A flood myth or deluge myth is a narrative in which a great flood, usually sent by a deity or deities, destroys civilization, often in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primaeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who "represents the human craving for life".
The flood myth motif is found among many cultures as seen in the Mesopotamian flood stories, Deucalion and Pyrrha in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrative, Pralaya in Hinduism, the Gun-Yu in Chinese mythology, Bergelmir in Norse mythology, in the lore of the K'iche' and Maya peoples in Mesoamerica, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, the Muisca, and Cañari Confederation, in South America, Africa, and the Aboriginal tribes in southern Australia.
Though the account of Noah in the Hebrew Bible has long been the most studied flood story by scholars, in the 19th century Assyriologist George Smith translated the first Babylonian account of a great flood. Further discoveries produced several versions of the Mesopotamian flood myth, with the account closest to that in Genesis found in a 700 BC Babylonian copy of the Epic of Gilgamesh.:20-27 The known versions of the Mesopotamian flood myths have as their protagonists Atrahasis (in the 18th century BC Atrahasis Epic), Ziusudra (in the 17th century BC Sumerian Flood Story), and Utnapishtim (in the 7th century BC Epic of Gilgamesh). The Sumerian King List relies on the flood motif to divide its history into preflood (antediluvian) and postflood periods. The preflood kings had enormous lifespans, whereas postflood lifespans were much reduced. The Sumerian flood myth found in the Deluge tablet was the epic of Ziusudra, who heard the gods' plan to destroy humanity, in response to which he constructed a vessel that delivered him from great waters. In the more detailed Mesopotamian accounts of the flood, the Gilgamesh flood myth and the epic of Atrahasis, the highest god Enlil decides to destroy the world with a flood because humans have become too noisy. The god Ea, who created humans out of clay and divine blood, secretly warns the hero Utnapishtim of the impending flood and gives him detailed instructions for building a boat so that life may survive.
In the c. 6th century BC Book of Genesis, the god Yahweh, who created man out of clay, decides to flood the earth because of the sinful state of mankind. It is also Yahweh who then gives the protagonist Noah instructions to build an ark in order to preserve human and animal life. When the ark is completed, Noah, his family, and representatives of all the animals of the earth are called upon to enter the ark. When the destructive flood begins, all life outside of the ark perishes. After the waters recede, all those aboard the ark disembark and have Yahweh's promise that he will never judge the earth with a flood again. He causes a rainbow to form as the sign of this promise.
In Hindu mythology, texts such as the Satapatha Brahmana (dated to around the 6th century BC) and the Puranas contain the story of a great flood, "Pralaya", wherein the Matsya Avatar of the Vishnu warns the first man, Manu, of the impending flood, and also advises him to build a giant boat.
In Plato's Timaeus, ritten c. 360 BC, Timaeus describes a flood myth similar to the earlier versions. In it, the Bronze race of humans angers the high god Zeus with their constant warring. Zeus decides to punish humanity with a flood. The Titan Prometheus, who had created humans from clay, tells the secret plan to Deucalion, advising him to build an ark in order to be saved. After nine nights and days, the water starts receding and the ark lands on a mountain.
In ancient Mesopotamia, the Sumerian King List reads
After kingship came down from heaven .... the kingship was taken to Shuruppak. In Shuruppak, Ubara-Tutu became king; he ruled for 5 sars and 1 ner. In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 241,200 years. Then the flood swept over. 
Excavations in Iraq have revealed evidence of localized flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. A layer of riverine sediments, radiocarbon dated to about 2900 BC, interrupts the continuity of settlement, extending as far north as the city of Kish, which took over hegemony after the flood. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (3000–2900 BC) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum. Other sites, such as Ur, Kish, Uruk, Lagash, and Ninevah, all present evidence of flooding. However, this evidence comes from different time periods. The Shuruppak flood seems to have been a localised event caused through the damming of the Karun River through the spread of dunes, flooding into the Tigris, and simultaneous heavy rainfall in the Nineveh region, spilling across into the Euphrates. In Israel, there is no such evidence of a widespread flood. Given the similarities in the Mesopotamian flood story and the Biblical account, it would seem that they have a common origin in the memories of the Shuruppak account.
Floods in the wake of the last glacial period may have inspired myths that survive to this day. It has been postulated that the deluge myth in North America may be based on a sudden rise in sea levels caused by the rapid draining of prehistoric Lake Agassiz at the end of the last Ice Age, about 8,400 years ago.
