Reviving ancient Egypt in the time of COVID
In the midst of challenging times, UWinnipeg Classics student’s are bringing UWinnipeg’s Hetherington Collection of Egyptian artifacts virtually to homes and virtual classrooms across the city with The Lux Project.
“The Hetherington Collection has been an important resource at UWinnipeg for classroom work, student research projects, exhibits and public presentations,” said Val McKinley, curator, UWinnipeg Anthropology Museum, where the collection is kept.
Dr. Melissa Funke, in the Department of Classics, is a co-director of the Lux Project. She is working with two UWinnipeg students, Caitlin Mostoway-Parker, a graduating honours student in classics and Kaitlyn Gilfillian, who is pursuing a double major in classics and education who all have a love and passion for classics.
Together they are creating a database of digital images of the collection, that includes researching the over 450 artifacts that are held by UWinnipeg’s Department of Anthropology, since 1928. They are also trying to understand how this rich interdisciplinary teaching resource came to UWinnipeg that remains shrouded in mystery.
The Lux Project has already created teaching modules to complement the Manitoba junior high curriculum and local outreach to raise the profile of the study of the ancient Mediterranean in and around Winnipeg.
Since the COVID-19 crisis, the project has taken on a new role. Mostoway- Parker and Gilfillian have created two worksheets on Ancient Roman symbols to assist in home-schooling with parents and children trapped at home. These work sheets were conceptualized by Gilfillian that include drawings by Mostoway-Parker.
“I just finished my education degree and know the struggles that teachers and parents are now facing,” said Gilfillian. “We wanted to create something tangible and fun that helps get the collection out into the public sphere.”
Since Gilfillian is familiar with the grade three and grade eight curriculum with a focus on ancient Egypt, they recognized the need to have fun activities to help parents teach the curriculum as well as encourage students interested in the ancient world.
“We decided to create these worksheets as a fun way for students stuck at home to learn about the ancient world, through illustrations of some of our objects,”said Mostoway-Parker. “It’s an interesting interactive project that both parents and children can benefit from! We hope that they’ll learn something new about oil lamps in the ancient world.”
Gilfillian is incredibly honoured to be able to work with these objects and create something that helps promote classics.
They are now looking for ways to promote these resources via social media and some virtual networking, that includes Funke zooming in to discuss ancient Greek gods with schoolchildren lock down.
“To my mind, this project demonstrates the incredible generosity and civic-minded spirit of UWinnipeg faculty and students,” shared Dr. Peter Miller, Chair, Department of Classics. “It also illustrates how classics can be relevant to people today, and how it can be a way for students to learn – here through fun activities.”
After the digital images and research have been compiled, Funke says the next step is to use the collection to create teaching modules for use in grade schools’ ancient-world curriculums.
The final aim for the Lux Project is public accessibility with an online archive available through WinnSpace. This will include images of the objects with stunning archaeological drawings created by Mostoway-Parker, as well as typological information explaining where the objects came from, from what time period, and what culture.
Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg