World’s oldest animation, 5,200 years old


Leaping Goat - World's oldest animation
Film showing images from a 5,200-year old bowl from an ancient burial site in Iran.

An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed the bowl goblet in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only recently that researchers noticed the images on the bowl tell an animated visual story.

The oldest cartoon character in the world is a goat leaping to get the leaves on a tree.

According to an article in the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies:

The artefact bears five images depicting a wild goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree, which the members of the team at that time had not recognised the relationship between the pictures.

Several years later,Iranian archaeologist Dr Mansur Sadjadi, who became later appointed as the new director of the archaeological team working at the Burnt City discovered that the pictures formed a related series.

The bowl has some controversy associated with it. Some researchers claimed the tree on the bowl to be the Assyrian Tree of Life, but the bowl dates to a period before the Assyrian civilization.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kris’s Archaeological Blog at About.com:

Now this is deeply cool. The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) in Iran has made a short film using the images on a bowl from the Burnt City. The Burnt City (Shar-i Sokhta) is a site in Iran that dates to about 2600 BC, and has seen some decades of investigation. The bowl shows five images of a wild goat leaping, and if you put them in a sequence (like a flip book), the wild goat leaps to nip leaves off a tree.

Bugs Bunny has nothing to worry about yet, if you ask me.

Animate discussion, share the word:

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179 Responses to World’s oldest animation, 5,200 years old

  1. […] Datoranimering fungerar på så sätt att man lurar ögat med till exempel bilder på en person där de flyttar personen åt något håll en liten bit per bild, och när man sedan spelar upp de snabbt nog, om det är över 12 fps så kommer ögat tro att personen glider över skärmen fast det bara är stillbilder. Datoranimering är också kallat CGI-animering som kom från engelskas Computer Generated Images. Toy story var den första helt datoranimerade långfilmen någonsin. Men Tron som släpptes är 1982 hade innehöll också en hel del datoranimering men inte tillräckligt för att det skulle kallas för en datoranimerad film i helhet. CGI används vid skapning av filmer, spel, reklamer, tv-program och simulatorer. Det här är världens äldsta animering som är över 5200 år gammal. http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/worlds-oldest-animation-5200-years-old/ […]

    Like

  2. […] World’s oldest animation found. Take that Gertie! […]

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Ha! And a 2005 mention of the same piece of pottery, also at BoingBoing: http://boingboing.net/2005/01/04/ancient-animation-fr.html

    Like

  4. […] here’s a quick animation showing what we get. It’s no goat eating leaves, but it gets the job […]

    Like

  5. [...] I wrote about the bowl back in 2008.  I learned of it from Kris Hirst at About.com, and I thought it was interesting.  “Animation” in the headline, at spring break, and tens of thousands of kids took a look at the little .gif animation from photos of the bowl.  The post took about ten minutes to compose, and it remains the single most popular post ever at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub (even more popular than the posts about the imaginary Texas chainsaw massacre). [...]

    Like

  6. [...] Read about the Burnt City animation here.  [...]

    Like

  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Until someone has actual proof when this bowl, if it actual existed, came into being, or when the so-called Cradle of Life began, then I’ll listen.

    Gary, it’s been dated to 2600 B.C.E.

    Like

  8. Aidan says:

    That’s great for their time.

    Like

  9. Aidan says:

    Wow, that must have been amazing for the people in their time, but still it’s amazing thinking about it now.

    Like

  10. Gary Christopher says:

    First off, to the kid that wants the 5200 year old dog: he’s dead, he’s been dead for quite some time, and I’m sure he smells like death, too. He probably smells like your baby brother’s diapers that haven’t been washed in a month. Trust me, kid, keep playing your Barbie Princess video game and let it go.

    As for everyone else here, get a life, get a clue, take an ancient history course if need be. You’re all blowing smoke out of your butts. This clip was only done for entertainment. I honestly don’t think the people (Assyrians? Babylonians? Who cares, they’re history) who made these kinds of bowls knew what animation even was.

    Until someone has actual proof when this bowl, if it actual existed, came into being, or when the so-called Cradle of Life began, then I’ll listen. Until then, all of you Socrateses or Marie vos Savantses drink your alcohol, smoke your stuff, blow your brains out, for all I care. I don’t give a flying f—! Bone up on your facts, people. Actually, do any of you geniuses know what year our world will end? Is it 2012? 2013? Or when that kid gets his mummified pooch from the 5th millenium BCE. Wow, and I thought I had no life…

    Like

  11. [...] [upmod] [downmod] World’s oldest animation, 5,200 years old « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub (timpanogos.wordpress.com) 1 points posted 1 year, 2 months ago by SixSixSix tags imported [...]

    Like

  12. Mary says:

    This is awesome news, so many wonderful items have been discovered at the Burnt City during the archaeological excavations. The Bronze Age is a most important time in Iran as it is believed by many scholars and Iranians to be the period which Zoroaster lived and preached. I firmly believe much more evidence of this period will come to light soon. Thank you for posting!

    Like

  13. azi says:

    hi my name is azrar and i think this all aloud of crap

    Like

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    The mere possibility that the creator of this vessel might have thought through the concept of animation, to show the goat in successive stages of a jump, should call us all to greater respect for these ancient artists.

    Until someone comes up with an older example, this remains the world’s oldest animation, doesn’t it? By definition?

    Like

  15. real scientist says:

    i disagree with Mesopotamia

    Like

  16. Bill nye the science guy says:

    I would agree with mesopotamia

    Like

  17. Mesopotamia says:

    This might be the worlds oldest cartoon SO FAR. but scientists are not sure if this is the first animation!

    Like

  18. Assyria says:

    this animation was invented by the Assyrians and not by Iranians.

    Like

  19. kyan says:

    This wasn’t the first “cartoon”.. And I don’t know if I believe this or not, i’d like to see an actual photograph of the pot.. still, that wouldn’t prove it lol

    Like

  20. fatih says:

    teşekkürler dostum , eline sağlık..

    http://smallvilledizi.blogspot.com/

    Like

  21. [...] Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub brought you the world’s oldest animation. [...]

    Like

  22. [...] قدیمی ترین انیمیشن تاریخ در ایران http://www.tinypic.ws/files/p26yry6te1vvq2m7w2nq.gif An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed the bowl goblet in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only recently that researchers noticed the images on the bowl tell an animated visual story. The oldest cartoon character in the world is a goat leaping to get the leaves on a tree. According to an article in the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies: The artefact bears five images depicting a wild goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree, which the members of the team at that time had not recognised the relationship between the pictures. Several years later,Iranian archaeologist Dr Mansur Sadjadi, who became later appointed as the new director of the archaeological team working at the Burnt City discovered that the pictures formed a related series. The bowl has some controversy associated with it. Some researchers claimed the tree on the bowl to be the Assyrian Tree of Life, but the bowl dates to a period before the Assyrian civilization. http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008…200-years-old [...]

    Like

  23. [...] first historical evidence of human settlement in the Iranian plateau dates back to well over 10,000 years ago, as [...]

    Like

  24. [...] I found it floating in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. [...]

    Like

  25. [...] Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub This entry was posted by Nathan on March 15th, 2008 at 15:06 and is filed under History, Science. [...]

    Like

  26. vic says:

    This is news to me, because I thought the oldest cartoons were of the Flintstones.

    Like

  27. [...] World’s oldest animation, 5200 years old « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub [...]

    Like

  28. Cartoon says:

    thank you . i wish you and your loved one all the very best.

    Like

  29. [...] Film showing images from a 5,200-year old bowl from an ancient burial site in Iran. An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed the bowl goblet in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only recently that researchers noticed the images on the bowl tell an animated visual story. Click for the Full Article [...]

    Like

  30. Jack says:

    hi i dont think that the cave man had pics yet that moves and you call it a
    (CREATIVE SHEEP) come on people it is just a goat!

    Like

  31. [...] Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, which recently hosted the exciting news of the discovery of the first cartoon. Melting glaciers, dinosaur tracks, Ann Richards; it’s the History Channel I’ve been [...]

    Like

  32. john says:

    Wow this is amazing!! I can’t believe people from back in the stone ages can do this.

    Like

  33. to Mr. Millard Fillmore,

    From: Mr. Richard (Tushie) Tushmore,

    Always looking for more tushes, and yes, I love this post on the leaping Cabro, he has an urge to eat Permanent Leaves, I think this could represent a Kenite, just a thoug and not sure of course, no one knows what to think, who knows amen,

    Like

  34. [...] gives me inordinate delight to say: go see him in action at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. Explore posts in the same categories: Impossibly Great, [...]

    Like

  35. [...] A animação mais antiga do mundo dtu [...]

    Like

  36. [...] comments on his animation post. After a surprising number of hits on his 5200-year-old-animation post, Ed makes some very interesting comments on it’s success. Though he is speaking of a [...]

    Like

  37. [...] oldest playable musical instruments: Listen About that 5,200-year old animation: Was there a musical score to accompany [...]

    Like

  38. [...] least one hour this past week, the Bathtub got more than 11,000 hits. Who could have foreseen that a post about an ancient piece of pseudo-animation would catch the fancy of so many? I gather that the word “animation” played a key role [...]

    Like

  39. [...] CAIS, via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, via good old Boing [...]

    Like

  40. [...] An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed the bowl in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only recently that researchers noticed the images on the bowl tell an animated visual story.The oldest cartoon character in the world is a goat leaping to get the leaves on a tree.
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/worlds-oldest-animation-5200-years-old/ [...]

    Like

  41. [...] very interesting post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub The oldest cartoon character in the world is a goat leaping to get the leaves on a tree. An Italian [...]

    Like

  42. hi
    i think this animation is the illustration of one of the most ancient Persian books called “Asurik tree”. this book an interesting dialog between a goat and a tree in which each wants to prove its superiority to the other. the story ends when goat eats the tree.

    Like

  43. ray says:

    As lionel has taught me:
    YEAH!————–SO

    Like

  44. Eilrama says:

    Hey Eric, I didn’t mean you, I was actually very impressed by your knowledge. I was simply referring to the part in the article which disputes that it could be Assyrian.

    It is very hard to place it under either of the civilizations of the Era, besides a few distinct symbols, majority of the people of the area shared gods.

    An example can be seen with the Assyrian Winged Bull(Lamasu) and similar shaped objects amongst the Iranian, Indian, and to a lesser extent Egyptian empires/civilizations.

    Like

  45. Eric says:

    You are right Eilrama, but I was only speaking in context of the Persian Empire, There are 4 or 5 major empires that predated the Persian Empire, including the Babylonian and Sumerian Civilizations of Southern and Central Modern day Iraq. I was only trying to convey that this was possibly not the work of Persians (who probably had very similar works), but maybe of some other tribe living in the region prior to the Persian conquest of the Indus Region. I am also not inferring that it is Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian or the product of any other civilization that conquered vast regions of indigenous people and claimed the land for their kingdom but left those people in place. I believe I read one report that labeled it as a possible Cassite artifact.

    Like

  46. Eilrama says:

    I hate to be bearer of bad news, but Assyrian civilization is well over 6000 years old, so if the bowl is 5200 it doesn’t fall outside of the Assyrian civilization.

    Like

  47. leila says:

    ladeeda said Arabs are smart …….. but this animation had been found in Iran ,and Iran is not an Arabic country, with all my respect to Arabs ,Iranians are very different from Arabs.The unique thing that we have with you in common is our religion,both of us are Muslim.

    Like

  48. Eric says:

    Sorry Nathan, you are right about the zero. I was certain, that it wasn’t developed by Arabs, but made an error while rambling. Shideh, I did not mean to imply that the Persians migrated to Iran; I simply meant they were not sole ethnicity to be found in the region, but migrated from the highlands to conquer the Indus river valley area and most of the known world. My point really was that the pottery predated the Persian Empire and that it should be no surprise that these people had the capacity to understand simple animation. Yes you are right, they are a truly remarkable people who have endured the test of time and will continue to endure I am sure. We are fooled by their current state of politics, but now is just tiny sliver of time in their existence. But, Docgrub, I am in no way rewriting the history of the world by stating that the Roman Catholic Church repressed a culture into believing that the world was flat and the solar system revolved around the Earth. Sure there were monks that kept certain manuscripts alive by order of the church, but it was not to be distributed to the masses, it was to be kept locked away within the confines of the Vatican and exposed to the public only on order. The church keeps many records of many things that they consider false or blasphemous. It is just a repository for knowledge not a school to spread the liberal ideas. If the church did not try to repress these ideas then maybe they shouldn’t have punished Copernicus (who was catholic clergy), di Vinci (A Vatican Artist), or any of the other scientists labeled as blasphemers by the church. It really is common knowledge that the church threatened and punished people that opposed their beliefs and authority. Ever hear of the Inquisition (Not the Mel Brooks version). Perhaps that never happened either. I am sorry if you are offended by the truth, but I am Catholic and have no problem admitting the faults of my chosen religion. Without fault, there is no forgiveness. I didn’t mean to get off the pottery subject

    Like

  49. arsemuch says:

    BUGS BUNNY? do get a life.

    Like

  50. bluesy2008 says:

    Probably an undiscovered reason for the story…Did somebody simply want members of the community to recognize this functional art piece as theirs…hmmmm. Fear of famine, drought, invasion or other real issues probably makes this artifact a symbol of survival.

    Interesting!

    Like

  51. mahdi says:

    :D :) :)) :( :(( :*

    Like

  52. angryton says:

    I’m very fascinated by Iran… such a great culture, such beautiful women.

    Like

  53. Ed Darrell says:

    Europeans know the inventor as Alhazen . . .

    The great grandfather of psychology! See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology#Beginning_of_scientific_psychology

    Like

  54. Nathan Myers says:

    Sorry, it wasn’t the Greeks who invented zero. It was (again) invented in what is now northern India, later copied by the Arabs, and thence to Europe. Probably it was invented by Aryans, unlike the animation presented here.

    Arabs do deserve credit for at least one significant invention: science itself. Europeans know the inventor as Alhazen or Alhacen, but his proper name was Abu Ali Al- Hazan ibn Al-Hazan ibn Al-Haytham, commonly abbreviated to al-Haytham. He came from Baghdad, but lived much of his life in Egypt and Syria. He invented the scientific method to apply to his study of optics, which he seems to have conducted while under house arrest in Egypt, pretending insanity to avoid execution for failing to start a doomed project demanded by the local sultan.

    Like

  55. vanni says:

    proud to own a goat

    Like

  56. pixelame.net says:

    La animación más antigua del mundo

    Encontrado en 1970 en Iran, esta urna funeraria de 5200 años de antigüedad resulta ser la "animación" más antigua que se conoce.

    Like

  57. jonathanburton says:

    This is brilliant — thanks for that illuminating post! No need to be so literal-minded, all you guys… Obviously not a ‘real’ animation as we know it. But maybe a zoetrope-type effect. Must keep eyes open for other examples.

    I remember many years ago reading about some research into ‘hearing’ the grooves on ancient Egyptian wheel-turned bowls as if they were primitive gramophone records, the cutting tool acting like a stylus ‘recording’ the shouts and noises around the potter. I never heard any more about this — did anyone else?

    Like

  58. nwlimited says:

    This is great!

    Like

  59. docgrubb says:

    Eric-
    you’re re-writing history. It was actually the (catholic) monks of the DARK AGES who laboriously recopied the Aristotle, Plato, et al by hand which prevented their extinction.

    Like

  60. Jacqueline says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this!

    Like

  61. Shideh says:

    Eric, thank you for your great insight. I’m not sure if what you are saying is completely accurate however, regarding the migration of the Persians to what we call Iran today. My understanding (or what is widely accepted) is that the ancient Indo-European Aryans arrived at the Iranian Plateau around 2000 BCE (not fully known, it may have been 3000 BCE). The Persian language (Parsi or Farsi) and other Iranian languages emerged as these Aryan tribes split up into two major groups of Persians and Medes, and they intermarried with indigenous peoples in the Iranian Plateau (such as the Elamites). It is possible for Indian/Pakistani like cultures to have existed in the region called sistan-baloochestan in Iran today (where the burnt city is located) because the cultures have a lot of similarities and this region is located next to the Pakistani border. The borders and cultures were not as clearly defined those days, however. It is also suggested that a group of these Aryans who migrated to the Iranian Plateau went to what we call India today and mixed with their locals, hence many similarities in their origins.

    The Persian Empire, however, did not exist as a unified country until around 550 BCE, when the ancient Persians (one tribe from the Fars province called Pars, Persis, or Persia) spread their language and culture to other parts of the Iranian Plateau through conquest and assimilated local Aryan and non-Aryan groups over time (starting with Cyrus the Great). Note that not all Iranians are Persians, but it later became common to refer to all Iranians as Persians. The name Iran (the way it is pronounced in modern Persian languages) means “Land of the Aryans”, and derives from the Proto-Iranian term Aryanam first attested in Zoroastrianism’s Avesta tradition. There are different theories on the age of Avesta and there are a few archeologists and historians that I met in Iran who believe that Aryans never migrated to Iran and were there from the beginning. I’m not sure if this theory has been widely accepted though.

    In summary, I think it is accurate to say that this artifact is in fact from Iran, because it is in the Iranian Plateau, and it is in a country that is called Iran today. You are right, however, that when it was made, it might not have been the Aryans or definitely not the people forming the Persian Empire later who actually built this bowl. You are completely right about the complexity of the inventions in these regions. I think that the formation of the Persian Empire later helped spread knowledge and technology in a wider region of the known world then. I also like your comment about Iran being a country ruled by 8 major cultures in the most volatile region in the world. When I lose hope in the future of this country with all the problems it is currently facing, I always remind myself that Iranians have been through worse many times before and the culture is so strong and rich that despite all it has been through for about 4000 years, the essence of it always survives, moves on, and feeds other cultures.

