Sumerian version

Third millennium B.C.E.

A series of disconnected tales.

Themes: Heroism and death.

Old Babylonian version

18th century B.C.E.

A continuous narrative recounting the adventures of Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu, Enkidu’s death, and Gilgamesh’s wanderings and return to Uruk.

Theme: Fame—Gilgamesh as hero vs. Gilgamesh as man.

Standard Babylonian (11-tablet) version

Late second millennium B.C.E.

Adds the encounter with Utnapishtim and the story of the great flood to the Old Babylonian version.

Theme: Kingship—Gilgamesh as hero vs. Gilgamesh as king.

Standard Babylonian (12-tablet) version

First millennium B.C.E.

Adds a tablet to the 11-tablet version, describing Gilgamesh’s preparations to die and become a god of the netherworld.

Theme: Death and divinity—Gilgamesh as hero vs. Gilgamesh as god.