Ancient Mesopotamia

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Ancient Mesopotamia is a seventh gradeWorld History/World Geography unit designed to be used by both students and teachers. It is designed in such a way that it can be used by students as an educational resource supplementary to the traditional social studies textbook, or it can be used by teachers in order to attain important vocabulary terms, vocabulary exercises, a study guide, an example quiz, hands-on activities, and final unit evaluations.

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WELCOME AREAWelcome.

Whether you are a student or a teacher, a special welcome message awaits you in one of the designated areas.

Once you are finished in the WELCOME AREA, click on the HOME icon to access the appropriate area.


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STUDENT AREA

This area is for students to explore the many different aspects of ancient Mespotamia. Check out each area, or explore only those areas that interest you. Have fun!

When you are finished with an area, click on the HOME icon, and it will return you to the student area.
Bullet.IMPORTANT VOCABULARY
Bullet.GEOGRAPHY
Bullet.THE SUMERIAN CITY-STATE
Bullet.THE ZIGGURAT
Bullet.CUNEIFORM
Bullet.GILGAMESH
Bullet.SARGON I
Bullet.HAMMURABI OF BABYLON
Bullet.CONTRIBUTIONS

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TEACHER AREA

This area is designed for teachers. In this area, teachers not only can explore the different aspects of ancient Mesopotamia as located in the student area, but they can also view teacher-created materials that I use when teaching ancient Mesopotamia to my seventh grade students. In this area, I have included a vocabulary list, vocabulary exercises to reinforce the terms and definitions, a study guide, an example quiz, hands-on activities that can be used in the classroom, and final unit evaluations.

SPECIAL NOTE: To get out of the student area when you are finished viewing either the Mesopotamia content or vocabulary terms, click on the bottom globe, and it will return you to the teacher area.


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Bullet.IMPORTANT VOCABULARY
Bullet.VOCABULARY EXERCISES
Bullet.STUDY GUIDE
Bullet.QUIZZES
Bullet.HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES
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Your comments and/or suggestions are welcome, but please remember this was my very first webpage. Thank-you.

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Marcia A. Snyder
Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School
501 Hart Street
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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WELCOME STUDENTS

Welcome! I am happy to welcome you to my Ancient Mesopotamia webpage. I hope you enjoy your visit and learn many new and exciting concepts about ancient Mesopotamia. Be sure to check out all the links; I think you will find some interesting and entertaining areas.

My name is Marcia Snyder, and I teach seventh grade World History/World Geography at Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Hollidaysburg is the county seat of Blair County.

I have taught this course for the past three years, and I hope you enjoy my webpage as much as I enjoyed creating it. Ancient Mesopotamia is one of my favorite units to teach!

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To see the exact location of HAJHS in the town of Hollidaysburg, plug in 501 Hart Street, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.
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Hollidaysburg Area School District Information
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WELCOME TEACHERS

Hello! My name is Marcia Snyder, and I teach seventh grade World History/World Geography at Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Hollidaysburg is the county seat of Blair County.

I created the webpage "Ancient Mesopotamia " while I was taking a course entitled "Internet In The Curriculum." I hope the ideas and activities presented in this webpage are useful and/or act as a creative catalyst for activities to use in your own classroom.

