Since I’ve devoted January to ‘beginnings’, it’s appropriate that I should choose one of the oldest libraries in the world as the ‘Library of the Month.’ The Library of Ashurbanipal, an ancient Mesopotamian collection of clay tablets, is being recreated in the British Museum. In conjunction with the University of Mosul in Iraq, the team at the BM is building a comprehensive database around the surviving pieces and fragments of the tablets, which include medical, legal, literary and astrological texts.
The database is richly illustrated with digital images of the tablets, and enhanced with electronic transliterations and translations of the texts. Amongst these is a famous section of The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient mythological text said to be the first work of world literature. This fragment of the Flood Story featured in the BBC’s History of the World in 100 objects and there is a fascinating account of this available on their website.