One of the most iconic artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia is the cylinder seal. These were usually carved out of clay or precious stone and featured a unique pattern to verify someone's identity and “seal” important documents. Travel to ancient Mesopotamia with your kids by carving your own unique cuneiform cylinder seals. This hands-on activity is the perfect way to get your child interested in ancient cultures and history.
What You Do:
- Give your child a chunk of clay about the size of his fist.
- Have him roll the clay into a cylinder about the same thickness and about half as long as a roll of quarters, making it as smooth as possible.
- If the clay gets too dry, have him re-moisten it with a few drops of water.
- Using a sharp tool (like an unfolded paper clip or the tine of a fork), have him incise a design into the clay around the entire circumference of the cylinder. Remind him that any letters or words must be carved in backwards.
- Allow the clay to dry. This may take a day or two.
- Once dry, ask him to dip the cylinder seal in acrylic paint or ink it on a stamp pad and roll it onto a sheet of paper to reveal the design.
- Now he has his own personal cylinder seal for verifying important documents!
This craft also makes a great family activity. Get the family together and have each person make their own unique clay seal so everyone can make their mark!
Daniella K. Garran is a seventh grade social studies teacher who lives on Cape Cod. She has published several articles about project-based learning. She spends summers working as an assistant director of a camp on the Cape.