The Science of Ancient Egypt

Term Spring 2021
Code SCI05
Ages 8-11
Instructor Dr. David Purvis
Price $450

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This course will cover the scientific aspects of the ancient Egyptian culture. It will begin by studying the geography, climate, and ecosystems surrounding the Nile River and the Sahara Desert. Students will appreciate the richness of the Egyptian environment and the annual floods that fertilized the crops with nutrients, thus allowing this great civilization to flourish. Other early topics include irrigation and the many crops and foods that the Egyptians grew. Students will also learn about the science of bread-making.

The course will highlight the natural resources available to the Egyptians, including natron, sand, and limestone—the ingredients used to make glass. The kilns of the Egyptians were used not only to make pottery and glass but to smelt metals from ores. Particular attention will be given to copper and its scientific properties in the context of modern science. Gold and silver were used for jewelry, and the course will cover their physical characteristics as well.

The students will also examine the animals of ancient Egypt, including mammals, birds, and reptiles, as well as insects such as the sacred scarab beetle. As they learn about the simple tools and machines used in ancient Egypt, students will appreciate the unsolved mysteries of the pyramids and the amazing construction of the Great Pyramid. The course will also cover the astronomy of ancient Egypt, blending ancient beliefs with modern knowledge of the constellation Orion and the Star of Isis (Sirius). The course will culminate with the study of mummies, and students will make their own mummies as they examine the science of osmosis and decomposition. Along the way, they will participate in interesting activities, and the live classes will include demonstrations.

Live Classes: Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, from January 13th to May 12th

Assignments: Students will be expected to complete activities, readings, or experiments.

Student Support: The instructor is available by email.

Feedback/Assessment: Feedback will be provided on assignments.

Materials/Supplies: Students will need a notebook for notes, activities, and assignments. In addition, they will need to purchase a small number of easily-obtainable materials. They will also need to purchase the printable Science of Ancient Egypt Workbook from

Prerequisites: None

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