Rock Shard Puzzle

What You Need:
  • Clay that will air dry and harden
  • Shoebox
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • An archeological friend
Question: How can you learn about ancient cultures?

1. First, think about what things ancient people might communicate to one another. In the past, people would tell each other where a watering hole was, or where there was good game to hunt or about an important battle.

2. Then, imagine you are from an ancient culture and you have something to communicate--except you don't have letters to write with! Instead, you have pictures. Writing that is made from pictures is known as hieroglyphics.

3. Think of a message you want to send. Invent a picture language to use. For instance, you may use wavy lines to show water or a sun to show that a day has passed.

4. Now shape the clay into a pot. Use the pencil to write your message in hieroglyphics on the side of the clay pot.

5. Let the pot dry and harden overnight.

6. When the pot is hard drop it on the floor. Collect the pieces and put them in the shoebox.

7. Trade shoeboxes full of the pot shards, or pieces, with your archeological friend.

8. Put the pieces back together and write down the hieroglyphic message.

9. Now decipher the hieroglyphics. What does the ancient message say?

A Scientific Explanation
We learn about ancient cultures from their artifacts, or remains of objects. Hieroglyphics are one way for archeologists, people who study ancient cultures, to learn more about people from the past. Once scientists know a culture's system of writing and language they can learn about their history, beliefs, and way of life.

EXTRA! EXTRA!
Find some hieroglyphics from a culture such as Egypt. Learn some of their picture words and write a message using their symbols.

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