Unmasking Humbaba of the Ancient Mesopotamian Giant!

Humbaba-ish image

Humbaba, the ancient Mesopotamian giant, has been shrouded in mystery for centuries.

In the epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest surviving works of literature, Humbaba is depicted as a frightening and powerful creature who guards the cedar forest and terrorizes the people of Uruk.

But who was Humbaba?

By examining archaeological evidence and written accounts from the time, we can uncover

  • the truth behind this ancient Mesopotamian giant
  • the stories that have kept his memory alive for so many years

Who is Humbaba?

Humbaba is the guardian of the forest in the Mesopotamian mythology of the "Epic of Gilgamesh".

He is also a legendary giant named after the supreme god Enlil and raised by the sun god Shamash.

Characteristics of Humbaba

Humbaba's characteristics are described as follows:

  • When he turns his eyes on someone, it means death
  • His ravenous voice is a flood, his mouth means fire, and his breath is death
  • When someone steps into the forest, he hears the murmur of any forest from a distance

In addition, the faces of many of the remaining statues are represented as a single tube wiggling like the intestines of an animal.

So the Humbaba gives an ominous impression to those who see it.

Fearful Humbaba

Because of this frightening aspect, wall hangings with the face of the Humbaba were used to ward off evil spirits.

In divination, the appearance of the Humbaba's face was considered a bad omen.

Thus, the Humbaba has been treated as a symbol of fear.

In reality, however, it was a threat to humans who destroy forests, not a demon that willingly did evil.

Enlil image

Humbaba is a target of people's fear.

Enlil has decreed so in order to preserve the forest.

In other words, it is emphasized that he is the guardian of the forest.

The Myth of the Humbaba

Although there are differences in content between editions, the overall major flow of the story is the same.

  1. Two heroes, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, reach the cedar forest in spite of difficulties.
  2. Defeat Humbaba with the help of Shamash, the sun god
  3. Bringing back Humbaba's head

From here, the contents of the standard version will be explained in an easy-to-understand manner.

Arriving at the Cedar Forest

Gilgamesh and Enkidu walked silently along the path to the Cedar Forest, while Gilgamesh prayed to Shamash multiple times.

As they approached the entrance to the forest,

Shamash image

Hurry up and face Humbaba. He now only wears one of his seven armors. Hurry up so he doesn't hide deep in the forest...! !

Suddenly, Shamash announced a warning from the heavens.

Encountering Humbaba

Although Gilgamesh and Enkidu were roused to battle,

Humbaba image


Humbaba shouted once, and the area was filled with fear.

Humbaba, the guardian of the forest, continued to shout.

The two heroes inspired each other and approached the forest.

Humbaba image

Why did you bring Gilgamesh to my presence? Do you stand with him, the stranger? I will chew your throats and your throats and feed them to the vultures and the eagles every day!

Humbaba said to Enkidu.

Gilgamesh was horrified to hear this.

Enkidu image

Don't look backward.

Enkidu cheered him up, and the battle between the forest guard and the two heroes began.

Humbaba, defeated

Shamash stoped Humbaba in his tracks as the earth and trees were ripped apart by the movements of both heroes.

And as Gilgamesh's weapon seized Humbaba.

Humbaba image

Gilgamesh, I will give you wood as you wish.

So he surrendered and begged for his life.

Enkidu image

Don't listen to Humbaba.

Enkidu said so.

Humbaba image

You have by your side one whom you love. Tell Gilgamesh to save my life!

Humbaba pleaded.

Enkidu image

My friend, seize Humbaba, and squeeze him, and shoot him, and smite him to death. Before Enlil and the gods are filled with rage against us.

Enkidu did not change his attitude.

Humbaba image

Do not let the two live to old age. Enkidu must not gain old age any more than Gilgamesh.

Humbaba, realizing that he had no chance of winning, said so.

Then one of them removed Humbaba's internal organs down to his lungs and pressed the remaining head into a gold pail (or leather bag).

After Humbaba

Gilgamesh then became aware of his own mortality after Enkidu's death, and gradually became tormented by the fear of it.

The gods reminded him of what he did:

  • Stealing a special tree
  • Killing Humbaba

After Humbaba's death, the seal was broken, and the cedar forests were reduced to endangered trees by repeated logging.

While the story of Humbaba's extermination remains the world's oldest record of the destruction of nature, it has also been passed down to posterity as a tale of adventure by the heroic heroes Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

To learn more about the Epic of Gilgamesh, a tale of adventure by these heroes of valor and daring, please visit

The Epic of Gilgamesh" in a nutshell!

Please read this article.

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