How to Make a Simple Egyptian Scroll Out of Paper

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The ancient Egyptians developed a system of writing known as hieroglyphs. The symbols include pictures of things such as birds, people, a mouth and a heart. The Egyptians made paper out of a water plant called papyrus. Scribes---the people whose job it was to write documents---wrote hieroglyphs on scrolls. Egyptian documents include medical texts, stories, love poems, diplomatic correspondence with neighboring nations and religious texts. According to Dr. Mike Norris, a consulting educator at freatschools.org, the ancient Egyptians made scrolls nearly 20 feet long out of individual pieces of papyrus and unrolled the scrolls from right to left.

Things You'll Need

  • Letter-size paper
  • Cellophane tape
  • Felt pens in several colors
  • Pen with gold metallic ink (optional)
  • Black calligraphy felt pen (optional for older kids)
  • Cord or shoelace, any kind
  • Examine some ancient Egyptian scrolls at a museum, in books or on websites. The Metropolitan Museum website offers a selection of papyrus scrolls showing a variety of subjects. Funerary scrolls---prepared for a person who died--showed the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife.

  • Make notes and sketches of what you want to include in your scroll.

  • Set out 20 sheets of letter-size paper end to end---you'll join the top of one page to the bottom of the next sheet of paper. Use fewer sheets of paper for a shorter scroll. Tan paper looks more like papyrus, but white is fine.

  • Use tape to attach the sheets into one long scroll. Overlap the pages ¼ inch, with the end of one sheet resting on the next page. Press tape all the way across the overlapping pages to attach the pages securely.

  • Draw one page of the scroll at a time. Since the Egyptians unrolled their scrolls from right to left, the first page on the right will be the first page of your scroll.

  • Draw pictures of ancient Egyptian life and beliefs, such as scenes of a pharaoh and queen or ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. Add writings about the ancient Egyptians or a story based on what you've learned about life in ancient Egypt. For example, write about how the Egyptians made paper or about King Tut (see Resources).

  • Fill in the drawings with color. Allow the scroll to dry.

  • Roll up the scroll from left to write. Slowly roll the end of the page on the far left and tuck the end under as though you're making a tube about 3 inches in diameter. Continue rolling until the scroll forms a tube like a poster. Use the cord or shoelace to tie the scroll. Tie it the same way you tie your shoes, and it will be easy to untie it to read it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a roll of continuous feed computer paper or banner paper for scroll making, if preferred.
  • Stationery stores carry papyrus paper. You can glue the pages together to create a more authentic looking scroll.
  • This project combines well with a paper-making craft.
  • Older kids can put on smocks and try using fountain pens and jars of colored ink to experience drawing and writing closer to the style of the ancient Egyptians.
  • Handle paper edges carefully to avoid paper cuts.

References

  • Photo Credit ägyptisches papyrus gemälde image by Lucky Dragon from Fotolia.com papyrus image by Aleksey Bakaleev from Fotolia.com egyptian symbols image by Tony Ben-Hamo from Fotolia.com
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