School Boxes

In order to reach children and school classes who may not be able to travel to Suleymaniyah or Kalar, as well as to create deeper learning experiences for groups who do visit the museums, we have created three themed educational boxes. These boxes offer an introduction to three important elements of life in the past:

Pots and People in the Ancient Near East

Food in the Ancient Near East

The Invention and Practice of Writing in the Ancient Near East

Schools will be able to borrow these boxes from Slemani Museum and the Garmian Civilizations Museum from September 2019.

Young visitors at the Slemani Museum Kids space opening event trying out the “Writing Box”

You can also download the information booklets and other related materials here:

Pottery booklet (English)

Pottery booklet (Kurdish)

Pottery booklet (Arabic)

Pottery colouring template

Food booklet (English)

Food booklet (Kurdish)

Food booklet (Arabic)

Recipe game template

Writing booklet (English)

Writing booklet (Kurdish)

Writing booklet (Arabic)

The boxes and their multi-sensory content provide structured educational materials for classroom teaching in order to help children comprehend historical narratives, technological and social changes through time, and basic social dynamics such as those that unfold during communal eating. It also encourages children to engage in questions of cultural identity and heritage through play and discussion.

The boxes introduce teachers and students, of all ages, to life in the ancient Near East, with the aim of enthusing everyone to engage further with the archaeology and history of this region and to care for, and help protect, its rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Each box contains ceramic and stone replicas of ancient pottery, cuneiform tablets and seals, as well as charred grains and bones like those found on archaeological sites. They also contain illustrated information booklets in Kurdish, Arabic and English, alongside a series of games and fun activities to allow children to travel through time and get a sense of what life might have been like where they live thousands of years ago.

Note on Terminology

The geographical terminology used in the school booklets was selected on the basis of (1) the geographical and temporal scope of the cultural developments being discussed, and (2) their familiarity to students and teachers in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI).

Both ‘Mesopotamia’ and ‘ancient Near East’ are used in official KRI school-level textbooks as well as in higher education institutions in the KRI and Iraq more widely. The terms are used when discussing the prehistoric, Bronze and Iron Age societies, cultures and developments of a wider region that includes the modern national territories of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. These periods and wider developments form the focus of the project’s school booklets. Modern national designations are used to locate the archaeological sites or findspots of illustrated artefacts (not all illustrations show specific archaeological artefacts).

The Kurdish and Arabic versions of the booklets, which are mainly consulted by students and teachers in the region, use بلادالرافدین (bilad al-Rafidain), a term that is widely used in Iraqi archaeological publications.

There is a long-standing debate in the wider archaeological community about the historical baggage and external cultural construction of these and other widely used geographical terms. We agree with the need to move away from the discipline’s colonial heritage, which also finds expression in geographical terminology. This discourse has not as yet produced alternative terminology that has seen broad and consistent adoption. The project’s school booklets, therefore, use terms that students and their teachers in the KRI are familiar with from official textbooks.