Ishtar Offers Gilgamesh a Chariot

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest written stories in the history of man. The following passage taken from Book VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh, describes a beautiful chariot that is offered to Gilgamesh by Ishtar, who wishes the king to become her husband.

When Gilgamesh placed his crown on his head,
a princess Ishtar raised her eyes to the beauty of Gilgamesh.
"Come along, Gilgamesh, be you my husband,
to me grant your lusciousness.'
Be you my husband, and I will be your wife.
I will have harnessed for you a chariot of lapis lazuli and gold,
with wheels of gold and 'horns' of electrum(?).
It will he harnessed with great storming mountain mules!

Note the mention of lapis lazuli, a bluish stone on a par with turquois. This mineral has long been held valuable, though today it does not rank as high as many gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. We find many mentions of lapis lazuli in Gilgamesh, always using it as a way of making the reader understand the extraordinary worth of the object within which it is embedded.

Because the Epic of Gilgamesh is so old, this is one of the earliest references in the history of mineralogy where precious stones are mentioned.

< Donnes Meditation XVII | Herodotus on Egyptian Culture >

Interesting Fact:

Chariots became obsolete when the saddle was invented and warriors could be transported over all kinds of terrain on a horse, instead of being pulled along by one.


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