Ancient Assyrian Activities

img_3780-225×3002.jpgby Julie @ Creekside Learning
We are on Chapter 16 of The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, where Assyria returns to power. The king is Ashurbanipal and he conquers many cities, up and down the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, including the powerful Egyptian empire.

One method that the ancient Assyrians used in battle during this time period (668-627 BCE), was the Siege Tower. This large tower on wheels had a battering ram sticking out of the front to knock down walls that surrounded cities and villages. Then the Assyrians would move earth by the bucketfuls to build a ramp next to the wall and drive the siege tower into the city, shooting arrows and taking over.

Firefly, my 7 year old, was tasked with building a siege tower out of Legos (whenever we can, we build lego creations for history, science, whatever, since he loves doing this but this is actually also in the The Story of the World Activity Book).

There actually is a no-longer-produced Lego kit of a Siege tower. We used a picture of that as our model. Firefly decided to modify his to include stairs and soldiers.

Well, once we had that, we just had to take it out for a drive military invasion.  So Firefly used his wooden block set to make a city with a wall.

I brought in some sand from a bag we had in the garage and a cup to scoop it with and Firefly made a ramp, just as the Assyrians did, to drive the siege tower into the city.

He added a lion, as Ashurbanipal was known for hunting lions as well as for having a personality like one.

He acted out the battle and played with this for quite some time.

Next, we  learned a bit more about Ashurbanipal, like how he made the first library. He ordered his scribes to write down all of the important things that happened during his reign.  He also sent people out into his empire to collect clay tablets from the countries and empires he had taken over.  He added these to a collection of clay tablets, inscribed with stories that had been told for generations.  Many rooms in his castle were dedicated to this, the first library.  It is the reason we now know many important things about that period of time.

Cutting clay to make a tablet to inscribe. We’ve found many uses for this big, inexpensive block of clay from the craft store.

Firefly sculpted this tablet out of clay, using water to smooth the surface. Mom acted as his scribe and he dictated something important that had happened in the history of his life that week: He found a new hideout in the woods.

So King Ashurbanipal was the first librarian.  Would you want to incur overdue fines with this guy?  Yeah, me neither.

We made another version of a “clay tablet” (really a giant piece of butcher paper) of what Firefly would want the world to know about his greatness one hundred years after he dies.  Again, I acted as his scribe and jotted down what he said. We used several prompts (in italics). This is an activity from The Story of the World Activity Book.

The Great Inventor-Emperor Firefly

My favorite thing is playing with animals.  I like to play with my dog.

The best thing I ever did was invent the Stay Alive Forever Machine, the Money Making Machine and the Wish Machine.  I also made my own planets.

My family was great because they gave me my own Jeep to drive. I gave my siblings each their own planet.

The best thing about me was I made a lot of things for the world.

I just love the inventions, don’t you? Couldn’t we all use a Stay Alive Forever/Money Making/Wish machine?  And giving each of his siblings their own planet? Sounds generous but I assure you this is really designed to move them far, far away so he can take over total control of the t.v. as well as be assured that they could never ever mess up his lego creations ever again.

Anyway, we had fun with our travels to ancient Assyria.  After a brief stop in Babylon (Chapter 17), we are moving on to ancient Crete next week.