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 member of a team of researchers 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, many teams 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. 

At the end of this time-traveling experience, each group will make a presentation and explain to the class what they determined to be the most important artifact and information to bring back.  

These final presentations should be an actual group-constructed time capsule containing an artifact that members can take out, discuss, and share with the class. 

Your mission 

is to build a time capsule filled with an artifact and the 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 one of these aspects of ancient Indian civilization:
  • daily life in Harappa and/or Mohenjodaro
  • Arts and entertainment in ancient India (up to around 500 BCE)
  • the origins, beliefs, and spread of Buddhism
  • the origins, beliefs, and spread of Hinduism

To find out about daily life

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 artifact 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 and your group 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 during your presentation. Now, on to your research...and remember: you're expected to also use the books and reference materials we have in the library in addition to the websites below!

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.


You will be graded on your presentation to the class. That grade will apply to the group, so it's important that everyone do his or her share and that everyone participates equally. The following chart shows what is expected in each area of the presentation: 










Presentation shows minimal planning and research as well as evidence that not all group members contributed. Practice not evident.
Presentation shows some planning and research and that all group members contributed. Some practice evident.
Presentation shows substantial planning and research and that all group members contributed. Some pride is taken in the work; substantial practice evident.
Presentation shows superior planning and research; many members went beyond requirements. Great pride is taken in the work, evidenced by a near-perfect presentation.

Execution of presentation

Group members show little excitement or interest in the subjects, not all members contribute a fair share, little valid reasoning is revealed concerning why items/data were chosen. Little eye contact with audience.
Group members reveal some interest in subjects. All group members contribute something. Reasoning behind time capsule choices understandable. Some eye contact with audience.
Group members reveal honest interest in subjects. All members contribute a fair share. Reasoning interesting and instructive. Good eye contact with audience.
Presentation exceptionally well organized and confidently delivered by all members. Reasoning behind choices interesting, instructive, and fresh. Group sounds "expert" on their subjects. 

Question and Answer

Group members can't answer audience questions.
Group members can answer some audience questions.
Group members can answer many audience questions.
Group members can answer all audience questions.

Artifact and Information

(counts double)
Few or no items/data to "show" during presentation, or quality of items is poor.
Some items/data to show during presentation; quality of items average/good.
Expected number of items/data to show during presentation; quality good.
Expected number of items/data to show; quality excellent, pride evident; audience "wants to see."

Timeline and due dates:

  • January 11 – 16: research in textbooks, among class materials, and at home
  • January 17 – 21: some limited computer time in school, “artifact-building” in class
  • January 22-23: finish artifacts, practice presentations at home
  • January 24: presentations due

NOTE: all materials for artifact design with the exception of paper must be supplied by group members. You are free to choose what you make, but you are responsible for making that creation possible.


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, your group members who helped, and the WebQuest learning experience.

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 Russell Tomlin,

Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page