Learning about Ancient Mesopotamia through Literature: The Golden Bull

We love to learn about ancient history using great literature.  The Golden Bull is a fiction book written by Marjorie Cowley.  It is a simply written book, with extremely short chapters, perfect for emergent readers or as a read aloud for younger children.  It has many aspects of polytheism, and as such I felt it would be best as a read aloud for my younger two and as read alone for my older three, who are strong in their own personal faith.


The story is based around a brother (Jomar) and his sister (Zefa) who, needing to leave their family farm due to imminent starvation brought on by a long-lasting drought, walk to the city gate to ask for entrance into the city in order for  Jomar to be apprenticed under the city’s goldsmith.

Zefa is constantly at threat of eviction out of the city walls because she is not apprenticed to anyone (a condition of being allowed to stay).  She is incredibly gifted on her hand-made harp and sings her own songs.  The story follows the two children as they attempt to forge a new life within the city walls.

The Golden Bull Study Guide

The author of The Golden Bull has written a study guide to go with the book, and we downloaded and printed it out:

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Where is the Golden Bull Set?

We brought out our huge map and found where Mesopotamia had been situated all those years ago:


We have done many map activities over the years linked with Ancient Mesopotamia, feel free to take a look here for ideas.

As we had previously studied Mesopotamia geography quite extensively, I chose not to do much more.  We briefly discussed the Tigris and Euphrates and why they were so important to the survival of the ancient Mesopotamians, as portrayed in the book.

A Brief History of Ancient Mesopotamia

Just as a quick review we watched the following video:

We used the following guided questions based on the video.  These can be obtained from here free:


Hands on Activities Related to The Golden Bull

  • Making our own gold covered bull’s head.  We attempted to replicate the Golden Bull on the cover of my copy, using clay and paint.  This was to be similar to the one Jomar and Sidar adorned the golden lyre within the story:

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More posts on Ancient Mesopotamia can be viewed by clicking on the icon below, where there are many, many ideas for hand on learning:

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Also do visit my pinterest board for even more ideas of how to study this fascinating period in history: