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You may wish to have them work together in small groups.

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.

Cuneiform was used to record literature such as the Epic of Gilgamesh—the oldest epic still known.

This first activity will introduce students to the part of the world where writing first developed- the area once called Mesopotamia, which was located in what is today the country of Iraq.

Once the writing system had moved from being pictographic to phonetic writing could communicate abstractions more effectively: With cuneiform, writers could tell stories, relate histories, and support the rule of kings. In the next stage of development, pictographs simple pictures of an object were drawn into wet clay, and these images replaced the tokens.Through this process writing was becoming disentangled from direct depiction. The pictographic symbols were refined into the writing system known as cuneiform.The priests of ancient Mesopotamia were part of the ruling class, and much of the tax money that was collected went to the priests and the temples.Next, have students discuss the following questions.

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