The Walters Art Museum – Ancient Egypt & Nubia

Even though we live close to Washington, DC and the Smithsonian, it isn’t always possible to take the kids down to peruse the various museums along the National Mall. This is why Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum is a great resource for home school families trying to teach ancient civilizations. Although the purpose of our trip was to focus on Egyptian artifacts, the museum has collections from Greece, Rome, and the Ancient Near East.

The museum’s Ancient Egypt & Nubia exhibit provides a fantastic overview of Egyptian history from the Old to the New Kingdoms. By far the most impressive pieces are the two monumental statues of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet that welcome you and the intact mummy, which is still in its wrappings. Both of my older girls have previously been to the British Museum and been able to see the vast highlights of their collection. But with the Walter’s both M1 and M2 were happy to walk around and see the smaller pieces that shaped the lives of those in ancient Egypt whether it was in this life or the next. Of particular note were the canopic jars, shabtis, senet boards, and a duck cosmetics holder. The Egyptian collection also offers a small number of interactive exhibits to include an overview of the process of mummification, which is also available online.

Website: Walters Museum of Art – Ancient Egypt and Nubia Collection

Know Before You Go: Those with disabilities should from the Centre Street entrance. On street parking is available, with a larger garage at the intersection of Cathedral and Centre street.

Location: The Museum is located at 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

Hours: The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10AM to 5PM, although it is open late until 9PM on Thursdays. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday, as well as Martin Luther King Day (observed), Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Admission: Admission is free.

Week Four Review – The Old Kingdom of Egypt

We recently had some guests visit us in Maryland, so the last two weeks have been combined to focus on the Old Kingdom of Egypt. This also gave us some time to focus on our project, which was making a mummy.

Story of the World:

This chapter from Story of the World was broken up into two narration activities, Making Mummies and Egyptian Pyramids. M1 answered the review questions for both components.

Projects:

I should note that we actually did a lot of work on Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome last for the 2015/2016 school term when we were living in England. Thankfully a lot of their work made it onto the boat back to Maryland, so we were able to review what we had done last year.

Project 1: Mix and Match the Pyramid Type

I had M1 cut our pre-printed photographs of a Mastaba, Djoser’s Step Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid, and the True Pyramids at Giza. We then arranged them on a historical timeline to illustrate the development of pyramids from Old Kingdom.pryramid-match

Project 2: Outfitting Your Own Tomb

We discussed some of the items that Egyptian Kings and Queens were buried with so that they could then be used in the afterlife. Using catalogs and old magazines or free drawing, I had M1 design a tomb for herself with the things she would want to take with her as an Egyptian queen.

outfit-your-own-tomb

Project 3: Making Scented Oils

This project was designed to mimic the types of oils Egyptians used on a daily basis and when preparing the dead for mummification. A good recipe can be found here, although you can replace patchouli with lavender.

Project 4: Make a Mummy

We have done this project twice now, and it really is a lot of fun, although your results can be mixed. Story of the World recommends using a whole chicken, to include the giblets. To avoid issues with salmonella, we have chosen to stick with apples and eggplants as our mummification medium. To make a mummy you will need:

  • enough natron salt (50/50 mixture of salt and baking soda) to cover your mummy
  • apple
  • linen or gauze bandages
  • essential oil from above
  • white glue
  • water
  • small paint brush

To start, cut your apple into a mummy. Better yet, you can use a gingerbread cookie cutter to cut your apple to look like a person. With the apple, we were able to have the girls dig out the seeds (to represent the internal organs). We then covered the apple on the top and bottom with natron salt. Leave to sit for 7 to 10 days. As control, we out a similar piece of apple to show the decaying process.

After about ten days, break open the natron mixture and retrieve the apple. Dust the salt off the apple using a damp cloth, but then pat the apple dry. Use the scented oil to coat the apple. Then tear the linen into 1-inch strips. Mix white glue and water (1–2 parts water to 1 part glue). Dip the strips of linen into the glue, then begin wrapping. Wrap the wings and legs separately from the body. Once that is complete, wrap the body. It should be wrapped in at least 2–3 layers. If you like, wrap a few amulets into the mummy like the Egyptians did. Let it dry completely. You can then use salt dough, clay or a small shoe box to build a sarcophagus for your mummy.

Read Aloud:

For the Old Kingdom, we read pages 18 to 19 and pages 60 to 67 of Usborne’s Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. The first section goes into the history of the Old Kingdom, while the second section goes into depth on embalming and mummification, then the Pyramid structures at Giza. You can also read pages 116 to 117 of the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. M1 also re-read The Magic Tree House: Mummies in the Morning by Susan Pope.

Listen and Watch Aloud:

There are a ton of great audio resources on the embalming and mummification process. The ladies at Stuff You Missed in History Class has a podcast on Embalming and Mummification Rituals of Ancient Egypt. The Getty Museum’s video on mummification also provides a simple three minute introduction to the process. The BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects also opens their series with a piece on the Mummy of Hornedjitef.

On burial architecture, there are an equal number of audio resources. To start, there is Stuff You Missed in History Class’ Djoser and Egypt’s First Pyramid, which goes into the history of Egypt’s development of pyramids from mastabas. There are a number of short histories on the development of pyramids, but if you children can sit through longer documentaries, I would recommend those from the Discovery and History Channels.