Gilgamesh, (originally Bilgamesh) is the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian poem that is considered the first great work of literature, and in earlier Sumerian poems. In the epic, Gilgamesh is a demigod of superhuman strength who builds the city walls of Uruk to defend his people and after the death of his friend Enkidu travels to meet the sage Utnapishtim, who survived the Great Flood. His name means something to the effect of "The Ancestor is a Young-man" (J.L. Hayes "A Manual of Sumerian Grammar and Texts"), from Bil.ga = Ancestor, Elder (J.Halloran Sum.Lexicon p. 33) and Mes/Mesh3 = Young-Man (Halloran Sum.Lexicon p. 174). (See also The Electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary).
Gilgamesh is generally seen by scholars as a historical figure, since inscriptions have been found which confirm the existence of other figures associated with him in the epic. If Gilgamesh existed, he probably was a king who reigned sometime between 2800 and 2500 BC.[not verified in body] The Sumerian King List claims that Gilgamesh ruled the city of Uruk for 126 years. According to the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh and his son Urlugal rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of Nippur.