Clay vs Papyrus! Historical Materials Experiment

Ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus, so of course we used papyrus and learnt about it as part of our study of ancient Egypt. We even made our own glue and papyrus! A while ago, when we talked about Sumer and Ancient Mesopotamia we tried making cuneiform tablets, so I decided we should compare the two to see how different artifacts come down to us through history, and so I created…(say it in a loud booming voice)…

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The experiment assumes the children have had some prior experience with writing in clay and on papyrus – and that they have a piece of each that they don’t mind destroying.

As they work through the experiment, students hypothesize what will happen as they subject the materials to five different trials that symbolize all the different things that may have happened to 3000 year old clay and papyrus through the years.

The five trials include activities that symbolize daily usage, clumsiness, flooding, desert heat, and neglect. It should be noted that one of the experiments uses the oven, so an adjustment might need to be made for a classroom setting.

One of the steps requires a wait of about 30 minutes. We decided the best way to spend our time was with a cup of tea, a chocolate digestive, and a book.

We had a great time doing this experiment, and I hope you will too – grab a copy from my store and try it out!