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Although the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh was written on clay tablets around 4,500 years ago, those clay fragments were not known to the Western World until the mid 1800’s by the English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard, the first translation being made in 1870’s by George Smith. This amazing story is often taught at sixth grade level and into high school and college. The content of the tale is brutal in places, and there are sections which include sex. Some versions of the story for middle and high schools are greatly simplified, have important sections removed and parts added.
As both my own children read and studied the epic at school, as a storyteller I found the versions they were learning from fell short and were inaccurate. Working with Social Studies and Language Arts teachers (and my, then, eleven year daughter) In 2017 I created an authentic retelling of Gilgamesh and a number of activities for use in the classroom.
The PDF is available here on Teachers Pay Teachers. I recorded an audio version of the story which, in 2018, was given a Gold Award from Parent’s Choice. Told in an exciting and engaging way, it is designed to draw students in and make them interested in not just this epic, but to encourage young people to find other epics and sagas such as Beowulf, the Iliad, the Volsungs and others. It has been called one of the most accessible retellings of Gilgamesh.