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The Flood Tablet / The Gilgamesh Tablet / Library of Ashurbanipal

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    K.3375

  • Title (object)

    • The Flood Tablet
    • The Gilgamesh Tablet

    Title (series)

    • Library of Ashurbanipal
  • Description

    Fragment of a clay tablet, upper right corner, 2 columns of inscription on either side, 49 and 51 lines + 45 and 49 lines. Neo-Assyrian. Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet 11, story of the Flood.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 7thC BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 15.24 centimetres
    • Width: 13.33 centimetres
    • Thickness: 3.17 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        cuneiform
  • Curator's comments

    This object is the single most famous cuneiform text and caused a sensation when its content was first read in the 19th century because of its similarity to the Flood story in the Book of Genesis. Baked clay tablet inscribed with the Babylonian account of the Flood.

    It is the 11th Tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh and tells how the gods determined to send a flood to destroy the earth, but one of them, Ea, revealed the plan to Utu-napishtim whom he instructed to make a boat in which to save himself and his family. He orders him to take into it birds and beasts of all kinds. Utu-napishtim obeyed and when all were aboard and the door shut the rains descended and all the rest of mankind perished. After six days the waters abated and the ship grounded. The first bird released "flew to and fro but found no resting-place". A swallow likewise returned but finally a raven which had been sent out did not return showing that the waters were receding. Utu-napishtim, who later told this story to Gilgamesh, thereupon emerged and sacrificed to the gods who, angry at his escape, granted him on the intercession of Ea divine honours and a dwelling place at the mouth of the river Euphrates.

    This object was previously moulded by the BM Facsimile Service. It was issued as No. 10 in a previously issued series of postcards captioned "Assyrian monuments bearing on Bible history in the British Museum".

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Bezold 1891a bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 16 bibliographic details
    • Pritchard 1969a 248 bibliographic details
    • Guide 1922 p.221, pl.xlvi bibliographic details
    • CDLI P273210 (http://cdli.ucla.edu/P273210) bibliographic details
    • George A R 2003a plates 124-127 (copy) bibliographic details
    • Pritchard 1950a pp.93-97 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G55/MES2/8

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2014-2016, AHOW loan tour, PROMISED (some venues)
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

    Room of Writing, case 5 (until Mar 1992)

    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.24
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.24
    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.24
    1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.12
    1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.12

    Nineveh gallery, table-case A

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    28 January 2014

    Reason for treatment

    Loan

    Treatment proposal

    Assess and consolidate as required.

    Condition

    Some loose and/or friable material.

    Treatment details

    Consolidation of loose and friable material with 5% and 10% Paraloid B72 (ethyl methacrylate copolymer) in 50:50 acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone): Industrial Methylated Spirits (IMS: ethanol,methanol), using a glass micro-pipette. Consolidated areas brushed with acetone to reduce staining.

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number

    K.3375

Part of a clay tablet, upper right corner, 2 columns of inscription on either side, 49 and 51 lines + 45 and 49 lines, Neo-Assyrian.
Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet 11, story of the Flood.

Part of a clay tablet, upper right corner, 2 columns of inscription on either side, 49 and 51 lines + 45 and 49 lines, Neo-Assyrian. Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet 11, story of the Flood.

Image description

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Object reference number: WCT5128

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