Ancient Mail

READING PASSAGE

Questions 1-4

Complete the summary below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

The use of letters was available in 1.    around 6,000 years ago. With 2.    pens, the scribes pressed the shape of letters into wet, clay tablets. Subsequently, the tablet was wrapped around a 3.    which revealed a lot of information about the Sumerian ways of living and running their 4.   . The contents of the letters were hardly ever read because whenever their covers were opened, the tablets inside would be broken. Therefore, those ancient letters had been kept in their original forms in museums until recently.

1. The first paragraph says “About 6,000 years ago, the people of Sumer in ancient Iraq, wrote records of their business transactions.” Or “For many years, archaeologists have found these letters whenever they dug up old cities in the Middle East.”

2. The first paragraph says “Scribes,…, used pen made from reed to press the shapes of the letters into damp clay tablets.”

3. The first paragraph says a thin, clay envelope was wrapped around the tablet.”

4. The second paragraph says “The envelopes have given them many important pieces of information about the way the Sumerians lived their lives and conducted their local businesses.”

Questions 5-8

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage?
In blanks 5–8, type

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

5.    Scientists have been able to read almost all ancient letters found.

The second paragraph says very few of the letters themselves have been read because the only way to open them was to break the envelopes.”

6.    A CAT scan is often used to identify people’s diseases.

The third paragraph says “a CAT scan is usually reserved for a diagnosing human illness.

7.    The computer translates the letters for scientists.

The third paragraph says “The computer sees the differences in the thickness of the clay inside the envelope and translates them into shades of grey. Scientists then can read the shape of the symbols in the clay and learn what were actually written by the scribes”. → The computer only supports scientists to read the letters, not directly translates the letter.

8.    Some of these letters provide information about the beginning of Sumerian civilization.

There is no information about Sumerian civilization in the reading passage.

Vocabulary Review

I. Scan the passage for the following words/phrases (on the left) and read the sentences containing them carefully.
Match these words/phrases with their definitions (on the right).

Words

Definitions

1. transaction (n) a) slightly wet, especially in a way that is unpleasant
2. contain (v) b) to have something inside or include something as a part
3. damp (adj) c) a piece of business that is done between people, especially an act of buying or selling
4. conduct (v) d) to be pleased with your situation
5. be content with e) to organize and perform a particular activity

1.   2.   3.   4.   5.  

Vocabulary Review

II. Complete the following sentences using the suitable words/phrases in the box below.
Sometimes you have to change the form of the words to make them grammatically correct in the sentences.

   transaction        contain        damp     conduct       be content with

1. The experiments were    by scientists in New York.

2. He    his life even though he's not rich.

3. We need to control the    of smaller deals.

4. Try to avoid foods which    fat because they are not good for your heart.

5. This shirt still feels a bit   .

READING PASSAGE

Below is the Reading Passage with more useful words and phrases highlighted in blue.

 

 

Ancient Mail

About 6,000 years ago, the people of Sumer in ancient Iraq, wrote records of their business transactions. They used a system of writing called Cuneiform. Cuneiform is somewhat like our alphabet. Scribes, people who were specially trained in writing things down, used pen made from reed to press the shapes of the letters into damp clay tablets. After the record was written, a thin, clay envelope was wrapped around the tablet. On the envelope, the scribe wrote a summary of the tablet’s contents and stamped it with a seal that showed it was a valid document.

For many years, archaeologists have found these letters whenever they dug up old cities in the Middle East. The envelopes have given them many important pieces of information about the way the Sumerians lived their lives and conducted their local businesses. Some of the envelopes are particularly interesting because they contained messages sent between nations or kings. Until recently, however, very few of the letters themselves have been read because the only way to open them was to break the envelopes. Often when the envelopes were broken, the clay tablet inside was badly damaged and could not be read anyway. As a result, the scientists decided to be content with the messages on the envelopes and stored the unbroken parcels carefully in museums.

 

Recently an Israeli research team has found a way to read the letters without breaking the envelopes or the letters inside. They are using a form of tomography (a CAT scan is usually reserved for a diagnosing human illness.) They aim a CAT scan – a medical device that builds a three-dimensional picture of the interior of something – at the clay tablets. The computer sees the differences in the thickness of the clay inside the envelope and translates them into shades of grey. Scientists then can read the shape of the symbols in the clay and learn what were actually written by the scribes more than six thousand years ago.

 
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