[Our Fake History] Episode #130- Was There a Real Gilgamesh? (Part II)

Episode #130- Was There a Real Gilgamesh? (Part II)

07/04/2021 by Sebastian Major

Web player: https://podcastaddict.com/episode/121429934

Episode: https://pdst.fm/e/chtbl.com/track/E2G895/aw.noxsolutions.com/launchpod/2142/Episode130-WasthereaRealGilgamesh_dwye_ccbab535.mp3?awCollectionId=2142&awEpisodeId=b3ba7a04-de97-41c3-8580-2ececcbab535

The search for a historical Gilgamesh is filled with red herrings. As Mesopotamia’s best loved epic hero, images of Gilgamesh are littered throughout the ruins of the ancient cities of the Tigris and Euphrates. Ancient documents produced by Kings looking to bolster their image would claim that Gilgamesh was their “friend and brother”. But despite these bits of historical misdirection, there is some evidence hinting at a real man behind the myth. Tune in and find out how distant radio stations, arty metaphors, Saddam Hussein’s novel all play a role in the story.

Listen Date: 7 May 2021

Notes:

  • Part I focused on the discovery of the tale and telling the story itself. Incidentally, In Our Time had also done an episode on The Tale of Gilgamesh but I somehow I had completely forgotten the story (but remembered the bits about Enkidu the wild man).
  • What stood out from Part I was the end of the story – Gilgamesh declaring that the walls of Ur would be his immortality.
  • That reminded me of all my usual musings on conquering death through being alive forever vs conquering death through accepting it.
  • What stood out from this episode was the discussion about how the temple prostitute who gives Enkidu beer and therafter tells him that he’s turned from animal to human is a metaphor for agriculture and settlement literally civilizing wild humans.
  • And about how the epic itself is about the power of cities as represented in Gilgamesh, with the agricultural Mesopotamians thinking that they were all that.
  • Apart from that, we learn that the kings of Mesopotamia used to claim Gilgamesh and other absurdly long-lived kings in their ancestry / lineage. Simon Winder compared it to European kings claiming descent from Aeneas, Brutus, or Hercules – as covered in his previous episodes – but I was thinking of the Rajputs claiming to be Suryavanshi or Chandravanshi. And now that I’m typing this out – Yadavs from Krishna, and various Brahmins from various Rishis, hence the gotras.
  • And that this claim of descent from Gilgamesh used to cause a whole bunch of false excitement for Western historians.
  • Also in this episode – the lovely speculation that rapid deglaciation caused immense amounts of fresh water to flow into the Black Sea over a compressed timescale, which is where the flood myths in both Gilgamesh and the Bible come from, has been laid to rest as impossible, and with no archaeological evidence for flooded out settlements either on the shores of, or below the Black Sea. So it goes.
  • And that the flood tale may have come from annual flooding and how important it was for both agriculture as a positive, and general life as a negative – the stories basically dialed a routine occurence up to 11.

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