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Make an Aztec Serpent

While we were in the British Museum last month, we loved the Aztec sculptures found in the Ancient Americas room. (One of us also managed to set the alarm off in that room, but that is another story.) We particularly loved this serpent which is thought to have been made in Mexico by the Aztecs in the 15th century, possibly ending up in Europe after being given to the Conquistadors by Montezuma II, just before the collapse of the Aztec Empire.

BMserpent

It is made of carved wood and covered in small pieces of turquoise and shell which were very rare and highly prized. The eyes are missing, but were possibly precious or semi-precious stones. Serpents seem to have been important to the Aztecs and many of their Gods took the form of serpents. It is thought that this one could have been worn as a necklace in important rituals or ceremonies.

Here is how you can make one of your own:

You will need:

  • some cardboard
  • turquoise paper – we used a mixture of tissue paper and coloured paper
  • some scraps of white, brown and red paper
  • a couple of stick on gems or shiny paper
  • scissors
  • glue

Cut out your serpent shape from the cardboard. You can use our Serpent Template to trace the shape. An adult might need to help to cut the shape out.

serpent1

Next, cut out some small squares of turquoise paper and put glue onto the cardboard. You could stick the squares down individually, but it soon became clear that none of us had the patience to do this, so we just sprinkled them on like glitter. We cut some red squares and stuck them on the mouth and nose and some white teeth. For the eyes we put a circle of brown paper and stuck on a jewel.

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To finish it, we covered the serpent in a coating of PVA glue to stick down all the flappy bits and give it a sheen. Once it was dry we trimmed the edges.

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Finished! All ready to wear to your next Aztec ceremony.

Think you know all about the Aztecs? Take this Aztec quiz to find out.

Make a tomahawk

After the success of the Samurai sword, we have moved on to a different weapon this week, this time from Native America; the deadly tomahawk.

Native American tomahawk craft for kids

Before the arrival of the English and French settlers who brought iron with them, tomahawks were made from bone or sharpened stone attached to a wooden shaft. They were used to cut trees and as tools,as well as being for hand to hand combat.

If two tribes made peace it is said that they would bury a ceremonial tomahawk to ‘bury the hatchet’.

Here is our version:

You will need:

  • Some cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Scrap paper
  • Paint
  • Twine
  • Feathers and beads to decorate

First, cut out the shapes out of cardboard – you can use our template. Then stick them all together with glue and allow to dry. It should be four lexapro online layers thick which will make a good solid tomahawk.

tomahawk2

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Once it is dry, you can add a layer of papier-mache, using the scrap paper and some PVA glue diluted with water. Again leave it to dry.

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Now the fun bit – decorating the tomahawk. We painted the blade grey to look like stone then decorated it with twine, plastic beads and some feathers we had picked off the beach. We had to stick the feathers into the beads and twine with some glue. The boys wanted to add a bit of blood to intimidate the English settlers but we have left this off for the pictures.

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Finished. It is hard to resist chopping something–just try!

Make a Samurai sword

My boys have both been reading the Young Samurai books by Chris Bradford recently, and there has been lots of role playing with pretend Samurai swords. Today, we thought we would have a go at making one.

Samurai_with_tachi

Inspired by some of these old Japanese woodblock prints we drew a template then cut it out of cardboard.

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These swords were slender and slightly curved, so to give it some strength we cut the shape out three times and stuck them all together to make the whole thing more robust.

We added two slightly narrower layers to the handle to give it a better 3D effect. The blade was then painted silver – I used some spray paint which is very ordering cytotec online quick, but acrylic paint would also work well.

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Original katana have a rectangular or rounded guard, so we cut one out of cardboard and made a slit in the centre just wide enough to slide the blade through.

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To decorate the pommel, we cut out some strips of black paper 2cm wide and glued them in spirals round the pommel to make the diamond pattern that is often found on these swords. Black tape if you had any, would make this a really quick and easy job. Paint the guard black or gold and add any other decorations that take your fancy.

