3,500-Year-Old Jokes Have Something to Say About Yo Mama

By Veronique Greenwood
Jan 28, 2012 1:14 AMNov 20, 2019 4:06 AM


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"That's what SHE said!"

The study of jokes and riddles written in ancient languages we barely understand is, well, a little tricky. But in a recent paper in the journal Iraq

, Middle East scholars Michael Streck and Nathan Wasserman describe and interpret some thigh-slappers scrawled on a badly damaged tablet from Babylon, circa 1500 BC. The scribe's cuneiform is on the sloppy side. The translations are uncertain, too---but no doubt the humor will still shine through. Here's one riddle for your pleasure:

The deflowered (girl) did not become pregnantThe undeflowered (girl) became pregnant (-What is it?)

The answer is, of course, is "auxiliary forces." That was your guess too, right? No? If it makes you feel better, Wasserman and Streck didn't really get it, either. Let's do another one:

He gouged out the eye: It is not the fate of a dead man.He cut the throat: A dead man (-Who is it?)

The governor. ROFL!! Streck and Wasserman write that this is referring to a governor's hilarious power to sentence people to death. Here's one last riddle, whose beginning has been lost and whose translation is a bit uncertain:

... of your motheris by the one who has intercourse (with her) (-What/who is it?)

The researchers aren't sure what the solution is, as the answer's been broken off. Folks, I think we know the answer to this one. You want to help them out? [via Livescience


Image courtesy of *clairity* / flickr

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