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Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from Mesopotamia, is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature.
The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five independent Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh', king of Uruk. Four of these were used as source material for a combined epic in Akkadian. This first combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian" version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Sh?tur eli sharr?. Only a few fragments of it have survived.
The first half of the story relates a friendship between Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu. Enkidu is a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh's peer to distract him from oppressing the people of Uruk. Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain to defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.