The tablets were not fully translated until the end of the 19th century. The book is over a thousand years older than both the Bible and the Iliad. The tale is written in the ancient language Akkadian. The writer is the scribe Sin-liqe-unninni, the first author in history to sign his work.
The ark story is very similar to Noah's, with animals aboard of every type and stripe. In fact we meet the sun god Shamash in this tale, very similar to the hebrew word for sun, shemesh שמש. All peoples and cultures appropriate from what has been left behind for them.
This is a very poignant and human book, amazing the wisdom that still resonates within, from across the wide centuries and millennia. I would like to share a few passages with you.
Book X p.188
Shidari said "Gilgamesh, where are you roaming?
You will never find the eternal life that you seek. When the gods created mankind, they also created death, and they held back eternal life for themselves alone.
Humans are born, they live, then they die, this is the order that the gods have decreed.
But until the end comes, enjoy your life, spend it in happiness, not despair.
Savor your food, make each of your days a delight, bathe and annoit yourself, wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean, let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand, and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.
That is the best way for a man to live.
There is a curse invoked by Enkidu that is equally potent and passionate. Shamhat acts as a sex worker for the goddess Ishtar.
Book VII p.146
After he had cursed him to his heart's content, he then cursed Shamhat, the priestess of Ishtar.
"Shamhat, I assign you an eternal fate,
I curse you with the ultimate curse, may it seize you instantly, as it leaves my mouth.
Never may you have a home and family, never caress a child of your own,
may your man prefer younger, prettier girls,
may he beat you as a housewife beats a rug,
may you never acquire bright alabaster,
or shining silver, the delight of men, may your roof keep leaking and no carpenter fix it,
may wild dogs camp in your bedroom, may owls nest in your attic, may drunkards vomit all over you, may a tavern wall be your place of business, may you be dressed in torn robes and filthy underwear, may angry wives sue you, may thorns and briars make your feet bloody,
may young men jeer and the rabble mock you as you walk the streets. Shamhat may all this be your reward for seducing me in the wilderness when I was strong and innocent and free.
Book XI p. 181
King of Shuruppak, quickly, quickly tear down your house and build a great ship, leave your possessions, save your life. The ship must be square, so that its length equals its width. Build a roof over it, just as the great deep is covered by the earth. Then gather and take aboard the ship examples of every living creature.
This is a very eloquent work and does not suffer in the least for its age in its sensitivity to the human condition. Not a lot has apparently changed in this world of ours. Very easy and quick read, if you like myth and epic, you might want to familiarize yourself with its bounty.