Gilgamesh the King
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One of the oldest known stories in the world is that of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, the area of Mesopotamia which is now modern day Iraq. As we continue our ancient studies in Mesopotamia, we read the version of the story by Ludmila Zeman.
I gave the Creek Kids a list of props to gather and as I read the story to them, they acted it out on the floor.
Here are the props they gathered:
I found that labeling them on a big piece of paper helps to keep them organized. It decreases their confusion over which prop was assigned to which character and serves as a place to put them when not in use in a particular part of the story. Even though these are unusual names for my 7 year old and my 5 year old cannot read the names, they can at least take note of the beginning letter in each name/prop and find what they need.
Zeman’s version of the story differs from the one in the Story of the World text. The author notes in the back of the book that there are many versions of the story of Gilgamesh. This particular version describes Gilgamesh as a cruel leader, forcing his people to build the highest wall in the world to prove his power. Then he hears of Enkidu from a hunter. Enkidu is a wild man of great strength who lives amongst the animals. The most beautiful woman in the land, Shamhat, brings Gilgamesh and Enkidu together, after she and Enkidu fall in love. The two fight a long battle, until Gilgamesh falls from the high wall. Enkidu saves him and the two become friends.
I had heard of this book from many sources as I was planning our SOTW history studies, so I purchased it way back when, a year ago, not even knowing what it was about, but certain that we would use it. I’m glad I did. The illustrations are beautiful, and the text flows easily.
I had each child act out the plot separately (less bickering over who gets to be which character, etc. that way). I found it interesting, but not surprising, that my son focused on the conflict, the battle. My daughter focused on the part where Enkidu and Shamhat fall in love, as well as the part where Enkidu cares for the animals.
Gilgamesh is covered in Chapter 8, “The Assyrians” in Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times.