Workshops – Elementary and Middle School
ECONOMY AND DAILY LIFE IN AGER PISANUS
Fishing on the Auser
Economy in Pisa plain during the past was linked to the use of resources naturally provided by the swamp and river environments: fishing was indeed one of the most important activities. We will recreate a fishing line with hooks and floats on the basis of the archaeological finds retrieved on the excavation sites.
Walking along Arno and Auser riversides
Let’s discover what daily life on the riverside was like: not only sustenance activities, such as fishing, but also more common aspects of the life of ancient Pisans, such as their clothing. We will make a sandal with wood and hemp rope, copying the ones exceptionally found in the Pisa ships excavation site.
LIFE ON BOARD
Lighting on board: roman lucernae (oil lamps)
When the light bulb didn’t exist, lighting on the ships was assured by small pottery or, occasionally, metal oil lamps. Let’s find out how lucernae worked and let’s duplicate them with clay and bivalve moulds on the basis of the ones retrieved during the excavations.
The sailor’s diet
Thanks to the extraordinary preservation of the Ancients ships of Pisa finds we are able to acknowledge exactly what sailors ate during the long sea fares. We will also discover what the ship kitchen looked like as it has been precisely duplicated in the exhibit, and we will cook two recipes from De re coquinaria by Apicio, a glutton who lived 2000 years ago.
A treasure in the box: story of a lost luggage
Inside the museum, it is possible to browse inside a 2nd century AD traveler’s luggage: in a wooden box a few personal belongings were preserved. Among other things, there was the essential writing kit, fit to write small messages, and a small stash, corresponding to the monthly salary of a sailor.
Let’s discover what the value of roman coins was during the Empire Age by making a sestertium minting; otherwise let’s duplicate a stylus and a small volumen, a small scroll, on the example of those found in the sailor’s box.
SAILING EQUIPMENT AND GEAR
The weather, the sky, the route
How did sailors orient themselves? In the planetarium we will discover how the sky looked like 2000 years ago, and then we will analyze sailing mechanisms, learning which gear was used to calculate sea routes in the past. Children will eventually build the essential tool used by all sailors of the ancient times: the wooden sundial.
When a ship docked in a harbor, someone would go and collect the goods and merchandise coming from faraway lands. But how did the addressee identify his goods among all the ones in the shipment? We will discover which were the sea routes, which goods would the ships transport and how the load was organized on board: we will duplicate the “labelling” system for the shipment on pottery shards on the example of the inscriptions and markings made with paint or graffiti found on the anforae.
Oleum romanorum: one product, a thousand uses
Oil was one of the main traded goods in the past and in Roman Age it literally had a thousand uses. We will acknowledge a few and then try to create a perfume by mixing this precious ingredient with flowers and other extracts.
An Alkedo piece, the white, the red
The Alkedo ship was a big private boat, but it was built to look like a war ship. Among the ships found in Pisa this is the only one whose name is known, as it was incised on one of the rowers’ bench: ALK(E)DO (seagull). We will learn ancient naval woodwork techniques and we will try hull caulking and varnishing techniques on a piece of wood, on the basis of the one found on the Alkedo ship.
On board look
While digging the ancient ships in Pisa, a few work clothes, talismans, accessories were found. These finds and the data coming from classical references allow us to imagine the look of ancient sailors. We will make an aesomic tunic and a faux leather work apron on the example of the one found on the Alkedo ship excavation.
THE ARCHAEOLOGIST AND THE CONSERVATOR
Pot. One object, a thousand uses. Recycling in the past
In the past, pottery was used in a thousand different ways: containers, sculptures, mouthpieces, everything was pottery… but what happened when these objects broke? Romans did not waste anything! Let’s discover the different lives of pots, their trips across the Mediterranean Sea, how they were re-used, recycled: learning from the past could be a useful lesson for our present.
The archaeological excavation of the Ancient Ships
In this workshop we will simulate the main phases of the archaeological excavation of Pisa ships. Using duplications of stratigraphic evidence and formwork finds, the students will be involved in different activities typical of the archaeological work, they will learn and comprehend modern excavation techniques, the principles of this discipline, acquire the logic deductive process that allows us to recreate the past on a material data basis.