Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hieroglyphics ... Learning to Write the Ancient Egyptian Way

After we made our own papyrus ..... we bought some real stuff from Amazon!  And then each wrote our favorite quote using Egyptian hieroglyphics for the rest of us to decipher.

First we learned what hieroglyphics are ...

And then we learned about how they were first translated using the Rosetta Stone.

After learning about hieroglyphics we found a very simple chart of single syllable hieroglyphics and set about writing out our favorite quote.   There are lots of different charts out there for single syllables, multiple syllables, and entire words.  We chose to go the simple route and use a chart that gave us a hieroglyph for each letter.  Well, actually ours was missing a few letters so we had to write our words without some vowels and just sort of sound words out the best we could. 

First, we made our own ink using soot crushed to a powder and an egg yolk. We added some black food coloring because out soot was pretty pale!  We mixed it all together and added enough oil to make it smooth and an ink-like consistency.  

Then, we used paintbrushes to scribe our sacred writing on to the papyrus.  And then we took turns trying to translate each other's quotes.

Making Papyrus

We made our own papyrus!  Well, we tried!

First we learned how papyrus was made.

Then we ordered this kit from Rainbow Resources.

First you have to soak the papyrus for a few hours.

Then squeeze out each strip and roll it thin.  Place it back it in the water overnight.  

Repeat this process for a few days until the strips are thin and transparent.  Then you lay the strips next to each other, overlapping a little bit.  First one way, then the other.

Then you place the paper between paper towels and roll it a few times on each side, replacing the paper towels as they become wet.  Finally, you place the paper between fresh paper towels and press it under something heavy.

After pressing the papyrus for a few days and changing the towels in between and letting it dry outside.... it fell apart.  Somehow we did not get the natural glue out of the poor papyrus!  We think we needed to beat it longer and harder.  Maybe the rolling pin was too subtle!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Archaeology ... Learning to Piece Together an Artifact

As part of of study of archaeology and Ancient Egypt, we acted like real archaeologists and pieced together the puzzle of an ancient artifact.  Well, a poorly decorated terra cotta flower pot.  But you get the idea!

I drew patterns on two pots and then broke them up into pieces.  For an added challenge, I mixed the pieces together.  I removed a few pieces as well and I guess I could have made it harder but throwing in a few pieces that didn't belong.

Then the kids had to sort through the pieces and figure out what the item was and how it fit together.  Just like a puzzle.

Archaeology ... The study of past ways of life through analysis of surviving physical remains (aka garbage)

Archaeology is a big part of exploring ancient Egypt, so today we dug through the garbage to learn about what archaeologists do!

We learned about the archaeological discovery of King Tuts tomb.

We got a great overview of archaeology from Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

Watched an archaeological dig.

And learned about some of the most exciting archaeological finds in history.

Then we went on our own dig!  Through the garbage!

A few weeks ago I emptied garbage cans from different rooms into different bags and saved them.  Then I presented the bags to the kids and asked them to come up with a story about the life of the person or people that lived in the area where the artifacts were found.  

After getting over their initial yuck of digging through the garbage, they really got into imagining what all of the different things put together painted a picture of.  It was fun to watch them wonder about things that just didn't fit and try to figure out if it was an accident that it was there or if there was some meaning behind it!  

They definitely realized how hard it is to be an archaeologist and how you really are observing and hypothesizing and really just guessing about what the real story is!

Below is the analysis one made of the garbage ...

Archeology Project

Bag One-
 Empty Body Wash
 Two Footed tights packages
 Two Transition tights packages
 Two Old Socks
 Flowered Shirt
 Nail Polish Remover Bottle
 Paper Towel
 Three Empty Diet Coke Cans
 Magazine Page


I believe that the person who lived here was performer.The tights suggest that the person was a dancer, most likely a ballerina. The shirt reminded me of something someone might where over a leotard to ballet class. Performers don’t wear nail polish because it shows from the stage, so that could be the reason for the nail polish remover. Diet coke has a lot of caffeine in it, so it would be good for people who stay up late and need to be up early in the morning. The magazine could hint towards this, because performers often have a long way to travel, and a magazine could be a source of entertainment while they were on the go. The other items weren't a huge help, because they are ordinary objects that almost everyone has.

Bag Two-
 Blue Ribbon
 Sidewalk Crack Photo
 School Project
 Online Scavenger HunT Paper
 Papers on A Tarot Course


The person who lived here was probably a student. The school project was what convinced me for the most part, because not a lot of people who aren’t students own a school project. The blue ribbon was probably a hair ribbon, worn by a school girl. The online scavenger hunt also could have been a school project. The sidewalk crack photo could have been something the person took walking home from school. The only piece that doesn’t fit is the tarot course papers.

Bag Three-
 Plaid Fabric circle
 Hot pink Tulle
 Wrapping Paper
 Fabric store Receipts
 Grey Fabric
 Blu Fabric
 Empty Ribbon wheels
 Legging End
 Tan Ribbon


Based on what was in the bag, the person who lived here was probably a seamstress. The fabric would have been to use for sewing, along with the tulle. The fabric store receipts would have been from a shopping trip to get more supplies. The ribbon could have been used for trim, or for gift wrapping the stuff the person made. The wrapping paper also could have been used for wrapping.

"When I Studied at the Library of Alexandria ...." ... An Historical Fiction Writing Assignment

As part of our study on Ancient Egypt, we learned about the great Library of Alexandria.  Not only was it a repository for almost every book in the world but it was a place for great thinkers to come and discuss ideas, experiment, and write.  They even lived there!  Some of the greatest discoveries in math, science, and philosophy came out of work done at the Library.

The Royal Library of Alexandria Documentary

To help the kids really understand what it would have been like at the Library, they each wrote a short historical fiction story from the perspective of a young scholar coming to study at the Library.    Excerpts from their stories....

"I, Chloi Katalavaínoun, the young learner , am about to enter my lifelong dream. That dream is to study at the Library of Alexandria.

I am almost at the door of a marvelous building. The library is a wonderful two-story edifice made of a soft brown limestone. It has many separate buildings, one completely devoted to the works of Homer! The main entrance is an enormous door made of dark wood. As I approach the door, I hear the conversations of the locals. This must be a very chaotic place to live. I open the door to find a humongous room with a spectacular domed roof. On every wall, there are hundreds of shelves with hundreds of scrolls in them. There are so many people here!"

"Once I stepped inside, it was just as awe-inspiring. It was all open in the center, with halls leading off in all directions, and every level exposed could be seen. Each level was held up by smooth white columns, and the uppermost level was only surrounded by a railing, replacing the columns with statues. The center of the room was filled with tables to work at, and in the center there was even a small pool of water.

I was thrilled to be here, and i couldn’t wait to start reading. My younger sister, and research partner trailed behind me.

“Rida, have you ever seen a place this beautiful?” She said in awe.

“Only in my dreams, Eadala.” I said leading her inside.

The two of us were here, not just for research, but also to take a class or two. The room where the class was held was small, with a platform for the speaker in the center. Along one wall, were three large stone steps to sit on. The wall across from that was only half size, allowing me to see out into Egypt."