I shall smash the gates of the Netherworld, right down to its dwelling,
to the world below I shall grant manumission,
I shall bring up the dead to consume the living,
I shall make the dead outnumber the living.
— the goddess Ishtar, in The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest story known to humanity. It began as a collection of episodic poems written about Gilgamesh, a legendary Mesopotamian king, around 2000 BCE. These were then compiled into a single, cohesive narrative (from which the above quote is taken) by 1100 BCE. Although it’s often difficult to pinpoint exact dates so far back in history, Gilgamesh quite likely precedes the writing of the Hebrew Bible by several centuries.