World’s oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC

By | August 3, 2008

Keep in mind that 1900 BC is about 3,908 years ago! (2008 + 1900) This is 1900 BC, not 1900 AD.  1600 BC is only (2008 + 1600) 3,608 years ago.

The world’s oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and suggests toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today. It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq and goes: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

I believe the joke is that if it happened, everyone would pretend it didn’t … and so, it has never happened.

It heads the world’s oldest top 10 joke list published by the University of Wolverhampton Thursday.

A 1600 BC gag about a pharaoh, said to be King Snofru, comes second — “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

The oldest British joke dates back to the 10th Century and reveals the bawdy face of the Anglo-Saxons — “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.” …

“What they all share however, is a willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion. …  The study was commissioned by television channel Dave.  – reuters

The 10 oldest known written jokes are here. I like number 5 from about 2,808 years ago:

5. Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his real name is nobody. When Odysseus instructs his men to attack the Cyclops, the Cyclops shouts: “Help, nobody is attacking me!” No one comes to help. (Homer. The Odyssey 800 BC)

Number 10 is good too.

10. Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: “In silence.” (Collected in the Philogelos or “Laughter-Lover” the oldest extant jest book and compiled in the 4th/5th Century AD)

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