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The Ancient Middle East: Brickmaking

Clay was ancient Mesopotamia’s most important raw material. Most buildings were made out of clay bricks. Even the huge, protective walls that surrounded the cities were made of clay bricks. Here are simple directions for experimenting at making a clay brick.

1. Use a shoebox, or a box of similar size, for a mold.

2. Mix different cominations of dirt, sand, clay, grass, weeds, straw, flour, and water. You may not use any cement, plaster, or tile grout.

3. Tightly pack your mixture into your mold.

4. Allow your brick to dry in a warm place for several days.

5. Remove the dried brick from the box. If the brick is still damp, allow to finish drying.

In ancient Mesopotamia, a brick was considered goo if:

*Bricks can be rolled to building sites without crumbling or falling apart.
*Bricks can withstand the weight of other bricks stacked on top of them.
*Bricks are dried so well that they do not wash away in the rain.

How do you think your finished brick(s) will measure up?

1. Roll your brick end over end five times. Does it crumble apart?

2. Stack 50 pounds of weight on top of any brick that passes test #1. Does your brick break or crumble?

3. Submerge any brick that passes both tests #1 and #2 in a bucket of water for 30 seconds.

If your brick doesn’t fall apart after test #3, then your brick would pass ancient Mesopotamian brick standards! Congratulations!!


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