Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsOK, so I will try to make an inscription here in ancient cuneiform, using some plasticine tablet and a stylus. Originally, of course, the stylus would have been a lot prettier than this, and it would have been made of reed growing on the river banks of the rivers, the Euphrates or the Tigris. This one was made by Glenn, I think, on his way to work from some twig that he found. It's not very pretty, but it will do. So let's see what we can do. I'm going to start by writing a number. It's very easy. One, two, three. It's really ugly I don't do this very often. Some of my colleagues do this a lot. I don't.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsLike that now Because I like the administrative text, so I'm going to do an administrative text here. I'm going to do this. One, two, three, four, five. And that now means-- it's ugly, but it's readable to an ancient scribe.

Cuneiform Demonstration

In this video, Magnus will spell out a sentence he has found in an accountants clay tablet. He demonstrates how cuneiform was actually written by scribes with the help of a stylus.

We also want to add a bit of a competition to the course.

What has Magnus written? Send your answers to with the subject title as “Competition” and you will have your name put into a prize draw for an archaeological book related to the course written by one of our very own staff! The competition closes at midnight on Sunday 25 October GMT. We will publish the correct answer on this step on Monday 26 October. Please refer to the pdf below for the terms and conditions of this competition.

Competition Answer:

As promised the answer to this (rather difficult) competition is: THREE LARGE GOATS

We will put together all the right answers and then pick one answer at random, we will contact the winner shortly!

Thanks for everyone who joined in. We have listened to your feedback and we will be making the cuneiform section in following runs a little more structured.

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This video is from the free online course:

Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

University of Liverpool