New 'Gilgamesh' Verse is Epic : DNews A serendipitous deal between a history museum and a smuggler has provided new insight into one of the most famous stories ever told: “The Epic of Gilgamesh". The new finding, a clay tablet, reveals a previously unknown “chapter” of the epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia. This new section brings both noise and color to a forest for the gods that was thought to be a quiet place in the work of literature. The newfound verse also reveals details about the inner conflict the poem’s heroes endured. With the help of Andrew George, associate dean of languages and culture at SOAS and translator of “The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation” (Penguin Classics, 2000), Al-Rawi translated the tablet in just five days. The clay artifact could date as far back to the old-Babylonian period (2003-1595 B.C.), according to the Sulaymaniyah Museum. However, Al-Rawi and George said they believe it’s a bit younger and was inscribed in the neo-Babylonian period (626-539 B.C.). In a parody of courtly life, the monstrous Humbaba treats the cacophony of jungle noises as a kind of entertainment, “like King Louie in ‘The Jungle Book,’” George said. Such a vivid description of the natural landscapes is “very rare” in Babylonian narrative poetry, he added Other newfound lines of the poem confirm details that are alluded to in other parts of the work. For example, it shows that Enkidu and Humbaba were childhood buddies and that, after killing the ogre, the story’s heroes feel a bit remorseful, at least for destroying the lovely forest. “Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut down the cedar to take home to Babylonia, and the new text carries a line that seems to express Enkidu’s recognition that reducing the forest to a wasteland is a bad thing to have done, and will upset the gods,” George said. Like the description of the forest, this kind of ecological awareness is very rare in ancient poetry, he added. The tablet, now mud-free and fully translated, is currently on display at the Sulaymaniyah Museum. A paper outlining Al-Rawi and George’s findings was published in 2014 in the Journal of Cuneiform Studies. ___________________________________________________________________ Just a poem or something more?