Why did "The Epic of Gilgamesh" disappear for thousands of years? Is there any written documentation as to this mystery?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Epic of Gilgamesh appears to have been a composite story originating at different times and unified with Gilgamesh as the central figure. The oldest Babylonian fragments are about 4500 to 5000 years old!  Over time, events in the story were altered and edited to fit with contemporary culture maintaining Gilgamesh as the iconic hero.  Translations of the work have been found in Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Greek.  Indeed, some scholars would argue that the story didn't completely disappear; several of its events have found their way into Biblical writings, the most famous example being the description of the Flood. The first version to be discovered in modern times (19th c.) came from the library of the last king of Assyria, whose capitol city of Nineveh was destroyed about 2600 years ago.  Shortly thereafter, other fragments from other ancient cities appeared telling nearly the same tale.  Today scholars are attempting to recreate a time-line of different versions.

Encyclopedia Britannica vol. 3 and 12, 1911.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Epic of Gilgamesh never really 'disappeared', however it could be argued that it has undergone several transformations. The meaning behind this poem can be found in the writings of many ancient civilizations, and in hollywood screen plays, suggesting it's ancient words still resonate with people today. The desire to explain the human experience and attempt to answer those age old questions such as, what is our place in the world, if there is good why must there be evil, etc??? The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient poem, reminds us today that we are not perfect, we are human.