Friday, November 17, 2006

Egypt with a Docent

(above: picture of Alexandra holding a replica of a mirror found with King Tut - since they didn't have glass, they used brass for their mirrors instead)
Today we went to our local museum for a homeschoolers-only docent tour of an Egypt exhibit. I thought she would just tell us things we already knew, but I was very mistaken! And, besides learning new things, we got to see and touch things, too.
Here are some highlights:
  • before the tour started, we looked around the gathering room and the docent discussed with us the difference between the pyramids of Egyptian, Mesopotamian (ziggurats), and the Mayan civilizations
  • Alexandra got to lie down on an Egyptian wooden "pillow" - it's like a neck rest, but it is quite a ways off the ground - it looks very uncomfortable
  • I learned that hieroglyphic is an adjective (like "hieroglyphic writings) and hieroglyphs is a noun - I didn't know the difference!
  • we got to smell myrrh! (very nice smell, it's used in expensive perfumes, too)
  • we learned that the length of the linen used in wrappings was about 6 football fields!
  • we got to see a model of the Rosetta Stone and learn how a man deciphered it
  • we learned how you know which way to read hieroglyphs (you look at the pictures of animals and read from nose to tail)
  • we learned that after removing the brain, they stuffed the nose with peppercorn - they believed that when the body woke up, it would sneeze and then start breathing!!!
  • we learned that in the US, Victorian women would have mummy parties - they bought a mummy and the guests unwrapped it and got to keep all of the amulets they found
  • Alexandra got to pick out 2 amulets - she picked a frog, which is wrapped around the foot, and a bull (I think), which is wrapped around the back - I believe she said there are 251 amulets wrapped in a body!!!
  • we got to look at and touch natron
  • we got to see models of the various types of Egyptian pyramids - from the earliest single-layer, to the more complicated Great Pyramid
  • we learned how they made the bases of the pyramids level - they dug a grid into the bedrock (see photo above) and then the flooded it and they knew how to level it by the water!
  • we also learned how the used a level - Alexandra is demonstrating it in the photo above - when the string with a weight on it lined up with a mark on the level, they knew they were leveled
I'm sure I'm forgetting some wonderful things, but it was just a great, informative class! And, it was small, too - only 3 girls and their moms! Alexandra got to ask all the questions she wanted... and so did I.

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