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Tag: ab13-cuneiform

Last month when we did our Ancient Writing in Hieroglyphs and Cuneiform activity, I made sure we made some extras specifically for this experiment.

Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians did their writing on stone or clay tablets, and the Egyptians also used papyrus. To this day, we are able to read the stone/clay tablets, but not much papyrus writing has survived. When asked what she thought would last longer – clay tablet or papyrus, Satori gave the common sense answer, but it was fun to do this experiment anyway.

We used Daddy’s hieroglyph papyrus roll and his cuneiform tablet. By the way, he didn’t do the cuneiform wedges right, I just noticed. It looks like he scraped them in, where he was supposed to just stick in his wedged stick. All the more reason to put them through methods of destruction to see if they will survive!

First, the pieces were submerged in a Nile flood for five minutes.

They both survived, but the ink on our paper was getting smeary.

Our clay tablet was starting to dissolve, as we did not put it in a fire kiln or bake in the sun to make it totally waterproof, luckily we could still read it though.


Next test was to have them back in the hot Egyptian sun for thousands of years. (Oven for half an hour.)

As we took them out, the clay tablet was unchanged, but our paper scroll had crumbled in places and is now barely readable.

Want to see some actual ancient writings that can still be read today? The oldest tablets go back to 3000 BCE. Here’s a Babylonian tablet from 87 BCE that described the arrival of Halley’s comet:

This one was found from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh and tells the story of the Babylonian flood and the ark Utnapishti built, very similar to the biblical Noah.

On the other hand, here is a sample of papyrus.

Following the suggested activities in our Story of the World 1 Activity Guide, we gathered our little family once again on a Sunday night to do a family craft.

Satori already proved that she loved studying hieroglyphs, today she even tested me (and I failed) on my hieroglyph letters. She knows almost all of them (that stand for actual letters). Little kids have such great memories! Our first project was an Egyptian Hieroglyph Scroll. Without the guidance of our rubber stampers or stencils, and using just brush and paint (we should’ve used ink as suggested), it was tough! Satori gave up on her name and just drew random hieroglyphs.

While we let the hieroglyph paintings dry, we started with our clay and wedge stick to punch in some cuneiform!


We used 3 different clay types. The above chunk of clay was ideal, it came out of our Egyptian Hieroglyph Treasure Chest, along with the cuneiform stylus. But we only had one chunk, so we had to use others. Our Crayola Air Dray Clay was too hard and crumbly. (Maybe would have been fine if it was newly opened.) The Crayola Model Magic was easiest to work with, but it was too spongy and wouldn’t hold our markings well.

Then we set these out to dry overnight. I love the terracotta one, that was Satori’s. She added vertical lines and it really looks like a slab of ancient writing!

Back to our Hieroglyph scrolls, we attached two wooden dowels at the ends and rolled it up and tied with twine. They look so cool!

The scrolls have a nice crinkly, ancient parchment feel and are fun to unroll/roll up. 🙂 Satori now wishes she would have taken better care with her hieroglyph painting and wrote her real name. I told her we can do it again.

A few more Egyptian projects we tackled over the weekend… making a necklace:

This was from our Ancient Egypt: Start Exploring Treasure Chest.

Here’s another look at our Egyptian Nile Grass, growing nicely. We started this a week and a half ago. The river is going through a drought right now. 🙂

Mom also made this Egyptian dress, I found a quick no-sew project in one of our Egypt craft books.