A5: Create a Poster

A5: Create a poster showing how historians use objects to find out about the past

Tackling the task in stages  

This task involves a number of different elements 

1) the students' own investigation of an object (or several objects) so that they become familiar with the process of asking questions about it and beginning to formulate hypotheses based on what they can see (or feel).

2)  the students' use of other information to help make sense of what they can see and to begin answering some of their questions.

3) the students drawing on those personal experiences and looking at examples of the ways that historians have used objects and other kinds of sources to help them answer questions about the past

4) the student devising ways to show how historians use the objects and other sources of knowledge together to make claims about the past.


The History of the World in 100 objects website is extremely helpful here as it allows students to study images of the objects in some detail and then provides additional information - that they could perhaps read for themselves - or that you could feed in once they have formed their own questions or ideas to see how adding new knowledge helps to support or challenge their original views.


 1. Asking questions about objects
The questions suggested below are not exhaustive but provide a good basis for encouraging students to study objects carefully, even if you are working with an image rather than the object itself.  

The object itself:

What can you see?










Can you suggest what the object was used for/ its function?

Can you suggest who - what sort of person - might have owned the object?

An example:

No. 1 The Mummy of Hornedjitef (Room 62 of the British Museum)
(pronounced Horn-e-shi-tef) 

The object could be printed and explored like this before looking at it in detail online here.


2. Using the object in conjunction with other information (museum display caption, supporting podcast, online catalogue information etc.)

As they look at the additional information students can follow p their own questions and find out what historians know and how they know it.

How old is it?

Where was it found?

Can you tell what the object was used for/ its function?

Can you tell who owned the object?

Who made it and why?

How was it made?

Where was it made?

Who was it made for and why? Can you tell anything about the owner form the object?

What is its significance? Is the object particularly important for showing something?


Example: The Mummy of Hornedjitef

Once the student has finished analysing the object from the image alone, they could explore this particular mummy on the History of the World in 100 objects web page for the object. This page lets the user zoom in and around the object and provides some key information by clicking on arrows on the object.

This page provides lots of information about what historians have found out about Hornedjitef and how they used the object to discover details of Hornedjitef's life, ancient Egyptian's beliefs concerning the afterlife and the mummification process.


About Hornedjitef: 


-status and role

-concerns and things that were important to Hornedjitef


About Ancient Egyptians' beliefs concerning the afterlife:

- What the afterlife is like

- The function of the coffin

- How to get to the afterlife

- What was needed in the afterlife

- The mummification process


How historians discover this information from the object:

- Translating the language: hieroglyphics

- Understanding images: Gods, Goddesses and guidance to the afterlife

- CT scans

- analysing other objects found with Hornedjitef

- comparing Hornedjitef to other mummies


3a. Historians' use of other related objects to learn about and answer questions about particular objects.

The British Museum catalogue link also has links to objects buried with the mummy that help to answer important questions.


From objects found with the mummy:

- what was important to Hornedjitef

- what was daily life like

- what he believed the afterlife was like

- how he planned to get to the afterlife

- what he would need in the afterlife


From comparisons with other mummies:         

- what diseases and conditions ancient Egyptians suffered from

- their diet

- conditions in daily life

- work and routine (through wear and tear of bones)

- most popular beliefs/traditions (spells/ choices of images and amulets)

- details of the mummification process (what was standard practice and how it  
  developed over time)


The link below allows students to make their own comparisons and is a good example of a mummy that historians would compare with Hornedjitef.

Nesperennub is another mummy at the British Museum. There are CT scan images and many funerary artefacts buried with Nesperannub, all of which can be found by following the link.       


3b Particular methods of analysis used by historians.

This may not always be possible to explore and depends on ability/interest.   

In the case of our example, the use of modern technology and processes to examine mummies has become an important way of allowing archaeologists to find out about mummies. The following links will allow students to find out more CT scans and what historians have been able to learn from them.

a) The children's site for Egyptology at Manchester University

This links to the web-page of Rosalie David, Professor of Biomedical Egyptology. She has been running ‘The Mummy Project' for a number of years and has successfully completed CT scans and autopsies on many mummies. The project has revealed huge amounts of information concerning the mummification process, lifestyle, health and causes of death of mummified Ancient Egyptians.

On the left-hand side of the web page, there are links to activities and information about Ancient Egypt and a good interactive resource for ‘Making a mummy'.

b) YouTube film of CT scan on a mummy at the Stamford School of medicine

This clearly shows the process of scanning the mummy of a 2,500-year-old priest named Irethorrou and the information that can be gained for example, the types and positions of amulets upon the mummified body inside the wrappings.

Further information, images and results of the scan in the above link can also be found here...

c) Egypt at the Manchester Museum.

This link is for the Curator's diary, describing taking a mummy from the museum collection to receive a CT scan at Manchester University.

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