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The following are activities for children (ages 8-12) to do at home or in the classroom. These can be used in preparation for a gallery visit, after a visit, or even just for fun. Activities labeled "visit activity" are best done during a gallery visit. The activities are divided along the themes of the exhibit.


Locate the following modern territories on a map of the eastern Mediterranean area:
Jordan | Israel | West Bank | Gaza Strip |Syria | Lebanon
Saudi Arabia
| Egypt | Cyprus | Turkey | Sinai Peninsula


Locate the following excavated sites on a blank map of the southern Levant:

Baq'ah Valley | Gibeon | Sarepta
Tel Beth Shean | Tel Beth Shemesh | Tel es- Sa'idiyeh


Create a chronological chart of your own life, complete with a time line. Can you divide your own life into "eras" or "ages"?

Visit Activity: Make a chronological chart or time line of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Canaan and Ancient Israel. Search through the gallery and find an object from each time period.

Politics and Social Organization

The Early Bronze Age

Canaanites in the Early Bronze Age lived both as wandering nomads in the countryside and as settled traders in walled cities. What would have been the differences between these two modes of life? Which lifestyle would you prefer?

The Middle Bronze Age

What do objects in a Middle Bronze Age tomb reveal about the person buried in it (age, sex, status, etc.)? How do archaeologists interpret these finds?

What offerings have archaeologists found in and around ancient burials? What offerings do we place in and around graves? Why? What do they symbolize, then and now?

Visit Activity: Examine the objects from Warrior Burials. Draw a reconstruction of how a Canaanite warrior might have looked when he was alive. Why were the other objects in the case included in his tomb?

The Late Bronze Age

The Canaanites traded with far off lands for goods and luxury items. This included faience and ivory from Egypt, ceramic and leather goods from Greece, spices from Arabia, copper from Cyprus and lapis lazuli and tin from beyond Persia. Think about your own possessions and where they may have come from originally. Make a list of common household objects (i.e. clothes, car, television, food) and find out from where they originally came.

Towards the end of the Late Bronze Age, the nature of warfare changed from battles between organized chariot corps with bowmen to battles between masses of infantry troops with spears and swords. How has modern warfare changed in the last century?

Iron Age I

Visit Activity: The shapes and decoration of Philistine pottery from Iron Age I has often been compared to Mycenaean pottery, especially from Cyprus. Choose a Philistine pot or sherd and create a drawing of it. Now search out and find a Mycenaean pot in this exhibit, or in The Ancient Greek World exhibit (hint: Mycenaean pots can be found in the Imitation and Emulation case). In what ways are they the same? How are they different? Since most of the history from this time period is still unclear, archaeologists must rely on comparisons such as this to determine the origins of the early Iron Age peoples.

Iron Age II

Visit Activity: Look at the lamelek jar handles in the exhibit case. These handles are from clay jars used for storing wine or olive oil and then sealed for transportation and storage. The handles were stamped with two types of royal seals: one looked like a winged disc and the other was a scarab, or beetle. Beneath the symbol, each handle also contains the letters "lmlk," which mean "to the king," reinforcing the fact of royal ownership. In addition, four different place names appear on the jar handles. These place names may represent vineyards or groves where the jars were sent to be filled. The lamelek jars were the property of the Judean government, ruled by King Hezekiah. They are good representations of the centralization of the nation state and the resulting bureaucracy. Find some modern envelopes that have been mailed. In the upper right hand corner you will find red ink over a stamp. What are the signs and symbols that you see? Which sign or symbol represents our government best? How does the control of letters and packages through the federal mail system compare to the distribution of King Hezekiah's wine jars in ancient Judah?

Home and Family

How did the climate of the southern Levant affect the design of houses?

How was the lack of modern comforts compensated for in the design of Canaanite and Israelite houses (e.g. lack of electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, entertainment)?

Bread: The Daily Guide

Make bread from scratch in your own school or home. Follow this recipe to bake a bread similar in style to that which Canaanite and Israelite families would have eaten. Fresh homemade whole wheat pitas, or those made with half white, half whole wheat, are quick and delicious. They are most easily made on quarry tiles or baking sheets in the oven.


