In a unique and engaging lesson, students in Mrs. Kern and Mrs. Orricco’s AP World History classes explored their current lesson in the lens of historical forensics. The assignment, “Autopsy of an Empire”, directed students to act as forensic pathologists to examine the rise and fall of three major Islamic gunpowder empires that flourished between 1450 and 1750 C.E.
The sophomore students were divided into three groups, each assigned the task of researching and becoming experts on either the Safavid, Mughal or Ottoman Empires. The project comprised two distinct components: an obituary and an autopsy report. For the obituary portion, students meticulously researched their assigned empire, utilizing the information to create an informative chart. The obituary functioned as a historical snapshot, analyzing the dynamic life of each empire at its peak.
To complete an autopsy report, students collaborated to analyze the historical factors that contributed to the eventual decline of their assigned empire. The goal was to identify the “cause of death” for each empire, requiring a thorough examination of the circumstances that led to their downfall. To present their findings, each group created a poster to visualize their autopsy, shared their reports and provided their peers with an understanding of the rise and fall of their respective empires. Some students even dressed up as forensic pathologists to enhance the historical simulation.
The Autopsy of an Empire project proved to be a fun and engaging way for students to deepen their historical knowledge while working collaboratively. The assignment successfully brought history to life and even utilized interdisciplinary skills for the sophomores.