islamic culture spread its high intellectual accomplishments throughout the lands it conquered. This is exemplified in Egypt by Cairo's El Azhar Mosque, which was built in 971 A.D. and laid the foundations for the pre-eminent Islamic university of the same name.
The Islamic culture of Egypt, under both Arabs and Turks, was essentially unchallenged by Europeans until Napoleon's attempted conquest of the Nile in 1798. According to Alan Moorehead in The Blue Nile, "Napoleon had the clearest vision of what was involved in the conquest of the Nile." The defeat of Napoleon's army by a fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson removed this rival to later British penetration of Egypt.
The pinnacle of British imperialistic ambitions in the Nile Valley was reached in the occupation of Egypt in 1882 and the campaign in the Sudan that eventually resulted in the defeat of the legendary Arab leader, the Mahdi. When the Mahdi's forces killed British General Gordon in his palace in Khartoum in 1885, Queen Victoria's government determined to exact revenge. It did so thirteen years later in the Battle of Omdurman, in which the young Winston Churchill led a cavalry charge, and British forces were victorious over an Arab army of 50,000.
With the Rhine Valley serving as border between France and Germany, the Rhineland has been central to the struggle for power in middle Europe. Many German immigrants to America, including the printer John Peter Zenger, came from the Rhineland Palatinate to escape conflict during the eighteenth century. The Rhineland in this century has twice been the launching pad for German armies. Hitler's remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, forbidden under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, was an important testing ground for the imperial ambitions of the Third Reich. The Allied crossing of the Rhine in 1944-45 was not only an important strategic move, but of great importance symbolically in the final defeat of Germany in World War II.
The Mississippi River formed the western boundary of the United States during the first few decades of United States history. But with Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana in 1803, the way into the plains beyond lay open. The territorial claims of European peoples, of course, ignored those of the indigenous peoples of the Mississippi Valley. This included the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez tribes of the Lower Mississippi, and the Illinois, Kickapoo, and Santee Dakota of the Upper Mississippi region. Many of the Lower Mississippi peoples underwent forced "removaquot; to the Western Indian Territory (Oklahoma) during the 1830's, but some remnants of each tribe remained in the Mississippi Valley.
Control of the Mississippi River was a vital part of the strategy of both North and South during the Civil War. The surrender of Vicksburg-the "Richmond of the West"-after a protracted siege by Grant's army in 1863 was a major turning point in the war.
Create a form for students to record the activities they undertake to fulfill a River Research Contract. Students could choose from the following activities or may have ideas of their own. Have each student keep a portfolio for storing maps, art work, and written reports. Other work-e.g., sculptures, artifacts, videotapes-could be available for viewing somewhere in the classroom.
A Journey on Three Rivers: Geography
1. Glaciers. During the Ice Age, most of Europe and North America were covered by glaciers that formed the lakes and rivers of these continents. Report on the Pleistocene Epoch as it affected both the Rhine and Mississippi Valleys.
2. Explorers on the Nile. Research one of the following: (a) the quest for the Nile source by European explorers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; (b) the travels of John Lewis Burckhardt, a nineteenth century Swiss scholar who studied Arabic and traveled the Sudan in disguise, reporting on the slave trade among other things; or (c)the Nile expedition of American Civil War Captain Chaille-Long, who set out to explore Lake Victoria for the government of Egypt in 1875. Note: two classic sources on Nile expeditions are Alan Moorehead's The Blue Nile and The White Nile.
3. Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea. Report on the expedition that explored the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1804-06. Include a map of the journey, information about provisions for the trip, and observations by a reporter on the scene-you! Note: you may want to consult the Journals of Lewis and Clark.
4. Countries of the Rhine. The Rhine flows through or along the borders of six European countries. Choose one of these countries and report about everyday life within its Rhine Valley now or sometime in the past.
5. Riverboat Shuffle. Many types of boats have traveled the Nile, the Rhine, and the Mississippi. Choose one river to research, and draw or build a model of a boat used on the river sometime in the past or present.
6. "Ship of the Desert." Find out how camels are used by desert peoples. Why is this animal well-suited for desert transportation? Draw a picture of the Sahara camel, or write a poem or story about this notoriously ornery creature.
7. Moby Dick in the Rhine. White whales have been spotted in the Rhine as far south as the city of Cologne, and are called "Moby Dicks." Find out how a whale could enter and travel up the Rhine.
8. How's the Weather? Make a bar graph of the average monthly precipitation in: Entebbe, Uganda; Wadi Halfa, the Sudan; and Cairo, Egypt. What does this tell you about the importance of the Nile to the people and wildlife of Egypt?
