print page

From ABC-CLIO's History Hub website


image of Feudal lord and vassals

History may be marked by important dates and places, but living history emerges when we look at how people from an era went about their daily existence: from the mortar and pestle used by Paleolithic humans to grind grain into flour, to the way Twitter has permanently altered our communication skills today. One of the best ways to understand any historical age is to examine its primary sources: its tools, food, art, songs, and writings.

What can we learn, for example, about the all-powerful influence of the Nile on ancient Egyptian life by a hymn honoring the river? What is revealed about the households of families during the Roman Empire when we examine their daily dinner recipes? What can we learn about medieval knowledge of the Black Death by examining a letter from a 14th-century church official to his friend detailing the symptoms?

Use the Resources links on the left to help students read about the artifacts that give texture to key chapters of world history in the ancient world. Each entry gives an overview and a more detailed overview of an artifact illustrating an aspect of life from each era. Students can use these annotations as jumping-off points to access chosen periods and employ research to discover context and inject vibrancy into any historical age.


image of How They Lived (book cover)

Ciment, James. How They Lived: An Annotated Tour of Daily Life through History in Primary Sources [2 volumes]. Greenwood, 2015.ABC-CLIO,



This content may be used for non-commercial, classroom purposes only.

Image Credits

Feudal lord and vassals: Prisma/UIG/Getty Images

Select Citation Style: 
MLA Citation
"Exploring Lives in Ancient History through Primary Sources." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, Accessed 23 Mar. 2019.
Chicago Citation
"Exploring Lives in Ancient History through Primary Sources." In History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019. Accessed March 23, 2019.
APA Citation
Exploring Lives in Ancient History through Primary Sources. (2019). In History Hub. Retrieved from
Entry ID: 2155303
back to top