During Ancient Egypt’s 3000-year history incredible feats of building were achieved without technology or modern innovation. Many of these remain standing today. How did this extraordinary civilisation carve and move enormous rocks across deserts and waterways? In this documentary, students embark on an archaeological search to locate and extract lost artefacts that could unlock the mysteries of Egyptian history.
TEACHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Nile River, lifeblood of the ancient world, the rich and powerful Egyptian civilisation to emerge. Treasures of gold and jewels, artefacts and monuments were produced as a symbol of the kingdoms wealth and Pharaoh’s power.
Humanity’s oldest travel route, the Nile River was often used to transport this wealth - albeit at great risk. Today, of all the archaeological sites in Egypt that may still yield ancient treasure, perhaps the richest is the Nile.
In ancient times enormous boats navigated the river's perilous waters loaded with monumental items, obelisks and riches for the pharaoh's royal temples. The question remains: what lost treasures could modern technology reveal at the bottom of the Nile?
In the autumn of 2007, a group of six Egyptian archaeologists arrive in Aswan to embark on a mission to dive beneath the Nile and make the first archaeological map of its riverbed.
This documentary takes us on this quest. First they must assess the challenges of such a task, such as strong currents, low visibility and deep water, and then find ways to overcome them. The archaeologists are joined by an international team of scientists, including Egyptologists and a team from the USA specialised in using high technology for archaeology.
Through painstaking work, and aided by modern technology, the team is able to retrieve a variety of impressive remains from ancient times. Giant obelisks, sphinxes, and a colossus are amongst the treasures discovered.
The teams work together to reconstruct how such monuments were carved out of rock and moved and transported. Alongside the team, we learn and understand from inscriptions on a temple wall, exactly how these massive treasures made their way to the sandy riverbed under the Nile River.
“History is a distinctive and indispensable form of understanding practiced across many generations. Human civilisation is marked by a preservation of the past in oral memory, documents, artefacts, monuments and traditions.”
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 2.4, 2009
Senior Secondary Curriculum reference points
“History is a discipline with its own methods and procedures. It deepens our understanding of humanity, creativity, purposes and values. History draws on and contributes to other bodies of knowledge.”
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 2.5, 2009
In undertaking these tasks, students will:
• Ask and explore inquiry questions about the Nile River and ancient Egypt in detail, finding relevant and comprehensive answers and providing sound explanations and conclusions for historical events
• Use a range of different forms of evidence to provide historical explanations, recognising how these forms of evidence may vary in their value
• Provide historical explanations using a range of different sources
• Develop appropriate techniques of communication and organisation.
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 5.4.3, 2009
In undertaking these tasks, students will:
• Demonstrate knowledge and understanding about the Nile River in the context of ancient civilisation
• Identify historical factors that contributed to the fall of Ancient Egypt
• Gain awareness of the diversity and complexity of the ancient world
• Locate, select and organise relevant information from a variety of sources
• Use historical terms and concepts appropriately
Communicate knowledge and understanding of historical features and issues of Ancient Egypt using appropriate oral and written forms
• Develop values and attitudes of about the influence of religion on ancient and present civilisations.
Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus, 8.1, NSW Board of Studies, 2009
STUDENT LEARNING TASKS
Download a map of the Nile River in Egypt from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/egypt/egypt_map.html
Save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook.
Write three reasons why the Nile River was so important to Ancient Egypt.
Draw a boat that might have been used to transport monuments down the Nile River. Describe in 100 words how the design and construction of these boats may have added to the transport risk. Name five different items that have been recovered from the riverbed of the Nile.
Many years ago, explorers from around the world travelled to Egypt and took obelisks home to their own countries. Find the names of six of these countries and where to find their obelisks. Do you think the obelisks should be returned to Egypt? Write two paragraphs to explain why (paragraph 1) and why not (paragraph 2).
After watching the documentary, describe the three challenges the team faced in trying to make an archaeological map of the Nile riverbed? How did they overcome these challenges?
Explain in 100 words how high-tech photographers were able to help the archaeologists to locate and recover the sunken treasures.
Define these terms: obelisk, sphinx and colossus. Describe the significance these constructions had in Ancient Egyptian civilisation.
Explain where the Egyptians obtained, and how thy transported, the sandstone and granite they used to construct their buildings and monuments. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of using these building materials in Ancient Egypt.
Describe the new religion introduced by Akhenaton and how it changed temple construction. Outline two rituals practiced by this religion.
Draw a flow chart to illustrate the integral nature and function of the Nile River in Ancient Egypt. Include at least five aspects of civilised settlement- such as food production, trade, transport, building and religion.
Write a 300-word essay to portray how the Nile River enabled ancient Egypt to evolve and prosper into a civilisation that continues to influence modern-day society and how we operate as humans. Include dates referring to the beginning and end of the era we call Ancient Egypt.