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Enkidu
Enkidu
Enkidu as the "Bull Man"
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Enkidu as Lion
Background
Type Wildman or Asiatic Lion
First Sighting Ancient Sumerian Texts
Last Sighting 1918 (as Lion)
Country Iraq
Habitat Waterholes
Possible Population Unknown
Enkidu refers to the Sumerian "wild man" of ancient Iraq. The "wild man" Enkidu is an important character in the

Epic of Gilgamesh, a collection of stories about a Sumerian, Gilgamesh, king who wanted to become immortal. As the rival and then the best friend of the hero Gilgamesh, Enkidu represents the force of untamed nature, a force that civilized, city-dwelling society both feared and admired. Having decided to make a "strong and courageous man" who would be "just like Gilgamesh," the gods created Enkidu from a pinch of clay thrown onto a plain. Enkidu came into life full-grown, hairy, and wild. He lived like an animal, eating grass and drinking with the beasts at water holes. Hearing of the untrappable wild man, Gilgamesh sent a woman to tame him and teach him the ways of civilization. After seven days with her, Enkidu could no longer live as an animal, innocent of human ways. He began shaving and wearing clothes, and the animals fled from him. Enkidu had taken his first step into human society In this part of the epic, he becomes a symbol of the shift from primitive to civilized life that had occurred across Mesopotamia centuries earlier.

Description

Hairy-bodied and brawny, Enkidu was raised by animals. Enkidu’s name has been variously interpreted: as identical with the deity Enkimdu or meaning “lord of the reed marsh” or “Enki has created.” In the epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a wild man created by the god Anu. He is often portrayed as half man, half lion, sometimes with horns.

Possible Explanation

The Asiatic lion used to live in Eastern Europe and Western, Central and Southern Asia in historic times. The type

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Enkidu as an Asiatic Lion

specimen of the Asiatic lion was first described from Persia in 1826, followed by descriptions of specimens from Hariana and Basra. It also occurred in Arabia, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Baluchistan.

It inhabited part of the Balkan peninsula up to Hungary and Ukraine but disappeared in Macedonia around the first century CE, and in Thessaly in the 4th century CE. In South Caucasia, it was known since the Holocene and became extinct in the 10th century. Until the middle of the 19th century, it survived in regions adjoining Mesopotamia and Syria, and was still sighted in the upper reaches of the Euphrates River in the early 1870s. By the late 19th century, the Asiatic lion had become extinct in Turkey. The last known lion in Iraq was killed on the lower Tigris in 1918.

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