National Museum of Ireland

Bronze Age Handling Box

Learning about the Past through Objects

Learning about the Past through Objects

Understanding Past Cultures and Societies

One of the ways in which we find out about the lives of people in the past is by examining the objects they used. Working with objects can help young people develop their understanding of how we come to know about the past. Through examining and analysing objects, young people develop an understanding of the role of artefacts in providing evidence about past material culture and human experience.

What Objects Can Tell Us About the Past

Objects offer a valuable insight into the everyday lives of our ancestors. Objects inform us about the level of technological development and creativity of a society or community including its social organisation. The design and decoration of an object can tell us about what a society valued in terms of its rituals, beliefs and the social and economic status of people living at that time. Through analysis of artefacts and the exploration of technological change over time, young people can explore historical concepts such as change, continuity and chronology.

The Benefits of Working with Objects

Working with objects can help young people develop their thinking skills, particularly higher order thinking such as inferential and deductive reasoning, and hypothesising. By implication this can stimulate historical empathy. Taking an enquiry-based approach to using objects can develop interpretation, investigation and problem solving skills and encourage prompt development in language and literacy. Working with objects can appeal to a range of learning styles, both kinaesthetic and visual, and a range of ability levels. There are no literacy barriers when using objects to interpret and gain an understanding of the past.

The Bronze Age Handling Box Resource Project was developed by: