Students Research Page...
Here you will find information on items you may have excavated in our "Archaeology Lesson Kits"
Find the category of kit you have excavated....
Search for the image and relevant information about the artifact you are now researching. Use the links provided to help you search for more information.
Oil Lamp - Head of Medusa - First Century AD
This oil lamp has two small filler holes beneath the image of the Greek head of Medusa. Lamps were used as an important item of Temple furniture as well as votive offerings. When temples were excavated archaeologist often would find large caches of unused (unlit) lamps in a storeroom off the rear of the temple and would sometimes find a large pit of buried lamps behind the temple, a result of the necessity of disposing of the massive excesses of votive lamps when the storerooms could no longer hold them.
Question: Who is Medusa and what role does he play in Greek mythology?
Why would someone have an oil lamp with Medusa on it?
Oil Lamp - Athena - c400BC
This oil lamp has the head of Athena wearing a helmet emblazoned with olive leaves.
Question: Who is Athena and what role does she play in Greek mythology and Greek life?
Oil Lamp - Greek Amphorae - c400BC
This oil lamp has three wick holes and a central filler hole with imagery of Greek amphoras and other items on it.
Question: What benefit is there in three wick holes on this oil lamp? What imagery is there on the lamp and what is its purpose?
Dekadrachma of Syracuse - 400BC
Tetradrachma of Athens 480-400BC
Tetradrachma of Alexander the Great 336BC
Tetradrachma of Gela Sicily 470BC
Tetradrachma of Rhegium, Italy 435-425BC
Tetradrachma of Naxos, Sicily 735BC
Questions: What side of these coins are the reverse and obverse?
Why the imagery of these coins?
What role do you think each coin uses its imagery as a form of propaganda to the people?
Why Greek coins from Italy and Sicily?
A wall section with the image of Artemis.
Questions: Who is Artemis? At what stage was Artemis added to the Greek pantheon? A temple dedicated to her was built a which city? Why do you think so very little exists of this temple today?
A wall section with the image of Yreia.
Questions: Who was Yreia and what does the word mean?
Ancient Greek Library Papyrus Seal
During the 3rd century AD a Roman and Greek library in Israel was destroyed by invaders from the East who set the library alight destroying the papyrus scrolls. These scroll shad been tucked away on shelves in the library, each one sealed with a clay seal impression, which instead of being destroyed by the fire like the papyrus, were actually preserved as if fired in a kiln. All that remained were piles of hardened clay bullae and fragments of ash from the burnt papyrus. This seal of of Greek origin with the impression of Hercules.
Questions: What is a bulla and what is the origin of the term? Why would an owner of a scroll use a seal with am image of Hercules on it? Who was Hercules?
A series of Friezes from the Acropolis in Athens.
1. A low relief, pentelic marble sculpture created to adorn the upper part of the Parthenon’s naos. It was sculpted between ca. 443 and 438 BC, most likely under the direction of Pheidias.
2. Soldiers in battle.
3. This is a votive relief called the "Contest of apobates". The apobate ('dismounter') was a fully armed warrior who rode in a chariot for a while, dismounted, and ran alongside the chariot for a time, and then jumped back onto the chariot.
Questions: What is a "frieze"? Why were they so prolific throughout Ancient Greece? It is aid that most of these ancient carvings and statuary were actually painted in ancient times. What would they have looked like and what happened to the paint? What has happened to the statues and Frieze sections from the Acropolis and what is being done to restore the Parthenon? What are the Elgin Marbles? What can you learn about your excavated frieze? What type of marble was used for these panels and where did the marble come from? How was such a massive building as the Parthenon built?
Statue of Leonidas I of Sparta.
Questions: Who was Leonidas I? Was he an actual person or mythological figure? Did actual Spartan soldiers fight in battle merely in loin cloths as portrayed in this relief (and in the movie "300"? Why is such lack of armour impractical in battle and why do you thing he is portrayed this way? Can you research actual Spartan weaponry?
Click HERE to go to the TIME TEAM website where you can read all about the program,
Watch video clips, do an interactive "time Team" dig on line and much more.
Watch the series on the History Channel.
Click HERE to go to one of Archaeology Magazine's Interactive digs in Pompeii. Learn all about the excavations going on there, follow the day by day experiences of the archaeologists and much more.
Roman Oil Lamp. A replica of a single wick oil lamp from Pompeii. This lamp has a single filler hole and a single wick hole in order produce a single flame. The lamp has a wreath imaged around the filler hole and a handle that has a hole in it in order to be able to hang the lamp up when not in use. This lamp show evidence of having been used, notable the soot around the wick hole.The original has a patina that includes hardened grey ash. The lamp has the makers mark on its base. In Pompeii several 100 lamps were found in short lengths of streets, the high street of Stabiae 500 lamps were found in less than 700 meters while in Second street where 132 shops needed illumination at night 396 lamps were found. These streets being lined with shops selling their wares at night needed to be brightly lit with lamps both on counters and hanging from above. There were also shrines at street corners that were lit at night by lamps as well as many temples. Grave sites outside the city walls would also be lit by votive lamps at night, and so became a sure indication that you were approaching a city.
Question: What were wreaths symbolic of in ancient Rome?
Question: Why would they wish to hang the lamp up when not in use?
Question: What sort of oil would they have used in this lamp?
Roman Oil Lamp. A replica of a double wick oil lamp from Pompeii. This lamp has a single filler hole but a double wick hole producing a double flame. The lamp is embellished with floral designs on the handle which again has a hole for hanging when not in use, and on the top surface has a relief of a charioteer. This lamp has no makers mark.
