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How to make an Ancient Egyptian shaduf

Updated April 17, 2017

While known for large-scale buildings, exotic jewellery and an impressive empire, Ancient Egypt was also renowned for its technological advances. One such invention, the shaduf, was created for lifting and transporting water to land. Using a simplified form of leverage, the shaduf allowed water to be raised above where it was removed from, often a stream next to a field of crops. Creating the shaduf with children teaches them not only about this important civilisation but also about the basics of a lever.

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  1. Insert one end of the long pole into the clay. Mold the clay around the stick to ensure it sticks. The clay will serve as the counterweight.

  2. Place the PVC piping down the length of the sawhorse, lining up the ends with the ends of the sawhorse. Attach the PVC pipe by wrapping duct tape around both ends and in the middle.

  3. Cut the rope so it is half the length of the pole. Attach the rope to the end of the pole that does not have the clay attached. Knot it securely.

  4. Tie the other end of the rope to the bucket.

  5. Center the pole perpendicularly across the sawhorse. Dip the bucket into the tub of water, and pull it back up by gently placing your body weight near the clay.

  6. Tip

    Have the children test for themselves whether it's easier to dip and raise the bucket with the shaduf or without it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Long pole
  • 907 g to 1.36 kg (2 to 3 lb) fresh clay
  • Wooden sawhorse
  • Large PVC piping, cut to the length of the sawhorse
  • Duct tape
  • Large bucket
  • Thin rope
  • Bath of water (or a pool or pond)

About the Author

Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.

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