Ancient Flood Myths

In a recent Facebook thread, there was a great deal of discussion regarding various theories of prehistoric worldwide flooding. I would highly suggest taking the time to read and consider the evidence and reference links offered on this website.

The Younger Dryas Boundary strewnfield

(after Wittke et al 2013, and Kennett et.al 2014)

“The epoch which geologists call the Younger Dryas (after a species of Alpine flower that flourishes in cold conditions) has long been recognized as mysterious and tumultuous. When it began 12,800 years ago the earth had been emerging from the Ice Age for roughly 10,000 years, global temperatures were rising steadily and the ice caps were melting. Then there was a sudden dramatic return to colder conditions – nearly as cold as at the peak of the Ice Age 21,000 years ago. This short, sharp deep freeze lasted for 1,200 years until 11,600 years ago when the warming trend resumed with incredible rapidity, global temperatures shot up again and the remaining ice caps quite quickly melted away, dumping all the water they contained into the oceans and raising sea level significantly all around the world.” – Graham Hancock

In the recent Facebook thread, many people expressed their opinions that other than Noah in the Bible and Plato’s account of Atlantis, that there were no other ancient flood myths.

The following is just a quick online search that illustrates the fact that flood mythology is a worldwide phenomena.

Africa:

Many African cultures have an oral tradition of a flood including the Kwaya, Mbuti, Maasai, Mandin, and Yoruba peoples.

North America:

Hopi mythology – Entrance into the Fourth World: “The other version (mainly told in Oraibi) has it that Tawa destroyed the Third World in a great flood. Before the destruction, Spider Grandmother sealed the more righteous people into hollow reeds which were used as boats. On arrival on a small piece of dry land, the people saw nothing around them but more water, even after planting a large bamboo shoot, climbing to the top, and looking about. Spider Woman then told the people to make boats out of more reeds, and using island “stepping-stones” along the way, the people sailed east until they arrived on the mountainous coasts of the Fourth World.”

Other North American peoples have similar myths. These include the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, the Comox people. the Anishinaabe, the Inuit, and the Nisqually.

Mesoamerica:

In Maya mythology as expressed in the Popol Vuh the creator gods attempted to create creatures who would worship them three times before finally succeeding in creating a race of humans that would pay proper homage to their creators. The three previous creations were destroyed. The third race of humans carved from wood were destroyed by a flood, mauled by wild animals and smashed by their own tools and utensils.

In many Mesoamerican flood myths, especially recorded among the Nahua (Aztec), peoples tell that there were no survivors of the flood and creation had to start from scratch, while other accounts relate that current humans are descended from a small number of survivors. In some accounts the survivors transgress against the gods by lighting a fire and consequently are turned into animals.

South America:

Canari: Scholars have found that the Cañari had an oral tradition of a massive flood as part of their creation stories, similar to those of the Bible and Gilgamesh. According to myth, it was said that a giant flood occurred in which everyone perished except two brothers who had perched on top of a high mountain. After the flood, both brothers returned to their hut. They found it had been repaired and stocked with prepared food. Every day when they returned to the hut, they found prepared food. This went on a few days until Urcocari (male hill),[1]one of the brothers, decided to stay around. He learned that a woman with a macaw face had made the food. He took her as his wife, and they repopulated the world.

Inca:

Unu Pachakuti: In Incan mythology, Unu Pachakuti is the name of a flood that Viracocha caused to destroy the people around Lake Titicaca, saving two to bring civilization to the rest of the world.

Mapuche: Legend of Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu: According to this myth, thousands of years ago, what is now the Chiloé Province was once one contiguous landmass with continental Chile. One day a monstrous serpent appeared, Caicai Vilu, and inundated the lowlands, valleys, and mountains, submerging all the flora and fauna. Without delay, Trentren Vilu appeared to start a confrontation with his enemy, elevating the land and protecting it from disaster. The battle persisted a long time. Trentren Vilu reached a costly victory, she won the battle, but was unable to restore the land to its primeval state leaving it in the dismembered form it still has today.

Muisca – Bochica: According to Chibcha legends, Bochica was a bearded man who came from the east. He taught the primitive Chibcha people ethical and moral norms and gave them a model by which to organize their states, with one spiritual and one secular leader. Bochica also taught the people agriculture, metalworking and other crafts before leaving for the west to live as an ascetic. When the Muisca later forsook the teachings of Bochica and turned to a life of excess, a flood engulfed the Savannah of Bogotá, where they lived. Upon appealing for aid from their hero, Bochica returned on a rainbow and with a strike from his staff, created the Tequendama Falls, through which the floodwaters could drain away.

Ancient Near East:

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.

