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To remedy this problem of superficial coverage of early world cultures, I am planning to identify a natural area of emphasis within each unit. One way to draw students into these cultures is to make them active participants in, rather than passive recipients of, their own learning. To illustrate this approach, I have chosen Egypt as my case study because it has become clear to me over the past five years that any attempt to present the history of Egypt must place its emphasis on art. Through analysis of Egyptian tomb art, students will find a different and, I believe, more effective way into Egyptian culture. While Egypt lends itself to an interdisciplinary blending of history, practices, and customs, the real change in this unit is the methodology and study techniques. Once used for the study of Egypt, this approach can be used with other cultures as well.
In his article titled “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method,” Jules Prown proposed a method of object analysis which helps students experience art rather than look at it. I intend to engage my students actively in the process of “encounter[ing] the past at the first hand” by giving them “direct sensory experience of surviving historical events.” Using Prown’s method of object analysis on four categories of objects, I will demonstrate how connections can be made between objects and the beliefs expressed about them by the people who made the objects. This unit teaches students how to see more when they look at artifacts and, more than that, it teaches them how to answer their questions about these objects (pyramids, mummies, shawabtis, and canopic jars) and others.
(Recommended for World Civilization classes, grade 9; World Cultures classes, grades 7 and 8; and Contemporary Issues—Middle East classes, grades 11 and 12)
Ancient Egypt Tombs Egyptian History Religion