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Iraq Then and Now


Sumeria, called Shinar in the Old Testament, was the lower part of Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The southern part of Mesopotamia was later called Babylonia. Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon, the capital of Babylonia. (See Daniel 3.) Babylonia was in the region that is now called Iraq.


The Sumerians started a system of writing called cuneiform, meaning “wedge-shaped.” Sumerian scribes wrote on clay tablets with styluses, which are pointed writing instruments.

To Do
Flatten a piece of clay, and shape it into a rectangle. Use the end of a Popsicle stick to “write” in the clay. Make only straight marks like the Sumerians used to make cuneiform.

Cylinder Seals
Mesopotamian officials and royalty used cylinder seals to put their identifying mark on clay tablets and other items. Seals were made of stone, bone, baked clay, or other hard substances A design was carved onto the seal backwards When the seal was rolled over wet clay, it created a frontward design.

To Do
Use a small wooden craft spool to make your own “cylinder seal.” Cover the sides of the spool with oven-bake clay. Draw designs or write words on the clay with a toothpick or ballpoint pen. Remember to write or draw backward so that the finished design will be frontward. (Variation: Press a ring, pendant, or earring into the clay to make a design.)

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the clay package to bake the seal. Then roll the seal across a flat piece of clay to make marks. Put a string through the hole in the spool so you can hang it around your neck or wrist like the Mesopotamian people did.

Iraq Today
Islam, the religion of Muslims, is the official religion of Iraq, and about 95 percent of Iraqis are Muslims. Fewer than two percent are Christians. Many Christians have fled the country in recent years.

Christian converts from Islam are often rejected by their families. They may be attacked by tribe members, government authorities, or extremist groups.