These stories about a part god/part man king named Gilgamesh are reminiscent of ancient Greek mythology, but they are more ancient. In fact, they were originally written on clay tablets some 5,000 years ago. Ludmila Zeman has taken these older than dirt Mesopotamian tales and created a kid-friendly, beautifully illustrated trilogy. Besides the lessons in friendship, loyalty, leadership, love and good versus evil, readers will also be exposed to what life in the long ago city of Uruk, situated in present day Iraq, was like. Titles in this series include Gilgamesh the King, The Revenge of Ishtar and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh.
Activity: Can you put a story on a clay tablet that someone else can decipher? We started by making our own Mesopotamian Mud (home made play dough). Here is the recipe we used:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 tb oil
1/2 tb cream of tartar
Red: 30 drops
Green: 20 drops
Yellow: 15 drops
Stir ingredients together then cook over medium heat. Stir until liquid ingredients become solid.
Here is Shannon's cuneiform. She wrote about two friends finding a bird's nest containing eggs. I read it without even stumbling!
To see and find out more about cuneiforms check out these sites:
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley, California
Horn Museum, Berrien Springs, Michigan
Kelsey Museum of Archeology, Ann Arbor, Michigan
New York Public Library, New York, New York
USC Archaeological Collection, Los Angeles, California
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland