Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cuneiform

Ancient Mesopotamian Writing - Cuneiform

In World History we are studying the first civilizations - Ancient River Valley Civilizations.  The frrst known civilization is Mesopotamia.  Which is in Iraq, and they get the distinct honor to say they are the cradle of civilization.  For class they need to know characteristics of the civilizations, and their accomplishments.  One of the biggest accomplishments of Mesopotamia is they invented writing!

Can you imagine that?  Sometimes that is hard for me to wrap my brain around!  Writing!  That is incredible, and when you think about the impact and role writing has on our lives today.  I can't imagine life without writing!  I'm writing right now. 

When they invented writing - here are two big things that happened.  One we now have history because human are now recording their existence.  A common definition of pre history is before recorded time.  So with writing history begins!  And all of these civilizations developed writing.  It's just historians and archaeologists believe Mesopotamia did it first!  Most people know Ancient Egypt's writing - heiroglyphics.


You will notice they would also add art to their writing, and they developed paper.  In Mesopotamia they only had clay, and then would dry the clay in the sun to make a tablet - when they were done.

The second thing writing did was it created an elite class.  In Mesopotamia it would take years to learn to write in Cuneiform.  Not everyone would have the time to dedicate their lives to learn.  Once it was learned they would begin to record.  The most common thing recorded was how much grain someone had, or animals.  They also had contracts in Mesopotamia for marriages, divorce, slaves, and etc.  That is actually where laws came from.  Those who learned to write were called scribes.


Mesopotamian Scribes

So for the students to get a feel for writing in Mesopotamia I developed an activity.  I brought some play-dough, skewers, and sheets of Cuneiform.  Every student got some play-dough and got to practice writing cuneiform.  I didn't have clay so play-dough was the next best thing.  The activity turned out so well!  The students really got it, and had fun!  One thing that everyone talked about was how hard it was, and time consuming it was.  Here is some pictures of that day.  Hopefully they have a new appericiation for our writing!


Working on it

Finished Product


Finished product




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