Question: Why would they wish to hang this lamp when not in use?
Question: What is the benefit of two wick holes?
Question: What is the trade off of two wick holes?
Gladiator Gaming Token. A small bronze token with a single letter on it. These tokens are thought to have been used to gain entry to particular section of the Gladiatorial arena. Most Gladiatorial games were provided free to the public, but specific areas were allocated for certain members of the public and those in elite sections of society. Some tokens (often made of clay,) were used to garner support fora particular gladiator or to try to urge the swaying of support in the event of his defeat in the arena.
Question: Why were Gladiatorial games provided free to the public?
Question: What sections of society were segregated in the arena seating?
Roman Theatre Token - Female Figure
Question: What would the imagery on these tokens have suggested? What areas of the arena would a male sit in, a female, or a child?
Question: Why would tokens be required if most gladiatorial games were free?
Question: Where there any other types of theatre besides arena games in the Roman empire?
Roman Seal Impression (Bulla)
a large seal impression, created by the bronze seal seen here. Ornate figure of a man holding an implement, while beside him is a plant and two vessels. The backs of many of the bullae still show evidence of the material to which they were attached.
Questions: What do you think the iconography of this seal represented? What did this show about the owner of the seal? Why would so many seal impressions still exist yet the objects to which they were attached not exist?
Seal Impression made from a ring seal.
This seal ring bears the impression of a mans head.He wears distinctive headwear and is shown in profile much like Roman coins do.
Questions: Why would a person wear a seal ring? What did the ring indicate about the person who was wearing it? Would the image on the ring represent the owner or would it more likely represent his office?What would this person most likely use the seal for, that is what would he have sealed with it? What can you tell from the back of the seal impressions?
Roman Jewelery Moulds. Jewelery was moulded in gold and silver as well as a glass paste called faience. Various moulds would be cut from stone or gypsum to allow quick fashioning of pieces.
Question: What types of jewelery were common to Roman citizens?
Question: Where would they have found some of the precious stones and metals used for making the jewelery?
Roman Legionary Stamped paving brick. A stamped paving brick from the Roman Tenth Legion subtitled "Fretensis" Many legions when occupying a city would stamp bricks and pavers with their own legionary insignia.
Question: Who was the Roman Tenth legion?
Question: Why "Fretensis"?
Roman Flint Strikers/Fire Starters. Flint strikers were used from ancient times right through to the late medieval period.
Question: How would a flint striker have been used?
Roman Lead Weight. Lead weights (as well as weights made of stone) were used throughout the ancient world for various purposes.
Question: What do you think a small lead weight of this size could have been used for?
Penannular Broach - Cloak Pin - Used somewhat like a fibula was used as a sort of pin that held the tunic at the shoulders.
Question: Can you work out how this pin was attached so that it could not fall out?
Roman Fibulae - Fibulae were the ancient "safety pin" clothes fastener of the ancient world.
Question: Can you identify the date and origin of this style of fibulae? Where did the word fibulae come from? Who would have worn fibulae? Why?
In Roman times dolphins and other sea creatures were popular in decorations both in the home and in jewelery. They were usually associated with Neptune.
Questions: Why were dolphins so popular particularly in mosaics? How could a dolphin relate to the god Neptune? Why did the Romans worship so many gods particularly gods of the sea?
Roman Iron arrowhead - this is one of many designs of arrowhead used throughout the Roman Empire. It has a tang so that it could be attached to a hole in the end of the arrow shaft.
Question: What metals were arrowheads made from during the Roman period? How were arrows used in battle?Why would an arrowhead have a broken tip?
Roman Hypocaust Brick Fragment - The Romans excelled at building technologies. They perfected the making of cement, their building works across the empire still exist to amaze us today.
Question: What is a "hypocaust"? What were they used for?
Another Roman Hypocaust tile this time from Roman Londonium. This one has a different form of moulded lines across the box tile again as a means to support a plaster overlay. This one has a large formed hole in it....I wonder why?
Roman Roof Tile Fragment - The Romans developed a system of roof tiles that interlocked making their buildings watertight and secure.
There were two sections to this roof tile system - the "Tegulae" and the "imbrices" that interlocked together.
Question: Which one is this tile segment? How was it secured to the roof?
Roman Tesserae from Roman Britain - from a Roman Villa in Isleham in Cambridgeshire. These were used to decorate the floors of certain rooms in Roman Villas and were an indication of high status. Various types were used, these were a large type made from baked clay.
Question: 1.You have found a datable Roman coin sitting directly on top of a layer of Tesserae.Can you date the Tesserae? 2. You have found a datable Roman coin below a fixed layer of tesserae, can you now date the tesserae?
How are tesserae made? What are they made from and how were they coloured? What is the general interpretation when finding a tesserae floor insitu in a Roman excavation?
A Roman inscription (part) most likely from a mortarium.It bears the makers stamp. From the Vicus in Germiniacum in present day Liberchies in Belgium, a station on the road from Bavai (france) to Cologne (Germany). ".....EVAVSII"
Questions: Can you decipher the inscription? Does it give you any clues to what it was attached to? What is a Vicus? What part did this Vicus play in Roman society, specifically as it was on a major transport route?
Roman Pottery Fragment
A piece of Roman Glazed coarse-ware from the same Vicus as the inscription above. It is most likely part of an urn. Note that the pottery is a dark grey in colour and is glazed only on the outside, including circular and dot impressions as a decoration.
Questions: Why would a pot be glazed on the outside only when made from such a coarse pottery fabric? How do you think the decorations were added? What would the original piece have been used for? What is a Vicus and where in the Vicus would this sort of item most likely be found?
A group of Samianware pottery sherds from the same bowl all from the same Vicus as the two items above. These are Form 37 bowl fragments. 1st century AD. Samianware indicated a high status habitation.
Questions: Why is Samianware an indication of a high status residence? What is the process in which it is made? How were the decorations made? What would you compare it with today?
Where was Samianware made? Where was it mostly exported to?
If all three items above (Inscription/Urn piece/Samianware were found in the vicinity of each other in a Vicus what does this tell you? By the way, a fragment of painted fresco was also found nearby!
Roman Lock-bolt and Key
An iron lock-bolt and key. Lock-bolts are usually the only remaining part of a door found in Roman excavations. Why do you think this is so? If you were to find some of the wood, under what conditions would it be found? How do you think this lock-bolt worked? How would a Roman carry his key?
Roman Gooseneck Spoon
A reproduction of a Roman spoon found in Roman Britain dated to the second century AD.
It is characterised by its elegant goose-neck shaped, pointed handle. This particular shaped handle was used to extract meat from bones and crustaceans.
Spoons identical to this have been found in the ruins of Pompeii dated to early 1st century AD.
NOTE: This item is part of the Archaeology Outdoor Kit "Expansion Pack".
Roman Bronze and Iron Razor with handle shaped as a lion.
Questions:How did Roman men shave? What would they have used for soap to lubricate the blade?
Research Roman hygiene and how a large army on the move kept clean?
Roman Military Diploma/Citizenship plaque
On completing a full period of service in the Roman Army a soldier would be awarded full Roman Citizenship, and would be issued with a small engraved metal plaque listing who he was and who he served under.
The inscription on this plaque reads as follows:
DAT) A AV(T
(standard legal text)
A)D III NON IVL
(date of issue is the 5th July)
(Consuls name not preserved)
(Name of unit would be to the let of this)
Standard legal citizenship text)
Questions: Who could join the Roman army? Could foreigners (non Romans) join?
How long would one have to serve to obtain such a citizenship? What were the privileges of becoming a Roman citizen? Can you fill in any of the gaps in the inscription?
Roman Armour Pieces
Chain Maille - riveted
Questions: Various forms of armour were used by the Roman army over time. Some examples will be found in our kits. There are two types of Lorica plating used for making breastplates, namely Lorica Squamata and Lorica Hamata. How were these used, and how were they made into practical armour. What was the difference. How were other forms of materials used such Lorica Segmentata and chain maille? What various forms of chain maille were used by the Romans and what were the advantages and disadvantages of each type? Which of the four types mentioned would you choose to wear if you were a Roman soldier?
The pieces below can be found in more than one kit. Some will be found in the Roman world kit or Pottery of the Ancient World kit.
Section of Roman North African Redware Oil Lamp.
A section of a Roman North African Oil Lamp 4th century AD. Emblazoned with dolphins and sea creatures. The hole in the lamp is where oil would be poured to fill the lamp.
Questions?: Why were dolphins so popular in Roman imagery? What other creatures appear on this lamp? Why? What is Roman Redware?
A piece of a Samianware bowl
The base of a piece of Samianware with the tail of a ?mythical creature embossed into the inside base.
Questions: What did the finding of Samianware indicate in an archaeological excavation? Where was Samianware made? What period was it made? What did this image indicate about its owner and what was it?
Stamped Samianware sherd
This tiny piece of Samianware could tell an archaeologist an enormous amount of information about both the site in which it was found as well as the place in which it was originally made, not to mention what it could tell us about trade in the Roman period.
Questions: What is Samianware? What could a stamp on a base tell us about its place of manufacture?
What can we learn from this about trade? What else can you learn from this piece?
Ancient Tools, artifacts and beads from the Neolithic period - North Africa
Click HERE for a Video Presentation.
Need to identify text on a manuscript fragment?
You have found a papyrus manuscript fragment, and perhaps an inkwell....
QUESTION: What does this tell you? Does it necessarily mean writing took place here or not?
What form of text is written in it? Can you approximately date the text? Can you decipher any of the text? Why are fragments of papyrus found in some areas of the ancient world and not in others? ie What makes some papyrus survive buried yet other disappear altogether?
A tribute Penny is believed to be a solver denarius from the reign of Caesar Tiberius (AD 14 to 37). The portrait on the coin's obverse (front) is Tiberius who ruled during the life of Jesus Christ. The obverse reads: " Tiberius, Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus." The reverse shows a seated female thought to be Livia, Tiberius' mother with the inscription "High Priest".
QUESTION: Why do you think this coin was called a tribute coin? How does this coin found in your excavation help date the level? What is the earliest date of this excavation level?
The shekel or Tetradrachm, was the largest silver coin issued by the city of Tyre in Phoenicia. The coin's obverse depicts an image of Melkart or Hercules and the reverse shows an eagle with its claw on a ships rudder, the date, mintmark and the inscription; "tyre the holy and inviolable" It is thought that the shekel may be one of the thirty pieces of solver paid to Judas for betraying Christ.
QUESTION: What role does propaganda play in the minting of coins? Why do almost all coins have the head of a ruler imaged on it? Why an eagle on the prow of a ship?
Our Archaeology Lesson Kit - Outdoor Kit comes with many varied items categorised to suit a single level (stratum) single baulk excavation. All items within the kit are tailored to suit the one period.
You will at times find items in the kit from another civilisation, but they are placed there to test the students analytical research. eg. Why could you find an Egyptian arrowhead in a Roman context?
