Ancient Egyptians built homes with flat roofs out of mud brick. The roof provided a cooler place for sleeping. The basic structure of Egyptian homes was similar whether the house belonged to workers or nobles. The homes had a courtyard that provided extra space for food storage, cellars, niches in the walls for statues of the gods and interior walls to divide the rooms. Stairs or a ladder led up to the roof. The ancient Egyptians made model houses and placed them in tombs, according to the British Museum.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Piece of string or wire
- Natural clay
- Cuticle stick
- Ice lolly sticks
- Cup of water
- Spatula, metal, if available
- Lid from a shoe box or a cardboard box cut down to 2.5 cm (1 inch) tall
- Large bottle of white glue
- Old mixing spoon or stick
Cover the table with newspaper. Cut a piece of clay the height you want your Egyptian homes to be. For example, cut a 7.5 cm (3 inch) slab of clay to make a group of 7.5 cm (3 inch) model Egyptian homes. Place the clay on its side. Hold a piece of wire or string stretched tight between your hands and slice the clay with it. Close the plastic over the rest of the clay to keep it moist.
Cut the slab of clay into blocks of equal size. For example, cut them in 10 x 10 cm (4 inch x 4 inch) blocks about 6 mm (1/4 inch) thick. You'll need five for a house -- four walls and a roof.
Check the pictures of model Egyptian homes from books or websites to create realistic details. Many Egyptian homes had small windows high up on the walls to allow in a little light. Large windows would let in too much heat in the desert. The front door is often above ground level with a ramp leading to it in order to keep the sand from blowing in the door. Carve the high windows and door with a cuticle stick. Dip the stick in water to make the clay easier to work with.
Turn a shoe box lid upside down or use shallow box. This creates a base for your models. Make marks in the box to plan where you want each house. For example, in the Deir el-Medina worker's village, the houses stood next to each other, similar to the layout of houses in a British suburb. Due to the village's distance from the Nile River, the Egyptians made these houses of stone instead of mud.
Lift each model home with a spatula and move it to its place in the box. Line up the home models according to the picture you're using.
Create low walls for the courtyards of your model Egyptian homes. Roll a piece of clay between your hands so it forms a long snake and place it around the front of a house. Pinch out a piece of clay to leave an opening as a walkway. Pinch the clay into the shape of a wall. Repeat for each house.
Add more details for your show houses, such as clay cylinders for food storage jars in the courtyards.
Stir 118 ml (1/2 cup) of white glue into 400 g (2 cups) of sand and spread it in the box lid to create the desert setting for the Egyptian homes. Use ice lolly sticks to flatten the sand down between the houses. Press it down with the spatula in the open areas.
Tips and warnings
- If the boot box lid or shallow box is flimsy, cut a piece of cardboard from a packing box to reinforce it. Glue the cardboard inside the box.
- Pound shops sell cuticle sticks.
- Craft shops sell natural clay.
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