Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Yes, the ancients laughed, too! Recent lectures have explained how ancient Egyptian humor was much like ours:
For satire, [Scott] Noegel explained that commoners would make fun of leaders by showing pharaohs in an unflattering manner. For example, some leaders were depicted unshaven or "especially effeminate."

Drawings of defecating hyenas and drunken, vomiting party guests are among the existing examples of scatological humor, while the sex-based jokes consisted of "innuendoes and outright erotica," he said.

Slapstick comedy included drawings that showed people suffering unfortunate accidents, such as hammers falling on heads, or passengers tipping out of boats.

The ancient Egyptians had a special fondness for animal humor, given the many examples of sketches on papyrus, paintings, and other drawings, according to Noegel.

He said, "(The images show) ducks pecking at someone's buttocks, baboons and cats out of control, animals riding on top of other unlikely animals, baboons playing instruments, and animals drinking and dining."

One papyrus shows a mouse pharaoh, gallantly posed in his chariot pulled by two dogs, speeding towards a group of feline warriors. Yet another papyrus depicts a lion and an antelope playing a board game. The lion lifts a game piece as though in victory, while the antelope falls back in his chair.

I'm sure with some of it you just had to be there. Which means, of course, that people are people wherever, or whenever, you go.

[Link via LRC]

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