Okay, it’s not a comic book like the current ones. And it’s not in the usual paper format. But it’s a two-thousand-year-old comic book. And that makes it unique. Where did it appear? In Jordan. It shows workers in the ancient city of Capitolias, in the north of that country.
Its authors intertwined with drawings phrases uttered by the protagonists themselves. It is a clear precedent of modern comics. The illustrations were found next to a tomb.
Diverse characters appear. Stonemasons, masons climbing walls, workers of all kinds. It seems to represent the different phases of the process of construction and foundation of a new city in the Roman Empire.
It is believed that the person buried, as archaeologists have been able to verify, was the one in charge of officiating the sacrificial scene of the central painting. He must have been the founder of the city.
One worker exclaims, “I am cutting (the stone),” while another replies, “Woe is me, I am dead!”. This is just one example of the flow of these representations between image and dialogue. The very form of the comic we all know is being built.
The writings appear in Greek letters. But the language used is, in reality, Aramaic. It was widely spoken by the Semitic peoples of the Near East. This detail attests to the mixture of cultures that met there. It is an extraordinary testimony of the multi-ethnicity that made up the fringe of the Roman Empire.
At that time, the nascent Latin and ancient Greek cultures were beginning to coexist with the pre-existing Semitic cultures. This led to a constant exchange of words. The grammatical effect of Aramaic written with the Greek alphabet is completely unique. In the Semitic language the vowels are not explicit, while in the painting of the tombs they are.
Our ancestors established the patterns for our life centuries later. A two-thousand-year-old comic book proves it.