9. Endangered Wildlife. Storks live near the Rhine Valley and migrate to East Africa each year. Draw a map showing their migration pattern, and explain why storks are an endangered species.
10. Falling Water. Compare the major waterfalls of the Nile (six cataracts), the Rhine, and the Mississippi. Your report should: (a) locate these waterfalls on maps; (2) compare them in height; and (3) describe how they relate to the damming of these rivers.
11. River Talk. Prepare a glossary that defines at least 20 of the following terms: alluvium, current, cutoff, delta, downstream, dredging, fathom, flood plain, glacial till, habitat, lock, "mark the twain," mouth (outflow), oxbow lake, Pleistocene Epoch (or Ice Age), rapid, reservoir, riparian community, river basin (watershed), river ecosystem, river pollution, source, upland, wetland.
12. Gift of Life. Human beings have used and abused the earth's rivers. Choose one example of misuse, describe its effect on people and wildlife, and discuss what could or has been done to solve this problem.
A Journey on Three Rivers: History
1. Flintstones on the Rhine. "Flintstones" is a fictional cartoon about prehistoric times. Write and illustrate ten important facts about the prehistoric Neanderthal people at Dusseldorf on the Rhine. Your illustrations might be in cartoon form. Note: a good source of information is National Geographic, November 1985.
2. The Great Pyramid. Report on the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza telling (a) why it was built, (b) how it was built, and (c )how well it has survived the ages. You could tell the story from the point of view of the pharoah, the architect, a priest, or a laborer. Illustrate your report with a drawing or cutaway (inside view). Note: a good source on the construction of the pyramids is David McCauley's Pyramid.
3. Pyramids of the New World. Report on the pyramids of the Mississippi Mound-builders. Locate them on a map. Then compare them in structure and purpose with the pyramids of Egypt.
4. Indiana Jones on the Rhine. Indiana is in a race to discover Rhine artifacts that may have belonged to Julius Caesar. Describe what he finds (your could draw or make models of these artifacts), and tell how he keeps it out of the hands of his nefarious enemy.
5. History is Writing. Historians distinguish between prehistoric and historic cultures by whether people have developed a writing system. Report on the invention of hieroglyphic writing in ancient Egypt or on how this writing was deciphered after the 'discovery' of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon's troops in Egypt.
6. Native Americans. Do research on one or more of the Native American peoples who inhabited the Mississippi River basin in the early nineteenth century. What was their way of life? How were they affected by the westward movement of pioneer farmers and fur traders?
7. Coins of the Realm. You are in an antiquities shop in Cairo when you discover a case full of coins dug up along the Nile. You buy several and put them in a pouch. What is in your pouch? Draw or mold out of clay several coins used in different periods of Egyptian history.
8. Drums Along the Rhine. The Rhine Valley in Germany has been fought over many times in history. Choose one of the following conflicts to report on: (a) Rome's attempt to conquer the Rhine; (b) the eighteenth century conflicts that drove many people to emigrate to America; (c) Napoleon's conquest of the Rhine; or (d) the importance of the Rhineland before and during World War II.
9. Abe on the Mississippi. On a trip down the Mississippi, Abraham Lincoln observed a slave auction that is supposed to have affected his ideas about slavery. Do research on slave auctions and on Lincoln's attitude toward slavery over time. Then create an entry in "Lincoln's journaquot; for the evening after the auction.
10. Powerful Women in Ancient Egypt. Two women exerted political power against great odds in ancient Egypt. Report on the life of (a) Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled during the Eighteenth Dynasty and built the great temple of Deir-el-Bahri at Thebes, or (b) Cleopatra, who ruled during the Ptolemaic era, when Egypt came under the sway of the Roman Empire.
11. Holy Books. In The Quran (Koran), Islam's founder proclaimed that he was the last prophet of Allah, following such earlier prophets as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Find out why Mohammed drew upon The Bible in founding Islam. What are some of the essential beliefs of the Muslim religion?
12. Mapmaker. The German geographer Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594) lived in Duisberg on the Rhine. Mercator developed a way of projecting the globe onto a two-dimensional map-an idea that is still in use today. Find some examples of early Mercator maps and other maps from the sixteenth century. What was useful about Mercator's idea?
A Journey on Three Rivers: Literature and the Arts
1. Rivers of Freedom. The Mississippi and its tributary, the Ohio River, played an important role in the Underground Railroad. The importance of rivers in the escape to freedom is the subject of many African American spirituals. Make a collection of these songs. You might perform them for the class, or lead the class in singing them.
