- Museum number
- Series: Library of Ashurbanipal
Part of a Neo-Assyrian clay tablet: containing three columns of cuneiform inscription from tablet 6 of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Production date
- 7thC BC
Height: 13 centimetres
Thickness: 2.54 centimetres
Width: 14 centimetres
- Curator's comments
This is part of the story known as the Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet VI, ll.1-84, 92-103, 132-137, 150-end). It describes the interview between Gilgamesh and the goddess Ishtar and the creation of the bull of heaven. The content of the text is restored from the duplicates K. 3990, K. 4579, K. 5335, K. 8018, Sm. 401, Sm. 2112, and Rm. 578.
The object was sent for moulding by the Cast Service between 13 December 1974 and 2 April 1975 (WAA, 'Objects to Lab' book).
The Epic of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the single most significant work of Mesopotamian literature. If Gilgamesh was a real historical figure, he is probably to be dated to the early third millennium BC. At some time early in the second millennium BC a group of originally disconnected Sumerian stories, some of which (like the Flood story) had nothing to do with Gilgamesh, were translated into Akkadian and woven together into a single epic which was again rewritten during the first millennium BC. The popularity of the story is proven by the fact that fragments have been found as far afield as Hattusas in Turkey, Emar in Syria and Megiddo in Israel.The theme of the epic is Gilgamesh's friendship with the wild man Enkidu and their exploits together, the death of Enkidu, and Gilgamesh's unsuccessful quest for immortality.
R. Campbell Thompson, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ (Oxford, 1930), pls. 20-26;
M. G. Kovacs, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ (Stanford, 1985), 50-56;
S. M. Dalley, ‘Myths from Mesopotamia’ (Oxford, 1989), 77-83.
According to Sir Henry Rawlinson, "neither more nor less than the local rendering of the old universal solar myth." On translations or explanations of the text see G. Smith, ‘Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology’, II, p. 213 ff.; Smith, G., 1883. ‘Assyrian Discoveries : an account of explorations and discoveries on the site of Nineveh, during 1873 and 1874’. London : Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, p. 165 ff.; and Smith, G., 1876. ‘The Chaldean account of Genesis’. London : S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, pp. 5, 226 ff. (in "the German ed., p. 143 ff.); Talbot, ‘Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology’ V, p. 97 ff., reprinted in the In S. Birch (ed.), 1878. 'Records of the Past : being English translations of the Assyrian and Monuments' IX. London : Bagster, p. 119 ff.; and Sayce, A.H. 1887. Lectures on the origin and growth of religion as illustrated by the religion of the ancient Babylonians. ‘Hibbert Lectures’. London : Williams and Norgate, p. 246 ff. Cf. also Smith, S.A., 1887-1889. ‘Die Keilschrifttexte Asurbanipals, Königs von Assyrien, 668-626 v. Chr / nach dem selbst in London copirten Grundtext, mit Transscription, Übersetzung, Kommentar und vollständigem Glossar’ Part 2. Leipzig : E. Pfeiffer, p. 51.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018-2019 8 Nov-24 Feb, London, BM, I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria
2013 22 June-2014 6 Jan, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, 'Mesopotamia, Inventing Our World'
2013 30 Jan-13 May, Museum of History, Hong Kong, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2012 4 May-7 Oct, Melbourne Museum, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2011 28 March-26 June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Splendours of Mesopotamia'
2008 21 Sept- 2009 4 Jan, Boston, MFA, 'Art and Empire'
2007 2 Apr-30 Sept, Alicante, MARQ Museum, 'Art and Empire'
2006 1 Jul-7 Oct, Shanghai Museum, 'Art and Empire'
2000 14 May-29 Oct, Germany, Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Seven Hills – Images and Signs of the 21st Century
1999 21 May-28 May, London, Brunei Gallery, The Epic of Gilgamesh
Room of Writing, case 5 (until Mar 1992)
1989 28 May-27 Aug, Germany, Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Europa und der Orient : 800-1900 (Ex Oriente Lux)
- Fired: 12 JUL 74; previous treatment has left traces of consolidant on the surface (noted prior to suggested loan 1988).
- Associated titles
Inscription from: The Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet VI)
- Middle East
- Registration number