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Myths & Mummification

As in most cultures, myths of ancient Egypt provide an explanation for various religious beliefs, cultural rituals, and natural phenomenon. On a deeper level, myths serve to explain the world view of a people. In Lesson 1, students make inferences in order to gain an acute understanding of the belief system of ancient Egyptians by analyzing some of their myths and comparing myths from other cultures. In Lesson 2, students examine the mummification and burial practices of ancient Egypt and compare and contrast with the burial practices of other cultures.

LESSON 1: Myths & Mummification

Students make inferences in order to gain an acute understanding of the belief system of ancient Egyptians by analyzing some of their myths and comparing myths from other cultures.

  • Initiate a discussion with students asking: What is a myth?
  • Have students share examples of myths that they know and create a definition based on what they share. Compare this explanation with one from the dictionary.
  • Read a version of Isis and Osiris and ask if this falls into the category of myth that they just created.
  • Ask students what the main idea or message is of this myth?
  • Have students read over the myth again in a group and come up with as many inferences that they can about life and culture in ancient Egypt.
  • Students can continue to explore other myths to uncover and compare beliefs and rituals of other cultures. Focus on a specific topic (death, creation) and have each group research a myth from a specific culture.
  • Using the jigsaw strategy, one member from each group (an expert in their cultural myth) will present it to their new group (where each cultural myth is being represented).
  • After every member has presented, groups will compare each culture and make inferences about the differing/similar belief systems. 

LESSON 2: Mummification and Burial Practices

During a re-analysis of the myth of Isis & Osiris, students will focus on the ritual of mummification. Students will explore this detailed process through on-line resources to better understand the mysteries of Egyptian burial traditions. Students will make comparisons between other cultures and challenge preconceived notions regarding ancient rituals and current practices.

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