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Clay tablets are a creating medium and were historically supplied in the ancient Near eastern especially for creating cuneiform. Castle were used throughout the bronze Age and also well right into the iron Age. ~ above these tablet computers writing evolved. The inscriptions were imprinted in the wet clay v a stylus, when written top top they to be dried and also would harden but still remained rather fragile. Countless tablets which have actually been uncovered in archaeological sites have actually been preserved when the structures in i m sorry the tablets were save on computer were burnt down, together this would carry out the warm to fire the tablets making them lot stronger. However, when fired they might not it is in reused together unfired tablets were soaked in water to soften them so they might be reused.

A clay tablet can it is in made very easily, every you will need is clay, a twig, and a knife.

Disclaimer of LiabilityAccuracy of information

ns make every initiative to certain the information included in this instructable is correct and also up come date. However, I expropriate no liability or duty for any problems due to any kind of errors or omissions in the contents of the instructable. If you room unsure of noþeles please research it further.

Risk of harm

ns make every initiative to certain the security advice and precautions consisted of in this instructable space correct and also that you will not it is in hurt if you follow my safety precautions and any other judicious precautions. However, I expropriate no liability or responsibility for any problems due to any kind of errors or omissions in the content of the instructable. If you room unsure of something please study it further and do not do anything unless you are sure the is safe. Although if you are judicious you need to not pains yourself.

You are watching: How to make a clay tablet


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Step 1: Finding some Clay.


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Clay have the right to be uncovered in plenty of places and also most soil has some clay. However, many soil includes a tiny amount the clay and also so that is an extremely hard and also time consuming to extract clay native it. That will also require a big amount of soil to extract a little amount that clay.

The easiest method to extract clay is come find relatively pure clay which then does not need much refining, plenty of Assyrian tablets show impurities which indicate that the clay provided was not refined. Clay have the right to be discovered in plenty of places and is particularly easy to find on river banks or little cliffs as it is exposed and also not extended by topsoil.

I uncovered my clay ~ above a beach through a cliff. This make accessing the clay really easy, however this supposed that the clay was extended in sand which make it less pure. Ns tried to minimize the amount of sand touching the clay my scraping away the sand and also top great of clay. Ns then dug increase a tiny amount that clay.

The clay was reasonably pure but did contain part sand which would influence the clay"s plasticity. This clay would work for a tablet, and many historical tables contained many impurities, yet I want to refine the clay for this reason it would be easier to work and would provide the finished tablet a nicer look.


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Step 2: Refining your Clay


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There are a few different methods to filter clay. I decided a simple method which to be not really hard come do. This affiliated using water to different the heavier sand indigenous the clay.

To do this friend will require a large container, best transparent. Climate it is a straightforward matter of including water come the clay till it creates a liquid. The is essential to completely break increase the clay and stir it a lot to ensure all clay is in suspension. I provided an old glass bell jar to mix the clay and water together. Then once completely mixed you will need to leave the mixture for a while. As it is left it will certainly settle and also the sand should form a layer at the bottom v clay over it. This is since the sand is heavier and also so will loss out that suspension prior to the clay does. If over there is any type of organic impurities they need to float come the surface where they deserve to be removed, but my clay had almost no necessary impurities.

Once resolved I could see the my clay had a significant percentage that sand in. Ns then left that so much more of the clay would separate from the water which ns then decanted off. This waiting also let all the sand resolve to the bottom, leaving me with a class of sand and silt v a clay slurry over it. Ns then decanted off the clay slurry leaving the sand and silt behind with a tiny amount of clay left in it, together I want to be sure there to be no sand left in the clay. This was also good as it left me with a sand, which due to the clay left in it, which adhered come it self fairly well and so would occupational well because that sand casting.

With the clay slurry separated from the sand i then left that for much longer to let that separate much more from the water, which ns then decanted off. I did this each day until the amount turn off water which had risen above the clay to be very tiny and difficult to conveniently decant off. Climate I obtained a very fine cloth and also scoped the clay into the cloth and also formed it into a stormy ball and tied the height with string and then rely it and also left so that the water could be strained the end of the clay. I left this because that a few days until the clay was a very thick goo in consistency. Ns then transferred the clay to a tray and set it external in the sun to dry, if you have no sunlight you might leave it at home to dry and speed increase the drying by utilizing a pan to punch air over it, ns however, had actually no an ideal inside space to do this and also so had to wait until a clear day to leave it outside. As soon as the clay reached a reasonable consistency I stopped drying it and transferred it to an airtight container to save it.


