Skyview students set Ancient Egypt to music
In Ancient Egypt, before a person could pass from the land of the living to the afterlife, their heart was weighed against the feather of Ma'at.
Those whose heart was lighter than Ma'at's feather entered the afterlife. If a person's heart was not lighter, the person was devoured by Ammut.
The fifth and sixth grade students at Skyview Charter School in Prescott, with the help of their teacher Lauren Cain and music teacher Stephanie Griffin, turned this ancient story into a musical they will perform for family and friends this evening.
"The Feather of Ma'at" is the culmination of a semester spent studying Ancient Egypt.
From Isis to everyday citizens, the students donned Egyptian costumes to portray the "weight of the heart ceremony."
The students present the ceremony mainly through music and dance. While recorded music accompanies some the action, the majority of the music is performed by students playing drums, harps, xylophones and triangles.
Griffin tuned the school's mini-dulcimers (harps) to an Ancient Egyptian scale. She composed most of the music based on ancient musical notations.
The students studied all aspects of Ancient Egypt from mummification to hieroglyphics.
Fifth grader Kiva Keith most liked the story of weighing a heart against a feather to determine if a person would enter the afterlife.
"I liked the scale," Kiva said.
For sixth grader Daisy Wulf, learning to write her name in hieroglyphics was a highlight of the semester. Daisy also enjoyed learning about Egyptian numbers, gods and goddesses, and music.
Fifth-grader Taylor Howe portrayed the goddess Nut in the ceremony. She explained that each student selected whom they wanted to portray and then created their costume.
"I had never heard about it (Ancient Egypt) so pretty much everything was interesting," Taylor said. "I liked learning about the mummification process and the sarcophagus."
Some students, like fifth-grader Brianna Lechuga, selected a person to portray based on what they like.
For Brianna, the choice was "Bastet, the goddess of cats, the moon and partying. I love cats."
Brianna also enjoyed learning about the medicines used by ancient Egyptians.
"There are medicines we should still be using today," she said. "I was surprised that, when it was cold, Ancient Egyptians could go barefoot. Also, their clothes did not really cover everything, which made it hard to choose a costume."
After today's performance, family and friends can visit the Ancient Egypt Museum featuring student-created reproductions of items from the days of the pharaohs.