The Epic of Gilgamesh

c. 2100–1200 BC

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a bit of a misnomer, you can read the poem in an afternoon. I read it when the power went out when I was visiting my parents house. In the poems defense, I feel like maybe anything would be considered epic if you had to carve the whole thing in stone with little scratches because alphabets hadn't been invented yet.

Probably the most epic thing about Gilgamesh is it contains a pretty much an exact retelling of Noah's Arc two thousand years before the Bible was written. I knew that was in the book before I started reading, and I thought it was just going to be a vague allusion to a flood. But, no, it's pretty much a word for word copy. I am not willing to go on Wikipedia and look it up, but I am pretty sure Gilgamesh even got every animal and put them two by two on a ship.

This poem was found by Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1849 in the rediscovered Royal Library of Ashurbanipal. Layard was seeking to confirm the historic accuracy of the Bible, and instead in his excavations he found the existence of a bunch of Mesopotamian texts that showed that a lot of the stories in the Old Testament were actually derived from older myths from the area (allegedly, as you can imagine this is all slightly controversial depending on how old you think the Universe is).