Culture

Dumb Cuneiform preserves your fleeting tweets in ancient symbols

Some tweets deserve to live forever. A new service translates your best Twitter compositions into characters from thousands of years ago to be preserved on tablets. Not the iPad kind, the clay kind.

Dumb Cuneiform will ensure that your tweet lives on via symbols from as far back as 3500 BCE.


Dumb Cuneiform

Ever send a tweet so witty, culturally relevant and perfectly hashtagged you wish it could live on beyond you to be savored by generations to come? Sure, it's been hearted and retweeted, but even the most brilliant 140-character musings are eventually swept past in the rushing social-media river.

Consider, then, preserving your tweet via cuneiform clay tablet. A new online service called Dumb Cuneiform will ensure that your tweet lives on via symbols from as far back as 3500 BCE.

"You send us your most ephemeral and worthless communications, and we'll carefully transcribe them into the most long-lasting medium known to man -- a clay tablet," reads the Dumb Cuneiform site. "Favorite jokes? Amazing pickup lines? Your two-star review of last summer's blockbuster? Keep it forever."

Dumb Cuneiform's creator, Matt Kirkland, assures CNET's Crave blog that Dumb Cuneiform isn't some sort of Babylonian-style prank, and that just short of a hundred orders have come in since the service launched last week.

It's "really, really for real," he said. "I have clay under my fingernails right now."

It all started when Kirkland, a Web designer for a studio called Brand New Box and a book nerd with a penchant for ancient texts, was reading old Greek and Hebrew writings.

"I got as far back as these old cuneiform tablets, but found out they are mostly receipts, accounts, short messages -- super pedestrian, quotidian stuff. This is like reading somebody's tweets or texts, I thought. And then I knew what I had to do," he said. "I loved the joke."

While the Twitter account for Dumb Cuneiform lists its location as Mesopotamia, it's actually based in Lawrence, Kansas. There, Kirkland and his team of ancient scribes (aka his wife, Erika), start out by translating the tweets using a printout of old Persian characters. Translate in this case, of course, means transliterate, since cuneiform is a writing system and not a language. In any case, most ancient languages didn't have words for OMG ROFL.

The couple then hand-carve the wedge-shaped marks into each tablet using such old-world tools as hands and sharp sticks and fire the clay to harden it. The tablets measure an average of 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) around and weigh about 4 ounces.

One Dumb Cuneiform tablet costs $20 (about £13, AU$28), which includes shipping in the US. International shipping costs an extra $10 (about £6.5, AU$7). Please note that these prices do not include anyone bringing your tablet down from a mountain.