This piece by Osama S. M. Amin is about a fragment of Gilgamesh that was discovered in 2011 and published in 2014, so it’s not exactly breaking news, but I hadn’t been aware of it and I suspect many of my readers will be in the same boat. Here’s Amin’s summary of the salient points:
● The revised reconstruction of Tablet V yields text that is nearly twenty lines longer than previously known.
● The obverse (columns i-ii) duplicates the Neo-Assyrian fragments which means the Epic tablet can be placed in order and used to fill in the gaps between them. It also shows the recension on Tablet V was in Babylonia, as well as Assyria and that “izzizūma inappatū qišta” is the same phrase that other tablets being with.
● The reverse (columns v-vi) duplicates parts of the reverse (columns iv-vi) of the late Babylonian tablet excavated at Uruk that begins with the inscription “Humbāba pâšu īpušma iqabbi izakkara ana Gilgāmeš”.
● The most interesting piece of information provided by this new source is the continuation of the description of the Cedar Forest:
○ Gilgamesh and Enkidu saw ‘monkeys’ as part of the exotic and noisy fauna of the Cedar Forest; this was not mentioned in other versions of the Epic.
○ Humbaba emerges, not as a barbarian ogre, and but as a foreign ruler entertained with exotic music at court in the manner of Babylonian kings. The chatter of monkeys, chorus of cicada, and squawking of many kinds of birds formed a symphony (or cacophony) that daily entertained the forest’s guardian, Humbaba.