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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

History : Greek Jars

We read that a Greek amphora was a two-handled jar with a flared neck, usually made big enough to hold about 10 gallons of olive oil. To win one was such an honour that some athletes were buried with the amphoras they had won! We were thus inspired to make our very own miniature Greek amphora.

However, we were faced with some challenges.

We used a air-drying red clay to make our replicas. This clay was leftover from our Sumeriam cuineform tablets project some months ago. They have hardened significantly and have become extremely crumbly. So we could not shape our jars to have the flared necks as planned. Instead, we used a disposable plastic cup to stick our patchy clay onto it just to get the shape right. (I read about this method from a project book but didn't like the idea at first. But it looked like that was the only way to go with this sort of clay.)

We had to change the whole design of the jar after that. No handles were added because our clay was just impossible to shape. After an hour of shaping, we did end up with something that looked like a jar. These were left to dry before we removed the plastic cup inside and continued with some more patching.

Unfortunately, at this point, B's jar rolled off the table and cracked. It was too badly damaged that it was now impossible to repair. I had to be quick to think of a way to console him. I assured him that it was alright because we could pretend that the broken pieces were excavated from a Greek acheological site. It would be fun to piece our "ancient artifacts" together again; just like what real archeologists do.

He liked the idea a lot and was wholehearted in completing his decorations!

We searched for authentic Greek designs. Many of the pictures of Greek jars showed drawings of athletes in action or pictures from Greek mythology. These I thought would be too difficult to reproduce, so we decided to try the simple geometric designs that were typical of the jars in the Dark Ages of Greek history.

So here are the end products - our ancient Greek treasures; one a "rare" complete piece and the other, pieced up together from broken relics ;-)

This just goes to show that not all our little projects go smoothly as planned. Hiccups here and there sometimes force us to change our plans completely. Isn't life like this all the time?! Being flexible makes life so much easier to bear...

B is now enjoying taking his broken jar apart to reassemble. :-) And they look forward to really making an amphora. (er... if we have the time?!...)

Visit Rumphius History Webpage to find out more about how we approach History in our homeschool.

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