Every one knew how laborious the usual Method is of attaining to Arts and Sciences; whereas by his Contrivance, the most ignorant Person at a reasonable Charge, and with a little bodily Labour, may write Books in Philosophy, Poetry, Politicks, Law, Mathematicks and Theology, without the least Assistance from Genius or Study.

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Gulliver's Travels:
Voyage to Laputa

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Laputan Logic*
Fanciful. Preposterous. Absurd.
Five Thousand Year Old Movie

Posted on Tuesday 26 April 2005

If you've been reading Laputan Logic for a while you've probably already worked out that I have a simple-minded obsession with blogging about firsts, oldests, originals, precursors and archetypes. Some particularly egregious examples of this pattern can be found here: I, II, II, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and here.

That last example being particularly relevant because it was about the Burnt City, an extremely ancient urban centre in South Eastern Iran which thrived from 3200 BC until 2100 BC and understandably has quite a few firsts to its name (oldest board game, oldest comb, earliest brain surgery). As far as ancient cities go, and this was one of the largest in the second millennium BC, it also had a number of fairly unusual features — the majority of the population were women, and power was held by women (who were snappy dressers) and they engaged in the sacrifice of men and dogs.

But most amazing of all: they invented cinema!


What you are looking at here is an animation made from a sequence of images that were taken from the outside of a ceramic goblet. The goblet, which was found buried with a skeleton, is cream in colour and measures 8 cm in diameter and is 10 cm high. It shows a goat jumping up to eat the upper leaves of a tree.

Now before we get too excited here, I should mention that I have yet to see a photograph of the original cup and there is plenty of reason to think that the frames in this animation have been doctored to enhance its effect. For example, the stationary objects such as the trees and ground are rock solid in this animation which is not something you expect to see if they had been painted over and over again. But still, even if there has been some artistic license used here, it's still extremely cool.

The Iranians are planning to present the animation to the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation later in the year.