Noah and Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh was first written down by an unknown Babylonian scribe around 2000 B.C.  It relates the heroic adventures of the semi-legendary ruler of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk about 2700 B.C.  At one point, Gilgamesh seeks out an ancient sage by the name of Utnapishtim in order to discover how to avoid death.  It happens that the gods awarded immortality to Utnapishtim after he survived a great flood that wiped out all the rest of humanity by building a large boat at the behest of the god Ea.  In the manner of Noah, he collected his family and all manner of living things and took them along for the ride.  As the waters subside, his boat comes to rest on top of a mountain.  Quoting from the epic,

On Mount Nisis the ship stood still,
Mount Nisis held the ship so that it could not move,
One day, two days, Mount Nisis held the ship fast…
When the seventh day arrived,
I sent forth a dove, letting it free.
The dove went hither and thither;
Not finding a resting place, it came back.
I sent forth a swallow, letting it free.
The swallow went hither and thither.
Not finding a resting place, it came back.
I sent forth a raven, letting it free.
The raven went and saw the decrease of the waters.
It ate, croaked, but did not turn back.

Sound familiar?  And yet people still stumble around on Mt. Ararat looking for the remains of Noah’s ark. Every few decades or so, they even find them, although they do tend to move around a bit.  Go figure.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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