November 29, 2023

Creative Commons image by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin

Once upon a time, in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, Akkadian was the dominant language. And for centuries it remained the lingua franca of the ancient Near East. But then it was gradually displaced by Aramaic and faded into oblivion once Alexander the Great Hellenized (Greekized) the area.

Now, more than 2,000 years later, Akkadian is making a bit of a comeback. Dr. Martin Worthington, an expert on Babylonian and Assyrian grammar, began recording readings of poems, myths and other texts in Akkadian at Cambridge University, including The Epic of Gilgamesh. This clip gives you a taste of what Gilgamesh, one of the oldest known works of literature, sounds like it does in its native language. Or you can jump to the full collection of readings right here, courtesy of the University of London.

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