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Gilgamesh and Sumerian Culture

The Epic of Gilgamesh is generally regarded as the greatest literature about tales of a great king. The Epic of Gilgamesh served to show us a lot of things. The time period of BCE is very blurry, and this story attempts to describe many different things in not only Sumerian beliefs, but also Sumerian’s culture as a whole. Like many stories from BCE the truth itself is questionable, even though a lot of the information is fact. The factual information that Gilgamesh teaches us about Sumerian Civilization is that had had many craftsman and artistic skills, and also a strong belief in Gods.

Gilgamesh is introduced as knowing all things and countries including mysteries and secrets that went on a long journey and had his story engraved on stone. This gives us a little information on the writing technique in Sumeria. Sumerian art was complex. Clay was the Sumerians’ most widely used material. Sumerian available because of the invention of cuneiform writing before 3000 B. C. The characters consist of wedge-like strokes, impressed on clay tablets.

This system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B. C. the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, probably by the Sumerians The history of the script is strikingly like that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic. This must have been the technique that Gilgamesh uses in order to transcribe his story onto these clay tablets. It was reinforced in the story by mentioning it at the beginning and end of the Epic. Another artistry that was visualized within the Epic was Sumerian architecture. There was mention of the walls in Uruk. “In Uruk he built walls… The outer wall where the cornice runs… the inner wall has no equal…

Climb upon the wall of Uruk: walk along it, I say: regard the foundation terrace and examine the masonry… is it not burnt brick… ”With this statement it paints a picture of walls strongly built, and possibly many other structures that may still be in contact today. This is proof of the Sumerian architectural abilities. The architecture in Mesopotamia are considered to have been contemporary with the founding of the Sumerian cities, but there was some complexity in the architectural design during this Protoliterate period (c. 3400-c. 2900 BC). This is shown in the design of many religious buildings.

Typical temples of the Protoliterate period–both the platform type and the type built at ground level–are, however, much more elaborate both in planning and ornament. The interior was decorated with cones sunk into the wall, covered in bronze. Most cities were simple in structure, but the ziggurat was one of the world’s first complex architectural structures. The Sumerian temples, called ziggurats was a small brick house that the god was supposed to visit periodically. This house, however, was set on a brick platform, which became larger and taller as time progressed.

Along with showing many types of Sumerian craftsmanship, the epic shows the strong belief in many gods. All through out the story Gilgamesh comes in contact with many gods. But even before the contact with the gods, there was talk about Gilgamesh being created by them. “When the Gods created him they gave him a perfect body… Shamash… endowed him with beauty, Adad endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect. ” If Gilgamesh was supposedly a king, the beliefs in Gods had to be strong in order to have a king created by them. Many people believe that these Gods were of a reptilian nature.

In the beginning of the story, it is said that Gilgamesh “built walls(another reinforcement of the Sumerian architectural craftsmanship), and a temple of blessed Eannna for the firmament Anu, and for Ishtar the goddess of love. ” This sets the base and foundation of the gods in the city of Uruk. The head of the family of Gods of heaven and Earth was An – (or ANU in the Babaylonian belief). He was the king of the Gods. Ishtar is Anu’s second child, daughter of Anu and Antum. She is the goddess of love, procreation, and war. She is armed with a quiver and bow, and her sacred animal is the lion.

Her temples have special prostitutes of both genders. The Eanna in Uruk is dedicated both to her and Anu. Even though Anu was a major god and Ishtar a minor goddess, they both were important were believed in heavily in order to build ziggurats for them. The Epic of Gilgamesh served the purpose to shed some light on the culture of Sumeria. The story has helped give factual information even though the epic many not be true in whole, it may have some truth in parts. It has given us more knowledge on the architectural craftsmanship of Sumerian people, and also shows us the belief of many gods in Sumer’s polytheistic society.

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