At the conclusion of our unit on Ancient Egypt unit, the 6th grade students submitted short stories that reflected what they learned about Egyptian society, government, and religious beliefs. Here is a sampling, along with students’ original artwork.
The Creation of Life
by Charis K.
For many people, the coming of summer is a blessing as it brings warm weather for crops to grow. It was also a large blessing for the ancient Egyptians; they believed that Renenutet, the goddess of nourishment and harvest, would provide them a bountiful harvest. However, one summer was far from a blessing as floods came and destroyed fruits such as figs and dates. The floods destroyed all the fields except those growing wheat. With an abundant amount of wheat but lacking fruits and vegetables , the king announced that if a cook could be used the available crops to create a successful dish, the recipe’s owner would be given the privilege to live in the palace with the royal family.
Up on the highest hill in the kingdom far from the floods lived a farmer named Aharon and his daughter Akila. When Aharon harvested the wheat and fruits, Akila would weave the wheat into beautiful baskets and fruits into delicious jam. They were a poor but happy family. However, they barely paid for their land with the money they made at the market, selling figs and dates. When they heard of the king’s announcement, Aharon rushed to Akila and asked if she would want to take on the challenge. Akila, who enjoyed cooking, agreed and started to gather materials. Next door to their home lived a sly woman named Anippe. She looked friendly and caring, but she hated Aharon’s family because she felt competition. Knowing Akila’s amazing cooking skills, she decided to wait until Akila created a recipe so she could steal it and win the prize. So she waited for 6 months until she heard Anippe squeal with delight as the air filled with a delicious aroma. She quickly knocked on the door and caught a glimpse of Akila’s papyrus roll full of different recipes. As she casually talked with Akila, she slipped the most recent recipe into her basket and quickly excused herself. Before Akila could realize, Anippe ran to the palace to claim her creation.
When she reached the palace everyone was stunned by the amazing smell and the taste. Just before the king could grant her the prize, Akila rushed and said, “That is my recipe and the woman, Annipe, has stolen it.” Everyone was stunned but did not believe her. However the princess, Sara, saw through Annipe and knew that she had not made the dish. Therefore, she suggested holding a small competition to find the real owner of the recipe. Each woman would be granted two stalks of wheat, a bundle of grapes, and five large, ripe dates. The one who makes the dish perfectly without the recipe would be the winner. Annipe, panicking, added all of the ingredients in a bowl and over baked them. However, Akila ground the wheat, extracted the juice from the grapes, created a thin syrup with dates, and baked it for just the right amount of time. While Akila’s dish was soft, sweet and delicious, Annipe’s was hard and burnt. Seeing this, the king threw Annipe into prison for her deceit, and Akila and Aharon lived in the palace happily. Akila named the creation “eish,” which meant living, as it had stopped the famine and led to many healthy and happy people.
The Fate of Khufu
by Brian S.
It’s 2520 B.C, and after much work by his subjects, King Khufu had finished the Pyramids of Giza a decade ago. Settling in with satisfaction, Khufu collected the tribute from his conquered lands.
“Thank you, and thank you, and thank you,” said King Khufu, while collecting the tribute of gold and other riches. All the people from the lands he conquered had to pay this tribute, or face dire consequences.
Later, while his viziers were doing much of his work for him, Khufu was enjoying his beautiful garden, where he could wander around until his dinner. Khufu took a deep breath in and announced, “Free time is sometimes all a pharaoh needs to stay calm and ready for life. What a beautiful gar–” In that brief instant, an assassin had stuck a knife to his back, causing Khufu to fall to his knees and cough out blood. Before the guards could arrive, Khufu had died. His final sights were the flowers and bushes in his garden, and the pool of blood around him. He realized his time had come, and closed his eyes to prepare for eternal darkness of death.
He woke up after what seemed like several hours, to a room surrounded by 42 gods, with some who Khufu knew, such as Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead, and Ra, the Sun God. Then, one of the gods stood up and announced, “Welcome, King Khufu, son of Sneferu. You were assassinated with the use of a knife, and are now here at the sacred Weighing of the Heart ceremony. To pass the ceremony and join your ancestors, your heart must not weigh more than the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth and purity. Otherwise, your heart will be fed to Ammit, and your soul will be stuck wandering Egypt for all of eternity. We will begin with your Negative Confession. Now, in front of all the gods and former pharaohs, list the sins you have not committed.”
Khufu could immediately tell that the god was Osiris, since he seated at a magnificent throne. Behind him stood his wife Isis and her sister Nepenthes, watching the ceremony. Khufu stood up and walked to all the gods, stating the sins he did not commit, all while Thoth, the god of wisdom and sacred scribe, used his pen to write down all the sins not committed. After about an half-hour Khufu’s various not-committed sins, Osiris announces, “Now that the negative confessions were written down, your heart, Khufu, will be placed on a scale and weighed against the feather of Ma’at, and we will determine if you get to pass, or if your heart will be eaten by Ammit.”
Khufu’s heart was placed on one side of a golden scale, while on the opposite side, Anubis, the god of the dead, placed the feather of Ma’at. Khufu watched as his own heart beat faster as he awaited his final destination, and the other gods started wondering what his heart was doing, as they had never studied the anatomy of a human body.
