Learn How to Write (Very Basic) Cuneiform via YouTube

Behrouz Mehri // AFP // Getty Images
Behrouz Mehri // AFP // Getty Images

Dr. Irving Finkel is an expert on cuneiform, the world's oldest known writing system. It was developed by the ancient Sumerians roughly 5000 years ago. The word "cuneiform" itself derives from the Latin cuneus, or "wedge"—the writing was traditionally done by pressing a wedge-shaped stylus onto a clay surface, which then dries and preserves the mark.

In the video below, Finkel shows Tom Scott and Matt Gray how to read and write just a bit of cuneiform. (Finkel says it takes about six years of training to become fully fluent...yikes!) It's a fascinating review, including the vital information that cuneiform script is syllabic, so you can represent English using cuneiform, minus a few vowel sounds—in the video, "Tom" becomes "Tam" (ta-am) due to a lack of the English "o" sound.

Tune in for a delightful lesson in an ancient writing system:

If you'd like to get started with cuneiform writing, this tool from the Penn Museum is handy. You'll also want some more training and a sample alphabet. Also interesting is this table of cuneiform numbers (note the Sumerian base 60 numbering system!).

21 Widespread Myths About Animals, Debunked

YouTube
YouTube

No, that nasty-looking wart on your finger didn't come from a toad. And yes, giraffes really do need more than 30 minutes of shut-eye in a day. Chances are that one of the "facts" you've come to know about your favorite animal isn't a fact at all. (Cats can swim and dogs do see colors—though in a different way than you probably do.)

Since our fuzzy, furry, finned, and winged friends can't always speak for themselves, Mental Floss Editor-in-Chief Erin McCarthy is here to clear up 21 widespread animal myths. So gather up your pets and check out this week's all-new edition of the Mental Floss List Show. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

17 Signs That You’d Qualify as a Witch in the 1600s

YouTube
YouTube

Are you a woman? Do you have a birthmark? Do you enjoy spending quality time with friends without a chaperone? You might just be a witch! At least that's how the thinking went in the 1600s, when now completely normal behaviors could have seen you accused of witchcraft.

Grab your broom and the pointiest black hat you can find, and join Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy as she shares 17 signs that might have branded you a witch during the 17th century in this week's all-new edition of the Mental Floss List Show. You can check out the full episode below:

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER