Teacher Resource

Self-guided Experience

Journey into an ancient Egyptian world of magic, mummies and mystery in a unique exhibition from the British Museum. Discover the spells, rituals and obstacles on the quest to the perfect afterlife.

Approximately 30-45 mins to experience the exhibition.

Your group/s are welcome to explore the remainder of the Museum’s galleries before or after viewing the Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition. We recommend that teachers become familiar with the Museum’s layout and collections by visiting the Museum prior to their excursion date.

What your class will experience:

Examine more than 100 objects, from tiny amulets to intricate coffins carrying carved or painted texts and spells for the dead, as well as jewellery, models and sculpture.

Explore the quest for eternal life, as well as the rituals and obstacles that might be faced in pursuit of the perfect afterlife.

Exhibition Information

For information on Secrets of the Afterlife, visit the exhibition website at


Planning your excursion to Secrets of The Afterlife

To assist with your excursion the following documents are available to download.

  • Secrets of the Afterlife Excursion Essentials
  • Excursion Management Plan

Available online at http://museum.wa.gov.au/whats-on/afterlife/education

Excursion Booking and Enquiries

For all school bookings contact the Western Australian Museum – Perth, Learning and Creativity department:
Phone: (08) 9427 2792
Fax: (08) 9427 2883
Email: education@museum.wa.gov.au

Please refer to Secrets of the Afterlife Excursion Essentials for important booking and excursion information.

Please refer to www.museum.wa.gov.au/education or our 2013 Education Programs brochure (available on our website or in a hard copy form) for an overview of the range of facilitated programs and self-guided experiences available for school groups.

Curriculum Links

Secrets of the Afterlife provides a variety of opportunities for schools to integrate into classroom programs in multiple learning areas, as indicated below:

Australian Curriculum Year 7 - History

  • Investigating the ancient past
  • The Mediterranean world (Egypt)
  • Historical Skills

Senior Secondary Syllabus - Ancient History

Western Australian Curriculum K-12

  • Society and Environment
  • Art
  • English
  • Science
  • Drama

At The Museum

Self-guided experience

Approximately 30-45 minutes

Journey into an ancient Egyptian world of magic, mummies and mystery in a unique exhibition from the British Museum. Discover the spells, rituals and obstacles on the quest to the perfect afterlife.

Secrets of the Afterlife features over 100 objects, from tiny amulets to intricate coffins carrying carved or painted texts and spells for the dead, as well as jewellery, models and sculpture which reflect the quest for eternal life, as well as the rituals and obstacles that might be faced in pursuit of the perfect afterlife.

Student Gallery Guides will highlight aspects of the exhibition to enhance students’ understanding of life and death in Ancient Egypt.

As we expect higher than usual visitation to the Museum to view the Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition, it is essential that all teachers, students and adult helpers are familiar with exhibition rules and safety information before entering.

Please split your class/es into small groups of no more than ten students as we need to manage capacity for this exhibition. Each group should be allocated an adult leader.

Student Gallery Guide

Collect on arrival

A class set of five (returnable) Gallery Guides will be available for collection on arrival. Please distribute these to the Adult Helper in charge of your student groups. Please return these to the front desk at the conclusion of your visit.

At School

Classroom Activities

From this list, please select some activities that are suitable for the age and ability of your students.