Many items in this kit can be found either elsewhere on this page or in other areas on our website.
The following replica arrowheads are cast from resin from originals in a private collection.
They are meant purely for display/educational purposes only. It is the responsibility of the class teacher to make sure that all components of these kits are used appropriately particularly if the students are planning to take their fins home.
Egyptian Flint Arrowhead - Naqada II Period
QUESTIONS: When was the Naqada II Period? Who were the primary inhabitants of this period and what was going on at this time? What is flint? What is "Flintknapping"?
How would this arrowhead have been attached to its shaft? What would it have been used for?
Egyptian Flint Arrowhead 5000 - 1500BC
QUESTIONS: This is a flint arrowhead made of the same material as the Naqada II Period by is considerably different in shape. What do you think are the differences and the advantages of this arrowhead considering it was used over a much longer period? How would it have been mounted to the shaft? What advantages do stone tools have over metal ones?
Egyptian Bronze Arrowhead - 600BC 26th Dynasty
QUESTIONS: Why do you think bronze was used in this later period to replace stone?
Bronze and Iron arrowheads corroded over time but had advantages over stone tools.This arrowhead had a considerably different shape. Why? How would it have been attached to its shaft.
A model boat from Tutankhamun's Tomb
Why did the Egyptians place model boats in their tombs? What style of boat was this one intended to represent? This is a scale replica of an original model boat found by Howard Carter in Tutankhamun's Tomb. How many other boats did he find?
A carved relief from an Egyptian Temple.
The Egyptians used a specific artistic style when carving or painting images onto tomb or temple walls. The legs were shown from the side in a striding stance, the hips much the same, while the chest and shoulders were shown more front on, while the head always was shown in profile. This portion of a carving of a Pharaoh is carved into the wall surface creating a 3 D relief image.
What style of head dress is he wearing? What is the purpose of the serpent? What was the process of mapping out the image before carving began? What proportions were the standard in forming these images? How would an archaeologist or scholar attempt to identify an image such as this?
Tomb Relief of the Royal Scribe & Physician Hesire (Hesi-Ra)
A number of relief panels were found in a mastaba in Saqqara dated to the reign of King Djoser. These reliefs depicted one Hesire, his Ehyptian name being Hesi-Ra as the chief of scribes and either chief of Physicians or dentists. He held a favorable role in the royal court because of his talents and position. The plaques show a number of snippets of information such as his position, his title, his name and his roles.
In the image above identify what information can be learnt from each of the four highlighted segments:
1 His name in Heiroglyphs
2 his position
3 One of his roles
4 One of his roles
Various other pieces of information can be gleaned from the hieroglyphs at the top of the panel. What can you find out about this man. Note it is not just the text in hieroglyphs that gives us the information, it is also the many pieces of imagery in the plaque itself.
Coin of Cleopatra
Cleopatra VII - The "Queen of the Nile"
Historical Context: This coin was minted by the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt around 40 BC. The obverse (front) of this coin is CLEOPATRA VII. Cleopatra VII was the famous "Queen of the Nile" and lover of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. She bore children for both men. With Marc Antony's help, she organized an army to rise against the Roman Empire (led by Octavian). However, they were unsuccessful and Cleopatra committed suicide by snake bite as the Romans were approaching.
The Ptolemaic empire was founded by Ptolemy I after the death of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy I was a boyhood friend of Alexander and his most trusted general. After Ptolemy successfully completed the Persian war, Alexander granted him the area of Egypt. He founded an empire that lasted almost 300 years. The empire ended with Cleopatra VII, the Queen of the Nile.
Attribution: Egypt, 40 BC
Obverse: Cleopatra VII
Reverse: Eagle Standing, Legend "K (Λ - Greek "L") E O (Π - Greek "P") A T (P - Greek "R") A", read "CLEOPATRA"
Diameter: 26 mm (slightly bigger than an Aussie 10 cent piece)
Questions: Coinage contains an incredible amount of symbolism.Take a look at the rear of this coin and see if you can research the imagery there......what does each character mean and what has it to do with Cleopatra? What text remains....can it tell you anything? What would the original coin have been made from? Where would Egypt have sources this material? What is intrinsic value in relation to a coins value versus its purchasing power? Does coinage today have the same intrinsic value as its purchasing power? There are historians who specialize in studying ancient coins? What are these persons called? How likely do you think that the bust on this coin truly portrays Cleopatra's true likeness?If this coin was found in an excavation what would it tell you about the items in the same stratum as this coin? What could an ancient Egyptian have purchased with this coin? How were coins made in Cleopatra's time? How did you purchase items before coinage became available in ancient Egypt?
Wall carving from walls of Abu Simbel of Ramses II riding his chariot in the Battle of Kadesh.
Questions: Why do so many Pharaohs display themselves in Battle scenes? Why do all these portray the scenes as a victory (we almost never see a portrayal of a lost battle)?
What was the true outcome of the Battle of Kadesh and against whom was the battle fought?
Describe the symbolism in this wall carving? Would Ramses have been able to ride his chariot with the horses reins tied around his waist while firing arrows?
Egyptian Bullae (seal impression) with hieroglyphs. Seals were used throughout Egypt to seal doors, packages and many other objects.
Egyptian Bulla (Seal impression) with cartouche.
Questions: What were seals used for in Egypt? What sort of seal would have made each of these impressions (bullae)? What would cause a clay impression to survive for 3 millennia buried in soil? Do you recognize any of the hieroglyphs on these seals?
Senenmut was friend and mentor of Queen Hatshepsut and was an astronomer, artist and mathematician. He held several roles in the royal palace during Hatshepsut's reign during the 18th dynasty.
