Guest Book – Buchanhaven Primary School

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used lizard’s dung and ox blood to prevent their eyelashes growing?  I bet you didn’t – and neither did we until we started putting together a workshop on ancient Egypt for primary schools. Here at the Special Collections Centre we have some marvellous collections of notebooks, journals, sketches and hieroglyph translations by Victorians who travelled to Egypt in the 19th century.  These records of archaeological findings are great source material for working with school pupils.

Yesterday we launched the new workshop “Discovering Ancient Egypt” for the visit of two P4 classes from Buchanhaven Primary School.  The pupils spent an entire day here between the University Library and King’s Museum.  They saw a watercolour painting of an ancient sarcophagus, an archaeological “squeeze” of a tombstone, and the field notes of an Aberdeenshire lady Ellen Pollard, who copied and translated Egyptian hieroglyph medicine recipes.  The children learnt all about the horrible ingredients the ancient Egyptians used to sort out their health problems!  Here’s a taster of what’s in Ellen’s notebook:

for internal organ pain, take “milk of one who has given birth to a boy lying down. Put in new earthen vessel to become cream. Rub pains all within”.

Check out some of the photographs of the pupils’ visit below.

Pupils examine a painted archaeological “squeeze” (a 3-D paper imprint of an engraving).

The pupils made detailed observational drawings of a watercolour of a sarcophagus.   In the 19th century archaeologists didn’t have the technology we have nowadays for recording what they saw, so this painting was a way of recording what was discovered in the field.  The pupils were using the same technique to record what they observed on their visit.

The children made up their own medicines using the gory ingredients the ancient Egyptians themselves used, and wrote it out in hieroglyphs.  Then they made up adverts for their medicines and acted them out for the rest of the class, showing miraculous recovery from ailments such as broken arms, sore heads and weak eyes.

A patient is treated for an evil pain in the head.

A patient suffers from a sore mouth.

A doctor treats an injured arm.

Rejoicing at recovery.

A pupils directs a scene showing recovery and advertising the cure.

If you’d like to bring a class to do this workshop, email or phone 01224 273047 or 01224 273048.

Posted by: Sarah



  1. We all thoroughly enjoyed our Egyptian experience at the Special Collections Library and King’s Museum. The workshops provided a wonderful ending to our topic on Ancient Egypt; such a fun way of assessing the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the subject.

    • Thanks for commenting, P4! It’s great to hear that the workshop was so helpful for your topic and that you enjoyed your visit with us. I hope we see you again some time.

      • Just noticed the mistake…I meant pupils’
        Comments from the 4a pupils;-
        Kyle.G-I liked making up an ancient Egyptian medicine for evil pains in the mouth and I liked holding the stomach when we mummified Annie!
        Abby-I liked touching artefacts that were over three thousand years old and doing the mummification the best.
        Remi-I liked the squeeze because it was very colourful.I loved finding out about the mummification and medicines too.
        Cameron-The best bit was holding an Egyptian shabti.
        Oskar-I loved getting to touch the stuff in the museum.
        Jack-I enjoyed mummifying Annie by helping to put The Book of the Dead in her bandages.
        Leoni-I enjoyed touching the artefacts,mummifying the person and making the medicine.
        Sandija-I enjoyed doing the ancient medicine and wrapping Annie in bandages.Thank you for letting us see the things and do the activities.
        Jane-I liked getting to make a mummy.
        Sol-I thought the mummification was brilliant.
        Cloe-I liked the drawing and acting out the ancient cures.

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