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					                  The Writing on the Wall
                    Exploring Ancient Writing
     Ages 8-12 ● Social Studies, Communication Arts, Fine Arts

Museum of Art and Archaeology - University of Missouri-Columbia


 What motivated Ancient cultures to create writing systems? How did this affect the oral
 tradition of communication that had existed long before writing developed? Take a trip
 to Mesopotamia and Egypt, and learn about early inventions of writing. Consider
 origins of writing and tools used to incise, carve, or display symbols. Try your hand at
 cuneiform and hieroglyphs.

 Assessment and Instructional Plan:
 Assessment occurs informally through shared dialogue about connections between the
       written and spoken word during the tour at the Museum of Art and Archaeology.

 Instructional Plan:
    1. Welcome the participants to the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the
        University of Missouri-Columbia. Share what people look for in museums and
        how we’ll look (rules of museum behavior, overview of today’s museum tour).
    2. While in the the lobby of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, introduce today’s
        activity with the following question: Which invention is the most important and
        why? Encourage students to respond to each other as they evaluate the
        inventions and their importance to the ancient and modern world.
    3. Begin a discussion about early forms of visual communication (and see a timeline
        of writing systems @
            a. Paleolithic Cave paintings in Lascaux, France date back to 17,000 years
               ago, contains more than 1500 pictures of animals –not the oldest
               paleolithic cave paintings, but one of most significant
            b. Writing was invented independently in at least three places,
               Mesopotamia, China, and Mesoamerica. Recent discoveries might also
               provide evidence that writing was invented in Egypt and Indus
               independently of Mesopotamia.
            c. “Modern day” alphabet, the so-called Roman Alphabet, was the result of
               nearly 4000 years of transformation.
                   i. Early Greek was written right-to-left, just like Phoenician.
                      However, eventually its direction changed to boustrophedon (which
                      means "ox-turning"), where the direction of writing changes every
                      line. By the 5th or 4th century BCE, left-to-right was the de-facto
                      direction of writing..

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                  ii. Our modern Roman alphabet, including all 26 letters, upper case
                      and lower case, came to be early in the 9th century during the reign
                      of Charles the Great.
          d. Religious paintings for non-readers – popular during Medieval and Early
          e. 1440 invention of movable type and Gutenberg’s printing press – made
              books more available and aided the spread of knowledge. Then The
              Nuremberg Chronicle, a pictorial history of the earth from creation to the
              1490s was published in 1493.
          f. Photography - the making of images on light-sensitive materials-was
              heralded in 1839
          g. Pc - the integrated circuit was developed in 1959; and the microprocessor
              first appeared in 1971, the first such desktop-size system specifically
              designed for personal use appeared in 1974 and sold for $400.
   4. Proceed to the upstairs galleries to visit any combination of the following:
          a. Weinberg Gallery of Ancient Art – Mesopotamia:
                   i. Cuneiform Tablet and Case (L-19) - Mesopotamia, Larsa (?),1749-
                      1712 B.C.
                  ii. Cuneiform Tablet (71.25) – Mesopotamia, Umma, 2047 B.C.
                 iii. Cylinder Seal (62.23.2) – Mesopotamia, Akkad Style, ca. 2350-2300
                 iv. Cylinder Seal (62.23.3) – Mesopotamia, Old Babylonian, ca. 2000-
                      1900 B.C.
                  v. Plaque with Large Boss (64.93.1) – Southwest Iran, Ziggurat at Dur-
                      Untashi, ca. 1234-1227 B.C.
          b. Weinberg Gallery of Ancient Art - Egypt:
                   i. Idi, the Count and Overseer of Priests (60.46) – Egypt, ca. 2350-2170
                  ii. Grave Stela (X-3) – Egypt, ca. 664-525 B.C.
                 iii. Tomb Relief (58.1) – Egypt, ca. 1295-1190 B.C. - hieroglyphs
                 iv. Shroud (61.66.3) – Egypt, ca. A.D. 150
          c. European and American Gallery:
                   i. Medieval and Early Renaissance art – art/iconography as
          d. Barton Gallery of Modern Art
                   i. Anten-nalope (artist influenced by Cave paintings, technology)
          e. Carlebach Gallery
                   i. Asian sculpture – symbolism as form of written language
   5. Conclude the tour. Invite kids to share observations of the art and artifacts and
      the message they convey. Invite kids to share aloud or with a neighbor the art or
      artifact that was most interesting/memorable.