Finally, the weighing was over, and Osiris announced, “King Khufu, your heart weighs the same as the feather of Ma’at, meaning you are allowed to reunite with your ancestors and farm in the fields for the rest of time. Enter through the doors in front of you to enter your new home. Congratulations to King Khufu, son of Sneferu.”
Relieved that he can now visit his dead parents and grandparents, Khufu thanked the gods and entered through the doorway, revealing a large field of wheat, a beautiful garden, a comfortable home, and his long lost ancestors. He was happy to live here for the rest of time, even if it meant he no longer has access to his riches back on earth.
by Sofia K.
Light flooded her eyes as Anipe opened them to a room full of indescribable scents and colors. She felt tired, as if she had just woken up from a long rest. Unbeknownst to her was how she had gotten there, and she searched her memory in a panicked frenzy. Finally recognizing the scenery from paintings of the Hall of Osiris, she still couldn’t figure out how exactly she had come to be there.
It had been her coronation: they had spent weeks preparing for the celebration, and Anipe had been waiting for the day the throne would be handed to her. She had made sure everything was perfect; an offering was given to every god, a plate for every guest, and food was prepared to the best of the cook’s abilities. Had one of her servants deceived her? Perhaps one of the cooks poisoned her food? Or maybe someone slipped something in her drink? No, that couldn’t have been it, she thought to herself.
After all, it had been her younger brother who had picked out the wine especially for this day which she had been looking forward to for so long. Abrax would never have let someone poison the wine while it was left unattended. Suddenly, Anipe’s blood ran cold. He hadn’t left the wine unattended, he had been the one to poison it. As soon as the realization struck her, she felt utterly stupid. Abrax, the person she trusted more than anyone she knew, had been the one to betray her? It couldn’t be. But the more she thought about it, the more it made sense to her. He was the next in line to the throne; if she was gone, there would be no one in his way to power.
Anipe’s thoughts were interrupted by a deep voice urging her to come forth. Looking around she realized she was surrounded by gods, waiting for her to recite the Book of the Dead. She recognized the person urging her to come forth as Osiris, and as she neared where he stood, she caught a glimpse of the feather of truth. The feather was unlike anything she had seen before: it was as if it was made of light itself. Anipe brushed off her previous thoughts of the betrayal, she needed to focus now if she wanted to avoid a terrible fate. She began to recite her Negative Confession as the gods around her watched. She wasn’t worried about the fact that what she said could be counted as false. Considering what she was being judged on, she had done no wrong. After she was finished, she watched in silence as her heart was weighed on Anubis’ scale, to ensure that it was not heavy with sin. Not to worry, it was perfectly balanced with Ma’at’s feather of truth. As pleased as she was of the outcome, Anipe could not shake off the feeling of hatred and resentment she now held for Abrax, who had caused her death.
Although the afterlife had been everything she had been told of and more, her thirst for revenge only grew stronger by day. No longer being able to bear the hatred that was eating Anipe up from the inside, and she went to consult one of the other past pharaohs for his advice. Each and every one she consulted told her the same thing, “The feeling will disappear with time and be replaced by a feeling of content” or “You must let go of those feelings” and a lot of other nonsense; none of them seemed willing to provide her with the answer she had hoped for. She tried her best to forgive or even forget what had happened, but time went on and days passed slowly.
Anipe was able to live with the feelings she had. After all, what else could she do? She pushed her vengeful thoughts into the back of her mind and was able to live a content, peaceful afterlife. That was, of course, until she saw him. Seeing Abrax changed something in Anipe. As she walked up to him and saw him dressed in amulets and ceremonial pieces adorned with gold, lapis lazuli, and amulets that were meant for the pharaoh, she was engulfed in rage. Yet she remained calm, faked a smile, and made an attempt to strike up a conversation:
“It’s been too long, Abrax! Welcome to the afterlife, it’s magnificent! Don’t you agree?”
After a long blank stare Abrax answered, “I’m sure it is, as an accomplished pharaoh must lead a glorious eternity. Now fetch me something to eat, will you? My ceremony has been postponed until tomorrow due to some conflict between my fellow gods and I’d rather spend my time here in comfort.”
Anipe’s blood boiled. After all he had done to her, he regarded her as if she was a servant. She didn’t know what she had expected, for him to beg for forgiveness? Or maybe just an apology. At the very least recognition.
Finally she asked, “Aren’t you worried? After all, you won’t be spending long here. The horrors of the other afterlife await you.”
With a laugh Abrax responded, “You think I’m that stupid? I ordered a servant to poison the wine. As I did not do it myself, that horrible eternity will not be mine to endure,” he said smugly.
As this realization came upon Anipe, she felt defeated but suddenly had an idea, “Thank goodness,” she replied with a fake sugary voice. “You deserve to be here just as much as I do, I’ve come to realize this after all my time here.”
“I’m glad you have come to your senses,” Abrax said with a cold smile.
As soon as Anipe was able to flee from the dreadful small talk she had been forced to engage in, she quickly made her way to where Ma’at kept the feather of truth. Anipe quickly switched the feather out with a regular ostrich feather with a smirk on her face. Now all she had to do was wait. Anipe wished Abrax good luck for his ceremony with a wave and a cheery, “I hope to see you back soon!” Without looking back Abrax replied, “Yes, I hope the ceremony doesn’t drag on for too long.”
Those were the last words Anipe heard from Abrax, for he never did return….