Questions: Which figure is Senenmut? What is he most well known for on the ceiling of his tomb? Examine the role that Senenmut played during Hatshepsut's reign and find out how he and Hatshepsut were related?
Horus the Falcon
Questions: What role did Horus play in the Egyptian pantheon? Why a falcon? What does the headgear represent? Why did the Egyptians have so many gods, many of which were formed from Zoomorphic imagery?
Questions: The Owl represented the guardian of the underworld for ancient Egyptians. Why do you think this is so? What other civilisations used the owl in their symbolism?Why?
Egyptian Pottery Cup- Pre Dynastic Naqada I-II 3900-3300BC
A small pottery cup 60mm tall x 60mm rim. A replica of an original in a US private collection. The cup is from the pre dynastic period 3900-3300BC.
Questions: What would such a small cup have been used for? What was the Pre Dynastic Period in Egypt - what does "Pre Dynastic" mean and how did the Dynastic Period start?
How would this piece have been made? Wheel or ring formed? Are there any residues in the bottom of the cup to indicate its use?
Mummy tags were small wooden tags which were attached to the foot (usually the big toe) of a deceased person who was in the process of being mummified. On this small wooden plaque was written the name of the person. These were used throughout the whole of Egyptian civilisation and hence when found in favorable conditions were usually an indication of a workshop where mummification took place.
Questions: What conditions would need to take place for the preservation of ancient wooden artifacts such as these mummy tags if buried for thousands of years? Why would mummies need to have identification tags? Is there a similar process today any where in society? Why would a mummy tag have a name written in Greek on it? What would have happened in Ancient Egypt if mummies were not identified correctly? (consider Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife - if a tomb had the wrong body buried in it, them what according to Egyptian beliefs would happen to the body considering a different persons images would have been painted on the walls of the tomb as well as on the "Book of the Dead".)
An Egyptian Seated Couple
19th Dynasty Saqqara c 1290BC
Probably from a chapel of the decease couples tomb.
This seated couple format was a common portrayal among nobility during this period, showing a couple lovingly seated together with arms around each others waist. They both wear pleated garments common during the 19th dynasty.
They are both seated on slightly different chairs.
What does this say about social status?
What about the role of the woman? Equality vs subservience.
What can we learn about customs of the period from a statue such as this?
What does it tell us about the if it is found in a tomb?
Why would it be placed in a tomb? What else have you found in your excavation? What might it tell you with it being found so close to this statue? Could you assume it belonged to one of these people? Maybe a prized possession or votive?
Statues of Egyptian Scribes were common in ancient Egypt in various forms. Most are shown seated cross legged, bare chested with a writing surface in the lap and pen in hand.
Questions: Why so many statues of scribes? What was their role in society in ancient Egypt? What section of society did they belong to? What was the level of literacy in ancient Egypt? How did they write? Utensils?
You may have found other items with the scribe statue, what are they and did they belong to a scribe? How would they have been used?
Servant in the afterlife. These statues were placed in tombs with the deceased with the intention of serving him/her in the afterlife. Some tombs held many statues of different types indicating various roles. They could be mad elf stone, faience, plaster, wood or any of many different materials. Some are portrayed holding tools in their hands.
Questions: When were Ushabtis first used in tomb burials? Some had identifying cartouches on them. Can you identify the cartouche on yours. Often they would be found broken, why is this so? Why have so many Egyptian tombs been found empty? What happened to their contents? If you were not rich you could not afford an elaborate tomb....so what would this say about your afterlife? Equality in the afterlife?
Part figurine of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut was one of the most influential and enigmatic Pharaohs of Egypt before the time when females usually ruled. This statue appears to have been broken from a wall or larger section and exhibits a lot of damage. Most images of Hatshepsut have been defaced or destroyed and very few remain to show us how she appeared.
Who was this Hatshepsut and why was she later hated so much? She left behind a huge funerary monument, which one is it? What can we learn about the role of women in ancient Egyptian society and in particular the role of a guardian when a young child inherits the throne?
A relief carving of Cleopatra.
Who was Cleopatra and what role did she play in Egypts place in world rule of the period. Many images of her portray her bare breasted, in fact many images of women in ancient Egypt show them bare breasted. How does this fit in ancient Egyptian culture when today in many part sod Africa tribal women are also bare breasted? What about the headdress, what does it represent?
What else have you found buried in the section with her and how do those items fit in to her position?
Egyptian Owl Ptolemaic
This is a copy of the best known carving of the Egyptian owl hieroglyph that has ever been found. The details are exquisite and the photos don't even reveal the finest lines involved in the details of the beak so when you actually hold it in your hands make sure you put it in direct light and let the shadow play reveal yet more detail.
It was carved in high raised relief which allows for great modelling of the features which was typical of the artistry of the Ptolemaic dynasty sculptors.
The fact that it is a neat, almost square abbreviated portion of the owl glyph suggests it was a so called 'sculptors model' or trial piece. I have a few of these in the store at the moment and being a sculptor myself, one can see how beneficial it was to have a prime example of the essential details to look at while transferring the design to a temple wall.
Variations always occur in hieroglyphics with some details either omitted or elaborated upon depending on the era or the mood of the artist on the day. This Ptolemaic example, carved in Egypt's great renaissance period showed the fullness of the design with all possible details present.
Bust of Queen Tiye
What is for certain is the fact that this fine replica displays the features of one of Egypt's most enigmatic personalities carved in the vibrant Amarna style.
