Thursday, May 01, 2003


"Gilgamesh tomb believed found" (BBC, via Archaeologica News)

Archaeologists in Iraq believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Gilgamesh - the subject of the oldest "book" in history.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name.

Now, a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.

Maybe. I can't remember anything about Gilgamesh being buried in the Euphrates and I can't find anything about this in the Epic. But it sounds as though they're finding lots of interesting things anyway.

What, you ask, does this have to do with ancient Judaism? Well, the Gilgamesh Epic has a Flood story with parallels to both the J and P versions of the Flood, and the Priestly writer comes in the PaleoJudaic time period. Plus, a Sumerian Gilgamesh fragment quotes the same proverb as Qoheleth 4:4b, and Qoheleth's advice in 9:9-10 is strikingly similar to the advice of Siduri the barmaid to Gilgamesh in Tablet X iii, at least showing that some of Qoheleth's ideas have a background in Gilgamesh material. And Gilgamesh himself appears as a giant in the Aramaic Book of Giants from Qumran (for a summary of which, follow this link).

So there!

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