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The Epic of Gilgamesh

 
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Gilgamesh is one of the oldest recorded stories in the world. It tells the story of an ancient King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, who may have actually existed, and whose name is on the Sumerian King List. The story of Gilgamesh, in various Sumerian versions, was originally widely known in the third millennium B.C. After a long history of retellings, this story was recorded, in a standardized Akkadian version, in the seventh century B.C., and stored in the famous library of King Assurbanipal.

Later, the story of Gilgamesh was lost to human memory, except for occasional fragments. The story was rediscovered in the mid-nineteenth century A.D., and made available in translation to German by the beginning of the twentieth century. People were especially amazed when they read this most ancient of stories, and realized that the flood story in Gilgamesh was a close analogue of the flood story in the Hebrew Bible.

The story of Gilgamesh was first discovered in the library of King Assurbanipal of Nineveh, written on twelve tablets. "Gilgamesh's life and his adventures during his unsuccessful quest for immortality are told on eleven of the twelve tablets." The twelfth tablet is "a description of the nether world, in which Gilgamesh rules after his death as divine judge over the shades, guiding and advising them.
 
 
         
    Gilgamesh, Sumerian King
  Gilgamesh, Sumerian King
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq (Early Dynastic II, first dynasty of Uruk), placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian King List he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal,...
 
    The Epic of Gilgamesh
  The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh, the cycle of poems preserved on clay tablets surviving from ancient Mesopotamia of the third millennium B.C. One of the best and most important pieces of epic poetry from human history, predating even Homer's Iliad by roughly 1...
 
    Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria
  Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria
Ashurbanipal, Assurbanipal or Sardanapal, (reigned 669-627 BC), was the last great king of ancient Assyria. He is famous as one of the few kings in antiquity who could himself read and write. Assyrian sculpture reached its apogee under his rule. The...
 
    Rassam, Found Tablets of Gilgamesh
  Rassam, Found Tablets of Gilgamesh
Hormuzd Rassam was a native Assyrian Assyriologist, British diplomat and traveller who made a number of important discoveries, including the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest literature. In addition, he found the C...
 
    George Smith, Translated Gilgamesh
  George Smith, Translated Gilgamesh
George Smith was a pioneering English Assyriologist who first discovered and translated the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest-known written work of literature. From his youth, he was fascinated with Assyrian culture and history. In his spare time, he rea...
 
         



 
 
         
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