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Flood myths

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Michelle Jahn
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« on: October 13, 2010, 01:15:28 pm »

Flood myth

A flood myth or deluge myth is a mythical story of a great flood sent by a deity or deities to destroy civilization as an act of divine retribution. It is a theme widespread among many cultures, though it is perhaps best known in modern times through the biblical and Quranic account of Noah's Ark, the Hindu Puranic story of Manu, through Deucalion in Greek mythology or Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primeval waters of found in some creation myths since the flood waters are seen to cleanse humanity in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero who strives to ensure this rebirth.[1]

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Michelle Jahn
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 01:16:07 pm »



"The Deluge", frontispiece to Gustave Doré's illustrated edition of the Bible. Based on the story of Noah's Ark, this shows humans and a tiger doomed by the flood futilely attempting to save their children and cubs.
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Michelle Jahn
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 01:16:39 pm »


Nanabozho in Ojibwe flood story from an illustration by R.C. Armour, in his book North American Indian Fairy Tales, Folklore and Legends, (1905).
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 01:17:06 pm »

Origin of flood myths

Adrienne Mayor's The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans promoted the hypothesis that flood stories were inspired by ancient observations of seashells and fish fossils inland and on mountains. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese all wrote about finding such remains in these locations, and the Greeks hypothesized that Earth had been covered by water several times, noting seashells and fish fossils found on mountain tops as evidence. Native Americans also expressed this belief in their early encounters with Europeans, though they had not written it down previously.[citation needed] However, Leonardo da Vinci postulated that an immediate deluge could not have caused the neatly ordered strata he found in the Italian Apennines.

Some geologists believe that quite dramatic, unusually great flooding of rivers in the distant past might have influenced the legends. One of the latest, and quite controversial, hypotheses of this type is the Ryan-Pitman Theory, 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, and a news article from National Geographic News in February 2009 reported that the flooding might have been "quite mild".[2]

There also has been speculation that a large tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea caused by the Thera eruption, dated about 1630–1600 BC geologically, was the historical basis for folklore that evolved into the Deucalion myth. 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.[3]

Another theory is that a meteor or comet crashed into the Indian Ocean around 3000–2800 BC, created the 30 kilometres (19 mi) undersea Burckle Crater, and generated a giant tsunami that flooded coastal lands.[4]

It has been postulated that the deluge myth 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.[5]

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Michelle Jahn
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 01:17:46 pm »



"The Deluge", by John Martin, 1834. Oil on canvas. Yale University
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