Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

We have been reading through Story of the World, Volume 1, and we were halfway through Chapter 1
when we encountered information about the Egyptian Shaduf.

 I hadn't heard of this early agricultural machine before, and the picture in the book (though helpful) wasn't quite enough to illustrate the importance of what this machine meant to the early world.

The most helpful illustration and explanation was the picture my son is coloring here in the photo.

This is an incredibly detailed drawing that you will find in "Life in Ancient Egypt", a coloring book by Dover Publications.

We decided we would build a shaduf.  This is nothing new, you can do an online search and find many amazing miniature shadufs out there.  Here's an example of some:
Posted by http://www.astonvision.org.uk/year3.htm

Basically, a shaduf is an early farming machine used for applying leverage in order to get water up from a river or well.

The kids who designed these shadufs in the picture at right obviously spent some time attempting authenticity and they have done a superb job.

But of all the shadufs I saw online, this Lego shaduf at left is my favorite.

This little blonde Egyptian is obviously very involved with her household chores and I love her style.  Not everyone would carry water in a sparkly blue evening dress. 

Thus inspired, we decided to build our shaduf out of Legos, too (since we are big on Legos).

We made our basket out of an egg carton cell.

But however your kids use to make their shaduf, here's a way to enhance the whole experience:  

Let them operate it to grow crops!

 Here's what I mean:

The shaduf is on a higher level than the water (We used a stack of books to create height under the tablecloth).  The egg carton lid serves as an irrigation canal.  The plate has something on it.  We called them our crops' seeds.  What are they, really?  Well, let's see:

Those "seeds" are little paper flowers that have been cut and folded up.  When the water reaches them, they naturally just open up and appear to "blossom" before your eyes.  So it helps to hit home what the whole point of the shaduf really was.

If you enjoyed this activity for Ancient Egypt, check out some of our other fun posts (listed below), and don't forget to sign up for our Giveaway (at the end of this week!) so that you can own the same book my boy is coloring in above.

We shared  other exciting Egypt activities in our blog, like:

 The Food Egyptians Ate,  the varied and fascinating Ancient Egyptian Gods
 the Egyptian Writing System (Hieroglyphs)How to Make Papyrus, and even

about Egyptian Clothing Styles.

For setting your history stage, you might also check out

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig 

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig

For the above activities, you can purchase and download our  Archaeology Kit available in our store:


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