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The epic of Gilgamesh, the king who tried to conquer death - Soraya Field Fiorio

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In 1849, in the ancient city of Nineveh in Iraq, archaeologists sifted through dusty remains, hoping to find records to prove that Bible stories were true. What they found instead was a 4,000-year-old story inscribed on crumbling clay tablets— a story that was so riveting, the first person to translate it started stripping from excitement. Soraya Field Fiorio tells the epic tale of Gilgamesh.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Soraya Field Fiorio
  • Director Amir Houshang Moein
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Amir Houshang Moein
  • Storyboard Artist Amir Houshang Moein
  • Compositor Amir Houshang Moein
  • Art Director Amir Houshang Moein
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • Original 3D Model of Uruk by Sebastian Hageneuer
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The epic of Gilgamesh was told and retold in ancient Mesopotamia for thousands of years. It was lost for two millennia before being rediscovered in 1849 CE. It was part of the Mesopotamian literary canon, and we have been able to piece the story together because tablets have been discovered at a variety of sites, with new tablets filling in missing sections of the story. New portions of the story are still being discovered in archaeological excavations. The story sheds light on the development of Mesopotamian literature, the earliest literary tradition yet known.

Gilgamesh was originally written as a Sumerian tale, before being reinterpreted in the Akkadian language around 1800 BCE, with the most well-known version composed in the first millennium BCE. You can hear Gilgamesh read aloud in the Akkadian language here.

For more about Gilgamesh:

Sophus Helle translates the latest version of Gilgamesh, including newly-discovered clay tablets. His translation will be available through Yale University Press in October 2021: https://sophushelle.com/gilgamesh/

For more about Ancient Near Eastern literature, read:

Benjamin Foster, Before the Muses: https://www.eisenbrauns.org/books/titles/978-1-883053-76-5.html

For more about Ancient Near Eastern history:Gwendolyn Leick, Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City

The original 3D Model of Uruk was visualized by Sebastian Hageneuer and http://www.artefacts-berlin.de

Learn more about how archeologists reconstructed the ancient city




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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Soraya Field Fiorio
  • Director Amir Houshang Moein
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Amir Houshang Moein
  • Storyboard Artist Amir Houshang Moein
  • Compositor Amir Houshang Moein
  • Art Director Amir Houshang Moein
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • Original 3D Model of Uruk by Sebastian Hageneuer
  • See more creators