CLICK HERE
To see the exact location of HAJHS in the town of Hollidaysburg, plug in 501 Hart Street, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.
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Hollidaysburg Area School District Information
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IMPORTANT VOCABULARY
MESOPOTAMIA VOCABULARY
The following vocabulary terms will help you better understand ancient Mesopotamia.
Some of the terms have links to explore.
TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin in eastern Turkey, flow in a southeast direction, converge in southeast Iraq, and empty in the Persian Gulf. In ancient times, the land between the twin rivers was called Mesopotamia which was the site of the world's first civilization.
MESOPOTAMIA
Mesopotamia means "the land between the rivers" or "the land between the two rivers." This was the site of the world's first civilization, Sumer.
CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
Mesopotamia is often referred to as the "cradle of civilization" because the world's first civilization occurred there.
SUMER
Sumer was the world's first civilization. It was located in the southern area of Mesopotamia where the twin rivers converged. The people who lived in this area were called Sumerians.
LEVEES
In order to control the destructive seasonal flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the ancient Sumerians constructed levees, or raised areas of earth, in order to hold back the floodwaters.
IRRIGATE
The ancient Sumerians irrigated, or watered, their crops by using a system of irrigation canals. By devising such a irrigation system, the ancient Sumerians were able to successfully establish a permanent civilization.
CITY-STATE
The ancient Sumerians organized themselves into competing city-states. A Sumerian city-state consisted of the city, the surrounding mud brick wall, and the surrounding farmland.
ZIGGURAT
The ziggurat was a temple. It was located in the center of each Sumerian city-state. It housed the city-state's patron god. The term ziggurat means "mountain of god" or "hill of heaven." Since the ziggurat was a sacred place, only priests could enter it.
CUNEIFORM
The ancient Sumerians created the world's first writing system known as cuneiform. The term cuneiform means "wedge-shaped." Sumerian writing is wedge-shaped because of the the type of instrument that was used to create it.
STYLUS
The ancient Sumerians used a stylus to write. A stylus is a wedge-shaped instrument made out of reed. The Sumerians wrote on wet clay tablets with a stylus.
EDUBBA
An edubba is a Sumerian school where young boys learned reading, writing, and arithmetic.
SCRIBE
After graduating from a Sumerian school, a young man became a scribe, or a writer.
PRIEST-KING
In early ancient Sumerian history, the powerful priests were also the kings of the city-states.
GILGAMESH
Gilgamesh is one of ancient Mesopotamia's most legendary historical figures. He was a heroical priest-king from the Sumerian city-state of Uruk.
EMPIRE
An empire is a collection of kingdoms under the power of one powerful ruler.
SARGON I
Around 2300 B.C., Sargon I created the world's first empire in the area of ancient Mesopotamia. Since he was from the northern reaches of Mesopotamia known as Akkad, the world's first empire was Akkadian.
HAMMURABI OF BABYLON
About 1800 B.C., the Amorites moved into Mesopotamia. They established their own city-states, and Hammurabi was the king of Babylon. He conquered the Akkadians and ruled all of Mesopotamia. His reign is often described as the "Golden Age of Babylon"because he established many new reforms.
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GEOGRAPHY

In ancient times, the Greeks later called the area of the world's first civilization "Mesopotamia" which means "the land between the rivers" or "the land between two rivers." This name was appropriate because ancient Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the present-day Middle Eastern country of Iraq. The twin rivers actually begin in eastern Turkey, flow southeast, converge in southeast Iraq, and empty into the Persian Gulf. Although the hot dry climate mixed with seasonal flooding was difficult and challenging, the farmers of the area learned to control the flooding rivers and used the resulting fertility to produce crops such as barley, wheat, flax, and sesame. The fertile ground also supported many different kinds of fruit and vegetable crops.

HOW FAR IS IT?
How far is it from your home to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq?
How Far?
Be sure to click on the map section to see the two locations on a world map.

What time is it in Iraq?
Clock.

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THE SUMERIAN CITY-STATE

The people who established the world's first civilization around 3500 B.C. in southern Mesopotamia were known as the Sumerians.

The Sumerians learned to control the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by constructing levees and irrigation canals. As a result, a stable food supply existed, and the Sumerian villages evolved into self-governing city-states.

At the center of each city-state was a temple surrounded by courts and public buildings. Radiating from the all-important city center were the two-story houses of the priests and merchants, or the upper class; the one-story homes of government officials, shopkeepers, and craftspeople; and the lower class homes of farmers, unskilled workers, and fishermen. The city-state also included the fertile farming land outside the city wall.

Since there wasn't any building stone and very little timber in Sumer, the people constructed their homes, public buildings, and city walls out of sun-dried mud brick.

The Sumerians took great pride in their city-states. Many times city-states would war with each other because boundary disputes existed. Sometimes a city-state would attack a neighboring city-state just to prove its strength.

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THE ZIGGURAT
Ziggurat.Ziggurat.Ziggurat.Ziggurat.

Originally the temples at the center of each city-state were built on a platform. As time passed, these platform temples evolved into temple-towers called ziggurats. The ziggurat was the first major building structure of the Sumerians. Constructed of sun-baked mud bricks, the ziggurats were usually colorfully decorated with glazed fired bricks.

The ziggurat housed each city-state's patron god or goddess. Only priests were permitted inside the ziggurat; as a result, they were very powerful members of Sumerian society.

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ZIGGURAT GAME
Ziggurat.

ZIGGURAT HUMOR
Ziggurat Humor.

