Seeker of Knowledge - I loved this book! It's a great beginner's biography of the man who deciphered the Rosetta Stone.
After discussing how the Egyptians made papyrus, we made our own homemade paper. I've done this before using materials from around the house and it was a pain in the neck. This time we used Arnold Grummer's Papermaking Kit , and it was much, much easier!
We did an experiment to test which was a more durable method of writing, carving on clay tablets or writing on paper.
1. First, we used Sculpey oven-bake clay ( III Modeling Compound copper) to create clay "tablets". Using toothpicks, we carved cuneiform letters onto them and baked them until hard.
2. My mother gave Crazy Bug a great hieroglyphic stamp set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which we used to stamp "papyrus" (resume paper). We rolled the paper into scrolls and tied them with string.
3. We filled two identical containers with the same amount of same temperature water (a great time to talk about controlled variables), and put the clay tablet in one and the paper in the other. We then checked the items every few hours to see how they were holding up. By the next morning, we couldn't unroll the paper without ripping it, but the clay was unchanged. Crazy Bug and I discussed the fact that there are few records from the later Egyptian periods and how this relates to the use of paper. We also discussed how our modern records (paper and computer files) might hold up in 5000 years.