A few weeks ago we had the great fortune of attending a workshop at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. It had been organised by someone outwith our group so we had chance to meet other home educators which is always nice. I had never been there before and was bowled over by what we found. The centre houses the collection for all the Glasgow council run museums and art aglleries. Only 2% of the collection is ever on view at any time, the rest is kept at the GMRC. It’s an immense building holding over a million objects.
The workshop we were attending was about ancient Egypt. The children at the workshop ranged from 4 years to 13 years but the facilitator kept everyone engaged and learning lots, each at their own level. It started with some storytelling, questions and discussion about ancient Egypt. Once the scene had been set the role play began.
One child was chosen to be Hefta, a wealthy, young Egyptian girl who had recent died. The workshop leader went through the purification rituals and how the body would have been prepared for mumification. Then another child was chosen to be Anubis, the god who presided over the mummification process.
Hefta read out five statements and the gods voted on whether they thought she was telling the truth or not. Thoth document the results on some papyrus, a red mark denoting and truth and a black mark an untruth.
After this, Maat, the goddess of truth, further verified Hefta’s honesty by weighing her heart. If it was heavier than Maat’s feather she couldn’t enter the afterlife where as a light heart was seen to be a pure heart, giving the deceased access to the afterlife.
Throughout the process we learned numerous facts about everyday life in ancient Egypt, including about social structures, beliefs of the day and building techniques. The workshop leader had so much knowledge!
The second part of the workshop took us into the stores themselves. We went along labyrinthine corridors, bookended by sealed doors and eventually ended in the ancient Egypt store. There were rows upon rows of shelves here covered by cages, behind which were hundreds of ancient artefacts.
The workshop leader shone a torch into the cages and talked o us about some of the objects, explaining about the symbolism of the marks on them and how and where they were found. Then we were given opportunity to handle some. We gathered around a table wearing white gloves. We had to be sure our bodies touched the table so that if anyone dropped anything it wouldn’t crash onto the floor. The objects we passed around and studied were 3000-5000 years old. My children and I found touching something so old incredibly moving.
When the workshop ended the children were reluctant to leave. They had all learned so much and felt immersed in the subject. Mine are still enthusing about what they did there.