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CUNEIFORM

As the Sumerian city-states' wealth increased, government officials realized that an efficient method of keeping records had to be developed. Evolved from simple pictographic writing, Sumerian cuneiform emerged as the world's first writing system. The term cuneiform means "wedge-shaped." It was made up of hundreds of word signs that were "wedge-shaped" due to the shape of the reed pen, or stylus, that was used. The Sumerians wrote on clay tablets that would either be dried in the sun or fired in kilns to make the writing permanent.

Cuneiform Tablet.
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CUNEIFORM TABLET TRANSLATION

Cuneiform was learned in Sumerian schools called edubbas, or tablet houses. Only a select group of boys were able to attend Sumerian schools. The boys were usually sons of the very wealthy.

Students worked very hard at Sumerian schools, and the school day lasted from early morning until evening. Students were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. The teachers severely disciplined the students. For example, a mistake on a clay tablet could merit a beating.

All the sacrifice and schooling was worth it. Once a student successfully completed twelve years of schooling, he was an official scribe, or writer. This was a prestigious position in Sumerian society. Scribes were very valuable in order to the maintain and improve the record keeping that the Sumerians deemed so very necessary.

The Sumerians also used cylinder seals. Cylinder seals were carved out of stone, and they were used as identification. For example, in order to identify himself, a Sumerian would roll his cylinder seal across a wet clay tablet. This would make an imprint on the tablet that would become permanent by sun-baking or kiln-firing. Cylinder seals were used as signatures are used today.

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GILGAMESH

As stated before, in early Sumerian history, priests were also the kings of the city-states. Gilgamesh was one of the most heroic priest-kings of this time. He was the priest-king of Uruk which was located on the Euphrates River approximately fifty miles northwest of Ur.

The oldest written story in the world delineates Gilgamesh's legendary deeds. In the story, Gilgamesh is characterized as being both human and divine. Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu travel the world performing heroic acts.

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Gilgamesh, Part I
Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh, Part II
Gilgamesh.

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SARGON I

As stated in the vocabulary section, Sargon I was from Akkad located in the northern reaches of Mesopotamia. When the power of the Sumerian city-states began to collapse due to their constant battling, Sargon I capitalized upon the opportunity and attacked the southern region of Mesopotamia with his armies.

After conquering all the Sumerian city-states, Sargon I united them with Akkad, and created the world's first empire. His empire included all of Mesopotamia. Akkadian was the official language, but they used Sumerian cuneiform to write their language.

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HAMMURABI OF BABYLON

Sargon I ruled the Mesopotamia region for approximately fifty years. When he died, the empire crumbled. The individual city-states again rose to power.

About 1800 B.C., the Amorites migrated to Mesopotamia and constructed their own city-states. One of the city-states built was named Babylon, and it was ruled by a king named Hammurabi. As Hammurabi rose to power, he began conquering the city-states of Mesopotamia.

He,too, began uniting the city-states, but he was much more successful than Sargon I because he made many new reforms that improved society. For example, he improved the irrigation system, tax system, and government housing system. He also united the people under one religion, but the reform for which Hammurabi became renowned was his code of law.

Hammurabi provided uniformity among the city-states by enacting a code of law. The code of law provided consistent justice and covered many aspects of daily life.

Hammurabi of Babylon was a great ruler; the time he reigned is often referred to as the "Golden Age of Babylon" due to the many accomplishments and reforms.

A student coloring of Hammurabi receiving the code of laws.
Hammurabi.
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An original stone carving depicting Hammarabi's receipt of the code of laws.
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CONTRIBUTIONS

The contributions affecting the modern world from our ancient ancestors in Mesopotamia are numerous. The ancient Sumerians created the world's first civilization where people settled together in one area known as the city-state. For this accomplishment, ancient Mesopotamia is often referred to as the "cradle of civilization."

Another contribution vastly affecting the modern era was the Sumerians' creation of a writing system. Although we do not use the same writing system today, it spawned the many different writing models that led to today's writing.

Other inventions include the water clock, the twelve-month calendar based on lunar cycles, the wheel, the plow, and the sailboat. All these inventions improved the daily life of the Sumerians.

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VOCABULARY EXERCISES

In order to reinforce vocabulary terms and definitions, I use the following vocabulary exercises:

SAME/DIFFERENT ASSOCIATIONS - Read each pair of words. If the terms are related, place a (S) on the blank line. If the terms are unrelated, place a (D) on the blank line.

