I think the funnest part of history and archaeology is that even a silly joke told by a people and culture long gone can reveal the character of those people and humanize them, making us understand them better as human beings and cease to look at them as just textbook subjects.
In the case of the world’s oldest joke, which, surprise surprise, happens to be Sumerian, the similarities between what topics made ancient Mesopotamians laugh and what topics make us laugh today is uncanny.
I will warn you, the world’s oldest written joke, which dates back to 1900 BC, is a little on the gross side. It is also obviously written by a man:
“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”
Now, it’s not funny to me, and I doubt it’s funny to you in its form, but if you break it down to topics, it is something not too foreign as a topic of humor. To this day you hear men telling jokes that include passing wind, and the “old ball and chain” jokes run rampant in every male gathering the world over.
Now I have to wonder if Mesopotamian women laughed at the world’s oldest joke.