The influence of this new Amarna artistic style is quite evident in this piece and if it is Tiye, the often severe features of this Queen are given no respite here.
It may however be interpreted as being a small portrait of none other than Akhenaten himself due to the strong jaw line that was inherited from his mother. But.... Queen Tiye toured Amarna in year 12 of Akhenaten's reign and this piece perhaps, was one of the last images made for her while she was still alive. She died not long after.
The down turned lips are the greatest signature of Queen Tiye and it is most likely to be her, carved by an artist like Thutmose or Bek or one of their students at Amarna.
It is a fabulous piece and the angle of the neck indicates it could possibly have been part of the decoration of a chair. (see the example of the Sitamun chair from Yuya and Thuya's tomb) It could also have been part of a harp's decoration as portraits are often shown on the base curve of surviving examples and in tomb reliefs and paintings.
Further complicating the identity is the choice of the 'Khat' headdress that was a popular choice worn by King and Queen during this period. It must have been a comparatively lightweight cloth construction compared with some of the more complex crowns worn in ceremonial circumstances.
On the brow of this Khat can be seen a small depression that marks where an ancient uraeus probably of gold, would have been attached. The uraeus was the protective cobra worn by Kings, Queens and the gods.
The pierced ears may be the final important clue. Akhenaten had his ears pierced as did his mother, but I think it is worth checking the frequency by which portraits have merely the single piercing in each ear compared with the popular double piercings commonly associated with Amarna luminaries.
Bast with Kittens
This type of statue belongs to a rare type produced during the late period of Egyptian history (664-332 B.C.E) and is one of the most surprisingly tender depictions of the ancient Egyptian cats.
Three kittens are suckling their mother cat while a cheeky little favourite faces it's mother with a gesticulating paw. The mothers ears are slightly swept back, stiff as if not entirely amused.
A hint of remnant hieroglyphic text can be seen on the front right hand ridge below the upright kitten.
This statue has a pleasing sculptural quality enhanced by incised details that can be seen in the eyes and the slight mouth. She rests on a plinth that features a remnant protective eye of Horus and her long tail curls neatly by her right side.
Mythology- Certainly a very popular figure in ancient Egypt from the earliest times when the domestic cat proved a worthy advantage to have protect the hard won food stuffs of the ancient pantry or temple storehouse. By dynasty number 2 she was already known and revered before a single pyramid was built. In the pantheon of Egyptian divinity she was both wife and a daughter of Ra the sun god. She had a son named Maahes who had the body of a man and the head of a lion wearing an atef crown. (See listing -'miniature Osiris wearing Atef crown') If available.
Late in Egyptian history during the 22nd dynasty, Bast was elevated to supreme state god by the Pharaoh Sheshonq the1st and her sacred town of Bubastis in the delta region of the Nile became capital. Her temples across the land were enriched including Thebes which was the home of Amun. All gods co-existed but from time to time a change would shake the status quo into a new direction. Usually politically motivated.
The attributes of Bast are in many ways similar to Hathor with music, dance and all manner of light hearted activity associated with her. She even shakes a Hathor Sistrum when depicted as a womanly figure with a feline head. She could of course be shown as just a cat without the human features. The ancient public would commission people like myself to make for them a statue or at least a votive head, to place in a temple as an offering to the goddess.
It features the name of the 19th dynasty's most famous
Queen, Nefertari, the beloved wife of Ramses the Great. Her hieroglyphic name
is one of the most beautiful hieroglyphic arrangements featuring the vulture
which is a 'mother' glyph. You will also see the the 'Nefer' glyph which looks
like a long cross with a tear drop. This means beautiful, or good and if you
compare the hieroglyphic name of Nefertiti you will notice how prominent this
The name 'cartouche' is a French word used to describe the loop that encircles the hieroglyphic name of a king, queen or god. Napoleans' Egyptian campaign brought with it many artists that were set to work documenting the art and architectural ruins that presented itself to occupying forces. They noted that the loop with the flat base looked like the shape of a cartridge used in a cannon that was called a cartouche. The Egyptian artists intended it to be a loop of knotted rope.
Cuneiform Cone - Gudea of Legash
A cone shaped tablet used as a dedication inscription, often mounted in the walls of public buildings. This tablet/cone is from c 2144-2124BC and is inscribed with Gudea as governor at the time. See our "Teachers Resource" page for a full translation of the text that may be used to follow the text.
Questions: Why would a dedication inscription be placed in the wall of a public building? What similar inscriptions are used in public buildings today? Follow the text using the translation from the "Teachers Resource" page and desribe what can be learnt from the text?
If a tablet such as this was excavated in an unknown city, what would it tell the archaeologists about that city?
Old Babylonian Mathematics Tablet -Pythagoras
An Old Babylonian Tablet c19/17th century BC. The tablet has inscribed upon it a series of cuneiform characters along with geometric lines. The cuneiform characters represent numbers and equate to a process similar to Pythagoras' Theorem.
Questions: When did basic mathematics start to develop in ancient Mesopotamia? Why would basic counting be required in such an early stage of civilisation and what role would it play in agrarian society and the development of the first cities?
Using the translation sheet on the "Teachers Resource" page try to delineate the cuneiform numbering system on this tablet. What base numbering system was sued in Mesopotamia? We in Australia use a decimal system but the Mesopotamians used a system that is the basis for our divisions of time.
Would you like to know more about the development of Cuneiform text?
Click HERE for a basic video clip.
