Skip to comments.Epic Hero (Gilgamesh Saga)
Posted on 05/01/2007 4:20:40 PM PDT by blam
How a self-taught British genius rediscovered the Mesopotamian saga of Gilgameshafter 2,500 years
By David Damrosch
In November 1872, George Smith was working at the British Museum in a second-floor room overlooking the bare plane trees in Russell Square. On a long table were pieces of clay tablets, among the hundreds of thousands that archaeologists had shipped back to London from Nineveh, in present-day Iraq, a quarter-century before. Many of the fragments bore cuneiform hieroglyphs, and over the years scholars had managed to reassemble parts of some tablets, deciphering for the first time these records of daily life in Assyria of the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.references to oxen, slaves, casks of wine, petitions to kings, contracts, treaties, prayers and omens.
As scholars go, Smith, 32 years old, was an anomaly; he had ended his formal education at age 14 when he was apprenticed to a printer, and perhaps it was because of his training as an engraver that he had such a knack for assembling coherent passages of cuneiform out of the drawers and drawers of old rubble. In fact, Smith had already established dates for a couple of minor events in Israelite history, and on this brisk fall day he was looking for other references that might confirm parts of the Bible. Then, on a fragment of a tablet, he came across a story that would soon astonish the Western world. He read of a flood, a ship caught on a mountain and a bird sent out in search of dry landthe first independent confirmation of a vast flood in ancient Mesopotamia, complete with a Noah-like figure and an ark.
Yet he could read only a few lines of the tablet, much of which was encrusted with a thick, lime-like deposit. The museum had
(Excerpt) Read more at smithsonianmagazine.com ...
I read that yesterday while home sick. Very interesting considering he was uneducated according to the standards of the day.
What a story! Great post. Thanks.
Great article. Thanks for posting.
Booze seemed be a problem in the family, his great grandfather was exiled, by the family, to the US and was on that Gun Boat, on display at Vicksburg, when it was sunk. (He had the papers on both)
We start talking about it because I had several family members in US and CSA units at the siege and surrounding fights.
Outstanding story! Thanks for posting.
Thank you for the great read!
Very interesting article Blam. Thanks for posting.
Not only was this the first “Hero’s Journey” literature, it also featured the first ‘sidekick’ partner, Enkidu.
Think about that. Gabby Hayes was merely one of a 5,000 year, long line of sidekicks to action heroes.
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Drive a nail through the “elite” old archaeologists.
This was a classical hero. Modern literary heroes are mere shadows.
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Excellent article, thanks for posting.
GMTA :) But it was “Darmok and Gilaad at Tanagra”. I forget what the alien captain’s name was, offhand. Oh, I’m such a Star Trek geek.
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