News: This is the oldest book in the world ever written … It’s not the Bible! This book is considered to be one of the oldest literary works of mankind. It was in Sumer, in the heart of present-day Iraq, that this epic story was transposed onto clay tablets between the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC. Widely distributed in the Middle East, it crossed the centuries to reach us almost intact.
Since the dawn of time, stories have animated the lives of human beings. They feed their imagination, have cathartic virtues and serve as entertainment.
A turning point is taken when writing is invented. This means of communication can finally seal “eternally” these fables and legends once told and transmitted orally from generation to generation.
The best-seller in the history of mankind is none other than the Bible, the most translated and best-selling book in the world. However, one of the earliest accounts ever written is The Epic of Gilgamesh , a text written in Sumerian, a dead language spoken in the Antiquity in Lower Mesopotamia.
It is in the heart of present-day Iraq, in Sumer, a vast region crossed by the Tigris and Euphrates and bordered by the Persian Gulf, that the oldest epic was engraved in cuneiform characters on clay tablets. known. The one considered to be one of the oldest literary works of Humanity therefore saw the light of day in Mesopotamia, there same where was invented, almost 5000 years ago, the first known form of writing.
A poetic work that has spanned the millennia The writing of The Epic of Gilgamesh spans several millennia. The story that we know today is taken from the so-called “standard” version rediscovered thanks to the tablets of Nineveh. These are eleven clay planks unearthed on an archaeological site in 668. The place was later identified as the personal library of King Ashurbanipal, the last great ruler of the world’s greatest empire during his reign. He reigns over all the peoples of the Middle East from 668 to 382 BC These tablets offer sufficiently comprehensive content to understand most of the plot and episodes of The Epic of Gilgamesh .
The poetic work is based in part on several Sumerian accounts composed between the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC Dating from different periods, dozens of older “manuscripts” have been found. However, these earlier attested versions being only partial and revised, the standard version is necessary for the understanding and restitution of the episodes.
The origin of the composition of the text that we know today remains uncertain. Nevertheless, Mesopotamian scholars of the 1st millennium BC. attribute its writing to a precise scribe: Sîn-leqi-unninni, also exorcist priest. This remains only a hypothesis.
“ From Sumerian, this text was translated into Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, Hourite. But the Greek invasions brought Gilgamesh into oblivion. It was not until the 19th century that this story finally came back to memory. ”can be read on Babelio .
The site sums up the initiatory journey of a hero-king as follows: “ Gilgamesh is demigod and king of the Great Uruk, an ancient Mesopotamian city. He is powerful but cruel, and oppresses his people. To punish him, the gods decide to give him a taste of humanity, whose flavor he ignores. They then sow in his heart the seed of friendship and love, whose budding flower will blossom every day and will be named Enkidou, a man, a friend, a brother. ”
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