Girls' School Uncover Ancient Egypt

September 25, 2013 at 9:43 AM

With thanks to Mrs Hayley Dennis-Wolf

Ancient Egypt was one of the earliest, advanced and most fascinating civilizations in the history of mankind as the Year 3 and 4 girls have recently discovered. Not only were they known for their elaborate religious beliefs and practices but also incredible architecture that almost defies belief.

During Term 3, the girls’ social sciences focus has been Ancient Egypt and as part of this unit the girls travelled to the Auckland Museum to spend time in the Ancient Worlds Gallery looking at the Egyptian artefacts. Egyptology has been a constant source of wonder for children and adults alike ever since Howard Carter uncovered Tutankhamen’s burial site in 1922, excavating a wealth of objects that caught the world’s imagination. 

On permanent display is the Museum’s only adult mummy which is a constant draw card.  Her name according to inscriptions is Ta Sedgement and her age is perceived to be around 32 years old, a relatively lengthy life in that era. Scribe’s boxes, pots and examples of the mummification of animals were also on exhibition. The girls particularly enjoyed looking at the designs and colours of Ancient Egyptian jewellery. Both classes also spent time with the museum educator where they were introduced to the concept of the Rosetta stone (the ancient key to deciphering hieroglyphs) and examples of objects that were important to everyday life for the Ancient Egyptians such as papyrus. The girls also learnt about Egyptian Gods and the importance of the scarab beetle (a symbol of hope and the restoration of life), shabtis (funerary figurines) and other Ancient Egyptian symbols.

Excursions beyond the classroom such as this bring learning to life and allow our girls to learn first-hand from others who are specialists in their subject. This was a trip the girls really enjoyed.

To culminate their studies, the girls held an ‘Ancient Egyptian Day’ in the last week of term. The objectives for the day were to show the structure of an Ancient Egyptian society - and to celebrate the end of their study in a fun way!

Each girl was assigned a role by ballot and this was the character they had to assume for the day. Bags of anonymous basic costumes were laid out with the girls knowing that whichever they picked, that was the person they had to be. They were able to take the costumes home and embellish them in whichever way they chose – so long as it was in keeping with their role.

Just as in Egyptian times, life is not always fair, and much as each girl hoped they might be a royal rather than a slave, the roles of Nefertiti and Cleopatra were snapped up by teachers, Mrs Roband and Ms McKenzie! The roles available matched the structure of society; a couple of royals, a few nobles, some professionals, more crafts people and lots of peasants and slaves! To illustrate this, the girls went out into the gardens and created a ‘horizontal’ pyramid to understand the makeup of this structure.

The rest of the day was a mixture of fun and learning; cooking Egyptian delicacies, crafts and mathematical games and stories. Undoubtedly, a day they will remember!

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