I said last time that I would take my thermal imaging camera into history and legend to see if I could find any intimations that creatures similar to Bigfoot were mentioned over the course of the last 5,000 years or so:
Have you ever read “The Epic of Gilgamesh”? It is a fantastic tale of adventure, demons, despotism, eternal life, physical beauty, the secrets of the gods, sex, temple prostitutes, a twin-peaked mountain and bull wrestling. And that’s only about two thirds of the plot. It makes “Lust in the Dust” look like Jane Austen. No wonder there’s a statue of him at Sydney University:
The hero of the epic, Gilgamesh, was probably a real king who came from Sumeria, present day Iraq, in around 2800-2500 BC. He has a companion called Enkidu who, for me, is based on knowledge of a Bigfoot type ape. Enkidu was deliberately created by the god Anu as one third human and two thirds beast. He was suckled by the animals and he is portrayed as being brawny, “endowed with strength”, hairy and he wears animal skins as garments. Wearing tattered clothes is a frequent epithet in many early reports of Bigfoot from North America.
But why does Enkidu bother with animal skins? We know from other descriptions of him in the book that he was completely covered in shaggy hair, all over his body. He must have looked fairly terrifying because when an ordinary human, an animal trapper, first meets Enkidu, the author says that the “trapper’s face was stark with fear”. This is a common element of Bigfoot encounters, not surprisingly, perhaps! Here is Enkidu vanquishing the bull of Heaven:
Enkidu has responsibility for protecting the animals, but he also lives among them as an animal himself. This is the reason that he is portrayed with what look to be cows’ horns and ears, and in the next illustration, hooves:
Much more like Bigfoot are his hairy legs. Don’t miss the hooves:
One interesting feature of Enkidu is that he was fashioned entirely from clay and he has no soul. Man, of course, is fashioned from clay but he does have a soul, given to him by the breath of God during his creation process. No soul, of course, and you might become a Golem, another gigantic creature from, very roughly, the same part of the world.
The only detail lacking with Enkidu is the huge stature but it must not be forgotten that a very high proportion of Bigfoot encounters in the early days of the USA concerned beings of the same size as a man. Very often they had the remnants of tatty clothes on them but there always was that covering of fur. I just can’t get over Enkidu’s hairy legs! :
The descriptions of Enkidu certainly tick a lot of boxes for his being based on a Bigfoot type creature, something which, thousands of years ago, roamed, perhaps, forests now long cut down, or even the marshes of Iraq. These now largely drained areas were once the largest wetlands in Western Eurasia.
“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is available for free at :
I selected the Pdf and then right clicked and went to “save target as” which means that I could choose which folder to put it in.
The book is also available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18897
Here, I right clicked on “Read this book online: HTML” which again allows me to decide where it goes.
This version is not as good as the previous one, which is excellent, and I’m not sure that it is complete, but it does have text in Ancient Sumerian , transliterated into English form. So…….
it-bi-e-ma iluGilgamiš šu-na-tam i-pa-aš-šar.
iz-za-kar-am a-na um-mi-šu
um-mi i-na ša-a-at mu-ši-ti-i̭a
i-na bi-ri-it id-da-tim
ib-ba-šu-nim-ma ka-ka-’a ša-ma-i
ki-?-?-rum ša a-nim im-ku-ut a-na ṣi-ri-i̭a
áš-ši-šu-ma ik-ta-bi-it e-li-i̭a
ilam iš-šu-ma nu-uš-ša-šu6 u-ul el-ti-’i̭
ad-ki ma-tum pa-ḫi-ir7 e-li-šu
id-lu-tum ú-na-ša-ku ši-pi-šu
“Gilgamish arose interpreting dreams,
addressing his mother.
“My mother! during my night
I, having become lusty, wandered about
in the midst of omens.
And there came out stars in the heavens,
Like a … of heaven he fell upon me.
I bore him but he was too heavy for me.
He bore a net but I was not able to bear it.
I summoned the land to assemble unto him,
that heroes might kiss his feet.”
It’s certainly something for the kids to think about for “Show and tell”.
27 responses to “The World of the Mysterious (2)”
Now I really must read it. I have owned a copy for at least 40 years. Thanks for the prod, John
It’s extremely racy and I would have expected it to have been banned until relatively recently. At the same time, it is supposedly the world’s oldest piece of literature and it is worth giving it a go. And talking of “books I have had for a long time”, there are still two “absolutely vital” books on my university reading list that I haven’t managed to open yet. Fifty years and counting……
🙂 I don’t think even I can match that
When I was a boy I had a Reader’s Digest Book, ‘Strange Stories, amazing Facts. I still have it and have just checked, Big Foot gets a chapter but there is no mention of Enkidu!
