Sumerians – Writing In Cuneiform

Learning About the Sumerians

Writing Names In Cuneiform

This week we have been learning all about the Sumerians. We have learned that they are often referred to as, “the cradle of civilization.”
That a civilization is a large group of people living closely together, and relying on one another. That a civilization must have 3 things.

  • government
  • laws
  • written language

We also learned that they lived in a place called the Fertile Crescent which is in today’s Iraq.

I asked T today, “What is the Greek name for the Fertile Crescent which means the land between two rivers?”

He correctly responded, “Mesopotamia.”

Then things got funny. I asked him, “Which two rivers surrounded Mesopotamia?”

“The Tigris and The Beef O’ Brady’s.”  Straight faced and confident….  LOL

He was completely serious and though it is the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, this was a great reminder of why I love home school!  I could have missed that!  This answer has rewarded me with random bursts of laughter all day long. Not in his presence of coarse but seriously,  The Beef O’Brady’s!  Ha!!!

We have covered a lot of material in this lesson and in case you are learning about the Sumerians too, I thought I would share with you a project we did as part of this lesson. We have been learning about cuneiform an ancient written language. T was shocked that this language consisted of 600 symbols and grateful for our nice and short English alphabet. He learned that the root word Cuneal means wedge-shaped which represents the tool they used to write in their clay tablets.  We decided to make our own clay tablets and write our names in cuneiform.  It was fun.

  • Here is what you will need to do this lesson.
  • This web site – Write Like A Babylonian
  • Clay you can cook – we used this one – Sculpey – Oven Bake Clay
  • Toothpicks
  • Wax Paper

Start by going to the website and entering your name and initials. It will show you your name!  Cool – Copy and Print each of the three blocks into a word document and print them out.  You should have something like this.

NameCuneiformNow it’s time to get out the clay!  One block should do at least two tablets.  Don’t forget to put down the wax paper. You want to work the clay into a tablet shape and it should be about 1/4 inch thick.  Like this –

CuneiformTabletNow you want to get out a toothpick. We discovered it was easier if we broke one in half and worked with that. We also discovered that you don’t want to draw the picture but instead push the toothpick down to make each mark.  You can “erase” accidental lines by gently wiping the clay with your finger.  Before you know it you will have something like this:

CuneiformFinalWe baked ours for fifteen minutes at 350. T loved this lesson!  I did too!  It’s fun and easy and interesting! We are recommending it 🙂

Here are a few other sources we have used besides out History Book for this lesson.

 

Discovery Education’s Mesopotamia Video:

Mesopotamian Artifacts

This website covers the discovery of the Royal Tombs In the City of Ur!