The Preservation of Knowledge Project

In this project the students will consider methods for the preservation of knowledge.

They will learn about the Hittites and clay tablets, prepare presentations about different materials which can be used to preserve knowledge, decide on the best material and then agree on what knowledge should be preserved for future generations. There is an essay extension task.

Complaint tablet to Ea-Nasir; Zunkir,
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Phase 1: Background

Read these two pages about the Hittites and clay Tablets. Make study notes on the topics.

Page 1:

Page 2:

Check your study notes with a partner.

Do you have the same information?

What have you learned about the Hittites and clay tablets?

Phase 2: Research

In 1912 over 10,000 clay tablets from the Hittite royal archives were discovered on the site of Hattusa, the royal capital of the Hittite Empire. They had survived at least 3000 years.

Alone, with a partner or in small groups, research one of these materials and prepare a poster, info-graphics or presentation about it.

  • papyrus
  • vellum/parchment
  • cellulose paper
  • silver-based film stock
  • Magnetic video tape
  • CD’s
  • DVD’s
  • Blu Ray discs
  • Computer Hard Drives
  • SSD Drives

On your poster/info-graphic/presentation you should deal with the following points:

  • Type of material
  • origin (date, inventor etc.)
  • How it is made
  • How data can be recorded on it
  • use
  • longevity
  • vulnerability to damage
  • dependencies (i.e. does it need other equipment to work)
  • suitability for the long-term storage of information/knowledge, on a scale of 1-10; 10 being the best.

You should include maps, pictures and graphs as required on your poster, info-graphic or presentation.

Practice presenting your poster, info-graphic or presentation, in preparation for Phase 3.

What are you going to say?

How will you say it?

Phase 3: Presentation and Discussion

Present your poster, info-graphic or presentation; then discuss as a class – which is the best material for the long-term storage of essential information.

Phase 4: Discussion

Class Discussion: You have chosen the medium to preserve knowledge (in Phase 3), now you should decide what knowledge should be preserved.

Discuss the types of knowledge which it is most important to keep safe for future generations.

Then discuss how much knowledge could be preserved.

Finally, discuss where would be best to keep this knowledge so that it would be safe but still accessible.

Prepare a class poster of your decisions and display it and the posters and info-graphics from Phase 2 for other classes to see.


You have decided that 100 fired clay tablets is the best way to preserve knowledge for future civilizations. The tablets are 6 inches high by 4 inches wide and 1 inch deep; 15.24 x 10.16 x 2.54 cms. Exactly what knowledge could you fit on these tablets?

Write an essay explaining your choices, what language you would use, how you could make these tablets understood 3000 years into the future, and how you would protect the tablets.