The 6th graders have learned about many civilizations that occupied Ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. Located in the modern day Middle East, “the fertile crescent” was host to many kingdoms and empires that took turns ruling the coveted land. The Sumerians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians, were some of the many civilizations that contributed to the advancement of technology for future generations of humans. One such contribution was a wedge-shaped writing system called cuneiform. This form of writing originated first from pictographs, which showed actual objects, ideas, and sounds. Ancient Mesopotamians used a sharpened reed called a stylus to press markings into clay tablets. This is the reason why over time, the use of pictures was discontinued and was replaced entirely by wedge shapes.
We decided to emulate Ancient Mesopotamian scribes and write our own cuneiform writings on clay tablets. However, we had our work cut out for us! For example, the Sumerian language contained about 600 different symbols, and learning all of these symbols took years. With the help of observing patterns in their writing system as well as our alphabet, coupled with a very useful online cuneiform translator, we were able to write our names on wet clay tablets with the use of wedge-like sticks. We learned the importance of writing during that time, as very few people could decipher the Mesopotamian alphabet. We were also thankful for the much easier current writing system that we have today! Imagine the spelling quizzes that 6th graders had to study for back then!