Suzanne Eiszele-Evans

Using artefacts to teach archaeology in the classroom

Ancient History is a subject that appeals to students of all ages. It grabs the imagination and helps them to develop a number of skills which can be used in a variety of subjects, such as English, Visual and Creative Arts, and the Sciences. One of the most effective ways students can learn about the ancient past is to learn to think and work like an archaeologist. Students can develop these skills by working with artefacts, and learn how to use archaeological methods to analyse artefacts record their findings and develop interpretations.
Unlike the traditional studies of ancient Rome and ancient Greece, where written evidence is wide and varied, the study ancient Egypt relies far more heavily on the information which can be drawn from the observation and analysis of a variety of objects to piece together the everyday history of this ancient culture. As excursions to the sites of study are not always practical or possible and museums that have developed these valuable teaching programs are not available in all areas of Australia, it is sometimes left to the teacher to develop their own teaching kit of resources which can be used to enable the students to benefit from this tactile form of learning.

During this presentation I will provide examples of the types and range of learning activities which I have successfully used with students in my own classroom, for primary and secondary students. I will also show how teachers can easily assemble a teaching kit of good quality replicas of real artefacts that can be purchased online or found in museum or gift shops.

School of Education and Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University (NSW)


Suzanne began her teaching career in 1983 with a degree in Secondary Art and Art History. After teaching Art in both Australia and the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s she returned to Australia and completed a Master’s Degree in Egyptology. While studying for her Master’s she was selected in 1993 to join the Macquarie University Egyptology Department’s field research team and fulfilled a lifelong dream of working on an archaeological dig. At the same time she began working in a Grammar School in the Hills District of Sydney in the Art, Design and Technology and History Departments. Blending the skills of the Art teacher with those of the History teacher and a practical approach to the study of History became an important part of her teaching method. The experiences on the archaeological dig encouraged her to bring the experience into the classroom for her students. She began by creating a ‘seeded’ dig site within the school grounds and then included artefacts brought back from her time on the dig as well as replicas purchased both overseas and in gift shops in Sydney. The visual and tactile nature of bringing artefacts and replicas into the classroom proved to be very successful. It aided students who were not strong academically as well as those who could draw on the images to bring greater details to their understanding of the cultures they were studying.