Ancient Mesopotamia Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk in Mesopotamia high-quality recognized from The Epic of Gilgamesh (written c. 2150 – 1400 BCE) the terrific Sumerian/Babylonian poetic paintings which pre-dates Homer’s writing through 1500 years and, therefore, stands because the oldest piece of epic international literature. The motif of the hunt for the that means of existence is first completely explored in Gilgamesh because the hero-king leaves his country following the loss of life of his high-quality friend, Enkidu, to locate the paranormal determine Utnapishtim and benefit everlasting existence. Gilgamesh’s worry of loss of life is virtually a worry of meaninglessness and, despite the fact that he fails to win immortality, the hunt itself offers his existence that means. This subject has been explored through writers and philosophers from antiquity as much as the prevailing day.

The Akkadian version of the text was discovered in Nineveh, in the ruins of Ashurbanipal’s library, in 1849 AD by archaeologist Austin Henry Layard. Layard’s expedition was part of an initiative by European institutions and governments in the mid-19th century CE to fund expeditions to Mesopotamia to find physical evidence to confirm the events described in the Bible. However, these explorers discovered instead that the Bible – previously thought to be the oldest book in the world and composed of original stories – actually drew on much older Sumerian myths. The Epic of Gilgamesh did the same, as it is a compilation of stories, no doubt originally passed down orally, that were eventually written down 700-1000 years after the historical king’s reign. The author of the version Layard found was the Babylonian writer Shin-Leqi-Unninni (wrote 1300-1000 BC), who was considered the world’s first author known by name until the discovery of the works of Enheduanna (2285-2250 BC), daughter Sargon of Akkad. Shin-Leqi-Unninni drew on Sumerian sources in the creation of his story, and probably had a considerable amount at his disposal, as Gilgamesh had been a popular hero for centuries at the time of the creation of the epic. Other stories mentioning Gilgamesh also present him as a great hero. and the historical king was finally accorded a fully divine status as a god. He was seen as the brother of Inanna, one of the most popular goddesses, if not the most popular, in all of Mesopotamia. Prayers written on clay tablets address Gilgamesh in the afterlife as an underworld judge of comparable wisdom to the famous Greek underworld judges Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. According to available historical records, the king of Uruk in Babylon is known as Gilgamesh. He is a known historical figure and ruled around 2700 BC from a place which is now part of Iraq. The civilization which prospered between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, were among the very first to trigger growth of civilizations elsewhere in the west and the east.


Mesopotamia Gilgamesh was the subject of several stories and myths recorded around 2000 BC in the predominant Sumerian language of the time. Archaeologists have unearthed clay tablets on which scripts were written in Sumerian eulogizing the great King Gilgamesh. Studies have revealed that the language bears no resemblance to any modern language and was unique in ancient Mesopotamia.



What is Gilgamesh and why is he important?
The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of the hero-king of ancient Mesopotamia. Encountering creatures, kings and gods, Gilgamesh also provides a story about human relationships, feelings, loneliness, friendship, loss, love, revenge and the fear of death.

What is the oldest legend in the world?
Gilgamesh is the world’s first action hero who fulfills all the stereotypes of masculinity – even though his story was first written somewhere in the region of 4,000 years ago.

How old is the story of Gilgamesh?
The Epic of Gilgamesh began as a series of Sumerian poems and stories dating back to 2100 BC, but the most complete version was written around the 12th by the Babylonians

Who is the oldest known God?
Inanna is among the oldest deities whose names are recorded in ancient Sumer. She is ranked among the first seven divine forces: Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu and Inanna. Her story is linked to Gilgamesh in the fact that texts mentioning Gilgamesh include one of her.



Tone of the Epic : The narrator never explicitly criticizes Gilgamesh, who is always described in the most heroic terms, but his portrayal often contains irony. In the first half of the story Gilgamesh is indifferent to death to the point of rashness, while in the second half he is obsessed with it to the point of paralysis. Gilgamesh’s anticlimactic encounter with Utnapishti, for example, is quietly ironic in that everyone involved, including Utnapishti and his wife, knows more than Gilgamesh.

Tense used : Past tense is used .
Point of view: Third person. After Enkidu appears in Tablet I, most of the story is told from Gilgamesh’s point of view. Utnapishtim tells the story of the flood in Tablet XI.

Narrator: Most of the epic is narrated by an objective, unnamed narrator.

Setting (time) of the Epic : 2700 b.c.
Setting Place(s) of the Epic : Mesopotamia
Protagonist: Gilgamesh, King of Uruk
Themes of the Epic: Love as a motivating force; the inevitability of death and that the gods are dangerous.

The most complete version of the Epic of Gilgamesh that has come down to us is another expanded version, preserved in tablets from the early half of the first millennium BC in the royal libraries of Assyria and Babylonia. It was the British explorer and diplomat Austen H. Layard who discovered the first tablets containing this version in 1849 in the ruins of the palace of Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC) in Nineveh. Although the copies available to us date from the first millennium BCE, the originals on which they are based were probably composed between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries BCE. In any case, this version is known as the “Standard Babylonian Version” (SBV, or just the “Standard Version”), not only because it is the most complete, but also because its literary Akkadian is fairly standardized in the tablets. However, in ancient times he was known as “He Who Saw the Deep” after the opening line. This version forms the basis for most modern translations, some of its gaps being filled in by lines from other extant versions. Mesopotamian literary texts were largely anonymous, but the “Standard Version” tablets were attributed to a scribe called Sin-liqeunninni. Although we are not dealing with an “author” in the modern sense of the word, we can assume that scribes had some latitude in editing, expanding, and modifying existing texts, some perhaps doing it harder and more successfully than others, and therefore gaining credit for posterity.


Epic from 7 BC :

Stories and poems about Gilgamesh were also written in Akkadian which was a Semitic version of the prevailing Sumerian tongue spoken by common people. Akkadian was the favorite language for official purposes and was also preferred for literary pursuits as well. Our knowledge about Gilgamesh has come from the various writings and epic poems penned during the period in ancient Mesopotamia. It is also one of the earliest known literary works of the world which also helped shape literary pursuits elsewhere once civilizations started prospering. Scholars on ancient Mesopotamian culture believe that the epic on Gilgamesh was initially written in Sumerian and at a later period, adapted as a longer version in Akkadian as well.

If you are looking for the complete version, you will have to rely on the surviving 12 tablets from the time of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria dating back to 7 BC. The epic was centered on Gilgamesh and a wild man, Enkidu, who was his companion. They had gone on a hairy trail to the Cedar Mountain by defying the gods in a bid to finish off the monster Humbaba. After accomplishing their task and infuriating the gods, Gilgamesh and his companion went on to kill the Bull of Heaven sent by Ishtar, the goddess whose advances they spurned. Mesopotamia Gilgamesh is a popular story and has been translated in several languages.