How to make a sarcophagus for a history project

Written by aya pauli
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How to make a sarcophagus for a history project
A sarcophagus was usually decorated to resemble a living person. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Ancient Egypt is known for towering pyramids, hieroglyphic writing and scary mummies stored in decorative coffins. That decorative coffin is called a sarcophagus. The body-shaped container usually has a painted image of the deceased on the front and hieroglyphic writing around the sides. A student can create his own sarcophagus for a history project with a little help from a shoebox and basic art supplies.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Shoebox
  • White butcher's paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Remove the lid from a shoebox and place both items on a flat work surface. Cut butcher's paper long enough to wrap around the box like wrapping paper. Wrap the paper neatly around the box, folding the ends over the top and down the inside walls. Tape the paper along the inner walls to secure. Repeat the process to cover the shoebox lid, taping the paper to the inside of the lid.

  2. 2

    Draw the outline of a pharaoh's head on a piece of white poster board. The shape resembles the top half of an oval. Make sure the bottom of the shape is the same width as the short end of the lid. Cut the shape from the poster board.

  3. 3

    Decorate the middle-bottom area of the head shape to look like an ancient Egyptian's face. Draw a gold band across the top of the face and colour the remaining area with blue and gold horizontal stripes to create a Pharaoh's head.

  4. 4

    Draw, trace or cut and glue a basic sarcophagus body shape on the shoebox lid. Draw crossed arms at the middle of the lid and decorate the remaining area with Egyptian symbols, such as an ankh or scarab beetle.

  5. 5

    Glue the bottom of the Pharaoh's head to the short end of the lid to create the top of the sarcophagus. Let dry.

  6. 6

    Draw hieroglyphics and symbols along the sides of the shoebox with markers, coloured pencils or paint. Place the lid on the shoebox and decorate any remaining blank areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Wrap a doll in gauze to create a mummy for the inside of your sarcophagus. You can also add gifts, jewels, charms or a death mask to the mummy to make the inner sarcophagus as interesting as the outer area.
  • Decorate the shoebox with beads, plastic jewels and metallic paint to create a fancy sarcophagus worthy of a rich Pharaoh.
  • Don't use shoeboxes with attached lids that flip open. The flip lid is hard to wrap and the paper is much more likely to tear when opening and closing the box.

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