The Epic of Gilgamesh

Week 2: Ancient Near East - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


This week's reading came from three different online sources for the epic of Gilgamesh:

You can also find many translations of the epic of Gilgamesh at

The Gilgamesh Ebook by Poznan Supercomputing Center contains some animated video based on computer-manipulated images from Mesopotamian art. You can also view a text and hear the text read out loud, or you can view the text and listen to music. (The translation they have used here is not attributed to any author, but it is a version of Gilgamesh that circulates widely on the Internet, but which is sometimes attributed to "Robert O'Connell").

Richard Hooker (Washington State University) provides a detailed summary of the Gilgamesh epic. He also provides a "tour" of the Civilizations of Mesopotamia, including Sumerians, Akkadians, Amorites, Hittites, Kassites, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Persians.

To learn more about ancient Mesopotamian culture, visit Christopher Siren's Sumer FAQ. and Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.

You can also see a chronology of Mesopotamian history, 9500 B.C.E - 500 B.C.E., at a University of San Francisco website.

The Babylonian "Enuma Elish" (Epic of Creation) is available online, translated by L.W. King (1902).

An account of Ishtar's Descent into the Lower World, translated by M. Jastrow (1915) is also online. You can read a different version of the story of Ishtar and Ereshkigal at this Maricopa College site. There is a collection of comparative "Ground Myths" (Princeton University), which includes Ishtar, along with some Greek myths (Pandora, Persephone, etc.).

The Sumerian Text Archive at Oxford University contains detailed, scholarly translations of many texts, including mythological tables.

The Mesopotamia Exhibit online at the British Museum is especially rich in images. It contains an entire section devoted to Mesopotamian Gods, Goddesses and Demons. There is even an online game you can play: "It is festival time and the gods' statues have been brought by boat from their temples together with their special animal and symbol. However, on their way home they have all become separated in a storm. Your job is to get the gods home with their correct animal and symbol. The cuneiform tablet will give you clues to take the right objects to the correct city."

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has a website which will convert your inititals into cuneiform

Exploring Ancient World Cultures provides links to many Ancient Near Eastern images online. There is a beautiful French website, Clio, which provides text and images from Sumer, Babylon, Assyria and other kingdoms of the ancient Near East.

Tony Garone has produced a theatrical musical based on the story of Gilgamesh, and you can listen to 4 of the songs from this musical online: Uruk - We Are All One - The Bull of Heaven - The Far Away.

There is actually a musical score which survives from ancient Mesopotamia, inscribed on clay tablets dating to around 1400 B.C.E. This is a famous and controversial topic in musciology; for more information see Robert Fink's illustrated webpage.

Want to hear a few words of Sumerian, Hittite or Akkadian? Well, the Voyager spacecraft (now in the 25th year of its journey!) contains "Greetings from Earth" in many languages, living and dead. You can listen to the Voyager "Greetings from Earth" in all these languages on line, including Sumerian, Hittite and Akkadian.

Mark Isaak has collected Flood Stories from Around the World and put them online (bibliography is at the bottom of the page).


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM