Oldest Animation Discovered In Iran

Long considered a modern invention, animation has apparently been lying about its age. A 5,200-year-old bowl found in Iran’s Burnt City in the 1970s features a series of five images that researchers have only recently identified as being sequential, much like those in a zoetrope. Giving the bowl a spin, one would see a goat leaping to snatch leaves from a tree, as seen in the video clip below.

The remarkable piece of pottery was unearthed from a burial site by Italian archaeologists, who hadn’t noticed the special relationship between the images that adorned the circumference. That discovery was made years later by Iranian archaeologist Dr. Mansur Sadjadi, who was later hired to direct the excavation of The Burnt City, located 57 kilometers from the city of Zabol in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

While no one questions the early instance of animation, researchers have been at odds over the significance of the earthenware bowl’s artwork. It was originally thought to depict the goat eating from the Assyrian Tree of Life, but archaeologists now assert that it predates the Assyrian civilization by a thousand years.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) and director Mohsen Ramezani have created an 11-minute documentary on the discovery. A ceremony celebrating the film’s completion was held on Sunday in Iran.

Leaping Goat - World's oldest animation