New tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Image Source: Open Culture.
September 2015 reports confirmed that November 2011 war plunder in Iraq turned up an additional tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh, adding twenty lines to the fifth tablet of the great story, in which the hero Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu feel guilty about killing the Cedar Forest King, Humbaba. The Cedar Forest is the domain of the gods; the added lines describe the beauty and noise of the forest and the creatures that live there.
The new lines also explain that only after Humbaba is dead do our heroes realize that they made a mistake, and he is more a god-king than a monster. Gilgamesh and Enkidu also kill Humbaba's sons and burn down the forest, and they regret that too. Added to this there is a nuance of wrongful revenge, since we discover that Enkidu and Humbaba were friends in their youths. There is an article about this find from researchers at the University of London, here, in which scholars ponder the epic's famous grasp of human psychology; they especially note its lessons on how heroism and civilization are always built on morally-conflicted destruction of an older order.
Video Source: Youtube.
Caption for the above video (31 July 2015): "Miss Hazha Jalal, manager of the tablet's section of the Sulaymaniyah Museum of Iraqi Kurdistan speaks (using Kurdish language) about the newly discovered tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is housed in the Sulaymaniayh Museum; 'The tablet dates back to the Old-Babylonian period, 2000-1500 BCE. ... It was acquired by the Museum in the year 2011 and ... Dr. Farouk Al-Raw transliterated it. It was written as a poem and many new things this version has added, for example Gilgamesh and his friend met a monkey.'"
Gilgamesh, a mythical hero, was probably based on the fifth king of Ukuk, who reigned at some point between 2800 and 2500 BCE over the ancient city, located in what is now Iraq. In its heyday in 2900 BCE, Uruk was likely the largest city in the world, with a population between 50,000 to 80,000 people. The epic was written between 2150 and 1400 BCE. The story is considered to be the oldest written epic in western literature, and a milestone in the transition from oral to written tradition. For detailed reports, see Open Culture and History Blog.
See all my posts related to the Epic of Gilgamesh.