Listen to The Epic of Gilgamesh Being Read in its Original Ancient Language, Akkadian

Cre­ative Com­mons image by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin

Long ago, in the ancient civ­i­liza­tion of Mesopotamia, Akka­di­an was the dom­i­nant lan­guage. And, for cen­turies, it remained the lin­gua fran­ca in the Ancient Near East. But then it was grad­u­al­ly squeezed out by Ara­ma­ic, and it fad­ed into obliv­ion once Alexan­der the Great Hel­l­enized (Greek­i­fied) the region.

Now, 2,000+ years lat­er, Akka­di­an is mak­ing a small come­back. At Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, Dr. Mar­tin Wor­thing­ton, an expert in Baby­lon­ian and Assyr­i­an gram­mar, has start­ed record­ing read­ings of poems, myths and oth­er texts in Akka­di­an, includ­ing The Epic of Gil­gamesh. This clip gives you a taste of what Gil­gamesh, one of the ear­li­est known works of lit­er­a­ture, sounds like in its moth­er tongue. Or, you can jump into the full col­lec­tion of read­ings right here, cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Epic of Gil­gamesh, the Old­est-Known Work of Lit­er­a­ture in World His­to­ry

World Lit­er­a­ture in 13 Parts: From Gil­gamesh to Gar­cía Márquez

20 New Lines from The Epic of Gil­gamesh Dis­cov­ered in Iraq, Adding New Details to the Sto­ry

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  • Sue Emmel says:

    Before his pass­ing in 2017, Dr. A.J. Fer­rara was com­plet­ing the final edits of his epic man­u­script of Inanna’s Descent for pub­li­ca­tion by Oxford Press. Please let me know if it is avail­able. Thank you.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.