History KS2 / KS3: Jobs in 900AD Baghdad

This entertaining reality TV parody introduces AD900 Baghdad and the typical occupations for both men and women, touching on how women were respected but lacked influence in early Islamic society.

The Caliph’s uncompromising Grand Vizier seeks a new apprentice. We meet:

  • Jamila: a slave from Baghdad
  • Yusuf: a market stallholder
  • Ishmail: a doctor
  • Maryam: a nurse
  • Mahmud: a teacher

They all give information about their current place in society and battle it out, against traditional expectations, to impress the king through a set of challenging tasks, which reflect the demands of the role Caliph Al-Mu’tadid is offering.

It is a life-changing opportunity, but a harsh punishment threatens those who fail.

This short film is from the BBC series, History of Early Civilisations - Islam. Through parodies of reality TV shows, this series introduces different aspects of life in the Islamic Golden Age, circa AD900.

Teacher Notes

Explore how values contrast to present day and draw comparisons with pupils’ earlier studies about British Bronze Age.

Compile a class glossary of Islamic terms and create a crossword with definitions.

Research the background to the fictional workers and the regions they have come from.

Compile a profile to submit to the king, outlining their qualifications and a ‘business plan’ for what they will bring to the position in their area of expertise in line with Muslim innovations.

Devise an additional challenge for the candidates based on Islamic traditions.

Explore and comment on the role of women in ancient Islamic society in contrast to today.

Compare and contrast British society in parallel times.

Explore the influence on our own history and society of ancient Islamic civilisation.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at Key Stages 2 and 3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Second and Third Level in Scotland.

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