The geography of the Mesopotamian area was considerably changed by the filling of the Persian Gulf after sea waters rose following the last glacial period. Global sea levels were about 120 m (390 ft) lower around 18,000 BP and rose until 8,000 BP when they reached current levels, which are now an average 40 m (130 ft) above the floor of the Gulf, which was a huge (800 km × 200 km (500 mi × 120 mi)) low-lying and fertile region in Mesopotamia, in which human habitation is thought to have been strong around the Gulf Oasis for 100,000 years. A sudden increase in settlements above the present water level is recorded at around 7,500 BP.
Adrienne Mayor promoted the hypothesis that global flood stories were inspired by ancient observations of seashells and fish fossils in inland and mountain areas. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans all documented the discovery of such remains in these locations; the Greeks hypothesized that Earth had been covered by water on several occasions, citing the seashells and fish fossils found on mountain tops as evidence of this history.
Another hypothesis is that a meteor or comet crashed into the Indian Ocean around 3000–2800 BC, created the 30-kilometre (19 mi) undersea Burckle Crater, and generated a giant tsunami that flooded coastal lands. Some of the largest tsunamis in history, resulting from the Chicxulub impact, 66 million years ago, were thought to have affected roughly the entire Americas (or nearly all of the Western Hemisphere).
In the late 17th century, there were famous speculations accounting for the Genesis flood by natural causes. Thomas Burnet’s Telluris Theoria Sacra (Sacred Theory of the Earth) had water rising from the hollow earth. William Whiston's A New Theory of the Earth postulated that major changes in the earth’s history could be attributed to the action of comets.
Speculation regarding the Deucalion myth has also been introduced, whereby a large tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea, caused by the Thera eruption (with an approximate geological date of 1630–1600 BC), is the myth's historical basis. Although the tsunami hit the South Aegean Sea and Crete, it did not affect cities in the mainland of Greece, such as Mycenae, Athens, and Thebes, which continued to prosper, indicating that it had a local rather than a regionwide effect.
One quite controversial hypotheses of long term flooding is the Black Sea deluge hypothesis, which argues for a catastrophic deluge about 5600 BC from the Mediterranean Sea into the Black Sea. This has been the subject of considerable discussion.
The cuneiform sign for a, and in the Epic of Gilgamesh the sumerogram A, Akkadian for mû, "water", which is used in the Gilgamesh flood myth, Chapter XI of the Epic, or other passages. The sign is also used extensively in the Amarna letters.
Cuneiform a is the most common of the 4-vowels in the Akkadian language, a, e, i, and u. All vowels can be interchangeable, depending on the scribe, though spellings of Akkadian words in dictionaries, will be formalized, and typically: unstressed, a 'long-vowel', or thirdly, a 'combined' vowel (often spelled with two signs (same vowel, ending the first sign, and starting the next sign), thus combined into the single vowel, â, ê, î, or û.). Cuneiform a is the most common of the four vowels, as can be shown by usage in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the usage numbers being (ú (u, no. 2) is more common than u, (no. 1), which has additional usages, numeral "10", and "and", "but", etc.): a-(1369), e-(327), i-(698), ú-(493). (For u, only: u-(166)); The usage for a, includes the usage for Akkadian a-na, (ana), the preposition, "for", "to", etc., about 250 usages (therefore usage: 1369-250).Antediluvian
The Antediluvian (alternatively Pre-Diluvian or Pre-Flood period) is the time period referred to in the Bible between the fall of humans and the Genesis flood narrative in the biblical cosmology. The narrative takes up chapters 1–6 (excluding the flood narrative) of the Book of Genesis. The term found its way into early geology and science until the late Victorian era. Colloquially, the term is used to refer to any ancient and murky period.Aš (cuneiform)
The cuneiform Aš sign, is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Epic, it has the following meanings, besides aš:
AŠSome special considerations for a single "cuneiform sign" are as follows. In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the space for a group of signs (in cuneiform, a group of individual strokes), is called (quadrat)-block. Among cuneiform signs, only a handful of signs (specifically the individual 'skrokes', horizontal, vertical, "wedge", 'half-strokes', etc.) are found in single usage. For aš specifically, (the full-length, horizontal stroke) its highest usage in the Epic of Gilgamesh is for the preposition ina (for in, into, etc.; confer for a specific "ina" usage (by Kovacs), Gilgamesh flood myth#Alternative translations). The specific usage numbers for the sign's meaning in the Epic is as follows: aš-(4), dil-(3), ina-(284), ṭel-(1), AŠ-(1). The high usage as the preposition may be for space considerations, but it should be considered that the Epic of Gilgamesh was also a "training document" for scribes, over hundreds of years, so the multi-functioning of signs may also have been in issue, (one cuneiform sign substituted for the preposition: i-na, of two signs.)Comparative mythology
Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used the relationships between different myths to trace the development of religions and cultures, to propose common origins for myths from different cultures, and to support various psychological theories.Deucalion
In Greek mythology, Deucalion (; Greek: Δευκαλίων) was the son of Prometheus; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione, or Pronoia. He is closely connected with the flood myth in Greek mythology.Enlil
Enlil, later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hurrians. Enlil's primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the "mooring-rope" of heaven and earth. He is also sometimes referred to in Sumerian texts as Nunamnir. According to one Sumerian hymn, Enlil himself was so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him. Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur. His cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was eventually supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk. The Babylonian god Bel was a syncretic deity of Enlil, Marduk, and the dying god Dumuzid.
Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth; he separates An (heaven) from Ki (earth), thus making the world habitable for humans. In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping. The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil's serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Enlil was regarded as the inventor of the mattock and the patron of agriculture. Enlil also features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale.Finnish flood myth
In the Kalevala rune entitled "Haava" (The Wound, section 8), Väinämöinen attempts a heroic feat that results in a gushing wound, the blood from which covers the entire earth. This deluge is not emphasized in the Kalevala version redacted by Elias Lönnrot, but the global quality of the flood is evident in original variants of the rune. In one variant collected in Northern Ostrobothnia in 1803/04, the rune tells:
The blood came forth like a flood
the gore ran like a river:
there was no hummock
and no high mountain
that was not flooded
all from Väinämöinen's toe
from the holy hero's knee.Matti Kuusi notes in his analysis that the rune's motifs of constructing a boat, a wound, and a flood have parallels with flood myths from around the world. There are sources that cite this flood mythology to the nature of Kalevala as a comparative mythology, which borrowed elements from stories found in other ancient sources such as the Persians, Phoenicians, the Bible and the Greek mythology, then integrated it with the myth's personification of nature. The account of the great flood was embedded in a narrative that also featured the Greek sun-myths and moon-myths. These influences are not found in the myths of Finland's Slavic and Scandinavian neighbors. However, a theory explained this aspect to Finnish myth as a relic of the earliest Asiatic life of one of the Finnish ancestors, the Ugrian tribes.
According to Anna-Leena Siikala, Väinämöinen's legs are of mythological and cosmogonic significance throughout Finnish mythology. For example, it is originally on Väinämöinen's knee that the primordial water-fowl first lays the world egg.Genesis flood narrative
The Genesis flood narrative is a flood myth found in the Tanakh (chapters 6–9 in the Book of Genesis). The story tells of God's decision to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos and then remake it in a reversal of creation. The narrative has very strong similarities to parts of the Epic of Gilgamesh which predates the Book of Genesis.
A global flood as described in this myth is inconsistent with the physical findings of geology and paleontology. A branch of creationism known as flood geology is a pseudoscientific attempt to argue that such a global flood actually occurred.Gilgamesh flood myth
The Gilgamesh flood myth is a flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Many scholars believe that the flood myth was added to Tablet XI in the "standard version" of the Gilgamesh Epic by an editor who used the flood story from the Epic of Atrahasis. A short reference to the flood myth is also present in the much older Sumerian Gilgamesh poems, from which the later Babylonian versions drew much of their inspiration and subject matter.Great Flood (disambiguation)
Great Flood is a phrase used to describe the central event in any catastrophic flood. Some may be of the flood myth, whether historically accurate or mythological, while others are severe floods from around the world.
Great Flood may also refer to:
Deluge (prehistoric), evidence for prehistoric floods sometimes individually referred to as great floods
Flood myth and List of flood myths
Genesis flood narrative in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, which includes Noah's Ark
Great Flood (China), a flood dating from the 3rd millennium BC
Great Flood of 1844, the biggest flood ever recorded on the Missouri River and Upper Mississippi River in terms of discharge
Great Flood of 1851 in the Midwest U.S.
Great Flood of 1862, a flood in California, U.S.
Great Sheffield Flood, a flood that devastated parts of Sheffield, England on 11 March 1864
Great Flood of 1881, a natural disaster in Omaha, Nebraska
Johnstown Flood, known locally as the Great Flood of 1889
1910 Great Flood of Paris, a January 1910 flooding of the River Seine
Great Flood of 1913, a natural disaster in Indiana, Ohio and ten other states in the U.S.