2. Very Creative Writing. Both hieroglyphics and Arabic script are not only systems of writing, but have been elevated into forms of art. Do research on: (a) the use of hieroglyphics in the tomb paintings of ancient Egypt, or (b) the use of Arabic script as a form of decorative art in Islamic mosques. Then draw and color your own hieroglyphic cartouche (emblem of royalty) or a tile using Arabic script for decorating a mosque.
3. Language Tree. Many everyday words in English are derived from German. Make a family tree that traces the relationship between them. On the branches of your tree, hang related words in the two languages. Some examples to begin with are: Sonne (sun), Mutter (mother), Sommer (summer), Wasser (water) and Welt (world).
4. Sphinx of Safety. The Great Sphinx at Giza, a 240-foot monument that is half-human and half-lion, may have been built to guard the approach to the pyramids. Invent a creature that is half-human and half-animal to guard the entrance to your school. Draw or sculpt your mythical creature.
5. "Mark the Twain." This is a river boatman's term and the pen name of a famous American writer. Prepare a biographical sketch of Mark Twain that tells: (a) how he adopted his pen name, (b) some interesting facts about his life, and (c) what some of his most important works are.
6. Music, Music, Music. The Rhine Valley has been important to German music. Prepare a report on: (a) The Nibelungenlied and the opera cycle based on it by composer Richard Wagner; (b) the medieval German minnesingers, who adopted their style from French troubadours across the Rhine; or (c) a classical composer whose life had some connection with the Rhine. For example, Beethoven was born in a city on the Rhine, and Robert Schumann titled one of his works The Rheinish Symphony. Your report could include a musical performance, either on tape or live in the classroom.
7. Minarets and Muezzins. Tour some of most famous mosques in Cairo. Tell what period of history each dates from, how it is decorated, and why it has one or more minerats. Draw a diagram of one of these mosques that explains how its different parts are used in worship.
8. Jazz Session. The mixture of ethnic traditions in New Orleans helped give rise to a unique form of music: jazz. Report on the history of jazz: with pictures and writing, with taped excerpts of different kinds of jazz, or with a live performance in class.
9. A Couple of Tourists. Report on the travels of: the Shelleys-poet Percy Bysshe and author Mary-in Germany and in Egypt during the early nineteenth century. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and placed him in a castle like the ones she saw along the Rhine. Percy Shelley wrote a poem titled "Ozymandias" about a fallen statue of an Egyptian ruler. Who was the ruler, where was the statue, and what was the poem about?
10. Poet of Rivers. Langston Hughes, an African American author, wrote a poem about rivers. Find out more about his life, his work, and his participation in the Harlem Renaissance. Write a short biography of Hughes or draw pictures to illustrate one or more of his poems.
11. Grand Tour of the Rhine. Plan a trip on the Rhine that includes at least three cities: (a) Mainz, where Johann Gutenberg was born and worked on the invention of printing in the mid-fifteenth century; (b) Cologne, which is home to the greatest Rhine cathedral; and (c ) Amsterdam, whose RijKsmuseum houses many treasures of Rhenish art. (You'll have to resort to a canal boat to reach Amsterdam). Keep a journal of your travels and your observations about art.
12. Wildlife Gallery. Collect pictures of wildlife in one of the three river basins. Egyptian wall paintings-especially those in the tombs of nobles-often depicted the wildlife that lived along the Nile. Albrecht Durer, who lived in Nuremburg on a sub-tributary of the Rhine, is one of the most famous animal artists in history. The wildlife paintings of John James Audubon include many animals of the Mississippi region. Look for these and other artists or photographers. Or, draw your own wildlife gallery.
A Journey on Three Rivers:
Literature and the Arts
The modern literature of the Nile valley includes the works of Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, who won the Noble Prize for Literature in 1988. His novel, Fountains and Tombs, describes a child's initiation into the complex society of Cairo during the 1920's. Sudanese author Tayeb Salih, in The Wedding of Zein, evokes village life along the upper Nile. Egyptian feminist and medical doctor, Nawal al-Sadawi, is one of the writers represented in Women and Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change.
The Rhine was immortalized long ago in the Middle High German epic of the Nibelungenlied (Lay of the Nibelungs), which was the basis for Richard Wagner's operatic cycle, "The Ring of the Nibelung." The Rhine Valley-from Mainz south and eastward to the Austrian Tyrol-was the traveling ground for medieval German minnesingers. Beethoven was born in the Rhine city of Bonn in 1770, and nineteenth century composer Robert Schumann used the river as his theme in "The Rheinish Symphony."
