I have spent longer trying to figure out a good pun for this post than I spent baking the cakes, and I’ve finally just given up. I nearly made the entire thing out of Scottish tablet so I could work one in. It would have been the right colour and a pretty good consistency, but then I don’t like Scottish tablet, and what’s the point of making a timeline of the invention of writing in cake form if you won’t enjoy eating it afterwards? So instead this is all chocolate cake, coffee icing, coffee fondant, chocolate and strawberry laces. I can now inform my readership that strawberry laces do not go with any of those other foods. This blog truly is about learning. All dates are, naturally, BC.
So we start off with chocolate tokens, in geometric shapes (those splodges of chocolate definitely count as circles). Non- chocolate versions are found from 8000BC-3000BC at various archaeological sites, and were probably counters to keep track of goods (so one cone represents one jar of grain, and one splodge represents one sheep).
And then, in 3500 BC, tokens started being stored in round, hollow envelopes. In some cases, impressions of the tokens that were inside were made on the outside, so you didn’t have to crack open the envelope to see what was inside.
Gradually, flattened clay tablets with the signs impressed on them replaced the envelopes. By 3100BC, there were added pictograms, which could indicate the goods, names of individuals, and perhaps even the intended use of the goods.
So in the larger, more complex tablet, the box on the top left has a quantity, a picture of grain, and a picture of ration bowls. So maybe this suggests that this grain was intended as rations. Or maybe not. Honestly, every time I read about these archaic writing systems, I become more convinced that they’re just looking at squiggly pictures and making it up.
This is what all this looks like when it’s not made of cake, by the way.
It’s terribly impressive, but here’s what you can do with mine that you can’t do with ancient artefacts. They may have invented writing, but this is my lunch. I think we all know who’s winning here.
I also have a new favourite blog. It’s The CREWS project blog, and their ancient artefact baking, knitting and pun game is on point. I’d like to sincerely thank them for giving me something to read while I avoid cleaning the kitchen.
Next week: how these archaic systems developed into cuneiform. Woo.