Mesopotamia: Land Between the Rivers

Before Superman!

Before Batman!

Before Spiderman!

There was Gilgamesh!

See citation below

The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of the first superhero! Gilgamesh is the first known figure of world literature. It is known as an epic poem. Epic poetry is not like the poetry that you may read today. Epic poetry was usually a narrative poem as long as, what we today might consider, a short book. It usually told the story of a hero on a quest of some sort. It can reveal important myths, beliefs or values of the culture that created it. We know about the Epic of Gilgamesh through the discovery of different verisons of the story by different peoples that lived in ancient Mesopotamia. These different verisons were written into hardened clay tablets. From these different writings it is believed that Gilgamesh was a real king who lived about c. 2700 B.C.E. and the earliest written source of the story dates to c. 2100 B.C.E.

In this epic Gilgamesh is a semi-divine, part man part god, king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk. In the beginning of the story Gilgamesh is a bad king. He is corrupted by his power. He takes advantage of his people and treats them cruelly. To put the story into today's context Gilgamesh meets another superhero of sorts named Enkidu. Enkidu becomes Gilgamesh's side-kick, the Robin to Batman, the Spock to Captain Kirk, the Patrick to Spongebob. Together they go on a great adventure and on that adventure Enkidu dies. Gilgamesh by seeing his friend die is confronted with his own mortality. He sets out on a quest to find how he can achieve immorality. On the quest he is confronted with many challenges that he must overcome. In the end he fulfills his quest and finds the truth about how he can live forever.
Here is how the story begins:

He who saw the depthsthe wellspringthe foundation

Who experienced all thingswent everywhereSaw the hidden secret

Returned with the wordfrom before the flood

Who made a distant journeyexhaustedin peaceLeft his story in stone

All of our heros and their quests are built on the foundation of stone on which is written the Epic of Gilgamesh!!!

Picture note: The picture above is the cover of a book that tells the story of Gilgamesh in a modern narrative format. It is cited below.
McCaughrean, Geraldine. Gilgamesh the Hero. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, Publishing Company, 2003.

Below is a ten minute about the story of Gilgamesh

The Mesopotamian unit essential question - How did flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers lead to Hammurabi's Code?

Sumer has been called "the cradle of civilization".

Big Idea: Mesopotamia gives civilization a kick start.
There are two specific ideas we will investigate concerning Mesopotamia. The first is how they laid the foundation for the beginnings of civilization with their creation of some of its basic principles, practices, technology and tools. The second is to investigate the significance of Hammurabi's Code and how it influenced other ancient law codes and ours today.

Mesopotamia: From Nomads to Farmers

This is a You Tube video that gives a good overview of Mesopotamia. The video talks about the geography of Mesopotamia, the first civilization there called Sumer, the inventions of the ancient sumerians, and the life and culture of Sumer. When watching this video you should think of our "big question". How did the flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers lead to written laws? Click on One Thing Leads to Another to hear our theme song for our big question. Click on the picture to watch the video.

Agriculture Changes the World!!!

Be a farmer in ancient Sumer! Click on the link to the British Museum web site and take the challenge to grow enough grains for your city-state. If you are not successful your city-state may experience a famine.

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