No river is identified with the literary and musical traditions of the United States more than the Mississippi. Mark Twain was born along its banks at Hannibal, Missouri, and spent time as a riverboat pilot during his youth. Twain explored the river in Life Along the Mississippi, but more important to literature are his novels set on the river-Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn-which explore the soul of America itself.
The musical traditions of the Mississippi region include African American spirituals, some of which reflect historical experience. Harriet Tubman wrote Wade in the Water as a slave communication-a secret code to be sung in the fields telling runaway slaves when to make their way to the river. Another unique musical form identified with the Mississippi is jazz, which emerged from a blending of African and American musical traditions in the city of New Orleans.
Art and the Rivers
Along the Nile's banks stand the ruins of some of mankind's greatest architectural achievements. The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at Giza, dating from 2690 B.C., may be the most famous monument in the world. The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, built by Rameses II in the thirteenth century B.C., was valued highly enough to prompt an international effort to move it to higher ground when the Nile was dammed at Aswan during the 1960's.
Thebes (modern Luxor) is the site of the largest temple ever built in Egypt. The coronation of pharoahs took place in the great hypostyle hall in the Temple of Karnak, completed in 1190 BC. Thebes was also the place for the burial of pharoahs, and this elaborate practice gave rise to the splendid paintings that grace the tombs of kings, queens, and nobles. These tombs in the dry cliffs above the Nile had ingenious traps for protection against robbers. Even so, few have been discovered in their original condition. This is what gave the tomb of the insignificant King Tutankhamen (1325 B.C.) such importance when a team led by British archaeologist Howard Carter excavated it in 1922.
The banks of the Nile also constitute a "museum" of great styles in Islamic architecture. The oldest Arab structure preserved in Cairo is the ninth century Mosque of Ibn Tulun. El Azhar Mosque ("The Spendid") and the Mosque of al-Hahim-used as a fort by Napoleon-date from the Fatimid period. The fourteenth century Sultan Hassan Mosque, which has the loftiest minaret (267 feet) in Cairo, is an outstanding example of Arab architecture in North Africa.
The architectural traditions of the Rhine Valley include many cathedrals, the greatest being the Cathedral of Cologne. The dramatic vistas commandeered by Rhine castles were a source of inspiration to nineteenth century romantics. Mary Shelley wrote her gothic novel, Frankenstein, after touring the Rhine with her poet husband in 1814. Lord Byron described the river in his popular poem, Childe Harold. But Rhine legends also had their detractors, among them William Thackeray, who heaped scorn upon the romantic credulity of tourists in his 1845 parody, Legend of the Rhine.
As a great continental waterway, the Rhine was essential to the spread of the Renaissance from Italy north into central Europe. It was in the city of Mainz that Gutenburg invented the printing press. Renaissance humanism flourished in the Low Countries, where Dutch and Flemish artists drew upon two sources-the tradition of medieval illumination and the revival of classical learning in Italy-to create many of the masterpieces now housed in the RijKsmuseum in Amsterdam.
The artistic traditions of the Mississippi Valley include a variety of Native American artistic traditions, the French architectural style dominant in the old sections of New Orleans, and the neo-classical plantation homes which dot the riverbank from New Orleans to Natchez, Tennessee.
Class Activity: Murals of Three Rivers
Have students work in three groups to create murals of the river systems they have studied. Their murals could depict civilization along the river at a particular point in time. Or, they could trace historical events and cultural achievements along the river over centuries. Students should decide what artistic form they want to use for their mural.
Allen, Anita. "River Unit" in Learning About Our World: Germany. Ohio Department of Education, 65 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43215.AWAIR: Arab World and Islamic Resources, 1865 Euclid Ave, Suite 4, Berkeley, CA 94709. Caputo, Robert. "Journey Up the Nile." National Geographic: May 1985.Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (teaching unit). Office of Resources in International and Area Studies, U. of California, 342 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA 97730.Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Robin Street Wharf, New Orleans, La. 70130.Egyptian Tourist Authority, 630 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10111.Fernea, Elizabeth (ed.). Women and the Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.Fernea, Elizabeth (ed.), Fiona MacDonald and Mark Bergin. A 16th Century Mosque. New York: Peter Bedrick, 1994.German Information Center, 950 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022.Mississippi Division of Tourism Development, P.O. Box 849, Jackson, MS 39205The Nile (Insight Guide)The Rhine: A Travel Guide (Baedeker)The Rhine Valley from Cologne to Mainz (Berlitz Travel Guide)Rhine Cruise Agency, J.F.O. Cruise Service Corporation, 170 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601.
Anita Allen was a social studies teacher in Whitehall City Public Schools until she recently retired. She works as an educational consultant to the Ohio Department of Education.