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First, we should note that we are discussing the discovery of the fragments of the Epic of Gilgamesh on cuneiform tablets, not the remains of the body of the eponymous hero himself.
Hormuzd Rassam, a native Assyrian who trained in Britain after working as an assistant on British digs, was actually the first to unearth fragments of the epic of Gilgamesh in 1853, but credit is usually given to a slightly later British excavator, George Smith, who was the first to present a translation of the flood story from the epic, which he presented at an 1872 meeting of the Society of Biblical Archaeology.
Smith, a self-taught Assyriologist working with the British Museum, was then funded by The Daily Telegraph to visit Nineveh and excavate the rest of the epic, which he did in a series of digs dated from 1873 to 1876.
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