Great Dayton Flood, part of the Great Flood of 1913
Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, known locally as the Great Molasses Flood
Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flood in U.S. history
Great Flood of 1951, a July 1951 flooding of the Kansas River in the U.S. state of Kansas
Great Flood of 1968, a flood caused by very heavy rain that struck South East England and France in mid-September 1968
Great Flood of 1993 in the Midwest US, one of the most costly and devastating in U.S. historyLegend of Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu
The legend of Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu is a Mapuche flood myth that tells the story of a fierce battle between two mythical snakes, Trentren Vilu (trentren="related with the earth", vilu="snake") and Caicai Vilu (Caicai="related to water", vilu="snake").It explains how the south of Chile came to have its accidented geography.List of flood myths
Flood myths are common across a wide range of cultures, extending back into Bronze Age and Neolithic prehistory. These accounts depict a flood, sometimes global in scale, usually sent by a deity or deities to destroy civilization as an act of divine retribution.Noah
In Abrahamic religions, Noah ( NOH-ə) was the tenth and last of the pre-Flood Patriarchs. The story of Noah's Ark is told in the Bible's Genesis flood narrative. The biblical account is followed by the story of the Curse of Ham.
In addition to the Book of Genesis, Noah is mentioned in the Old Testament in the First Book of Chronicles, and the books of Tobit, Wisdom, Sirach, Isaiah, Ezekiel, 2 Esdras, 4 Maccabees; in the New Testament, he is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, and Luke, the Epistle to the Hebrews, 1st Peter and 2nd Peter. Noah was the subject of much elaboration in the literature of later Abrahamic religions, including the Quran (Surahs 71, 7, 1, and 21).Noah's wine
Noah's wine is a colloquial allusion meaning alcoholic beverages. The advent of this type of beverage and the discovery of fermentation are traditionally attributed, by explication from biblical sources, to Noah. The phrase has been used in both fictional and nonfictional literature.Ruatapu
In Māori tradition, Ruatapu was the second son of the great chief Uenuku, who belittled him for using the sacred comb of his elder brother, Kahutia-te-rangi. As revenge, Ruatapu enticed the children of the nobility into his canoe, sailed them in the ocean, and then sank it (Craig 1989:237). Kahutia-te-rangi survived with the help of a whale and was thereafter known as Paikea (Reedy 1993:142-146).
Meanwhile, Ruatapu convinced the gods of the tides to destroy the land and its inhabitants. Paikea fled to high ground and was saved through the intervention of the goddess Moa-kura-manu. One version of the myth holds that Ruatapu drowned in the flood and that his bowels became the first jellyfish (Craig 1989:237, Reedy 1989:142-146).Sumerian creation myth
The earliest record of a Sumerian creation myth, called The Eridu Genesis by historian Thorkild Jacobsen, is found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in Nippur. It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC. Other Sumerian creation myths from around this date are called the Barton Cylinder, the Debate between sheep and grain and the Debate between Winter and Summer, also found at Nippur.Tāwhaki
In Māori mythology, Tāwhaki is a semi-supernatural being associated with lightning and thunder.Ziusudra
Ziusudra (Sumerian: 𒍣𒌓𒋤𒁺 ZI.UD.SUD.RA2 Ziudsuřa(k) "life of long days"; Greek: Ξίσουθρος, translit. Xisuthros) or Zin-Suddu (Sumerian: 𒍣𒅔𒋤𒁺 ZI.IN.SUD.DU) of Shuruppak (c. 2900 BC) is listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the great flood. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian creation myth, and is also known as the Hellenized 'Xisuthros' from the later writings of Berossus.
Ziusudra is one of several mythic characters that are protagonists of near-eastern Flood myths, including Atrahasis, Utnapishtim and the biblical Noah - although each story has distinctive elements, many key story elements are common to two, three, or four versions.Zu (cuneiform)
Cuneiform zu, (also sú, ṣú, and sumerogram ZU (capital letter majuscule)), is an uncommon-use sign in the 1350s BC Amarna letters, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other cuneiform texts. Alphabetically, it could conceivably be used for letters z, s, ṣ, or u; however in the Amarna letters it is used mostly for personal names or geographical names.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, sumerogram ZU, is used to spell the name of god Ninazu, (a name of god Tammuz, two times, Chapter XII, 28, 47). In the Epic, ZU is also used as a logogram, ZU.AB, for Akkadian language "apsû", English language "abyss"; it is used twice in Chapter VIII, and twice in Chapter XI, the Gilgamesh flood myth.