Friday, May 17, 2013

Recreating Ancient Sumerian Cuneiform

The girls have been excited about this project for a REALLY long while. I told them about it, but then made them burn through a few weeks of Story of the World review questions, map work, and timeline cards.

But finally, FINALLY the review questions were memorized, the maps were filled out and colored, and the timeline cards were glued to our big basement timeline. We'd seen documentaries and read books on cuneiform, and I'd received several nice jpegs of cuneiform artifacts in the British Museum's collection (including some of the actual Code of Hammurabi, so woot!), so when I dragged out the clay bin and printed some word and alphabet charts from Google, the kids were ready to dig right in.

I suggested that they could carve themselves the correct triangle-shaped stylus, but after looking through all our clay tools, Syd tried out a screwdriver--

-- and then switched to a toothpick, and Willow started right off with a toothpick. There's a nice awl in the clay tools that also would have worked, but I think the toothpicks fit their hands better and looked less intimidating to use:

On this particular day, I just wanted them to explore writing cuneiform on clay. Will tried several figures but got frustrated when they didn't turn out as she wanted, and ended up with just one, but Syd really took off and ended up with several nice slabs of writing: 

They looked pretty well like the cuneiform characters, too!

I think we'll use these slabs for the experiment found in the Story of the World activity book, but on another day I'd like to set the activity up again, along with a cuneiform alphabet, and have the girls create their names as keepsakes.

We'll do that in a couple of months though, after our road trip, because we're going to see Gettysburg, and until then, we're officially Civil War buffs!

Here are some of the resources that we used to study cuneiform:

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