  1. _____TEMPLE-ZIGGURAT
  2. _____SARGON I-CODE OF LAW
  3. _____EDUBBA-PALACE
  4. _____CUNEIFORM-STYLUS
  5. _____GILGAMESH-PRIEST-KING

+/- ASSOCIATIONS - Read each pair of words. If the terms are related, place a (+) on the blank line. If the terms are unrelated, place a (-) on the blank line.

  1. _____SCRIBE-WRITER
  2. _____EMPIRE-URUK
  3. _____MESOPOTAMIA-NILE RIVER
  4. _____HAMMURABI-BABYLON
  5. _____CITY-STATE-URUK

CLOSE-ENDED SORTS - Read each group of words, draw a line through the word that does not belong in the group.

  1. EDUBBA, FARMER, CUNEIFORM, SCRIBE
  2. IRRIGATE, CANALS, LEVEES, ZIGGURAT
  3. STYLUS, EMPIRE, SARGON I, AKKAD

WORD MAPS - Choose five vocabulary terms and diagram the terms according to the model.

_____________

(term)

|

_____________________________

(definition)

| | |

_____ _____ _____

(three related ideas)

|

______________

(part of speech)

CATEGORY SORTS - Group the following terms into the appropriate categories: EDUCATION, RELIGION, and EMPIRES.

TERMS: Sargon I, ziggurat, priest, Gilgamesh, scribe, Akkad, armies, Hammurabi, edubba, cuneiform, god, stylus.

ANALOGIES - Circle the term that best completes the analogy.

EGYPT : NILE : : WESTERN MESOPOTAMIA : (Indus, Tigris, or Euphrates)

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STUDY GUIDE

In order to reinforce basic concepts of ancient Mesopotamia, I use a study guide. I usually provide page and paragraph numbers before each question to assist the student in locating the correct answer. Higher order questioning skills are used when discussing the study guide as a class.

MESOPOTAMIA
  1. THE __________ AND __________ ARE TWIN RIVERS THAT BEGIN IN THE MOUNTAINS OF TURKEY. TODAY, THE LAND BETWEEN THE RIVERS IS KNOWN AS __________. IN ANCIENT TIMES, IT WAS CALLED ________________.
  2. THE PEOPLE WHO SETTLED IN SOUTHERN MESOPOTAMIA AROUND 3500 B.C. WERE CALLED THE _______________. THEIR AREA OF MESOPOTAMIA WAS CALLED ______________.
  3. WHAT DID THE SUMERIANS USE TO CONTROL THE TWIN RIVERS?
  4. WHAT CROPS DID THE SUMERIANS PRODUCE?
  5. HOW DID THE SUMERIANS IRRIGATE, OR WATER, THEIR CROPS?
  6. HOW DID THE SUMERIANS BUILD THEIR HOUSES AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS?
  7. DESCRIBE THE MAKE-UP OF A SUMERIAN CITY-STATE.
  8. AT THE CENTER OF EACH SUMERIAN CITY-STATE WAS A TEMPLE, CALLED A ________________.
  9. WHO ATTENDED SCHOOLS IN SUMER?
  10. WHAT WERE THE SCHOOLS IN SUMER CALLED?
  11. WHAT TYPE OF WRITING DID THE SUMERIANS USE?
  12. WHAT INSTRUMENT DID THE SUMERIANS USE TO PRODUCE THEIR WRITING?
  13. WHY WAS A SCRIBE AN IMPORTANT POSITION IN SUMERIAN SOCIETY?
  14. WHO WAS SARGON I, AND WHAT SIGNIFICANT ROLE DID HE PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF MESOPOTAMIA?
  15. LIST FOUR REFORMS, OR IMPROVEMENTS, THAT HAMMURABI CARRIED OUT IN MESOPOTAMIA.
  16. WHAT WAS HAMMURABI'S MOST FAMOUS REFORM?
  17. WHY IS MESOPOTAMIA CALLED "THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION?"
  18. WHAT WERE THE MANY THINGS THAT THE SUMERIANS INVENTED THAT HELPED IMPROVE THEIR WELL-BEING?
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QUIZ

In order to reinforce content learning, I use quizzes to evaluate student knowledge.