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Step 3: forming the Tablet


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Before forming the tablet computer it is a an excellent idea to completely knead the clay to ensure that is as a consistent consistency as the edges are most likely to be slightly harder as they will have actually dried more than the centre. To form the tablet take the clay, once it has reached a workable consistency, and kind it into a turbulent rectangle. Throughout history these would certainly be different sizes relying on what the tablet computer was offered for. I made decision to do a reasonably small table which would fit in the palm of my hand. Therefore I formed a sheet around 5mm thick and also then inscribed mine inscription and also then cut roughly it to provide a little rectangle around 45mm through 40mm.

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Once developed you will want to leaving the tablet to dried a bit so the is much easier to work with the stylus. Ideally you want to leave it until it reaches leather hard, at which point it no longer feels soft to the touch but can it is in reasonably easily deformed.


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Step 4: make a Stylus


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To do the stylus you will require to find a tiny piece of wood, and you will also need a knife. I am using a little twig, ideally friend want eco-friendly wood as it is softer and easier to carve.

The very first thing friend will have to do to the twig is to remove the bark and then start to form the twig and smooth any kind of knots or bumps, this is no strictly necessary but will make holding the stylus much more comfortable. When smoothed do a clean end to the twig therefore the end is perpendicular come the shaft. Climate square off the end and make sure the end is clean and not jagged. Climate imagining the finish is a square reduced from one edge to the various other to leave a triangular cross section.


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Step 5: What Is Cuneiform?


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Cuneiform is the name offered to a team of connected writting systems. It is called picture writing due to the wedge shapes which are used to create it. The name originates from the Latin "cuneus" (wedge) and also "forma" (shape), and came into English via the old Old French cunéiforme. It began of as a pictographic mechanism where each object had actually its very own symbol, these picture writing symbols room simplifications of previously pictographs, together the simplifed wedge based forms are less complicated to do in clay.

It arised in Sumer, an old city in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), in the late 4th millennium B.C.E. ~ a if it was simplified into a mix of logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and also syllabic signs. This do it simpler to find out as there were much less signs. The original Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Luwian, Hattic,Hurrian, and also Urartian languages, and it was later arisen into the Ugaritic and Old Persian alphabets. It to be then changed by the much easier Phonecian writing system which to be the very first true alphabet. This then developed into at an early stage Greek alphabets and Aramaic alphabets. Indigenous these most other alphabets arisen such together the Latin alphabet, which additionally evolved into most north European alphabets such together Futharc.

For this clay tablet I choose to use Old Persian as it is mainly phonographic and because ns had discovered some engravings which I might copy and also slightly edit. That does however have a couple of logograms because that important generally used indigenous such together King and also God. This is helpful as the word for king is rather long so that is much easier just to usage the logogram.


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Step 6: Inscribing


First I had to come up with my inscription and also as i was emotion slightly megalomaniac i though miscellaneous praising me would certainly be good. I had actually a look and found an inscription which review “I Darius, the an excellent king.” so ns though I would say that ns was the great king. This engraving showed me how to write "the good king" i then looked and found an engraving saying “by the greatness of Ahuramazd i am king.” This proved me how to compose "I am" for this reason I combined these two inscriptions and resolved what i would have to write, however, the phrase "great king" supplied the full word because that king and as my tablet was rather small I changed this with the logogram for king.

I then composed out what a to be going come inscribe on a little of document and then using the stylus pen inscribed it onto the clay. It is quite difficult to define how you use the stylus pen and you will most probably need to write part tests first. To make the shapes you press the spicy edge the the stylus into the clay, the angle at i m sorry you perform so alters the size of the wedge you will certainly make. That takes a when to gain used come doing this, however after a while girlfriend do acquire the cave of it.

Once I had written it ns then cut roughly the inscription and discarded the other clay. Ns then left it come harden slowly at room temperature, together the clay dries it will slightly lighten in colour. If you want to rate it increase you can leave the in the sun, yet as mine garden it s okay very small sun ns did not. Once it has dried you have the right to fire the clay if you desire to make it stronger, to perform this friend must warmth the clay to approximately 900C. For lot of the moment in history the tablets would not have been fired together if they had just been dried they could be moistened and also reshaped. Most of the fired tablets we uncover are due to buildings housing the tablet computers being burnt down.