Featured Episode - The Oldest Story Written: The Epic of Gilgamesh
In This Episode
Join host, Petros Koutoupis, as he embarks on his latest adventure to rediscover and retell the oldest story ever written: the Epic of Gilgamesh. From when did the stories originate and from where? When were the first tablets unearthed by archaeologists? Why was this discovery so important? How has the epic tale impacted both ancient and modern audiences? Tune in to find out.
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Akkadian - An East Semitic language spoken by an early Mesopotamian civilization starting around 2500 BCE.
Anatolia - The region that is Turkey today.
Anu - A Sumero-Babylonian deity of the sky and ancestor to many deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Also considered to be the “King of the gods.”
Ashurbanipal - King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire who reigned from 669 BCE to his death in 631 BCE.
Atra-hasis - An Assyro-Babylonian flood hero. Equivalent to Ut-napishtim written about in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Sumerian Ziusudra.
BCE - Before the Common Era, the equivalent of B.C.
Bull of Heaven - A mythical beast fought by the hero Gilgamesh.
Canaan - The region that is the Levant and what is Israel and Syria today.
Cuneiform - A wedge-shaped logo-syllabic script used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East.
Dead Sea Scrolls - Discovered in the caves of Qumran, to the north of the Dead Sea and dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be the oldest surviving manuscripts of entire books later included in the biblical canons.
Ea - Referred to as Enki in Sumerian, Ea was god of water, knowledge and crafts.
Enkidu - A wartime comrade and friend of Gilgamesh.
George Smith - (26 March, 1840 – 19 August, 1876) An English Assyriologist who first discovered and translated the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh - An ancient Sumerian king and Mesopotamian hero. Many tales and an entire epic were written about him as early as the 3rd millennium BCE.
Hittite - An ancient civilization and empire that controlled most of the Anatolian mainland.
Humbaba - A Mesopotamian giant or monster and guardian of the Cedar Forest.
Ishtar - The Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, war, and fertility.
Levant - The general geographical region of the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia, more centralized around modern-day Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Lugalbanda - Deified Sumerian king of Uruk and father of Gilgamesh.
Mesopotamia - A region of Western Asia situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is today Iraq.
Nineveh - An ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located in the modern-day city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Old Babylonian Version (OBV) - A version of the Epic of Gilgamesh written at around 1700 BCE.
Standard Babylonian Version (SBV) - A version of the Epic of Gilgamesh written at around 1200 BCE and later.
Sumer - The earliest known civilization in the region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq).
Uruk - An ancient city of Sumer situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates River.
Ut-napishtim - An Assyro-Babylonian flood hero mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
By Jeffrey H. Tigay
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the world's oldest known epics-it predates Homer by several centuries and is recognized as seminal to the cultural history of the Ancient Near East. Interpretation and decipherment of the story of Gilgamesh--fragmentary and contradictory as its several variants are--has been a monumental scholarly task, spanning more than a century...until Jeffrey Tigay teased out the epic's evolution. In this volume, Tigay traces the development of the composition of The Gilgamesh Epic over nearly two millennia and through the several languages in which it has been transmitted. The result is a study both comprehensive in breadth and impressive in methodology. The author breaks from his scholarly predecessors in relying on documented textual evidence rather than on critical analysis and hypotheses.
By Benjamin R. Foster
“This scrupulous new translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh manages to convey much of the archaic power and even something of the occasional humor of the ancient Mesopotamian poem. What is especially valuable is that the translators, by collating passages from the different ancient versions of this epic that have survived only in fragments, have made available many vivid narrative episodes that will be new to most English readers of the poem.”
―Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley
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