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Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Deluge Tablet from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian story of the heroic character Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. It was most likely written during the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BC). The text of The Epic of Gilgamesh is available online in its entirety.

The Story of the Flood

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains what is arguably the most important flood legend known to exist, due to the age of the text and the close parallel with the Biblical narrative. Its existence establishes ancient knowledge of the global flood as written in the Hebrew book of Genesis. The ancient Epic of Gilgamesh tablet XI describes the deluge in great detail through the character Utnapishtim.


For six days and six nights the winds blew, torrent and tempest and flood overwhelmed the world, tempest and flood raged together like warring hosts. When the seventh day dawned the storm from the south subsided, the sea grew calm, the, flood was stilled; I looked at the face of the world and there was silence, all mankind was turned to clay. The surface of the sea stretched as flat as a roof-top; I opened a hatch and the light fell on my face. Then I bowed low, I sat down and I wept, the tears streamed down my face, for on every side was the waste of water. I looked for land in vain, but fourteen leagues distant there appeared a mountain, and there the boat grounded; on the mountain of Nisir the boat held fast, she held fast and did not budge. One day she held, and -a second day on the mountain of Nisir she held fast and did not budge. A third day, and a fourth day she held fast on the mountain and did not budge; a fifth day and a sixth day she held fast on the mountain. When the seventh day dawned I loosed a dove and let her go. She flew away, but finding no resting-place she returned. Then I loosed a swallow, and she flew away but finding no resting-place she returned. I loosed a raven, she saw that the waters had retreated, she ate, she flew around, she cawed, and she did not come back. Then I threw everything open to the four winds, I made a sacrifice and poured out a libation on the mountain top.[1]

The Forest Journey

In The Forest Journey, Gilgamesh travels to a vast forest to make a name for himself by killing a "ferocious giant" or "monster" called Humbaba, which is known to reside there. Gilgamesh states: I will set up my name where the names of famous men are written; and where no man's name is written I will raise a monument to the gods.[2] The giant (Humbaba) is described in terrifying terms in the following descriptions.

Enlil has appointed Humbaba to guard it and armed him with sevenfold terrors, terrible to all flesh is Humbaba. When he roars it is like the torrent of the storm, his breath is like fire, and his jaws are death itself... His teeth are dragon's fangs, his countenance is like a lion, his charge is the rushing of the flood, with his look he crushes alike the trees of the forest and reeds in the swamp.[2]

In his book The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible, Paul Taylor states that the giant (Humbaba) is a dragon and the story possibly a true event in which a dinosaur was killed.[3] However, it is noteworthy that the text never identifies the monster as a dragon, although the word appears in the text of the epic on five occasions. In addition, the description of Humbaba states that the monster has teeth like "dragon's fangs", which seems to explicitly imply that the creature was of a different type. Other questions as to the identify and historicity of the event are raised by the monster speaking with Gilgamesh and pleading for its life: Let me go free, Gilgamesh, and I will be your servant, you shall be my lord; all the trees of the forest that I tended on the mountain shall be yours. I will cut them down and build you a palace.[2]


  1. The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Story of the Flood by Assyrian International News Agency
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Epic of Gilgamesh: The Forest Journey by Assyrian International News Agency
  3. P. Taylor, The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible, Denver, CO: Accent Publications, (1989) p.37

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See Also