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RD Milns Antiquities Museum Education Program - Teaching Resources
Module title: Greece - Funerary Practices Activity 1
Year Level: Years 11/12
Activity titles:
The Ancient Greek Afterlife
 To discuss and develop an understanding of Greek funerary practices through an investigation of the Kerameikos Cemetery in
Athens and engaging with ancient artefacts.
 Students will gain an understanding of how material culture can be used to understand the ancient Greek afterlife.
Queensland/ Australian curriculum links:
This workshop incorporates elements of three general objectives: Planning and using an historical research process; Forming historical
knowledge through critical inquiry; and, Communicating historical knowledge.
Themes addressed:
Theme 1: Studies of Archaeology
Theme 7: Studies of Religion
Theme 6: Studies of Funerary Practices
Theme 18: The influence of groups in Ancient societies
Key Terms:
Ceramicus/ Kerameikos: Kerameikos is a district of North West Athens, originally designated the potter’s quarter. Excavations at Kerameikos
provide detailed information about Athenian mortuary practices over 1,500 years, from the earliest Sub-Mycenaean burials (c.1100 BC) to late
Acropolis: Quite literally, the upper city, also known as the citadel of a town, often found on a hill. In ancient Greece this was often the religious
and social focus of the town.
Dipylon Gate: Western entry gate to the city of Athens. One on the gates built by Themistocles to protect the city from attack.
Themistocles: An active Athenian politician from the 490s – 470s BC, when he was then ostracized. He was from an ancient family called the
Lycomid. Themistocles is responsible for the construction of the Piraeus (Athens’s harbour). In 480 BC he commanded the Athenian fleet at
Artemisium and Salamis.
Recommended Resources:
RD Milns Antiquities Museum Online Collection Database:
Perseus Digital Library ( ): Excellent collection of searchable online sources.
Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World ( ): Comprehensive ancient atlas published by
Princeton University press. iPad version available.
Pelagios Maps ( ): Online searchable map of the ancient world.
Acropolis of Athens Virtual Tour ( Virtual tour of Athens including Parthenon, Propylia,
Erechtheion and Athena Nike.
Google Art Project ( Online collaboration of museums.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History ( Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art’s online
Acropolis Museum Parthenon Sculpture and Museum collection booklet
( Resource developed by the Acropolis museum in Athens.
Ancient Sources:
When they die, hearts that were void of mercy pay the due penalty, and of this world’s sins a judge Minos below the earth holds trial, and
of dread necessity declares the word of doom.
But the good, through the nights, and the days are spent beneath the sun’s bright rays, no tax on the soil with the strength of their hands,
nor the broad sea for a poor living, but enjoy a life that knows no toil; with men honoured of heaven, who kept their sworn word gladly,
spending an age free from all tears. But the unjust endure pain that no eye can bear to see.
But those who had good courage, three times on either side of death, to keep their hearts untarnished of all wrong, these travel along the
road of Zeus to Kronos’ tower. There round the Islands of the Blest the winds of Okeanos play, and golden blossoms burn, some nursed
upon the waters, others on land on glorious trees; and woven on their hands are wreaths enchained and flowering crowns.
Pindar, Olympian Ode. 2.57
All the burial rites before in use were entirely upset, and they buried the bodies as best they could. Many from want of the proper
appliances, through so many of their friends having died already, had recourse to the most shameless sepultures: sometimes getting the
start of those who had raised a pile, they threw their own dead body upon the stranger's pyre and ignited it; sometimes they tossed the
corpse which they were carrying on the top of another that was burning, and so went off.
Thucydides. 2.52.4