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  1. 1. Who was Gilgamesh? “In Uruk he built walls . . . Look at it still today . . . Touch the threshold, it is ancient.” Gilgamesh. From Khorsabad (Palace of Sargon II). Neo-Assyrian, 721-705 B.C.E. Housed in the Paris Louvre.
  2. 2. THE CITY
  3. 3. Uruk site in 2008 (modern Warka, Iraq)
  4. 4. Ur site (Iraq), with view of zigguraut
  5. 5. Ziggurat of Ur
  6. 6. THE EPIC
  7. 7. 3000 B.C. Invention of writing 2800 B.C. Gilgamesh, king of Uruk 2100 B.C. Oldest copy of a Sumerian Gilgamesh poem 1800 B.C. Babylonian Epic of Creation 1200 B.C. The standard version of Gilgamesh in Akkadian
  8. 8. Sumerian oral poems and stories circulate for generations Until they are written down on clay tablets in Sumerian, then Akkadian
  9. 9. A damaged masterpiece
  10. 10. Tablet I. The Coming of Enkidu He who saw the Deep, the country’s foundation [who] knew…, was wise in all manners! [Gilgamesh, who] saw the Deep, the country’s foundation, [who] knew…, was wise in all matters! [He] … everywhere… and [learnt] of everything the sum of wisdom. He saw what was secret, discovered what was hidden, he brought back a tale of before the Deluge. Translated by Andrew George (1999) Prologue Gilgamesh King in Uruk I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh. This was the man to whom all things were known; this was the king who knew the countries of the world. He was wise, he saw mysteries and knew secret things, he brought us a tale of the days before the flood. He went on a long journey, was weary, worn-out with labour, returning he rested, he engraved on a stone the whole story. Translated by N. K. Sanders
  11. 11. THE GODS
  12. 12. • Anu – sky god, principal god of Uruk • Ishtar – goddess of love and war, Venus; principal goddess of Uruk • Enlil – god of earth, wind, and spirit; one of the supreme deities • Shamash – sun god • Humbaba – giant montster, guardian of the Forest of Cedar
  13. 13. Horned crown of Anu Eight pointed star of Ishtar A stele of the Assyrian king Šamši-Adad V (c.815 BCE), in a gesture of blessing to symbols of five deities.
  14. 14. Cylinder seal showing Ishtar (with weapons rising from her shoulders).
  15. 15. Questions • Why was this story written down? Why is Gilgamesh an important hero to the people of the Mesopotamian civilizations? • What patterns in this epic will we see continued in later epics and narratives? Do we recognize any of these patterns in stories that continue to be told today?