Random thoughts of an economist

On which activity should I use my clay tablet?

Posted in Economics, History, teaching by kafuwong on May 5, 2013

Sumerians (people who lived in Sumer, Mesopotamia, and what is now Middle East) started using Cuneiform scripts (the earliest known writing system) in 8000 BC.

Cuneiform documents were written on clay tablets, by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform “wedge shaped”, from the Latin cuneus “wedge”. (wikipedia)

Writing on clay tablets was time-consuming and costly.  What kind of activities would you guess Sumerians intially used their clay tablets on?

Yes, to keep track of business deals — book keeping.   In fact, some historians suggested that Cuneiform writing system was invented to keep track of business deals!

Stone wigs of Ancient Mesopotamia

Posted in Economics, History, teaching, Uncategorized by kafuwong on May 5, 2013

Went to the exhibition “The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia” at the Hong Kong Museum of History.   Amazed to see a stone wig (see a picture of it here). 

Why would anyone want to wear it?   The answer is the same as wearing some kind of rare ornaments, I guess.  By wearing something that is rare, we show that we are rich and powerful enough of obtaining such ornaments.  That is, only those higher up in the upper class will be able to do so.  Mesopotamia was rich in soil, not other resources like gold or stones.  Stones were rare.   A stone sculpture in the form of a wig was definitely rare.  Thus, they are used as a demonstration of status.