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Finished! Perfect for practicing obscure Japanese katas, or just annoying your little sister.

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The mystery of the Egyptian perfume cone

Tomb painting showing cones on the head

Tomb painting showing cones on the head

 

Have you ever noticed the strange cone things on peoples head in Egyptian tomb paintings?

Most history books will probably tell you that these cones were made of perfumed wax, oils or fat, which people would wear on top of their wigs to parties and feasts. I think the idea is that in the heat of the night the wax or fat would melt releasing wonderful smells and moisturising oils.

What do you think? It seems a little bit odd. The cones look like they have some sort of yellow petals or drips at the top. They seem to be worn mainly by women but also by men. They are worn by musicians and servants as well as the rich party goers. Why didn’t the cones just fall off? What kept them on?

In an attempt to see what these cones were all about we decided to have a go at making some.

How to make a perfumed cone

cones1

You will need:

  • Some beeswax and/or lard, you could also try melting down some old candles
  • Some perfumed oils, flower petals or anything else you can think of to decorate your cone.
  • A mould – we had an old candle mould, but we also used an old yogurt pot (in Ancient Egypt these cones came in a lot of different shapes and sizes!)

Firstly you will need to melt the wax or lard. The wax needs to be melted in a double boiler on the stove so you will need to get a grown up to help with this. The wax goes into a old tin in a pan of gently boiling water and should melt slowly. The lard can go straight into a pan to be melted.

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Once they are melted you can stir in the perfumed buy cytotec canada oil.

Put some petals or other decoration into the moulds then gently pour in your lard or wax.

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Leave it to set.

Egyptian head cone made from animal fat and oils

Egyptian head cone made from animal fat and oils

 

Once it is cold and hard you can take it out of the mould.

Egyptian head cone made from beeswax

Egyptian head cone made from beeswax

The results – what do you think?

  • Would you like to wear one on your head?
  • Are you able to balance it on your head?
  • Does it smell nice?

Our one made of lard was a bit yukky and squidgy to be honest, and it still smelt of lard even though we had put lots of perfume in it. Nobody wanted to put it on their head!

The beeswax one was just like a scented candle – we don’t think it would ever melt and it didn’t smell very strongly.

What other clues are there?

Archaeologists have never actually found a cone, nor anything like a mould that could have been used to make them, although they knew that the Egyptians certainly used to wear perfumed oils.

There is no direct evidence to suggest that these were made of perfumed wax, oils or fat, it was just an idea that someone had and no-one else could come up with a better one.

Some recent studies have suggested that the cones were used as symbols in the tomb paintings rather than being real objects. Maybe the cone shows that the person was wearing perfume, or perhaps it represents the soul of the dead person.

So what do you think they are?

  • a) cones made of perfumed wax, oils or fats
  • b) a symbol to show that person was wearing perfume
  • c) a symbol to represent the soul of the dead
  • d) none of the above!

Maybe you have a better idea! Please let me know if you do.

 

 

 

Wrap a mummy

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Sadly it has been a bad year in ancient Egypt, not only has the great apple Pharaoh died, but now the Vizier and his wife have succumbed to illness too. They have just been mummified and now have to be wrapped before being put into their tomb.

 What you will need

(Modroc can be messy so please check with a grown up and use an area that can be easily cleaned. Aprons would also be a good idea!)

  • a couple of wooden pegs
  • some modelling clay
  • a black pen
  • one roll of modroc (plaster of paris bandage) We used one of 6cm width cut into two 3cm wide strips.
  • a small bowl of warm water

wrap2

First we made the Vizier and his wife with the pegs and modelling clay – this helps to give the mummy a more realistic shape. We also had fun drawing on the funerary buy cytotec cheap online mask and giving them some jewellery. We placed  a small heart scarab on their chests to help them in their journey to the afterlife.

Next dip your modroc into the water for a few seconds to allow the water to soak in.

