Form 1 went on an exciting trip to Haslemere Museum as part of their Ancient Egyptian studies. During the introduction they learnt that A.D. means Anno Domini which is Latin – and was the language spoken by the Romans. Kay, who led the session, also told them that BCE stands for Before Common Era. They learnt that Ancient Egyptians were around 5000 years ago and were existed until approximately 330BC when people began to believe in Roman and Greek gods rather than Ancient Egyptian gods. They looked at a map of Ancient Egypt and identified the fertile land alongside the Nile as being where the crops were grown.

Next, they participated in a mummification workshop where they learnt all about removal of the internal organs and storage in canopic jars. Some pupils were even lucky enough to be chosen to help Kay remove these organs from the museum’s resident body, ‘Suty-em-wia’ (Suty for short). There were ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ of disgust as Bruce pulled the brain out of Suty’s nose through his nostrils (Thomas remarked it was just like doing a Corona test!) and then stirred it – a bit like a bowl of jelly! This allowed it to drain out of the nose – YUCK! Milly guessed that the brain was then fed to the cat! Yuck! Because happy cats = happy gods and happy gods = kindness to the people. Kay told us that Bastet was the name of the cat goddess.

The children learnt that the Ancient Egyptians used Obsidian rock (Minecraft!) to make a knife tool with which to cut a slit in the body in order to remove the organs. Freddie knew that the organs were stored in canopic jars. Joshua was chosen to remove the intestines and used his imagination to embalm them before putting them into the hawk-headed canopic jar. The canopic jars all have heads of the sons of Horus, the falcon-headed god. Next, Chloe removed the stomach and ‘dunked it in the onions’ (embalmed it) before putting it into the jackal-headed jar. Then, Finn took the liver out, repeated the process and put it into the human-lidded jar. After this, Leonie removed the lungs and placed them into the baboon-lidded jar. Finally, Sienna removed the heart and embalmed it, but left it ready to put back later before the body was wrapped in bandages.

Kay then explained the importance of covering the body in natron (which rhymes with Matron!) for 40 days to preserve it by drying out the body and removing the moisture. After this they rubbed oil into the skin to make it soft and perfume to create a pleasant smell. After this, the heart was replaced and the body was sewn back up. Finally, the body was wrapped in bandages. Then, Kay discussed the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and Patrick remembered this was in 1922. Kay told them that only Pharaohs had a beard on their death mask and they would also have their arms crossed before mummification. They talked about the special things that would have been buried with the dead – useful things like cooking pots; archaeologists have even found pots of Honey in some tombs which are thousands of years old but still edible – how amazing!

After this, Kay showed the children a video explaining all about the museum’s own mummy! They learnt about the significance of the colour of the faces (reddish-brown meant it was a man) and the other exhibits such as a canopic jar and mummified animals.

Going into the gallery to actually see the real ‘mummy’ up close was very exciting! The children worked out that this person was not a pharaoh as they didn’t have a beard and their arms were not crossed before mummification, and also that they were a man because the face on his sarcophagus was a reddy-brown colour.

Later on, the children increased their Egyptian knowledge by exploring self-led activities; they investigated x-rays of mummies, drew Egyptian artefacts, discovered more about Shabti (slaves made from stone) and tested their brains by deciphered hieroglyphs.

After lunch came the highlight of the visit – the chance to mummify a toy! Armed with 33 Barbies and Action Men, Form 1 followed the instructions to wrap their toys in linen bandages before decorating death masks. It was quite tricky but great fun was had by all.