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Archive for March 4th, 2010

We did this activity right after our Rosetta Stone project, to take advantage of the other half of the black foam board.

What we know of Hammurabi was that he was a king of Babylon (c 1796 BCE – 1750 BCE), who is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, the first written codes of law in recorded history. They were written on a over seven foot tall diorite (dark grey igneous rock) stele (tall stone slab). A few examples of his laws were:

  • If a man puts out the eye of an equal, his eye shall be put out.
  • If anyone commits a robbery and is caught, he shall be put to death.

Sounds pretty severe! He was actually a fair king, much better than the king Shamshi-Adad we’re learning about this week.

Here’s our activity spread out before we started. Images of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws stele, our stele, pen, and a book.

This book, The Rules by Marty Kelley is a silly book with silly illustrations, but Satori loved it, and of course I’ve had to read it four times in the past 24 hours. 🙂 We’re not very strict parents and Satori is a good girl, so we don’t have too many rules around the house, so this book was actually helpful to read to get us both in the mindset of laying down some rules.

Just as in the original stone, there is a top section with a picture of Hammurabi giving his laws to someone. Satori illustrated Mama in a chair, giving the rules to her standing before the Mama.


Then, I simply had her list all the rules that she could think of!

The Rosetta Stone isn’t just an overpriced foreign language program often marketed in airports and at the mall. For us, it is far more important, for it allowed us a glimpse inside the Egyptian world. The stone itself, created in 196 BCE,  is a black stone with carved text comprised of three translations of a single passage – Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic, and classical Greek. Discovered in 1799 in Rosetta, Egypt, but not translated until 1822, it allowed us to read the previously undecipherable hieroglyphic writing. Perfect for little 5 year old girls who love to read hieroglyphs!

Here it is sitting in the British Museum. Mama is kicking herself for not going there when we were right next door just four months ago!

I thought it would be fun to make our own project of a Rosetta Stone. But instead of Egyptian demotic and classical Greek, we’d  use the language we knew (English) and one we don’t have memorized (Sumerian cuneiform).  The other day at the office store, I picked up a large black foam board. I cut it in half (the other half was for our next project). I used a scissors and made it roughly in the shape of the Rosetta Stone that is chipped on almost all corners.

Next I used a few free online translation sites to print out a page using the three languages, saying the same  phrase in each: My name is Satori.  Here’s the websites I used:

I gathered up all the materials. I got a large image of the Rosetta Stone printed out, my 3-translation sheet, our “Rosetta Stone” foam board, and a book. We re-read Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford. Satori was so much more interested than the first time we read it – the day I introduced Egyptian writing to her. Since then, she’s learned so much!

Using our translation sheet as a guide, Satori started writing the  phrase “My Name is Satori”. We used a metallic pen so it would s how up nicely on the black board.

We did not forget to make a cartouche around her name. This was one of the important clues that helped translate the hieroglyphs. And see how it is shaped similar to the actual Rosetta Stone?

Today was such a gorgeously beautiful day. The sun was shining, we actually did our lessons out on the deck today. Birds tweeting all around us… Snow still all around, but we basked in the hot sun which made it feel like the perfect spring day…