2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

5 to 6 cups hard whole wheat flour, or 3 cups each hard whole wheat flour and hard unbleached white flour, or unbleached all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

You will need a large bread bowl, unglazed quarry tiles to fit on a rack in your oven or several baking sheets, and a rolling pin.

In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.

Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours. The dough can be made ahead to this point and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

(To save the dough in the refrigerator for baking later, gently punch it down. Wrap it in a plastic bag that is at least three times as large as the dough, and secure it just at the opening of the bag; this will give the dough room to expand while it is in the refrigerator. Then, from day to day, simply cut off the amount of dough you need and keep the rest in the refrigerator. After a few days, the dough will smell increasingly fermented, but the fermentation actually improves the taste of the bread, especially if baked on quarry tiles. The dough should always be brought to room temperature before baking.)

Place unglazed quarry tiles, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the tiles or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.

Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the quarry tiles or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full "balloon." If there are seams or dry bits of dough, or for a variety of other reasons&endash;e.g.., your quarry tiles are not sufficiently preheated&endash;the breads may not balloon properly. But don't worry, they will still taste great. The more you bake pitas, the more you will become familiar with all the little tricks and possible pitfalls, and your breads will more consistently balloon. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

Alternatives: You can, of course, make smaller breads by dividing the dough into smaller pieces. The rolling out and cooking method and times remain the same. Children particularly love smaller pocket breads.

Makes approximately 16 pocket breads, 8 to 9 inches in diameter.

From Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (William Morrow & Co; 1995. $30.00 hardcover) | Recipes for other Middle Eastern food

Personal Identity

Discuss the role of women in Canaan and ancient Israel. What were appropriate activities for women? Did women have less freedom than men? Were women permitted to do what they wanted?

In Canaan and ancient Israel, most people were identified with a single name, used in combination with a fathers name when it was important to be specific. For example, if your name was Larry and your father's name was David, you could be called Larry Davidson. Names could also include the name of a god or goddess. If Larry's family worshiped the god El, they could have named their son Larryel. What does your name mean? Do you know why your name was chosen? If you added a parents name to yours, what would your name be?

Imagine that you are one of the following:

a) A Phoenician sea merchant
b) An Israelite mother of five children
c) An Egyptian soldier stationed at Beth Shean
d) A Philistine potter
e) A priestess of Astarte in the Canaanite city Megiddo

Write a diary entry for a typical day (or week). In what type of activities do you participate? Describe where you live and with whom you interact. Are you satisfied with your place in life?

Canaanite artists fashioned face masks out of clay, complete with nose, ears, eye-holes and sometimes beards. It is speculated that these masks were worn by priests in cultic ceremonies. Create your own Canaanite cult mask:


"Sculpey" modeling clay (yellow, tan, orange, brown, or white)
Water-based acrylic paints
Thin paint brush
Heavy string


1) Draw an oval on the cardboard the size of your head. Draw in the areas for your eyes and mouth. Cut the oval face shape out with scissors from the cardboard sheet. Cut eye and mouth holes out with scissors. Put the cardboard mask to your face and make sure you can see out of the eye holes and breathe through the mouth hole.

2) Soften the clay between the palms of your hands and mold it into the shape of a mask the size of the cardboard shape you cut in Step 1. Add nose, ears, cheeks and chin. Make sure all are firmly secure. Make holes for the eyes and mouth. If you like, create a beard by lightly poking small dots into the surface with the point of a pencil. Above each ear, one inch from either side of the head, poke a small hole.

3) Bake in oven on oven proof plate in 275 degree heat, 15 minutes per quarter inch of thickness, with good ventilation. Avoid over baking.

4) Remove from oven. Allow to cool.

5) Paint extra features on the mask such as eyebrows, lips, and nostrils with water-based acrylic paints.

6) Loop a string through each hole on either side of the mask. Knot tightly around the first hole, place face in mask and loop string around back of head. Feed remaining string through second hole and knot tightly.

Now you have a mask that you can wear in a Canaanite procession.


Labor and Crafts


Farmers in Canaan and ancient Israel were very dependent on rain for their crops to grow. To preserve this resource, they devised elaborate systems of conduits and check-dams to capture and redirect rainwater into fields. Deep cisterns were also dug into the ground to catch and store rainwater. In what ways do we try to preserve natural resources today? Do you consider water to be a scarce or abundant resource? Do you think it will become more scarce or more abundant? What steps can we take today to preserve fresh water in the future?


