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Mrs. Turk’s Class Goes Back in History to Write Cuneiform

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Augustina Delapp, 6th, uses a reference sheet to carve  her name.

Augustina Delapp, 6th, uses a reference sheet to carve her name.

Augustina Delapp, 6th, uses a reference sheet to carve her name.

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Cuneiform (Q-ne-ah-form) is the first written language ever created, dating back to 3100 BC. It was created by the ancient Sumerians. The Sumerian writing was originally pictograms, but after time, it evolved into a more advanced language, where symbols stood for sounds and syllables. These wedge-shaped symbols were pressed into clay with a reed tool known as a stylus. The Sumerians created records and important documents on clay tablets with cuneiform. Not many in Sumer knew how to write cuneiform. Nevertheless, scribes, or people who did, were essential to Sumerian society. You had to come from a rich family to work towards the job of a scribe. Scribes were paid generously, as there were few of them. Becoming a scribe took more than just money. Twelve years of schooling went into this profession. Teachers were very harsh, and they would often whip students as punishment for making an error, speaking without being addressed, or not working hard enough. Girls were only allowed to attend school if they were a king’s daughter or in training to be a priestess.    

Morgan Solarski, 6th, perfects her tablet.

Katie Ardoin proudly holds up her tablet to show her name.

On Monday, October 16, Mrs. Tara Turk, a 6th grade teacher at GBMS, had her students participate in an activity in which they made a clay tablet consisting of cuneiform marks forming their own name. They molded some air-dry clay into a flat surface, then they used a small wooden stick to carve their names into the clay. Students had a reference sheet including the symbols they would need to use to spell out their name. Augustina Delapp describes the activity as very interesting. “We actually got to write on the clay tablets, and we had to use the paper to write cuneiform,” she states. Augustina explains cuneiform as a “sort of writing used in Ancient Mesopotamia.”

Jonas Allen brandishes his finished piece.

Jonas Allen adds, “Sumerians created it as the first system of writing.” He says, “It was very difficult writing the different symbols to try to create your name.”

Eva Mosley agrees. “It was really frustrating, trying to get everything to fit… I was expecting everything to fit easily, but it took a couple of tries.”

Caden Taylor says, “I thought it was enjoyable. It was fun to write in another language.” He says the activity was a lot harder than he expected.

Although people don’t write using cuneiform anymore, participating in this activity was a good learning experience and was greatly enjoyed by the students.

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Mrs. Turk’s Class Goes Back in History to Write Cuneiform