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Lift it out and squeeze out most of the water

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Find the end of the roll and start to wrap it round and around your mummy, making sure you get some round the bottom of their feet and head.

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Once the roll is finished use a few drops of water to shape and smooth the surface of your mummy.

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To make this process more authentic you could place some charms, such as scarabs or ankhs in the bandage as you wrap it and perhaps say a few prayers or incantations.

The mummies are now ready to be placed in their sarcophagus

mummyjoke

Make a stone age necklace

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Fabulous jewellery has been found at stone age sites such as this one at Skara Brae, a Neolithic site in Orkney in Scotland. It is made from bone and tusks – they used many kinds of bones including tusks from wild boar which they would have hunted.

Here is how to make your very own Stone Age Necklace:

You will need:

  • Some white air drying clay or modelling dough
  • Something to make holes with – a thin paint brush will work well.
  • Elastic or string to thread through your beads.

Start by making the tusks! Take a piece of dough about the size of your finger. Roll it into a sausage shape then taper off one end to make a sharp point.

tusk1

You can give it a slight cytotec order curve to make it look more realistic.

Next use the pointed end of a paint brush to make a hole at the widest end of the tusk.

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The other beads are meant to look like pieces of bone – roll some smaller pieces of dough into a shape like a small marshmallow. Again use the paint brush to make a hole through it.

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Leave all the beads to dry.

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When the beads are dry you can thread them with the elastic or string.

Stoneagenecklace

Wear it and go out hunting, or impress your neighbours at the next feast.

Find out more about Skara Brae at this fantastic website and help make some beads for virtual necklace.

 

Make stone age paint

 

Cave Lions from Chauvet Cave

Cave Lions from Chauvet Cave

 

[Disclaimer: OK this is a bit of a messy one! You have been warned. It might be a good idea to do it outside.]

Amazing stone age paintings have been found in caves in Britain France and Spain. Some of them are thought to have been done as far back as an amazing 40,000 years ago during the last Ice Age! Studies done on the paintings found that the paints were made of mixtures of ground up rock minerals or charcoal, and animal fats. The animal fats soaked into the rock allowing archaeologists to date the paintings using radiocarbon dating.They give us a glimpse into life in a different era with pictures of animals which are now extinct.

How to make Stone Age Paint

You will need:

  • some charcoal – we used the remains of a piece of wood from the fire
  • some fat or oil – we used vegetable oil
  • a mortar and pestle or some rocks to grind with.

First grind the charcoal up a finely as possible in the mortar and pestle.

make stone age paint using charcoal

Add some oil to form a liquid with a paint like consistency. It will probably be still a little gritty but that is fine.

grind up the charcoal with oil

Now you can try it out. Try painting using sticks or feathers. This is quite hard! It is easiest to paint with a very buy cytotec pills fine brush. Try drawing some stick figures, animals or symbols.

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Other ideas to try out

  • Try using different pigments if you can find any near you. Red coloured clay or ground up coloured stones might also make good paint.
  • Try other binding agents like water, eggs or saliva!
  • Try painting on stones or pebbles.
  • Try telling a story or leaving someone a message using a cave painting (no words!)
  • Try painting by candlelight! Really! A lot of the cave paintings are found deep in very dark cave systems and would have had to be done by torch light.

What does it all mean?

Now imagine it was 30,000 years ago. You are being led through a cave down narrow damp passages, with only flickering torch light to see where you are going. Stalactites and stalagmites are throwing weird shadows on the the walls of the caverns. After walking into the mountain for half an hour you come  to a huge echoing chamber. There are some men huddled near one of the walls. They have some bowls and brushes and are painting the walls. Why do think they are doing it? What do the painting and symbols mean? Who is meant to see the paintings? Why are they so deep in the cave system?

No-one really knows for sure but it is fun to wonder isn’t it?

What do you think?

 

Make a viking brooch

brooched

Viking loved brooches, and many have been found in Viking graves. Women usually wore a pair or brooches which were pinned to the front of their pinafore. Sometimes there were strings of beads also attached to them. The brooches were typically oval in shape and beautifully decorated, though plenty round ones have also been found; have  a look at these ones found in Viking York.

Here is how you can make your very own brooches to keep your viking pinafore up!

You will need:

  • Some air drying clay  (for large or thick brooches a light air drying modelling dough is best as it won’t pull down the fabric when you wear it. Normal air drying clay is fine for flat or small brooches.)
  • Circles to use as templates – we used some bottle tops and glasses.
  • Modelling tools – plastic knives, tops of felt tips or anything else you can find which will imprint patterns onto your clay.
  • Some brooch findings which you can find online or in craft shops. A safety pin would cytotec buy also work fine although it might be trickier to stick on.
  • Glue.
  • Metallic paint. Acrylic works really well as would spray paint if you have some handy.

First mould your clay into your preferred shape – for flat brooches roll it flat just like pastry and then cut round your template. Oval brooches were often rounded outwards so you can shape it with your hands.

brooch1

Next smooth the surface using some water and your fingers. Now you can start decorating. Have a look at some designs on original brooches for inspiration or just make up your own. We found it was fun to make up our own designs using stamps made out of felt tip lids.

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We also had some fun writing our initials on the back using this cool rune translator.

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Once the clay is completely dry you can paint them.

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Glue the brooch findings onto the back.

Wear them for your next viking feast!

Here is our hoard of viking treasure:

hoard

 

What do you think?

 

Make a Stone Age Pot

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Pottery in Britian first appeared in the Neolithic (or late Stone Age) at around the same time that people started farming.

We are making a pot similar to ‘Grooved Ware’ which has been found in British Neolithic sites from Orkney in Scotland to Stonhenge in England.

The pots were made out of clay and decorated with geometric patterns while the clay was still wet.

How to make a stone age pot

You will need:

  • Air drying clay or other modelling material
  • A bowl of water
  • Tools – in the stone age they might have used bone, flint or wooden tools. Why not try finding a sharp twig?
  • Somewhere flat to roll out the clay which can be easily cleaned

Start by rolling out a small circle of clay about 0.5cm thick and cut out a circle – this will make the base of your pot. Roll the rest of the clay into a long sausage shape about 1cm thick. Using water as a glue to stick the clay together, start to wind the sausage round the base and build it upwards into a bowl shape.

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One you have got the basic shape, dip your fingers in water and smooth the inside and outside of the bowl as much as you can. You can then cytotec level off the top of the bowl to make it even.

Next, decorate the outside of the bowl. Stone age people made repeated geometric patterns in circles around the outside. you can look at images on the internet to get ideas or make up your own. Zig zags, lines and dots were all used.

pattern

If younger children find making the bowl too difficult then they will still have great fun making designs in a flat piece of clay which is much easier.

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Once your design has dried you can use it. What do you think the Neolithic people would have used it for?

Some archaeologists think bowls like yours might have been used in rituals and ceremonies as they have been found in special places called Henges where they think ceremonies might have taken place. You could use your to collect some wild berries and have a stone age feast!

If you would like to learn more about ancient pottery have a look at this video which shows how pottery was first made.

How did you get on ?

 

 

Make a jousting lance

lances

After Sundays jousting extravaganza we were inspired to have a go at jousting ourselves. I had some unused foam pipe insulators (79p each from a hardware shop) which we decorated with some coloured card and tape.

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Cut out a large semicircle of card – we used a big baking bowl as a template.

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Wrap it round the lance and tape snugly in position (strong glue would also work well.)

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Decorate the lances buy cheap cytotec usa with coloured tape or ribbons.

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 Joust!

How about trying some jousting games?  Hitting ballons and catching hoops would make great Knight party games, though if you have any number of boys present they will  probably just end up bashing each other over the head!

The boys have also had some great fun with this online jousting game from the V&A museum.

How did you get on?