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Mummies come alive.

You can imagine the excitement of my sixth graders when I announced that we would be creating our own Egyptian mummy cases. The students were already involved in the study of Egyptian history and culture, and were quite fascinated by the ornamentation and hieroglyphics of these artisans. I showed the students various visuals to aid in their design - sarchophagi, such as Tutankhamen's, and various Egyptian artworks and artifacts.

I began the lesson y explaining about the mummification process, and the significance of afterlife to the Egyptians. We noted that the small stature of the Egyptians was very close to the size of our sixth graders.

We divided the class into teams of two; one student lay down on brown butcher paper, while the other traced his or her outline with white chalk. At this point, the students were asked to begin thinking about who their mummy cases would represent, and what kind of life that person would take lead when alive.

Next, the face, hands and the various sections of the mummy case were drawn lightly in chalk, and and cut out. All areas were outlined in black, and filled in with vivid colors - oil pastels were chosen for their rich colors and their ability to cover areas heavily. Newspaper pads were placed under the butcher paper to make the coloring easier. The face and hands were felt uncolored until the final step. Students were encouraged to add decorative head-dresses, jewelry, hieroglyphics, crossed hands and staffs.

At last we were ready for the final step...gilding the case. The face, hands and other areas were covered in gold tempera paint. I thinned the tempera with water ahead of time, and passed it out in small paper cups so the students would work slowly, and not apply too much paint. After the gold paint dried, black and colored oil pastel outlines were redrawn as necessary. As we worked, we kept the mummy cases pinned to the bulletin boards around the room. Watching our progress unfold, and the gilding being applied, was as exciting for the students as seeing the finished product.

To complete the project, student teams named their mummies, and designed a 3" (8 cm) heiroglyphic border on a sheet of 11 x 14" (28 x 46 cm) parchment paper. The center section was used for an account of the mummy's life. For example, Price Hotep - beloved son of Pharaoh.

These life-sized projects were displayed at our annual art fair with great success. Parents and teachers alike were impressed by the professional-looking results. Cooperative learning, as well as living history, made the mummies come alive for our students.
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Title Annotation:life-size mummy case drawings made in a classroom
Author:Hartselle, Randy L.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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