The Archaeologist’s Christmas: The Exciting Trend Of Cuneiform Tablet Cookies For The Holidays

M. Spencer GreenAP Images

Cuneiform is the first writing system that was established in Mesopotamia between 3500 and 3000 BC and it is once again exciting both ancient history enthusiasts and archaeologists alike with the advent of some very special cuneiform tablet cookies being cooked up for the coming holidays.

It’s hard to say just who came up with the idea of cuneiform cookies first, but The New York Times reported last year that Katy Blanchard, who runs the Near Eastern department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, alighted upon the idea of cuneiform cookies last Christmas with a huge amount of enthusiasm. After all, the university she works at houses one of the biggest collections of cuneiform tablets, so why not turn her love of Mesopotamian history into something edible?

Blanchard is reported to have used a special cookie cutter, a pair of chopsticks and a fish knife to create her cuneiform tablet cookies. After wowing everyone who came into contact with her holiday offerings, a publicist from Penn Museum quickly wrote an article about these very special cookies and the internet went crazy over the idea of these Sumerian treats.

The article’s first piece of advice is also one of the most important in the creation of these cookies, and this is to choose your cuneiform tablet carefully. You could recreate part of the Epic of Gilgamesh or even try your hand at drawing the Babylonian map of the world which dates back to the 5th century BC.

Penn Museum has a special page where you can search their collection of cuneiform tablets online and you are also able to peruse The British Museum’s extensive collection of tablets which begins with the Late Uruk period dating from 3400 to 3000 BC and ends with the Hellenistic period from 330 to 140 BC.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect cuneiform script to copy, the fun begins. You then need to decide what kind of holiday cookies you will be baking, and these could range from simple sugar cookies to gingerbread ones. Katy Blanchard’s gingerbread recipe appears to have worked quite well, according to all of those who tested them, and her recipe is graciously divulged as follows:

3 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground allspice
1 t. ground cloves
½ t. salt
½ C. unsalted butter
½ C. brown sugar
½ C. maple-flavor or ¼ C. maple flavor syrup plus ¼ C. molasses
1 large egg

Featured image credit: M. Spencer GreenAP Images

You will want to find a large bowl first to mix the dry ingredients which include the baking soda, flour, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Next, grab a different bowl and whip up the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup/molasses mixture until it is very smooth. After this, stir in the egg and slowly add the dry mixture until it is well mixed. Once this has been completed, make sure to refrigerate the dough mixture for at least 15 minutes.

After you’ve rolled out a small amount of dough onto a floured board, you are ready to begin cutting and creating your own unique cuneiform tablet cookies. These will need to be baked for approximately seven minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since last year’s initial story about Katy Blanchard’s cookies, numerous blogs have been popping up about these little pieces of edible history including a new one by Farrell Monaco, who has her own take on these tasty treats.

With Christmas just around the corner, why not try something different and indulge your love of ancient history by creating your own cuneiform tablet cookies?