Ancient Egypt has received a lot of attention in popular culture, but another kingdom along the Nile—Nubia—has received far less. A class at Jamaica Plain’s Mission Hill K-8 School has attempted to change that through creating a “museum of Nubia.”
Ashleigh L’Heureux, who teaches a class of first- and second-graders at the Mission Hill K-8, said that past classes have often focused on Egypt when doing a project on the theme of a faraway ancient past. When discussions began for this year’s project, she said, the class “realized there are other important kingdoms from that time along the Nile.”
Nubia, in parts of today’s Egypt and Sudan, had close relations with ancient Egypt in the long era of around 2000 to 700 BC. The civilizations also conquered each other at various times—and produced several pharaohs.
“They wanted to bring awareness to this important culture,” said L’Heureux.
She said that when the class went to the library to start researching, the students found 9,000 books on Egypt, but only 142 on Nubia.
L’Heureux said the class asked a lot of questions, but had difficulty finding answers, as the few materials that existed were geared towards adults and older children. But the class had the opportunity to talk with an expert at Boston University and Skyped with two Nubian women who live in Cairo, she said.
The class worked on the project from early January to April. The students created artifacts for the museum, such as canopic jars—used for storing the internal organs of people mummified after death—jewelry and clay pottery. L’Heureux said students took on different roles for the “museum,” with some children becoming tour guides, while others took on the role of curator.
The class went on several field trips to museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts. L’Heureux said that the class “developed a sense of museum culture” on the field trips and learned “how you should behave” at them.
The class finished the project April 2 and a breakfast was held with the students’ parents attending. L’Heureux said that the parents “loved it.”
Asked what the students took from the project, L’Heureux said they learned that a museum is a “place to teach and learn” and the “awareness of other cultures” and the “lack of representation of some cultures.”