Jewelry was highly valued in Canaan and Ancient Israel. It was worn as a status symbol and also to enhance one's appearance. Are there any distinguishing uses of jewelry today? How does jewelry shape how others perceive us?


Visit Activity: Note the types of designs and patterns which decorate the pottery in this exhibit. Are there recurring motifs? Discuss the significance of the vessels' shapes and motifs as an indicator of cultural tastes. Have the students draw or make their own pottery and decorate using symbols that represent ideas important to them.

Pottery was very useful to the Canaanites as a type of transport container. Large pithoi were loaded with foodstuffs, sealed, stamped and marked by merchants as the equivalent of quality-assurance seals. What materials are used for modern storage and transport containers? Why do we no longer use ceramics for these purposes?

What are the basic steps by which a pot is made? What do the size and shape of a vessel indicate about the value of its contents?

Why is pottery of the utmost importance to archaeologists? Where and in what condition do archaeologists typically find pottery?

Archaeologists at a dig sometimes hire a conservator, who must piece together broken sherds of pottery to reconstruct the complete vessel. Pretend you are a conservator and piece together a broken pot. Here's how:


Smooth-surfaced ceramic flower pot
Acrylic paint
Plastic bag
Elmer's glue


1) Create a special pattern or scene that you wish to paint on your pot. You may use designs on pottery from the exhibit for inspiration. Paint the design on the exterior of your flower pot with acrylic paints. Allow to dry.

2) Place the flower pot in a plastic bag and secure tightly. Carefully hit the flower pot with the flat head of the hammer until it has broken into several smaller sherds. Do not pulverize into dust.

4) Remove the broken sherds from the plastic bag, being careful to avoid sharp or jagged edges. Spread the sherds before you.

5) Switch places with a partner and attempt to put together the pot he or she had painted. Add glue to the edges of the broken sherds and carefully hold them together until they dry. Glue together the sherds until the whole pot has been reconstructed. Allow to dry.

Trade and Commerce

Discussion topic: Today, virtually any commodity can be had within a short period of time. Overnight express brings packages from thousands of miles away to our doorstep; fresh produce is shipped by land, sea and air to our grocery stores in any season of the year. Imagine living in Canaan or ancient Israel when only a few varieties of fruits and vegetables would be available during a given season and it would take weeks or months for shipments of goods to arrive from places only a few hundred miles away.

What dictated the routes and timing for ancient shipping? What would be the advantages of trading goods by sea? What would be the disadvantages (or dangers)?

Commerce Without Coinage

Consider what it would have been like to live without money. Imagine you are the head of a Canaanite household and need to go to the market to buy a goat. What types of things do you have that you can trade?

Visit Activity: The inhabitants of Canaan and later Israel did not have banks where they could store valuables. Often, precious metals such as gold and silver were melted into ingot bars and hidden. In the exhibit is a jar which was discovered to contain gold ingots, bronze and jewelry. Why would the owner choose to hide away these items? Why do you think he did not come back to claim them?

Imitation and Emulation

What types of goods today are considered popular and desirable? Are cheaper imitations of these goods available? Is there a different in status that comes from possession of the "original" as opposed to the "imitation"?

Discuss other pantheons of deities in ancient religion, such as that of Egypt and Greece. Useful web sites are:

Canaanite mythology
Greek mythology
Egyptian mythology

What features make pantheons similar (i.e. patriarchal rule, goddesses of love, creation myths, animals as symbols of deities)? How do these pantheons differ? Discuss similarities and differences with the Hebrew myths of the Old Testament.

Research one of the Canaanite gods or goddesses in the library or on the Internet. What were the attributes of this deity? What was his/her special animal or symbol? What are some myths that were told about him/her? Was this deity compared or equated to an Egyptian, Greek or Sumerian god or goddess?

Compare the differences in worship of some modern day religions. In what type of buildings do Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus worship? What types of rituals are performed in religious ceremonies?

What are modern equivalents of cult statues? Of votive offerings?

Death and Burial

What offerings have archaeologists found in and around ancient graves? What offerings do we place in and around graves today? Why? What do they symbolize?

What are two types of burial from Canaan and Ancient Israel? What are two types of burial today? Why are the deceased buried in these particular fashions, both then and now?

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