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The object on this page is part of a Hellenistic theatre mask (MU 3764).

Education programs

Secondary school Ancient History programs

The Museum of Ancient Cultures offers Education Programs for years 7, 11 and 12 in Ancient History in line with the NSW junior and senior Ancient History syllabuses. Other secondary school years can be accommodated if teachers are offering their students special programs in school. Schools attend our education programs from all over NSW and the ACT.

The programs are conducted by the Museum's Education Officers who are trained educators. Their skills, talents and subject specialties are matched to suit the requirements of the programs on offer.

The program is offered either In-House or as an Away Program.

The content of these programs can be tailor-made to suit the needs of the individual schools or can be organised along more general lines to meet school requirements.

The In-House programs are divided into 3 sessions:

  1. an interactive PowerPoint presentation to challenge and stimulate students
  2. a Hands-On session where students are given gloves and set out to develop their cognitive skills by working directly with ancient artefacts (by problem solving, analysis and use of evidence), and
  3. a conducted tour of the Museum itself, involving further exercises in interpretation of archaeological material.

(In the Away Program, other activities are substituted for the Museum tour.)

The cost of the In-House program is $20.90 per student, including GST (ie. $19.00 + $1.90 GST - schools are able to recover the GST component). The program runs from 10.00am to approximately 1.00pm from Monday to Friday (or at other times by arrangement).

The Away Program has been devised for schools (primarily country schools) where there is a difficulty getting to the University. In the past we have travelled such vast distances across NSW, that we have the most geographically-extensive education program in the world.

Where an Away Program is organised, the charge per student is slightly higher to cover the costs of travel and insurance. Currently this cost is $25.00 including GST.

Bookings for the education program

For bookings on-line, email us at .
She will happily organise your bookings and discuss your particular requirements.

Morning tea and lunch breaks

For the In-House program, there is a short morning tea break after the end of the first session and once the next two sessions are completed, finalising the Education Program, school groups are able to go off for lunch before heading back to their schools.

Those who bring packed lunches and drinks may sit on the grassed areas close to the Museum to have their lunch, weather permitting. Those wishing to purchase lunch on campus can do so at the University's eating facilities.

Many schools who have travelled some distance by bus, often opt to stop for lunch while on their journey back to school.

School excursion risk management document

For teachers organising a school excursion to the Museum of Ancient Cultures, we have done the Risk Management document for you in PDF format.

Download the PDF and attach it to the documentation you need for the school excursion.

Other education programs

The Museum has also designed specific programs for other groups:

  1. upper Primary School Programs for Years 5 and 6
  2. programs to suit secondary Gifted and Talented students
  3. programs for those studying Classical Greek or Latin
  4. programs such as Face to Face with the New Testament, for those studying secondary Religious or Biblical Studies, or for church and community groups
  5. historical or cultural programs for Years 8, 9 or 10 where the school may need special programs in a particular subject area (eg. Art; D&T).
  6. students with disabilities can be accommodated in the Education Programs.

We ask that excursion organisers discuss these students' needs in advance with us, so that we can enhance their visit as much as possible.

Community outreach programs

While the Museum of Ancient Cultures is a public facility open at set times for casual visitation at no cost, community groups who wish to arrange for organised tours and programs are charged to cover staff time.

While such programs are often conducted during business hours, groups can also attend in the evenings or on weekends by special arrangement.

In the past we have catered for groups from the U3A, the service clubs such as Probus, the Scouts and Cubs, Church groups, Community Associations, Senior Citizen's groups and Business clubs.

Volunteer program

Volunteers are normally taken from within the Undergraduate and Postgraduate student body of Macquarie University, usually from the disciplines of either Ancient History, Museum Studies or Education (for those in the Teacher Education Program).

Potential volunteers are interviewed and, if suitable, are invited to join the Museum team as a volunteer to participate in a full-range of museum activities and projects.

Work placement or mentor program

People who are thinking of studying to join the museum industry, or who are interested in volunteer work in their local community museum may approach us to see if they can be included in a Work Placement or Mentor Program.

Those who are on government-sponsored work schemes may also make enquiries to see if they are eligible to participate in our programs to broaden the range of their skills and experience.

Museum internships

Students (or their lecturers) who are studying a degree course in Museums Studies or Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, may like to contact us to see if they can arrange a Museum internship at the Museum of Ancient Cultures.

To discuss the possibilities of an internship further, please contact Karl Van Dyke on + 61 (2) 9850 9263 or e-mail:

Work experience program

This program is open to secondary school or TAFE students in Year 10. Those on the program can experience something of the work of Museum staff, ancient historians and archaeologists.

Students carry out general office duties, help with administration, and may do some research via the web or the Library. They are shown how to handle artefacts correctly, are given some of the basic principles of design and exhibition layout, attend the Education Program to develop their skills of observation and deduction as well as develop their people skills by meeting and interacting with staff, students, other work experience students and members of the public. Past students have found this a very beneficial program to attend.

It is a policy that we take students from those schools that support our Education Programs and bring their students on excursion to Macquarie University. Places are limited and we work on a first-come, first-served principle.

Arrangements can be made if Careers Advisors contact Jon Dalrymple (on 9850 9261) or the Director, Karl Van Dyke (on 9850 9263; to discuss this further and check availability.

Please note: This is a very popular program, so schools need to book their students in with the Museum as early as possible.


This section of the site, developed by Dr Andrew Bayliss, provides some background information about the Hellenistic Period and is designed to assist teachers and students undertaking two topics in the Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus: (1) Part III Option M: Greece: The Hellenistic Period from the death of Alexander the Great to Cleopatra VII, and (2) Part I Option I: Greece: Cleopatra VII.

The MAC has numerous artefacts from the Hellenistic Period, the most notable being a golden diadem from Macedon and numerous gold and silver coins from the Macedon and the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms.

The main difficulty for any student of the Hellenistic Period is the lack of an ancient source that adequately covers the whole period. The only continuous source that has survived is Justin's Epitome of the Philippic Histories of Pompeius Trogus. Justin was writing some time around the second century AD, and his work is not sufficiently detailed or reliable to provide the basis that we need. We are forced to compile our information from a variety of sources. Plutarch's lives of Demosthenes, Phokion, Eumenes of Kardia, Demetrios Poliorketes, Pyrrhos of Epeiros, Agis IV and Kleomenes III of Sparta, Aratos of Sikyon, and Philopoimen, T. Quinctius Flamininus, L. Aemilius Paullus, C. Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius provide us with information from the death of Alexander down to the death of Kleopatra, but unfortunately do not provide us with a complete narrative. Diodoros of Sicily provides us with a narrative of events from 323 to 300 in his Library of History , and Polybios outlines events from the third and second centuries BC in his History . The Roman historians Livy and Dio Cassius provide us with some information, as do the geographers Strabo and Pausanias. All of these sources (which are often difficult to acquire) are available for consultation at the Macquarie University Library.

The best solution to the problem of sources has been provided by M.M. Austin's collection of ancient testimony, The Hellenistic world from Alexander to the Roman conquest , ( Cambridge , 1981). This collection includes 279 ancient Greek documents (literary sources and inscriptions) translated in to English.

The Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus : (1) Part III Option M: Greece: The Hellenistic Period from the death of Alexander the Great to Cleopatra VII outlines several key issues that need to be examined by students, e.g. the aftermath and consequences of the death of Alexander the Great, and the role of significant individuals especially the Antigonid, Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings (most importantly Perseus).

This page includes essential background information in PDF format about the Seleucid dynasty, the Ptolemaic dynasty, the Attalid dynasty, and the different Macedonian and Thracian dynasties from the Hellenistic Period. This includes detailed genealogical tables, and short biographies of key individuals e.g. Perseus and Kleopatra, with links to relevant artefacts at the Museum of Ancient Cultures .

Note: It used to be the custom to Latinise the spelling of Greek names in English. For example the Greek name Alexandros became Alexander, Philippos became Philip, Kassandros became Cassander, Ptolemaios became Ptolemy, and Kleopatra became Cleopatra. This custom is reflected in the Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus . In recent years the trend has been to transliterate such names, and this is how I have spelled names on this web page. It should be noted that I have not been entirely consistent. For reasons of clarity I have retained the Latinised spelling in some cases, e.g. Athens rather than Athenai , Cyprus rather than Kypros. Alexander the Great remains Alexander to distinguish him from other bearers of the name Alexandros, and the same applies for Philip II of Macedon, Ptolemy I Soter and Cleopatra VII.

Andrew J. BaylissMacquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures

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