Friday, August 22, 2008



Well, the Olympic Games, as the name shows, is a Hellenic thing, originating in Greece in 776 BCE and continuing till 393 AD/CE.

But, however, nevertheless, notwithstanding (though sitting at the computer is what gives me a pain in the bottom) be prepared to be amazed at the discovery that has been made by David Chibo (in Victoria, Australia). This is not one of Ripley's "Believe it or not" pieces, but a case of "You had better believe it or else". It all began in ancient Iraq, with the Gilgamesh Games.

The model for the Greek games was the funerary games conducted to remember the celebrated King Gilgamesh of Uruk. The festival took place annually in the month named Abu, which is Ab or Av on the Hebrew calendar still used by Jews; my personal diary has all the Hebrew dates for 2008, which is the year 5768/9, and Av corresponds to August, which is the month in which the Olympic Games happen. Originally the Olympiad was held every year, but was changed to a fourth yearly event.

The focal point of the games in Mesopotamia was a statue of Gilgamesh (as divine judge of the netherworld) in a temple; and in Greece it was the statue of Zeus in the temple at Olympia.

A feature of the Gilgamesh celebration was the lighting of torches (because of the underworld connections, presumably), and of course the Olympiad was associated with a torch.

On a summary table, eleven compelling comparisons are shown.

I will have more to say on the Epic of Gilgamesh ....

There is a website named ANCIENT OLYMPICS which will answer all your questions in English, Dutch, Chinese, and Arabic.

You can download a nice little book, which will tell you about the ancient history of the Olympics, in words and pictures.

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