  • Job description: Being a scribe was a lifelong job in ancient Egypt. Students research the role of the scribe in Ancient Egypt and then write a job description for a scribe, considering what skills they will need, what they will do as part of their daily work, what tools they will use etc.
  • Preserving Papyrus: Archaeologists / researchers / conservators have to use clues from papyrus to enable them to interpret the past. Research the process an archaeologist would undergo from finding the artefact, preserving it and using it to offer an interpretation of the past. Present this in an illustrated and annotated flow chart, or choose another creative method to show the step-by-step process.
  • Funerary items: Items in tombs can be used by archaeologists to understand the daily life of people and their status in society. Research the kinds of things that were placed in the tombs of pharaohs and ordinary people. Have students design their own tomb and objects. Have students consider which items they would choose for their tomb so that an archaeologist of the future could determine their gender, interests, religious beliefs, culture, social status, age etc.
  • Animal instincts: Investigate the role of sacred animals in Ancient Egypt. Students draw a chart of different gods and goddesses and their associated animals.  Have students make the connections between why certain animals are linked to particular gods and goddesses.
  • I dig it! Have students pretend that they are an archaeologist who has just returned from an archaeological dig in Egypt. Explain to students that they have discovered a very important artefact, which has created great excitement in their professional circle. Students could role play being interviewed on a current affairs program, and develop the interviewer’s questions along with the Interviewee’s responses.
  • Investigating Ancient Egypt: Students research, write and present group reports on selected topics about Ancient Egypt. Topics may include Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, Gods of Ancient Egypt, Sacred Rituals and Religious Beliefs.
  • Significant sites of Ancient Egypt: After locating Egypt on a map of Africa, students identify important ancient landmarks and sites on a map of Egypt (e.g. Valley of the Kings, Pyramids of Giza, Abu Simbel, Karnak Temple). Students could research each site to determine why it was significant in ancient times, and why it is significant today. Present these findings in a poster, postcard or digital presentation.
  • Travel brochure: Students develop a travel brochure for tourists considering a visit to historical sites in Egypt.
  • Temples, tombs and pyramids: Students analyse the main features of pyramids, temples and tombs and complete a research assignment on a specific monument.
  • A day in the life: Students research the everyday life of a person from Ancient Egyptian times such as a child, a member of a Royal Family, a scribe, a scholar, a priest, a pyramid worker, a farmer or a carpenter. Write a diary entry, including pictures about the everyday life of one of these people.
  • Discovery!: Students could research the discoveries of some famous tombs and burial sites from Ancient Egyptian times. Then they can take on the role of the Egyptologist who discovered the tomb and write a diary or create field notes about the discovery. They should include the dates, location and contents of the tomb, as well as a brief outline of the person to whom the tomb belonged.
  • Unlock the code: Students research the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and determine the significance of such a find. They could find and copy letters from a hieroglyphic alphabet to write their name, the name of a Pharaoh in a cartouche, or a simple message to a friend in hieroglyphics.
  • Papyrus puzzle: Papyrus was very important in Ancient Egypt. Research the papyrus plant and its properties and how it could be made into paper. Then conduct an experiment into how paper deteriorates as a result of exposure to different elements
  • Mummification: Conduct an experiment into the process of the mummification of an orange. Use different salt compounds and observe which salt has the best preservation properties. Students can present their findings in a storyboard, photographing each step of the process.
  • Make a sarcophagus: Investigate the types of sarcophagi used in Ancient Egyptian times. Design, make and appraise a sarcophagus for a doll. The sarcophagus must be correctly proportioned and include the story of the decorations.
  • Compare and contrast: The Ancient Egyptians believed very strongly in the idea of an afterlife. Choose another culture (modern or ancient) and compare and contrast their beliefs on the afterlife to Ancient Egyptians. Choose to present your findings in a table, explosion chart, Venn Diagram etc.
  • Divine deities: Research a deity and present their personal information in  a profile using a social media format, a resume, autobiography, interview questions and answers, or a diary entry.
  • ‘Phamous’ pharaohs: Students could examine how some modern politicians, including Australia’s Prime Minister, use social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or blogs) to communicate with their constituents. Students could research the life of a well-known King or Queen from Ancient Egypt and present information about their daily life, and communication with their subjects, in a similar style.
  • Amazing amulets: In Ancient Egypt amulets were placed among a mummy’s bandages to ensure the deceased a safe, healthy and productive afterlife. Students design an amulet and provide justification as to why they chose the particular object to give them power and as a symbol of protection. Students could make these amulets out of clay and fire them.
  • Create your own Ancient Egyptian scene: Students choose a scene, such as one from the ‘Book of the Dead’ and create a large mural depicting this scene. Enlarge the scene from the original using grid lines.

Related Museum Resources


Secrets of the Afterlife Exhibition Guide. Available for purchase from the Western Australian Museum – Perth.