Monthly Archives: March 2019

Gilgamesh after his return.

It has been established beyond a doubt that a man, a king, named Gilgamesh lived and reigned in Uruk at some time during the first half of the third millennium. The Sumerian King-List has Gilgamesh as being fifth in line from the founding of the first dynasty of Uruk after the flood and that he reigned for 126 years. His son reigned a mere thirty years, and thereafter kings lived and reigned an ordinary human term. This is very significant as the early kings reigned for very many years, perhaps the years were measured differently (by a lunar calendar perhaps), or that as god-kings their reign was measured by their spiritual influence. Methuselah was one of these kings, so we say, as old as Methuselah.

Gilgamesh is remembered for building the walls of Uruk with superior ‘plano-convex’ bricks used in the construction of the fortifications. The city was known as ‘Uruk of the strong wall’, and Gilgamesh was traditionally known as a great builder. Excavations have shown the magnificence of the temple buildings, but Gilgamesh was also remembered as a just judge, and like Minos of Crete, a judge in the Underworld, the one to whom prayers were addressed and who was invoked by incantation and ritual. One prayer begins, ‘Gilgamesh, supreme king, judge of the Anunnaki (gods of the Underworld)’.[1] In other words Gilgamesh returned to Uruk as a great Teacher or Prophet after having learned the Mysteries on his great journey. We should note that his teacher and guide, Urshanabi, returned to Uruk with him. I believe that Gilgamesh brought a new ‘religion’ or spiritual belief system to his people.

Each city was dedicated to a god or gods, and so Uruk had its temples of the gods. These temples were magnificent buildings with reliefs and mosaics, comprising a great court and an inner sanctuary, with a ziggurat behind. This was a holy mountain in miniature: an antechamber between heaven and earth where gods would converse with men. My feeling is that the Ziggurat or holy mountain was a replica of the mountain through which Gilgamesh passed on his great journey to find Utnapishtim. People could make the pilgrimage in the holy mountain much like today when we symbolically walk the Labyrinth.

One third of Uruk was the city itself, one third garden and one third field, within which the precinct of the goddess Ishtar was located. These all comprised the great city state of Uruk after the return of Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh had great knowledge of the countries of the known world. He was a wise king with an insight into the mysteries and secrets of the sacred and inner realms. He travelled on this great journey which was an exhaustive and challenging one. He never wavered in his pursuit of truth and of eternal life.  He has gifted us with the knowledge of the great flood. We know this as his exploits and heroic deeds were engraved on a series of clay tablets.[2]


In my next blog post we will go back to the beginning and deal with the coming of Enkidu.

I had planned to work on the Feminine in the Gilgamesh epic next but realise that there are some aspects of the Feminine which are part of the Enkidu story and which need to be addressed.

[1] Sanders, N.K., The Epic of Gilgamesh, Penguin Classics, London 1977 p21

[2] Ibid p 117