In our efforts to make Ancient Iran Day 2018 an interactive experience, we built an Activities Room where visitors of all ages, but especially kids, could enjoy learning about Ancient Iran through interactive exercises. These exercises were designed to bring out the creative, artistic side of our visitors, and to open new avenues to fully appreciate the way people in Ancient Iran lived. Five of our activities and their related materials are outlined below. Please feel free to download these files and replicate the activities! High-definition versions are available at the link at the bottom of the page.
1. Archaeology Exercise
Archaeology is one of the most important ways we can learn about Ancient Iran. Countless artifacts lie just below the surface. Many of those artifacts are ceramic fragments, pieces of fired clay shaped into storage vessels, plates, bowls, cooking pots, and more. A crucial part of an archaeologist's job is to measure, describe, and categorize pottery sherds as a window in the daily lives of ancient peoples. Practice your hand with the sheet above.
Materials you'll need: Besides the above form and some pens and pencils, you'll want to have a measuring tape. We had real pottery at the event, but you can do this at home with your cups, plates, and bowls - and no, you don't need to break anything to study it!
2. Old Persian Cuneiform Exercise
The peoples of Ancient Iran used a dizzying number of spoken and written languages throughout their long history. One of their writing systems was cuneiform, a variation of a style developed in nearby Lower Mesopotamia used in Iran to write the Old Persian language. Ancient scribes wrote using a special wedge-shaped tool and soft clay tablets, which were fired before being sent as messages or stored as records. Using this legend and your choice of writing utensil - a wedge and clay are not mandatory - you can write in Old Persian too. Or, you can even try your hand at translating some authentic ancient texts.
Materials you'll need: Paper and pens will do just fine, but if you want to be authentic, pick up some clay and a wedge from a local art store.
3. Sasanian Hairstyles Exercise
Sasanian women lived in a patriarchal society in which gender roles were prescribed by the powerful priestly class. Nonetheless, they expressed themselves through many intricate, beautiful hairstyles. The hairdos depicted below represent four centuries of depictions of women in Sasanian art. If you have some hair on hand, study these images and see if you can replicate the look of female Sasanian royalty!
Materials you'll need: Hair - either yours or someone else's.
4. Babylonian Incantation Bowl Exercise
Under Sasanian rule, the people of late antique Mesopotamia created incantation bowls decorated with prayers and images of demons. Buried beneath the foundations of new homes or public spaces, these incantation bowls were meant to ward off or capture the demons that tried to invade the homes and belongings of the living. Although originally popularized by Jewish communities (most surviving examples are written in Jewish Aramaic), incantation bowls were produced and consumed by many inhabitants of Sasanian Mesopotamia, regardless of their religious tradition. Archaeologists estimate that about 10% of surviving bowls are written in gibberish - perhaps by scammers for illiterate buyers - so feel free to scribble away and imitate this Ancient Iranian magical practice!
Materials you'll need: Some paper bowls, pens, and your imagination!
5. Sasanian Crown Chart
The rulers of the Sasanian Empire wore fabulously elaborate crowns. The crown designs usually incorporated a few standard elements: a skull cap-like helmet, a cloth diadem tied around the outside, a golden globe situated on top of the helmet, and astrological and religious symbols. Each monarch, upon taking the throne, adopted a unique crown. His (or rarely her) stylistic choices signified his piety, wealth, and priorities. For example, the devout Bahram I (r. 273-276 CE) added sun rays - symbols of the god Mithra - to his crown, and the ambitious Shapur II (r. 309-379 CE) designed his crown to resemble that of Shapur I (r. 240-270 CE), one of the most celebrated Sasanian rulers. These crowns became so elaborate that they were too heavy to wear, so they would be hung from the ceiling by a chain above the king's head in the palace. This chart displays every Sasanian crown. Copy your favorite or mix and match elements to design your own.
Materials you'll need: Pens or pencils and paper.
To download the source files for all the images displayed on this page, click the link below: