Ms. [Katy] Blanchard, whose passions are archaeology and baking, used chopsticks, a fish knife and a gingerbread recipe that came packaged with a Coliseum-shaped cookie-cutter she once bought. Not only did her cuneiform cookies beguile her colleagues at the office party, they also gained some measure of internet renown after a Penn Museum publicist posted an article about how she made them. (Sample comment from the public: “Mine will probably taste more like the Dead Sea Scrolls.”)The epic of Gilgamesh has also received the cookie treatment. We live in an age of wonders.
From there, cuneiform cookies started to become — as the newspaper The Forward put it — “a thing.” Bloggers were enthralled, including one who said she was taking a class in Hittite and opted to practice on shortbread. (“The writing took a surprisingly long time,” she observed.)
Inspired by Ms. Blanchard’s cuneiform cookies, Esther Brownsmith, a Ph.D. student in the Bible and Near East program at Brandeis University who has been studying Akkadian for years, went all out: For a New Year’s party, she baked four tablets of gingerbread, each on a 13-by-18-inch pan, and copied part of the Enuma Elish, a seven-tablet Babylonian creation myth, onto them. A stunning step-by-step description of this feat has drawn thousands of “likes” on her Tumblr blog.
Past posts on the cuneiform cookies phenomenon are here, here, and here.