The Ancient Epic of Gilgamesh and the Precession of the Equinox
Gilgamesh is the ancient Sumerian epic, written some 4,000 years ago on cuneiform clay tablets and rediscovered only in the nineteenth century. It is a story that has echoes of the biblical Old Testament, with its graphic details of a great flood and the formation of mankind from the dust of the earth. The bulk of the story is devoted to a king of Sumer, known as Gilgamesh, and his epic quest into the mystical forests of cedar, where he performs many heroic deeds.
Although this epic story from the beginnings of recorded history contains mythical elements, it is nevertheless thought to be a biography of this Sumerian king making his mark on the world—a story of daring-do by a heroic princeling.
But it is entirely possible that this classical interpretation is in error, both in its interpretation and in its chronology. Indeed, the Gilgamesh epic may up to 600 years younger than previously thought.
During the research for the book Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs , Ralph had been working on the theory that the bulk of the biblical Old Testament was, in fact, based on similar theology to that found in Egypt and Sumer. With its constant reference to bulls, sheep and fish, the Bible portrays definite echoes of an ancient astrological religion, a story of the constellations onto which the history of the patriarchal family has been grafted. In the Gilgamesh epic, we find a similar epic tale of a battle with bulls and sheep, one that can just possibly be interpreted as a clash of the stellar constellations, a battle between Aries and Taurus.
Fig 1. Gilgamesh the Hunter, a relief from Khorsabad, now in the Louvre. This ancient epic was actually a story of Orion the Hunter, and the precessional battle with Taurus.
It is an established fact that the constellations slowly change their position with reference to the Sun as the millennia pass, with each constellation being dominant at the vernal (spring) equinox dawn for about 2,000 years or so. This is a process known as precession. Currently we are in the last centuries of Pisces (the fish), while the previous constellation was Aries (the ram). The change between Aries and Pisces happened in about AD 10, and this is why Jesus was said to have been born as a Lamb of God (Aries) but became a Fisher of Men (Pisces). As one can readily see, the last vestiges of an ancient astrological religion are still clearly visible within early Nazarene Christianity.
However, back in the early part of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, a similar change in the constellations was about to occur - Taurus was about to cede its rule to the next constellation in line – Aries. A computer planisphere can precisely date these astronomical eras and it appears that the era of Taurus (the bull) lasted until about 1750 BC, when Aries (the sheep) came into ascendance. This date is very close to the era of the first Hyksos pharaohs, the Shepherd Kings of Egypt. It is quite possible, therefore, that this change in the astronomical alignments may have influenced the rise of the Hyksos Shepherd pharaohs (Followers of Aries?) in Lower Egypt, and perhaps even precipitated the civil war in which they were eventually thrown out of Egypt.
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So in what way, if any, does all this relate to the epic of Gilgamesh? The first clue that this Sumerian tale may be more than a simple tale of princes and kings, and may instead be a priestly account of a cosmic clash in the heavens above, is that Gilgamesh’s companion, Enkidu, is described as being like a meteor:
This star of heaven which descended like a meteor from the sky;
which you tried to lift, but found too heavy ... This is the
strong comrade, the one who brings help to his friend in need.
The Flood Tablet / The Gilgamesh Tablet / Library of Ashurbanipal (7 th century BC). Credit: British Museum .
The texts go on to describe Enkidu in great detail. The allusion is quite obvious: Enkidu is a stellar object. Gilgamesh himself, in turn, is described as arming himself for the coming quest and battle in the following fashion:
Gilgamesh took the axe, he slung the quiver from his shoulder,
and the bow of Anshan, and buckled the sword to his belt;
and so they were armed and ready for the journey.