SAMPLE QUIZ

SAME/DIFFERENT ASSOCIATIONS - Print a (S) on the blank line if the terms are related. Print a (D) on the blank line if the terms are unrelated.

  1. _____SCRIBE-DOCTOR
  2. _____REFORM-IMPROVEMENT
  3. _____IRRIGATE-WATER
  4. _____EDUBBA-CHURCH
  5. _____TEMPLE-ASSEMBLY
  6. _____GILGAMESH-MERCHANT

CLOSE-ENDED SORTS. Draw a line through the term that does not belong to the group.

  1. BABYLON, MESOPOTAMIA, UR, URUK
  2. SESAME, WHEAT, YAMS, BARLEY
  3. PRIESTS, FARMERS, SAILORS, UNSKILLED WORKERS
  4. WHEEL, PLOW, PAPYRUS, SAILBOAT
  5. LAW, DANCE, IRRIGATION, TAXES

MULTIPLE CHOICE - Read each statement carefully. Decide what answer best completes the statement. Circle the letter of the correct answer.

  1. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS NOT A CHARACTERISTIC OF CIVILIZATION?
    A. CITIES
    B. BANDS
    C. PRIESTS
  2. GOVERNMENTS OF MESOPOTAMIA CENTERED AROUND THE _________.
    A. CITY-STATE
    B. SCULPTURES
    C. EMPIRE
  3. MESOPOTAMIA, LAND OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN CIVILIZATION, WAS INHABITED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE CALLED THE _____________.
    A. EGYPTIANS
    B. IRAQIS
    C. SUMERIANS
  4. WHAT WERE SUMERIAN BUILDINGS MADE OF?
    A. CONCRETE
    B. ANIMAL HIDES
    C. MUD BRICK
  5. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMERIAN CONTRIBUTION TO MODERN SOCIETY?
    A. HIEROGLYPHICS
    B. SPEAR THROWER
    C. PLOW

ANALOGIES - Circle the term that best completes the analogy.

  1. MEDITERRANEAN : SEA : : TIGRIS : (BAY, RIVER, STREAM)
  2. SUMERIANS : MESOPOTAMIA : : AMERICANS : (SAUDI ARABIA, U.S., IRAQ)
  3. HAMMURABI : CODE OF LAW : : SARGON I : (TAXES, PRIEST-KING, EMPIRE)
  4. UR : BABYLON : : PHILADELPHIA : (IRAQ, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA)
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    HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES

    I often use hands-on activities in the classroom to make the content more meaningful and to reach all the different types of learning styles of my students. Beforehand, I will create a direction sheet and scoring rubric before presenting the activity to the class. I will present the activity, explain the scoring rubric, model and demonstrate how to successfully complete the activity, and provide concrete examples of finished products which usually are student-made from previous years.

    Below is a sample list of activities that I have used while teaching the Mesopotamia unit. A brief description of each activity is also included.

    1. CITY-STATE CREATION. Using posterboard and colored pencils, the student designs a Sumerian city-state based on the description in the textbook. Items that should be on the map include: a title, compass rose, scale of miles, legend, a ziggurat, city wall, farmland, irrigation system, narrow winding streets, government buildings, courtyards, and homes of the different social classes.
    2. CARVED CUNEIFORM IN CLAY. After presenting a cuneiform lesson and providing a cuneiform reference sheet, the student creates a clay tablet with cuneiform inscriptions that must be decipherable.
    3. 3-D ZIGGURATS. In cooperative groups, students create ziggurat replicas using either sugar cubes, milk cartons, or styrofoam.
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    UNIT EVALUATIONS

    In lieu of traditional chapter tests, I try to design alternative ways to assess student knowledge. A scoring rubric is always presented to the students when explaining the evaluation so they know how to successfully complete the evaluation.

    1. NEWSPAPER CREATION. The student will have to design a front page of a modern-day newspaper using ancient Mesopotamian content. Items that should be on the front page include a mast, a date line, a byl ine, a wire service, a cut,a cutline, and two articles relating to ancient Mesopotamia.
    2. YOU ARE THERE. The student has to take on the persona of an ancient Mesopotamia and answer questions created by the teacher. The student also has to provide a diagram of his/her locale. All of the information will be placed in a packet prepared by the teacher.
    3. WEBPAGE CREATION. The student creates a webpage of ancient Mesopotamia to demonstrate his/her knowledge of the area. After all, that is the objective of the course in which I created this webpage.
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