Wednesday, October 10, 2012

6. Some Homemade Tablets & Bibliography

Here are some homemade tablets using the techniques in posts 1–5 (see archive October 2012). The clay used is fireable/potter's clay from the craft store (though the tablets are not fired and don't need to be.) 

The tablet below is a heftly loaf of clay with relatively large signs.

The following photos are of the previous tablet, after firing in a kiln and some antiquing (burying in mud, burning in a fireplace, wiping with coffee, wine, and oil; note that firing turned the tablet flower pot orange):

The following two pictures are of extracts from the Vassal Treaties of Esardaddon (VTE) with a fake seal impression. I wrote this to experiment with writing a tablet over multiple days. (I wrote one column per day over a week.) To keep the clay moist I covered the tablet with a damp (not wet) hand towel. It worked perfectly. My hand in the picture gives an idea of how small the signs are.

The following are some laws from the Laws of Hammurabi, written in small signs:

The following is a basket of tablets:

A closeup of the basket:

A multi-column tablet with some of the Laws of Hammurabi:

Closeup of some laws:


Bramanti, Armando. "The Cuneiform Stylus: Some Addenda." At Illustrated discussion of the type of stylus used to write cuneiform.

Cammarosano, Michele. "The Cuneiform Stylus." Mesopotamia. Revista di Archeologia, Epigrafia e Storia Orientale Antica XLIX. Firenze: Le Lettere, 2014. Pp. 53–90 and Pl. 1. (Check for availability on

Finkel, Irving and Jonathan Taylor. Cuneiform: Ancient Scripts. Ancient Scripts Series. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015. A nicely illustrated museum book with good photos of a variety of texts and explanation of the writing system. See pp. 74–80 on the stylus and techniques of writing.

Huehnergard, John. Introduction to Ugaritic (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2012). See pp. 19–20 for a diagram of Ugaritic signs with the order in which the strokes were written in antiquity. 

Radner, Karen and Eleanor Robson. The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Thicket, David; Marianne Odlyha; and Denise Ling. "An Improved Firing Treatment for Cuneiform Tablets." Studies in Conservation 47/1 (2002): 1-11.