Stone Age tools are found all over the world. Most of the tools included in this kit are genuine ancient artifacts from the African continent. These artifacts have not been manually taken out of their archaeological context but have been moved by the winds of time in the desert sands of North Africa, an area that was once covered in rich vegetation and trees but due to massive changes in climatic conditions in the past is left as a sandy wasteland. Many people debate the cause of this change be it the coming of an ice age or a massive flood, but whatever the cause it is now a desert region covered by shifting sand dunes. Where there were once Hunter Gatherers there are now nomadic tribes eking out a living ion this harsh environment.
A Neolithic Bead from North Africa. Stone carved beads are characteristic in the style in which they are made. In this case the hole through the centre of the bead is cut from both sides using a stone drilling tool producing a conical shaped hole rather than the pure cylindrical hole made later by iron tools.
Questions: What are the most common material that beads of this period were made from? What were the beads used for besides just decoration? What does the finding of beads in remote areas indicate?
A Neolithic scraper tool. Notice the sharp cutting edge and the serrated edge forward of the blade.
Questions: What were scraping tools used for? What was the main purpose of the 'Hunter - Gatherer" culture? What role did the later formation of cities play in agriculture? How were the cutting edges of stone tools made?
Neolithic Arrowhead. Arrowheads were made in a large range of types with specific methods of use. Look at the arrowheads in your excavation and see if you can identify the type and research how it may have been made and how it would have been fitted to the arrowhead shaft.
FOR MORE INFORMATION...
Check out the Stone Age Tools Museum HERE
Pottery of the Ancient World
Darom Oil Lamp.
An ornate "Daroma" Southern lamp. "Daroma" comes from the Aramaic for "South", an area that includes southern Judea especially Beth Guvrin and the Hebron area. The lamp has a wide spout with similarities to the earlier Herodian lamp but includes volutes at the neck of the nozzle somewhat like Roman lamps of the same period.
These lamps are dated to the first and second century AD. This lamp is decorated with an ornate menorah on a stand between the filler hole and the neck of the lamp, while the shoulders are decorated with stylised palm branches and an unperforated handle.
Question: Many oil lamps are made on a potters wheel and are left without any decoration, while others are quite ornate. What does "utilitarian" mean? Why were some lamps left intentionally undecorated? Why were others intentionally decorated? Compare the undecorated "Herodian" lamp of early first century Judea with the similarly shaped but decorated "Darom" lamp of the second half of the first century. Why the change from no decoration to decoration in just a matter of 20 years or less in the same area by the same people group? What do these decorations mean?
The Pottery of the Ancient World kit could contain one of the many oil lamps that can be viewed on our "Oil Lamps" page. See that page for inflammation on each lamp.
Judean/Roman period pottery.
Simple household pottery items from juglets that may have held wine or oil, to amphorae that were used in many sizes to store commodities were a standard item in households in the ancient world.
Questions: What do you think the pottery item you have excavated and restored was used for? Are there any residues inside it to help? Would this pottery item have been used in a high class or lower class household? Before restoring the item, what can the profile of the pieces tell us about its manufacture and its position/deposition on the find site? Would it have been fired in a high temperature professional ancient "factory" kiln/workshop of in a lower heat lower economy. or maybe even a pit fired kiln? What does this fact tell us about the people who owned the item? If you were to find a rim piece alone would you be able to resolve its use?
Oil Lamp from Pompeii
The Roman period oil lamps are some of the most ornate lamps of history. However this lamp from Pompeii is adorned with a simple olive wreath on its discuss top while another oil lamp from Pompeii is emblazoned with a charioteer and ornate scroll work.
Questions: What do these decorations represent and what purpose do they play on lamps.
Are there any distinguishing marks such as a makers stamp on the base of the lamp and if so what can these stamps tell us about both the lamp and Roman society/industry? With the two wick oil lamp, what purpose did the double wick serve?
Multi wick oil lamp from 1st century Israel.
Multi Wick oil lamps were used more commonly in public buildings due to their ability to shed more light from their multiple wicks. Many designs and configurations were used over time and various methods of decoration were used. You may find a multi wick lamp in your "Pottery of the Ancient World" kit but it may be a broken section, rather than a whole lamp. You may be able to learn more about a multi wick lamp by comparing yours with other students who have also excavated a multi wick lamp.
Questions: Why use multi wick lamps? Why not use them everywhere instead of single wick lamps? If you have found a broken section of a multi wick lamp, how many wick holes do you think your lamp may have originally had? (Work with other students in your class to try to resolve this, as they may have also have found a multi wick section). What symbolism could the number of wicks represent?
A 7 wick lamp from Israel.
What was the symbolism of seven wicks used in Jewish history? Where else were 7 lights used in Jewish symbolism? What do you think the iconography on the handle represents? What material were wicks made of in ancient times? How would they have lit their lamps, after all they did not have matches?
Double wick glazed Herodian Oil lamp (Late 1st century BC- early 1st century AD)
Questions: Why are these lamps called "Herodian"? What benefit could two wicks have over one and why only two wicks instead of five or seven? What is the advantage of a ring handle? What benefits would glazing be on an oil lamp?Below is the same lamp unglazed. What is the advantages and disadvantages of glazing?
Judeo-Christian Oil Lamp Israel 2nd century AD
The handle on this lamp has three icons on it: A menorah, the star of David and a fish. What would all three items be on a single lamp for? What do each represent?
Byzantine Period Oil Lamps 6-7th century AD
In the late Byzantine period a series of undecorated wheel made lamps appeared, many with a high shoulder and handle. Some of them had spiral decorations up the shoulder while others were quite plain. They had a simple protrusion and cut wick hole. Many had this characteristic dark clay with inclusions.