    Like

  62. [...] Whoa. Logging on to WordPress this morning, I saw a post from another WP blog. I don’t have much to say about it right now, because I haven’t had the chance to really investigate. But it seems like it would be another perfect post on this blog. Graphics and history. Very nice. 5,200 year old animation. [...]

    Like

  63. Menezes says:

    u-hu!!!

    Like

  64. Brian Dolton says:

    If you put the completed cup on a potter’s wheel, with a frame around it that had holes lined up with the images, then you really would have a simple zoetrope – no blinking required.

    I imagine the artist who painted it would have showed the trick off to everyone he or she could find.

    Oh, as for the comment above from ladeed re. “Arabas are so smart” – Persia/Iran is not and never has been an Arabic country. Islamic is not the same as Arab. Middle Eastern is not the same as Arab.

    Like

  65. Eric says:

    Also, war has buried history since the beginning of time. This is why we lose knowledge. The winner will always bury the conquered culture in their own and suppress ideas and knowledge of other cultures. You can not even fathom where man would be or what we would know about the past if this were not true. The Catholic Church did this by ordering this knowledge to be labeled as blasphemous. It was actually against religious law to say that they solar system is heliocentric (solar centered). They were virtually the cause of the lack of advancements during the middle ages. It wasn’t until the exposure to Arab influence after the crusades that Europe began to reexamine the classical teachings of Greece and other ancient cultures, thus rediscovering the true shape and dimension of the solar system, mathematics, engineering, and art. Luckily our modern record keeping help us to keep this type of knowledge from being lost now, the artifacts in Iraq and Iran are the oldest of their kind in existence today and due to the shear number of pieces we have very limited knowledge of the functions and purposes of all of these pieces. American have very little concept of history or of lost knowledge, because we only have a cultural history of a few hundred years with very limited power changes. Imagine a region that has been ruled by 8 or so major cultures in the most volatile region of the world and is currently led by one of the most suppressive religious regimes in the world.

    Like

  66. AJ says:

    What an incredible discovery. It really is a lot like an ancient zoetrope. Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

  67. Eric says:

    Sorry for the grammer or spelling errors in my post.

    Like

  68. If this goblet was originally turned on a potters wheel, that would be a very easy way to spin it and get the zoetrope effect.

    And having the zoetrope effect discovered by someone using a potters wheel is fairly obvious. You stare at a spinning object long enough, the eye will recognize patterns.

    I’m not certain how long the Lazy Susan has been around, but if the person who owned this cup had one, it would be an easy way to display the cup for home amusement.

    Like

  69. Eric says:

    Iran is a great country with thousands of years of history. It is actually one of the oldest still in existence. This bowl/goblet however is not from Iran. It is from a culture that predates Iran as a nation and possibly even Persia as an empire. This is an Indus image that relates closer to the cultures of Pakistan or India. The Persian people came from the mountainous region in Iran led by Cyrus and conquered the tribes that lived in the Indus River Valley. This type of pottery was around before Abraham was leaving Ur in Sumer and thus would have been in existence well before Islam and the Arab expansion from Yemen and more southern areas of the Middle East. The discovery of a simple animation on the side of pottery in this region considering the vast technological advances made by human of this region during this and previous time periods. Animation is a bit “Low-tech” to these cultures considering that they formed the wheel, built enormous building with great precision, mapped the stars and planets (thousands of years before the telescope and “European discoveries”) Formed written language and agriculture just to name a few. The technology possessed by the people of this time and location set the foundations for the Greeks and eventually the Arabs to run with. They had everything that the Greeks had, except the number 0, which the Arabs would later adopt from the Greeks. Later cultures were not so much inventing as they were rediscovering what has been forgotten. We still do this today. Most of the advances attributed to Greek culture can be correctly be traced to the Sumerians and earlier cultures. I do believe that this is a major find, however it is kind of remedial when compared to the real advances that these cultures posses. A goat drawn in progreesive movement cannot seem that great of a tech wonder when the great pyramid of Giza was built a couple generations after this pottery was fashioned.

    Like

  70. [...] span, but the rapid-fire entertainment has its roots more than 4000 years ago. Here’s the oldest recorded animation, and it’s made by sequencing five images on a goblet that may date back to 2600 [...]

    Like

  71. docgrubb says:

    bob kincaid-
    you ignored those Taliban, who dynamited or shelled those huge Buddist stone statues in Afghanistan to smithereens, because CLINTON delayed taking on the b*st**ds.

    Like

  72. construvisa says:

    que chever que sea tan antiguo ayuda a comprender lo grande que es la cultura dela humanidad

    Like

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