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   6. Follow-up with hands-on activities:
         a. Cuneiform writing
         b. Hieroglyph writing

Student Prior Knowledge:
Basic understanding of symbols and signs as forms of communication

Vocabulary (source from Encarta Dictionary):
Cuneiform - relating or belonging to any of several writing systems of the ancient Near
     East, for example, Sumerian or Linear B, in which wedge-shaped impressions were
     made in soft clay
Hieroglyphs (hieroglyphic) - a symbol or picture used in a writing system to denote an
     object, concept, sound, or sequence of sounds, originally and especially in the
     writing system of ancient Egypt.
Symbolism - the use of symbols to invest things with a representative meaning or to
     represent something abstract by something concrete
Iconography - the symbols and images used conventionally in a genre of painting, or
     the study and interpretation of these symbols and images
Paleolithic – early Stone Age, the early part of the Stone Age, when early human beings
     made chipped-stone tools, from 750,000 to 15,000 years ago

Estimated Classroom Instructional Time (Hours):
30-40 minutes gallery visit, 40-60 minutes artistic creation time

Lesson Objective:
Students will
    View and construct meaning about art and art objects from primary resources
    explore concepts about language and culture
    demonstrate effective listening to learn, process and analyze information
    identify examples of hieroglyphics and cuneiform writing
    illustrate comprehension of tour focus through creation of various forms of art

Material and Resources:
Materials list
Tablecloths – plastic
Cardstock for hieroglyph cartouche
Pencils, markers, paint pens
Pencils as reed stencils - carve away sections of eraser on end of pencil to leave a
triangular shape
Hand-outs – The Sumerian Writing System, The Egyptian Alphabet, The Invention of
Writing activity sheet
Clay – air drying or Plastiroc
Cardboard for work space and platform to hold cuneiform sample

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Resources (always check websites for safe content):
    Conversations about cuneiform writing from the following resource: Teacher's
      Guide for APPLESEEDS, Children of Ancient Mesopotamia, Issue October 2004
      0142862001150907966 , scroll down to section called "Cuneiform -- The World's
      First Writing," and use the questions for discussion of cuneiform writing.
    Edsitement lesson plan - The Emergence and Evolution of the Cuneiform
      Writing System in Ancient Mesopotamia (grades 6-8)
    Summerian Settlers – image of cuneiform tablet
    Write Like a Babylonian – see your monogram in cuneiform,
      the way an ancient Babylonian might have written it.

Classroom Organization: (large group, small group, pair etc…)
whole class instruction and discussion, groups of 4-10 for activity work

Student Work Product(s):
   1) Cuneiform writing sample in clay/Plastiroc using incising tools (reed pencil
      stencil works best)
         a. Visit for the Sumerian
              writing system that evolved into cuneiform writing.
         b. Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago
   2) Cuneiform writing sample using a pencil reed stencil and ink pad on paper
   3) Hieroglyph writing sample – draw letter symbols on cardstock cartouche
         a. Visit for an
              Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet

Strategies for Learner Engagement:
Reciprical dialogue.
Observe body language showing evidence children are engaged in the topic.

Homework / Parent Communication:
Parents/care-givers assist in chaperoning the group to the Museum, modeling behavior
that encourages and invites all to be engaged in the program.

What We Are Learning:
Object-based learning in a museum
Appropriate behaviors in a museum
Critical thinking skills
Observation skills
Listening skills
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Relevant Missouri Grade Level Expectations:

Grade Subject            # and description
K-4      Social          7a. Knowledge of the use of tools of social science inquiry
         Studies         (such as surveys, statistics, maps and documents)
5-8                      (1) Identify, select, use and create appropriate resources for
                         social science inquiry
                             Identify and use primary and secondary sources
9-12     Social          7b. Knowledge of the use of tools of social science inquiry
         Studies         (such as surveys, statistics, maps and documents)
                         (2) Selecting and analyzing primary/secondary sources

Grade Subject            # and description
K-12     Fine Arts       Fine Arts - being developed (2-18-2006)

Grade Subject            # and description
         Communication Reading
K-12     Arts          1 Develop and apply skills and strategies to the reading
         Communication Reading
K-12     Arts          3 Develop and apply skills and strategies to comprehend,
                       analyze and evaluate nonfiction (such as biographies,
                       newspapers, technical manuals) from a variety of cultures and
                       a) Text Features
                       c) Text Elements
                       d) Understanding Directions
         Communication Listening and Speaking
K-12     Arts          1 Develop and apply effective listening skills and strategies
         Communication Information Literacy
K-12     Arts          1 Develop and apply effective research process skills to gather,
                       analyze and evaluate information
                       2 Develop and apply effective skills and strategies to analyze
                       and evaluate oral and visual media

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