SWALS Project: Water in culture and history

| News Allgemein

Water is an inextricable part of the construction of any culture. Since time immemorial, it has determined the sustainability of whole nations and as it is obvious it will determine human activity in the years to come. The vital importance of water in every society has allowed for its inclusion in the religious, spiritual and artistic life. Its constantly changing features and the necessity of its existence both for nature and humans have intrigued human imagination so as to make it part of myths, rituals and artistic representations. Covering 70% of our planet, water created worlds, gave birth to deities, brought mortals from life to death, ‘washed out’ consciences, initiated belief to the supernatural, relieved pain and purified souls.

Water flows, drips, ejects, froths, rages, thrashes, waves, helps, swallows, kills, destroys life and gives birth – both in nature and human – but also in arts and literature. Water is not beyond us but within us. This is present not only in terms of biological importance, but is reflected in our way of thinking, our beliefs and our ideas are affluent. We are instilled by our experience which we have acquired in relation to the water throughout centuries and in parallel both religion and the arts come up with respective representations. Water feeds our imagination and creativity.


In this project students will be guided through the non-material culture of water, by make reference to its determining role both in antiquity and today. They will use the symbolisms of water along with mythology, literature, religions and arts of various countries and eras as sources.

The teachers’ goal is to shed light on this aspect of water; that is the position it had, both in antiquity and in our days, and in this way awaken the ecological conscience of the students. The whole effort will be performed through teaching language and approaching the topic literally, mythologically and not only. The element of water is meant to be a link that connects all the SWALS, both students and teachers.

The project was planned by the SWALS teachers of the ESM Secondary School. After they had to postpone due to the pandemic, they decided to expand their collaboration with the SWALS of Primary School. Such collaboration will further reinforce the multicultural dimension of the European School Munich. The project also has a lot of potential for interdisciplinary cooperation. It will take different forms depending on the students’ ages.

Thus, it will feature presentations, exhibitions, photographs etc. Simultaneously, there will be mutual visits in order to get feedback as well as visits to archaeological sites having the respective interest. The goal is to disperse the outcomes of the project to all ESM students by the end of the school year. Readers of esmunich.de will see updates at different stages of the water project. The project is coordinated by Panagiota Papakosta at the Secondary School and Jana Hesse at the Primary School.