Enkidu and the Harlot: Another Fragment of Old Babylonian Gilgameš

A. R. George 1
  • 1 School of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS University of London, London, England


This article presents a newly deciphered Old Babylonian fragment of the Epic of Gilgameš. The passages of text preserved on it tell of Enkidu’s encounter with the prostitute and of his arrival in the city of Uruk, and clarify the relationship between other sources for the same episode. The perceived difference between the Old and Standard Babylonian poems’ treatment of Enkidu’s seduction disappears. The extant versions can be reconciled in a single narrative, common to all versions, that holds two different weeks of sexual intercourse. The different narrative strategies deployed in describing them are one of the ways in which the poem explores Enkidu’s psychological development as he changes from wild man to socialized man.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

The journal publishes papers and reviews from the field of Ancient Eastern Philology, and religious, legal, economic and social history, together with Middle Eastern archaeology and art history. The main geographical areas covered are Mesopotamia, Northern Syria, Anatolia, Ancient Armenia and Elam.