When the tablet resumes, it is describing the flood. A terrible storm rocks the huge boat for seven days and seven nights, then Utu (the Sun god) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, prostrates himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep.

After another break, the text resumes: the flood is apparently over, the animals disembark and Zi-ud-sura prostrates himself before An (sky-god) and Enlil (chief of the gods), who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun for “preserving the animals and the seed of mankind”. The remainder of the poem is lost.

Mesopotamia:

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 utilized 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.

Existing fragments of the earliest Gilgamesh tablet.

Noah’s Ark: Is the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative by which God spares Noah, his family, and a remnant of all the world’s animals from a world-engulfing flood.

According to Genesis, God gave Noah instructions for building the ark. Seven days before the deluge, God told Noah to enter the ark with his household and the animals. The story goes on to describe the ark being afloat for 150 days and then coming to rest on the Mountains of Ararat and the subsequent receding of the waters.

Islamic view of Noah: According to Islam, Noah’s mission was to save a wicked world, plunged in depravity and sin. God charged Noah with the duty of preaching to his people to make them abandon idolatry and to worship only the One Creator and to live good and pure lives.

Although he preached the Message of God with zeal, his people refused to mend their ways, leading to his building of the Ark and the Deluge, the Great Flood in which all the evil people of his time perished. Noah’s preaching and prophet-hood spanned 950 years according to Quran.

China:

Nüwa: “Going back to more ancient times, the four pillars were broken; the nine provinces were in tatters. Heaven did not completely cover [the earth]; Earth did not hold up [Heaven] all the way around [its circumference]. Fires blazed out of control and could not be extinguished; water flooded in great expanses and would not recede. Ferocious animals ate blameless people; predatory birds snatched the elderly and the weak. Thereupon, Nüwa smelted together five-colored stones in order to patch up the azure sky, cut off the legs of the great turtle to set them up as the four pillars, killed the black dragon to provide relief for Ji Province, and piled up reeds and cinders to stop the surging waters. The azure sky was patched; the four pillars were set up; the surging waters were drained; the province of Ji was tranquil; crafty vermin died off; blameless people [preserved their] lives.”

The Great Flood of Gun-Yu, also known as the Gun-Yu myth, was a major flood event in ancient China that allegedly continued for at least two generations, which resulted in great population displacements among other disasters, such as storms and famine. People left their homes to live on the high hills and mounts, or nest on the trees.

India:

Manu and Matsya: The legend first appears in Shatapatha Brahmana (700–300 BCE), and is further detailed in Matsya Purana (250–500 CE). Matsya (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a fish) forewarns Manu (a human) about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat. When the flood destroys the world, Manu – in some versions accompanied by the seven great sages – survives by boarding the ark, which Matsya pulls to safety.

Puluga, the creator god in the religion of the indigenous inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, sends a devastating flood to punish people who have forgotten his commands. Only four people survive this flood: two men and two women.

Malaysia:

Temuan: Thousands of years ago, many Temuan people died because they had committed “Celau” (the sins that angered god and their ancestors; as it is also called Talan in Semaq Beri language). Their god has sent a “Celau” punishment in a form of a great flood which had drowned all the Temuan sinners that day. Only two of the Temuans, named Mamak and Inak Bungsuk survived that day by climbing at Eaglewood tree at Gunung Raja (Royal Mountain) located at the border of Selangor and Pahang state. There was a Temuan village over there named Kampung Orang Asli Pertak. Mamak and Inak Bungsuk survived because they had an enchanting mantra or spell to ease down the “Celau” storm. Gunung Gajak (Gunung Rajah, Pahang, Malaysia) became the birth places and ancestral home of the Temuan tribe.

Orang Seletar: There is a legend among the Seletar people that is similar to the Biblical story of the World Flood. The Seletar legend has it that one day, there was a long rain in Johor that poured out for 40 days and 40 nights. The water level has risen up to the foothill of the Pulai mountain. In order to withstand the strong flow of water current, the Seletar people bound together all their floating huts. But, unfortunately, the rope broke off. Some of them were lost to the flood.

Philippines:

Igorot: Once upon a time, when the world was flat and there were no mountains, there lived two brothers, sons of Lumawig, the Great Spirit. The brothers were fond of hunting, and since no mountains had formed there was no good place to catch wild pig and deer, and the older brother said: “Let us cause water to flow over all the world and cover it, and then mountains will rise up.”

Tai-Kadai people: There are stories spoken by Tai-Kadai people, included Zhuang, Thai, Shan and Lao, talking about the origin of them and the deluge from their Thean (แถน), supreme being object of faith.

Khun Borom: According to the myth of Khoun Borôm, a myth commonly related among Tai-speaking peoples, in ancient times people were wicked and crude. A great deity destroyed them with a flood, leaving only three worthy chiefs who were preserved in heaven to be the founders and guides for a new race of people.

