The Epic of Gilgamesh – Photographs by J.-C. Ballot

The Epic of Gilgamesh
illustrated by Mesopotamian art Photographs by Jean-Christophe Ballot Translation from Arabic by Abed Azrié

For the 30th anniversary of the publishing house, Diane de Selliers is publishing the first text of humanity, The Epic of Gilgamesh, in correspondence with 100 works of Mesopotamian art and 14 photos of the archaeological sites of southern Iraq.

Cover @Nicolas Pasquier

More than 4,000 years ago, a story was told in Mesopotamia – the oldest one that has come down to us – about the hero Gilgamesh, king of the Uruk dynasty. Engraved on clay tablets between the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C., this legend was then transmitted throughout the Eastern world for more than 2,000 years before being forgotten.

Rediscovered in the middle of the 19th century, this epic, which tells the story of the Flood as found in the Bible, invites us to a reading that is both universal and contemporary.
Like all ancient heroes, Gilgamesh links the past and the present. He knows pride and glory, friendship and sadness, confidence and doubt. He is brave and fearless in the face of danger, anxious and weak in the face of the ultimate test of life. After the death of his friend Enkidou, his destiny changes and his dreams of immortality lead him back to his human, mortal status, a path of life that knows neither time nor boundaries.


Photographer and light sculptor Jean-Christophe Ballot has been creating contemplative and dreamlike work for thirty years. Around the story of Gilgamesh, he has carried out a large-scale photographic campaign in black and white to reveal a hundred or so thousand-year-old works, mainly preserved in the Oriental antiquities departments of the Louvre Museum in Paris, but also in the British Museum in London, the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin and the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.

It gives new life to statues and objects, the oldest of which date back over five thousand years.
In order to fully appreciate this ancient civilisation, Jean-Christophe Ballot travelled to Iraq, accompanied by Diane de Selliers, to photograph the archaeological sites of southern Mesopotamia (the ancient cities of Babylon, Borsippa, Our, Uruk and Nippur, and the region of the Marshes), the cradle of the civilisation, thus providing an original setting for the story.
Ariane Thomas, director of the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the Louvre, directed the iconographic research and presents, in her introduction, “Gilgamesh, the heroic ancestor and the mystery of life”.


Abed Azrié, a Syrian poet, singer and composer born in Aleppo, has taken up this story from Arabic translations. He gives this epic a new lease of life and awakens us to the wonders of the Mesopotamian world.

Translation from Arabic and notes by Abed Azrié
Scientific direction of the iconography and introduction by Ariane Thomas
Introduction by Gabriel Bauret
100 Mesopotamian works and 14 ancient Iraqi sites photographed by Jean-Christophe Ballot
Notes on the works | glossary and geographical and chronological references
1 bound volume in a slipcase
24.5 × 33 cm | 280 pages | 230 €
Publication date: 20 October 2022
A first edition of 115 copies including a numbered and signed photograph of the artist is also available from the publisher. 880 €


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