In southern Iraq in early 2003, a team of archaeologists unearthed an unprecedented treasure trove of ancient Sumerian clay tablets. Quickly deciphering the cuneiform script on a few of them, the researchers learnt that a group of artisans had created great works of art, depcting stories of their time, full of drama and humour. These stories were painted on to great frescoes and carved into bas-reliefs around their ancient city. Different strands of the stories could be followed on a complex interwoven network of paths throughout the entire city. The clay tablets recorded the artists' notes and inspirations for these works of pictorial story-telling, giving insight into the life and times of a great Sumerian city around 4500 years ago.
Unfortunately, the works of art themselves had long been lost to the ravishes of time and the sands of the Persian desert, leaving only these clay tablets to speak of their wonders. Thousands of the tablets were quickly rushed out of the country on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, but many more were tragically destroyed in the ensuing conflict, never to be read again.
Now, an ongoing translation effort backed by the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institute is working to bring these important ancient works to light, providing a valuable glimpse of the ancient culture that gave rise to the precursor of what, in our own time, would become an important artistic medium. We are now pleased to present: The Ur-webcomic.