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No. 727: An Instruction of Shuruppak

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An Instruction of Shuruppak

First | Previous | 2017-07-07 | Next | Latest

Permanent URL: https://mezzacotta.net/owls/?comic=727

Strip by: David Morgan-Mar

Caption: In those days, in those far remote days, Ć uruppak gave instructions to his son:
Ambrose: You should not boast in beer halls like a deceitful man.
Delkin: Give me a break! It's 2600 BC, nothing else fun has been invented yet!

The author writes:

It's possible, perhaps even likely, that this comic contains the oldest lines of text ever used in a comic. The caption and Ambrose's line are taken from the Instructions of Shuruppak, which is one of the two oldest known texts in existence. (The other is the Kesh temple hymn - it's not known which one of the two is older.) The original Instructions are, of course, written in ancient Sumerian, in cuneiform script, but there's an English translation here.

I was inspired to do this by the song Turn! Turn! Turn! by Pete Seeger, which was a number one selling hit on the US music charts in 1965. This song holds the distinction of being the number one hit song with the oldest lyrics, as Seeger borrowed the lyrics almost verbatim from the King James translation of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes (verses 3:1-8). Biblical scholars date the composition of Ecclesiastes with some certainty to between 450-180 BC, and most likely around 300 BC.

So I thought I'd take things to the extreme and use text at least another 2100 years older. Hey, it's not a ripoff, it's an homage!