Sumerian writing activity for 3rd
Could a country be ruled, an army trained, a religion organized, laws maintained, buildings built, products marketed, crops raised and sold without writing? Here they are in chronological order. Once they understood a few words in cuneiform, they could build on that and start recognizing the same symbol on tablets and documents.
Did writing change the way they approached the task? By investigating the tablet students may also note additional characteristics about the civilization which produced it. You may wish to begin by working through the model below. Next, divide the class into small groups of two or three and assign each group of students an artifact from ancient Mesopotamia from the list below. The first Mesopotamian written representation of barley was a picture. Finally, view the Natural Resources Map with the class, and ask them to answer these questions: Mesopotamia was agriculturally rich. Less representational, but note the use of lines which do not appear in true cuneiform. What other records might have been useful for authorities to keep? Divide the class into small groups of three or four and assign each group one of the labels.
For larger classes you may wish to divide the class into small groups and have each group work on answering one of the following questions, which they should share with the rest of the class. Pictographs worked, but hey were rather cumbersome.
Each student should compose a brief essay of no more than one page explaining how writing was important to the development of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. Cuneiform became the written language from as early as BC.
In , an Englishman—Sir Henry Rawlinson—copied the inscriptions from that rock. What kinds of thoughts, ideas, actions, or things were easiest to put into pictures? Next view the Ancient Cities map together. Do students think that the appearance of these occupations might have affected the development of writing? Students should note that pictographic images have a limited ability to communicate such things as abstractions, sounds and certain parts of speech. Note barley pictograph. In addition to the historical basis for these activities, this lesson is also about the nature of written language, how it evolves and how it serves civilization. They worked very hard at it until they could read a great deal of cuneiform. There are many cuneiform tablets that are still waiting to be translated, and more ancient tablets still being found today. Were the students surprised to learn some of the listed jobs existed in ancient Mesopotamia?
In addition to the historical basis for these activities, this lesson is also about the nature of written language, how it evolves and how it serves civilization. Then, each group will present its hypotheses about what the object can tell us today about life in ancient Mesopotamia. Ultimately, the use of cuneiform died out and was replaced with other written languages.
Have the class brainstorm: What would be some of the most essential things for which you would need signs? How would writing have been useful for record keeping, legal matters, passing on history and stories to future generations and other activities represented in the artifacts students analyzed?
They should think about our own writing system -- were they able to understand it before someone taught them how to read and write?
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