Poo-Sankhasa Ya-Sangkhasi or Grandfather Sangkhasa and Grandmother Sangkhasi, who make the human beings and the deluge.

Europe:

Ancient Greek flood myths:

The Ogygian flood is so called because it occurred in the time of Ogyges, a mythical king of Attica. The name “Ogyges” and “Ogygian” is synonymous with “primeval”, “primal” and “earliest dawn”. Others say he was the founder and king of Thebes. In many traditions the Ogygian flood is said to have covered the whole world and was so devastating that Attica remained without kings until the reign of Cecrops.

Plato in his Laws, Book III, argues that this flood had occurred ten thousand years before his time, as opposed to only “one or two thousand years that have elapsed” since the discovery of music, and other inventions. Also in Timaeus and in Critias he describes the “great deluge of all” as having been preceded by 9,000 years of history before the time of his contemporary Solon, during the 10th millennium BCE.

Irish:

Lebor Gabála Érenn – Cessair: According to LGE, the first people to arrive in Ireland are led by Cessair, daughter of Bith, son of Noah. They are told to go to the western edge of the world to escape the oncoming Flood. They set out in three ships but when they land in Ireland, forty days before the Flood, two of the ships are lost. The only survivors are Cessair, forty-nine other women, and three men: Fintan mac Bóchra, Bith and Ladra. The women are split evenly among the men. Each also takes one as his wife: Fintán takes Cessair, Bith takes Barrfhind and Ladra takes Alba. However, Bith and Ladra soon die and Ladra is the first man buried in Ireland. When the Flood comes, Fintán is the only one to survive. He becomes a salmon and later an eagle and a hawk, living for 5,500 years after the Flood, whence he becomes a man again and recounts Ireland’s history.

Welsh:

Dwyfan and Dwyfach: A great flood was caused by the monster Afanc, who dwelt in Llyn Llion. All humans were drowned except Dwyfan and Dwyfach, who escaped in a mastless boat. They built an imposing ship (or ark) called Nefyd Naf Neifion, on which they carried two of every living kind. From Dwyfan and Dwyfach all of the island of Prydain (Britain) was repeopled. Dwyfach appears to take her name from the small Dwyfach River of Gwynedd, that flows into Cardigan Bay; Dwyfan would then derive from the river it enters, the Dwyfawr or Dwyfor.

Cantre’r Gwaelod: Cantre’r Gwaelod was an area of land which, according to legend, was located in an area west of present-day Wales which is now under the waters of Cardigan Bay. Accounts variously suggest the tract of land extended from Bardsey Island to Cardigan or as far south as Ramsey Island. Legends of the land suggest that it may have extended 20 miles west of the present coast.

There are several versions of the myth. The earliest known form of the legend is usually said to appear in the Black Book of Carmarthen, in which the land is referred to as Maes Gwyddno (English: the Plain of Gwyddno). In this version, the land was lost to floods when a well-maiden named Mererid neglected her duties and allowed the well to overflow.

Norse:

Bergelmir: According to the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, Bergelmir and his wife alone among the giants were the only survivors of the enormous deluge of blood which flowed from Ymir’s wounds when he was killed by Odin and his brothers Vili and Vé. They escaped the sanguinary flood by climbing onto an object and subsequently became the progenitors of a new race of frost giants.

Polynesia and Hawaii:

Nu’u: In Hawaiian mythology, Nu’u was a man who built an ark with which he escaped a Great Flood. He landed his vessel on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Nu’u mistakenly attributed his safety to the moon, and made sacrifices to it. Kāne, the creator god, descended to earth on a rainbow and explained Nu’u’s mistake.

Ruatapu: In a tradition of the Ngati Porou, a Māori tribe of the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Ruatapu became angry when his father Uenuku elevated his younger half-brother Kahutia-te-rangi ahead of him. Ruatapu lured Kahutia-te-rangi and a large number of young men of high birth into his canoe, and took them out to sea where he drowned them. He called on the gods to destroy his enemies and threatened to return as the great waves of early summer. As he struggled for his life, Kahutia-te-rangi recited an incantation invoking the southern humpback whales (paikea in Māori) to carry him ashore. Accordingly, he was renamed Paikea, and was the only survivor.

Tāwhaki: Some versions of the Māori story of Tāwhaki contain episodes where the hero causes a flood to destroy the village of his two jealous brothers-in-law. He directs his own people to relocate their village to the top of the mountain Hikurangi.

I consider Wikipedia to be at best, a tertiary research source. Quite often, however, you can find a lot of secondary links to multiple secondary sources.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flood_myths

I highly recommend Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods for an in-depth treatment of this topic.

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