The Sumerians wrote the oldest known epic poetry in the ancient Middle East. Its origins may be traced back to a preliterate heroic age, no later than 3000 BC, when the Sumerians had to struggle for ownership of this lush Mesopotamian region under the command of a warlike nobility. The first written evidence of an epic comes from the city-state of Uruk and dates to about 2000 BC. Although much has been conjectured about what exactly constituted an "epic" at this early date, it is generally believed that these poems were composed in honor of great heroes who fought and won battles against other kings or gods.
Over time, the epic poem became more philosophical and political, rather than simply military, in nature. It was also used as a form of propaganda by rulers seeking endorsement from their people through grand tales of their own heroism or villainy. For example, Assyrian kings claimed to have defeated lions and bulls in battle and brought them as trophies into the palace. By writing these animals' names on clay tablets and keeping them in their royal treasuries, they could use them as symbols of victory in future wars.
In addition to kings, priests also used epic poetry to promote their agendas. For example, Babylonian creation myths were often told in epic form. Priests responsible for certain temples commissioned poets to write new songs for the temples' annual festivals.
The Gilgamesh Epic The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2500-1300 BCE), written in ancient Sumer under the Neo-Sumerian Empire, is the earliest known epic. The poem recounts the deeds of Uruk's monarch, Gilgamesh. It is an important source of information on ancient Mesopotamian culture.
Because prior to the Gilgamesh Epic, there were no other epics being composed in any country in the world. Although many other people had stories that were told over time about their own heroes or gods, only Gilgamesh has been preserved for us today. Without the Gilgamesh Epic, most of what we know about ancient Mesopotamia would be forgotten forever.
First of all, it is the oldest known work of poetry in the world. The story it tells is interesting because it deals with common things that every child grows up hearing about from a very young age: friendship, courage, betrayal, revenge. But more than that, the way it is told is amazing! Written down on clay tablets, the poem was not supposed to be read like a book but rather recited by a narrator who changed characters according to which tablet he was reading from.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a poetry from ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey) that was written as early as 2,100 B.C.—over 4,000 years ago! It is said to be the first surviving example of great western literature. The poem is made up of five stories in which a human hero, Gilgamesh, struggles with life's challenges.
In the story itself, Gilgamesh is a king who wants to be more powerful than his friend Enkidu. In order to do this, he takes on a challenge set by the god Humbaba—a fight to the death. However, when Gilgamesh arrives at the forest where the fight will take place, he finds Enkidu there already! They fight, but since it's to the death neither one can be defeated so they decide to join forces instead. Together, they go on to have adventures and encounter monsters throughout the land while trying to outwit Humbaba at every turn.
Although not all scholars agree, some believe that the poet who wrote the poem based it on actual events. Others think that it is just a mythological story that was told over and over again through the centuries before being written down by someone who knew it firsthand.
What does this have to do with tourism? Tourism is a very important part of any country's economy.