popularising the literature of ancient Iraq through the art of oral storytelling



The literature of Mesopotamia has lain dormant on clay tablets for more than 2000 years. Breathing new life into this literature through the art of oral storytelling is the ZIPANG mission.

Gilgamesh epic project for young people

The 21st-century online retelling by young people of the ancient Gilgamesh epic will be published in November.

In the mean time, watch the video below (8m 45s). It is a documentary film about the activities of the Gilgamesh epic project for young people from May 2015 to October 2016.

This Young Roots project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, ran from May 2015 to October 2016. It provided registered project participants with a variety of opportunities to hear, interpret, explore, renew and pass on to others the 3000-year-old Gilgamesh epic.

Visits to the British Museum introduced young people to the material heritage of the Gilgamesh epic. They saw the clay tablets on which it is written in cuneiform script, handled ancient miniature heads of one of its main characters, and met curators.

Young people actively engaged with the cultural heritage of the Gilgamesh epic in Heritage Activity Sessions — story-listening, story-telling, learning to write cuneiform signs, and creating pictures, poems, animations and videos of the people, places and episodes in the Gilgamesh epic.

The heritage output created by the young people was displayed at a traditional art exhibition. It will also be incorpoated into a narrative website in which a 21st-century version of the Gilgamesh epic will be created. This website will be published here in November 2016 and will remain online for at least five years.

Gilgamesh storytelling performance   Gilgamesh epic project on Facebook

Mission Statement

The ZIPANG vision inspires the ZIPANG mission. ‘ZIPANG’ is the Sumerian word for ‘breath’.

The ZIPANG mission is undertaken by the Enheduanna Society, an education charity founded in 2002. To fulfil this mission, the Enheduanna Society—

• provides ZIPANG storytellers booked for public and private events organised by others

• publishes retold stories from ancient Iraq

• passes on Mesopotamian stories and storytelling skills to a new generation of ZIPANG storytellers

• promotes and organises ZIPANG storytelling activities for all ages and abilities

• brings together Iraqi and non-Iraqi scholars, storytellers, musicians and enthusiasts to develop their shared appreciation of Mesopotamian literature, and spread this appreciation to as many people as possible.

The ZIPANG storytellers depend for their performance material on the work of academic translators and teachers.

News story

Two patrons of the Enheduanna Society, Professor Farouk al-Rawi and Professor Andrew George, recently translated a previously unknown description of Humbaba's forest in the Gilgamesh epic. Click here for further details.

Phrases from this new translation were voiced in the first storytelling performance of the Gilgamesh epic by the Zipang Young Mesopotamian Storytellers. Click here to view a video of this performance.

Visit the Enheduanna Society’s Online Art Gallery to view exhibitions of contemporary art inspired by ancient Mesopotamian art and mythology.

Click here to find out how you can support the work of the Enheduanna Society.


The Enheduanna Society has received generous support for ZIPANG events
and projects from several organisations.