Behold: Oldest 'Yo Mama' Joke of All Time?
Ancient Babylonian tablet analyzed by researchers
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2012 11:06 AM CST
A Babylonian tablet, but not the one that holds the jokes, is shown.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – At 3,500 years old, researchers may have deciphered the world's most ancient "yo mama" joke. Using images of a tablet discovered in 1976 but since lost, the pair dissected a series of jokes carved by a Babylonian student thousands of years ago, and their conclusions, originally published in the journal Iraq, have been getting some attention. The tablet contains six riddles that the researchers call "wisdom literature," but the Huffington Post notes that the aphorisms aren't too different from today's frat party jokes.

One refers to alcohol: "In your mouth and your teeth, constantly stared at you, the measuring vessel of your lord. -What is it? Beer." And while it may not be that funny to you, the researchers note that "your teeth" could also be interpreted as "your urine." The aforementioned "yo mama" joke is, unfortunately, a piecemeal translation: "...of your mother is by the one who has intercourse with her. What/who is it? [No answer]." Writing for io9, Alasdair Wilkins notes, with appreciation, the researchers' decision to leave "it ambiguous whether the word is 'who' or 'what' the mother is having sex with—even in ancient Babylon, you just can't rule anything out when talking about one's mother."
 

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