How to Make a Clay Cuneiform Tablet

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic sheeting
  • 6-inch wooden stick
  • Knife
  • Clay
  • Cuneiform chart, if desired

One of the oldest forms of writing known is found on cuneiform tablets. The ancient Mesopotamians and Sumerians used cuneiform tablets to record events and other information. The word cuneiform means “wedge shaped,”referring to the shape of these ancient clay tablets. To make a cuneiform tablet, you must form the tablet, write on it and let it dry completely.

Lay a plastic sheet across your worse surface to protect it from the clay.

Carve the end of a long, strong stick with a knife to form it into a "V" shape. This will be the writing instrument.

Form the clay into a tablet that is wedge shaped. Knead the clay or pat it, but avoid tearing it or making it thinner than 3/4 inch. If it tears or is too thin, it could break after it dries out. Smooth the top of the tablet; it will be the writing surface.

Write on the tablet immediately with the v-shaped end of the stylus. You must finish your writing before the tablet dries. Imitate ancient cuneiform using a chart from The British Museum, or write in modern English.

Place the tablet in the sun until it is completely dried out. The tablet is completely dry when it is one solid color, with no spots.

Tips

  • As a classroom activity, instruct students to write messages on their tablets, then exchange with a neighbor for deciphering.

References

Resources

About the Author

Jennifer VanBaren started her professional online writing career in 2010. She taught college-level accounting, math and business classes for five years. Her writing highlights include publishing articles about music, business, gardening and home organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.

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