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A Really Old Joke


Academics at Wolverhampton University have found what they believe to be Britain’s oldest joke. The wry observation was found in the Codex Exoniensis, a 10th century book of Anglo-Saxon poetry kept at Exeter University. The joke suggests that what passed for humour one thousand years ago is remarkably similar to the humour of today.

The translation, as reported by the Telegraph reads: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key”. This example shows that really old jokes do exist.

The researchers have found jokes written in ancient manuscripts and carved into stone tablets, including one Sumerian joke thought to be three thousand years old. As one academic tells the Telegraph, what is funny has remained remarkably constant across the millennium of humanity: farting, sex and really stupid people.

Originally Posted August 2008

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