Questions: Why after such a long period of decorated mould made lamps would simple undecorated wheel made lamps start to be made? What does this say about society at the time? Lamp design is a strong indicator of society changed because everyone needed lamps to light their houses and design reflected society characteristics in one way or another. What are "inclusions" in pottery terms? What is "Grog" in relation to clay and pottery making?
All items in our Antiquities of the Ancient World are authentic ancient artifacts. NO replicas are used in these kits.
Coinage is key to an Archaeologist, specifically for helping to date the context of the excavation. The coins from the ancient world don't have dates on them as they do today, but the text and the imagery can be used accurately to access the date. Coins were made from various precious and non precious materials. Some people would shave a tiny amount of silver from each coin so that over time they would accumulate a progressive income?
Your first process is to very carefully clean the coin, just enough to make it legible. Do NOT use abrasive tools.
Questions: What does the word context mean in regard to an archaeological stratum?
If a coin is found below a formed floor surface how is it used to date the floor? What is the intrinsic value of a coin and how does it apply to allocating a coinage value? How would shaving small amounts of silver from each coin affect it's value?
Here are some helpful websites to help identify and look after your coins:
Portable Antiquities Scheme HERE
Forum Ancient Coins HERE
Spindle Whorls have been used almost since the beginning of time to spin wool into a useable fibre from which to make clothes. They have been made from various materials and some are quite ornate.
Questions: How do you use an spindle whorl? What devices have been used in recent times to replace a spindle whorl? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these spindle whorl?
Weights are used for many purposes....for weighing against commodities to establish its weight for sale, to hold down sections of the cords in a weaving loom, to weight down a fishing net and many more......
Weights are made from stone, led or other heavy materials.
Questions:What could the weight in your excavation have been used for? What assurances were in place to try to assure no cheating took place in merchandising?
Penannular brooches were commonly used from early Celtic times and were adopted by some Roman and used right through to the Medieval period. Its advantage was its size and the large pin that could securely fix a heavy cloak. Many, such as these found in our kits are made of iron, while some were made of silver and gold.
Questions: How would you affix a Penannular brooch to your cloak? What would it indicate if one was found with skeletal remains?
Fibulae were a common form of brooch used to fasten clothing, and could be used somewhat like a modern safety pin. Fibulae changed in design with location and date.
Question: Many Roman Votive sites contain a large number of broken fibulae.Why broken ones? Why fibulae? What is a votive item/votive site?
Here is a good website to help identify your fibulae: HERE
Pottery is one of the main dating materials used by archaeologists to estimate the approximate date of a context. The piece at the top of the image with part of a rim is classified as a "Diagnostic Sherd".
These pieces are from an excavation in the UK, excavated from a rubbish pit hat contained huge amount of pottery in 2 different assemblages dated to the 2nd and 3/4th centuries. These pieces are from a common household pottery vessel that would have been used for storage.
The pit was located well away from the Villa and also contained some Samianware.
Questions: What do pottery types tell us about the site? What could you assess if Samianware was found in an excavation? What are inclusions and how do they help identify the pottery sherd? How do you tell if the piece was wheel made or hand formed?Why is it so rare to find fully intact Roman pottery? What does pottery in a Burial site mean? What can pottery tell us about trade?
You may find pottery pieces in your excavation. How much information can you glean from it?
Clay pipes were used throughout Western Europe from the 16th century. Early pipes were very small due to the initial high cost of tobacco. Pipes were commonly used in Public houses where the publican supplied use of a pipe when a customer bought tobacco from him. After use the smoker would break about 25mm from the mouth piece (the piece that was in his mouth) and place the pipe back in a pipe box near the door. This would happen repeatedly until the pipe stem became so short the bowl was literally under the smokers nose, and earned the name a "Nose Warmer". It would then be thrown out. Many archaeology sites particularly in the UK that are near where a public house has been would show a myriad of small pipe bowls like the smallest one in the image. Also found would be old Ale and cider bottles and bottle stoppers.
Question: How were pipe remains dated? Why were they almost always made of clay? What was another popular form of clay that was used to make ornate pipes? Why are pipes so rarely seen in public today? What can a collection of excavated pipes and ale related products tell us about the social history of a particular public or ale house? Where dis Europe get its tobacco from?
Medieval/Post Medieval Trade seals
From the 12th to late16th centuries large scale commodities such as wool would be shipped and stored in bond houses while awaiting sale to manufacturing companies. In order to identify the owner of the bales a lead seal was applied to its outside. Reams of manufactured cloth would also have lead seals applied to the end of a role for much the same process. Seals would have an identifier of the owner and sometimes a city or town crest on the reverse.These would be found in large numbers in Medieval and Post medieval industrial site excavations.
Questions: Why were seals made of lead? How might they be applied? Why not just stamp an owners name on the outside of the bale? What could the number and grouping of seals at a site tell us about industry and trade?What do you think a manufacturer do if one of the bales in his incoming shipment had no seal? Do you think maybe the government could make use of these seals as well?
Roman Glass Beads
The Romans used glass both for tableware and jewellery from the 1st century onwards. Glass making facilities developed across the empire in much the same way as did pottery workshops. The taste for coloured adornment grew as the Romans became more artistic in every aspect of life. Beads made from blown glass as well as from cut stone came into use. Lapis Lazuli and Carnelian were used.
Questions: How were Roman glass beads made? What were the raw materials used by the Romans in making glass? Where dis they get it from? Many of these glass beads come from Roman North Africa (present day Libya) why do you think glass was so popular here? Where would they have sourced Lapis Lazuli and Carnelian from?