World's Oldest Joke: Read It Here
Your kids aren't the only ones who like potty humor. That's the topic of the world's oldest recorded joke--dating all the way back to 1900 B.C.
The joke, told by the Sumerians, a people who lived in what is now southern Iraq in one of the earliest known civilizations of the world, was found inscribed on stone tablets. It went like this, according to researchers from Britain's University of Wolverhampton: "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap."
OK, maybe you had to be there.
"Jokes have varied over the years, with some taking the question and answer format while others are witty proverbs or riddles," the report's lead author Paul McDonald, senior lecturer at the university, told The Daily Mail. "What they all share however, is a willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion. Modern puns, Essex girl jokes and toilet humor can all be traced back to the very earliest jokes identified in this research."
The university researched and published the top 10 oldest jokes. Here are the other nine:
Joke No. 2, 1600 B.C.
The world's second oldest joke, found on the Westcar Papyrus, is a gag about a pharaoh, widely thought to be King Snofru: "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."
Joke No. 3, 1200 B.C.
"Three ox drivers from Adab were thirsty: one owned the ox, the other owned the cow and the other owned the wagon's load. The owner of the ox refused to get water because he feared his ox would be eaten by a lion; the owner of the cow refused because he thought his cow might wander off into the desert; the owner of the wagon refused because he feared his load would be stolen. So they all went. In their absence the ox made love to the cow which gave birth to a calf which ate the wagon's load. Problem: Who owns the calf?"
Joke No. 4, 1100 B.C.
"A woman who was blind in one eye has been married to a man for 20 years. When he found another woman he said to her, 'I shall divorce you because you are said to be blind in one eye.' And she answered him: 'Have you just discovered that after 20 years of marriage?'"
Joke No. 5, 800 B.C.
This was written by Homer in "The Odyssey." "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."
Joke No. 6, 429 B.C.
This appeared in "Oedipus Tyrannus" by Sophocles. "Question: What animal walks on four feet in the morning, two at noon and three at evening? Answer: Man. He goes on all fours as a baby, on two feet as a man and uses a cane in old age.
Joke No. 7, 30 B.C.
This joke originates from the Egyptian, Ptolemaic Period. "Man is even more eager to copulate than a donkey. His purse is what restrains him.
Joke No. 8, 63 B.C. to 14 A.D.
This joke is credited to Emperor Augustus. "Augustus was touring his Empire and noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to himself. Intrigued he asked: 'Was your mother at one time in service at the Palace?' 'No your Highness,' he replied, 'but my father was.'"
Joke No. 9, 4th or 5th Century A.D.
This gag is dated to the Philogelos. "Wishing to teach his donkey not to eat, a pedant did not offer him any food. When the donkey died of hunger, he said 'I've had a great loss. Just when he had learned not to eat, he died.'"
Joke No. 10, 4th or 5th Century A.D.
This was collected in the Philogelos or "Laughter-Lover," the oldest jest book. "Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: 'In silence.'"
The unusual study was commissioned by the British television channel Dave, which wanted to explore the ancient origins of humor.
--From the Editors at Netscape