Monday, September 17, 2012

Clay Tablet or Paper: Which Lasts Longer?

Aka: all the things not to do.

This activity was a continuation of the Story of the World Activity Book One: Ancient Times Chapter Three about the first writings.  Earlier we had made cuneiform on clay tablets and hieroglyphs on paper. I made my own along with Builder Boy because I knew we were going to do this activity and I didn't want to risk ruining his. The idea is to put the clay tablet and the paper scroll through different extreme conditions to see which lasts longer.

It started last week when we put the tablet and the scroll outside for a week. A week later they looked pretty much the same as when they started. I think the paper scroll rolled into the shade so it wasn't effected very much. Today we put the tablet and scroll in the bathtub for 5 minutes to simulate a flood. We used Crayola Air-Dry Clay for the tablet. It worked great for when we were making it, but it started dissolving in the water. Do NOT us that clay if you want to have an accurate experiment. We used the Crayola Washable Kids' Paint for the hieroglyphs on white construction paper and it actually held up pretty well for the 5 minutes.

Next we put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 200*F to simulate the hot desert over time. When I checked it at 23 minutes there wasn't much visible effect on the scroll. I thought to myself "the sun comes from above, not below" so I put it on broil for the last 7 minutes.


Well, at least we proved that if there were a fire in the libraries of ancient Egypt and Sumer, the Sumerian records would (more likely) survive.
This activity was brought to you by Story of the World Activity Book One: Ancient Times. The spectacular mess was brought to you by me. :)

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