I think that that was because Enkidu was a character in a literary creation. The point I am trying to make is that Enkidu was based by the author on a Bigfoot type creature which lived in the Tigris-Euphrates valley at that time, just as, say, ostriches lived in Israel or lions lived in the Atlas Mountains. The author, in my opinion, had heard enough about Bigfoot type creatures in the forests out there to endow Enkidu with all of the standard Bigfoot attributes such as strength, hairiness, half man, half beast and so on. Future posts will examine other Bigfoot type creatures which have occurred in world literature, including England. My idea is that occurred in ancient books because they existed in ancient times.
I look forward to the posts.
Interesting, John. I’m going to have read more on this. I do believe a lot of myth is based on fact, perhaps we can find some answers?
Yes, I agree with you completely. Every myth must have come from somewhere, and my belief is that the process starts with an event in real life which is then told and retold until it becomes a myth or a legend.
A man wandering the Arctic tundra in 10,000 BC sees an unfamiliar creature. It is huge, brown, covered in fur, has four legs and runs very quickly. In his world, it can only be some kind of horse or pony. But it has a horn in the middle of its face, where its nose would have been. The story is told and retold and retold again. And so the myth of the unicorn is born.
And then two months or so ago, Professor McClever discovers that in some parts of the world, Man co-existed with the woolly rhinoceros. This animal was huge, brown, covered in fur, had four legs and ran very quickly despite its huge horn where its nose should have been.
And that’s the (true) story, supposedly, of the origin of the unicorn.
The unicorn/rhino story doesn’t surprise me. If we try to look with their eyes, sans internet, media and education – most myths can be explained – IMO.
Interesting myth, John. I’ve heard about “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” but I’ve never read it.
It is worth reading once, although I couldn’t manage a repeat reading. I just thought that having spent three years at university reading the best part of 300 works of literature, (whose idea was that??) I ought to read the very first work of world literature. And I wasn’t disappointed!
The Epic of Gilgamesh is thought by many to be the origin of the Biblical Epic of Noah and the Flood in Chapter 7 of Genesis. After all, Israeli leaders spent 50 years under house arrest in Babylon and must surely have been familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh
Yes, I think they probably were. To be honest, I think a great deal of myth is based on reality of one kind or another, and I think with many strange phenomena we would be surprised if we knew the real truth behind it.
I think if a child brought that one in for show and tell I’d faint! Another amazing twist in the tale John.
I often wonder what the wildest thing ever brought in to show and tell was. A rattlesnake in a New Mexico school? A baby polar bear in northern Alaska? My Grandad, as we found out after his death, had a large collection of live ammunition from WW1, including belts of German machine gun ammunition. I’m sure my Dad would have taken that in to show to teacher if he’d ever found it. Grandad was actually in the artillery so perhaps just a few hundred bullets was a lucky escape!
Wow, that would certainly add an interest to the event, “please Sir, I’ve a collection of live bullets!” My own daughter once took a foot long, dead, slow worm to school, just glad I wasn’t in her class that day – the smell was not pleasant!
When we were doing a class play in the NHS Prep school ‘A’ forms, not only did one of the boys bring in a genuine revolver to use as a prop, he fired it with a blank during the performance! Mr Pallant was surprised but I’m sure there wasn’t any disciplinary action – I think the bravado was admired. Different days…
Not the first example of a revolver in school……
Thursday, February 1st 1912 : The Prefects’ Book records that “…A meeting was held before afternoon school, Towles and Haubitz being absent. Chambers (IVb) had been reported for carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket. He admitted the offence, and produced the weapon, which proved to be loaded in four chambers. He was requested not to bring it to school again, and the School Captain decided to interview the Headmaster.” No record has survived of the outcome of this conversation.
There was very little regulation of firearms ownership in the UK until after WW1, so a boy having access to a revolver would not have been so unusual.
60+ years later there was widespread amusement when it was revealed that Nottingham Police had caught a prefect (name redacted) carrying a holstered, replica pistol in town.
I think that having sent so many men overseas to fight, the problem of their bringing back souvenirs was bound to occur. From Hitler’s Germany the prize object above all was a Luger pistol, and for the Japanese a samurai sword.
I wonder perhaps if such myths and legends are perhaps a distant folk memory of our coexistence with Homo Neanderthalensis? Or are they more allegory? The Australian aborigines have a myth of a race of small people who used to inhabit the world – a distant memory of Homo Floresiensis, perhaps?
I think it will be difficult to prove anything but overall, I would agree with you. All across the wooded and marshy parts of the world there have always been tales of large, hairy and often smelly creatures. There have always been tales of small folk, from the Native Americans to the Aborogines with their junjudee and the Irish with the leprechaun. I have always felt too that there might be something in fairies, with a strong belief in them in some country areas of Cornwall.
Really fascinating. I will read the epic. Thank you so much.
I’m glad you liked my post. I should think that a country as big as India would have its own fairies and little people deep in the forests. And I bet the yeti occasionally crosses the border from Nepal.
I hope you enjoy Gilgamesh if you decide to read it, It’s very striking that it’s the oldest work of literature that we know of.
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Enkidu’s distant relative – Grendel.
Shhhhh ! Nobody has seen Episode 4 yet!