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Great Floods have been a topic of many myths throughout time. These stories are mostly about gods or higher powers trying to wipe out or cleanse the population.
Some of these myths include; Eridu Genesis, Atrahasis Epic, Gilgamesh, and many more. The Eridu Genesis is the earliest flood myth. It tells how The deity Enki tells Ziudsura about his plan to destroy all of man with a flood and instructs him to build a giant boat. It floods for seven days and then Ziudsura makes sacrifices and chants to the gods and is gifted with eternal life in Dilmun (Sumerian Garden of Eden) by Anu.In the Atrahasis Epic (Akkadian), Enlil, a god, thinks that the humans are overpopulated. After twelve-hundred years of fertility he is woken up by the noise of the human race.
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He then gets all the gods together and causes plague, drought, famine, and then ruined the soil to kill off the population. This solution only worked for so long until the population started to grow again. The Gods decided to just flood the world but Enki didn’t agree. So Enki told Atrahasis to help him build a survival vessel tailored to his plan.The human race then survived. To protect the people from the wrath of the Gods, he decided to have natural safeguards to prevent an overpopulation in the forms of miscarriage, women who are not married, barrens, and the likeliness that an infant will die at birth.
In Gilgamesh, the Gods plan to destroy all life with a great flood. Ea warns Utanapishtim about it and tells him to build a vessel in which he can save his friends, family, and wealth. After the flood the Gods made Utanapishtim immortal. The Hebrews had a flood myth as well.When God saw that people were wicked and all they could think about was evil things, he was sorry he created man and living things. So God decided he would select a man (Noah) who was true at heart to build an arc that is 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits.
He told Noah to put one pair of unclean animals and seven pairs of clean ones aboard this arc. After Noah had completed this task God made it rain for forty days and the water engulfed the earth for 150 days and then went away. Noah then landed on mount Ararat.
He remained on the mountain for forty more days and then opened its doors.Noah and his wife and sons and the animals would then repopulate the earth. The aborigines on the Andaman Islands had another interesting flood myth. The God was angry at the people and flooded the earth with only one warning.
Only two men, Loralola and Poilola, and two women, Kalola and Rimalola survived this flood. When the waters cleared they had found that they had lost fire and all living things had disappeared. Puluga “the God” then restored all plant and animal life. A Batak myth involves a snake who holds the earth. It then gets tired of holding it and shakes it into the sea.The God Batara-Guru sent a mountain into the sea to save his daughter and she created the human race all over again, and the earth fell back on the head of the snake who supports it. In Greek mythology, floods seemed to mark the end of the Ages of Man.
There was three of them, there was the flood of Ogyges, the flood of Deucalion, and the flood of Dardanus. The Dardanus flood was the one who didn’t mark an age of man. The Ogygian flood ended the Silver Age and the Deucalion ended the First Bronze age. These floods were said to of buried Atlantis and Athens.
On a Proto-historical note the Ogygian flood is known to be based on a real event in Greek history. In Norse mythology, A flood marked the dawn of time. Ymir, the first frost giant, was slain by Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve. When Ymir fell he bled so much it drowned all the other Frost Giants except for Bergelmir and his wife. They then escaped on a ship and created a new race of giants. Ymir’s body became the earth, and his blood, the sea.
The Norse also believe that in Ragnarok, the world serpent will join the battle by rising from the sea, in turn creating a horrific flood that will wipe out the human race.After the battle ends a new age of man will occur. In Mayan mythology, Huracan (the storm and wind god) caused a great flood after the first humans, who were made of wood, angered the gods. He then shouted “earth” repeatedly until land rose from the sea once again. In Hopi mythology, when enough people strayed from their religion their god would destroy the world with fire and cold and then recreate it for the ones who still followed him. The believers would hide underground when he did it. The third time he wiped out the non-believers he told his people to meet up with spider-woman who then cut down giant reeds to shelter his people.
Then he flooded the earth and the reeds floated, coming to a halt on a small piece of land. They instantly had all the food they started with and began to travel by canoe. When they moved islands the last one sank into the ocean. They eventually settled on the “Fourth world”, and that’s where they remained through all of time.
There are hints of an explosion in a lot of the myths that refer to a flood around the same time period. An example is Gilgamesh in which a giant pillar of smoke filled the horizon followed by dark clouds and flood waters.This could be referring to a meteor colliding into the earth in maybe the ocean which would indeed cause a tidal wave or a hurricane of sort that would be widespread throughout the world. Also in 5600 BC the Mediterranean Sea was believed to have flooded into the Black Sea which might explain the influence for myths around that area. There was also believed to be an enormous Tsunami caused by a volcano eruption in about 1500 BC that hit the South Aegean Sea and Crete areas. Most of the areas where the flood myths were present had been hit by tsunamis and sustained heavy rainstorms around the same time period the myths were created.
Survivors of these floods would take shelter above sea level which could explain why the always landed on “islands”. The Great flood from the bible has been accredited with being in fact an actual flood because of sediment and fossilization in rocks layers. All these myths are very close in the sense that they all had a great flood in them and it always did damage or wiped out the human race but humans always came back and repopulated. I think it’s fair to say that we as human beings have an understanding of ourselves and that we as one complete people have flaws.
These flaws are recognized and we cope with them by creating great epics and tales of the end, where if we dwell to far off the path, the destruction of the human race will ensue. We also use these stories to warn younger generations and to help us control their actions. The fact of the matter is every man woman and child fears death.
So we try to find some way to preserve our future, by telling ourselves that if we misbehave and don’t worship our gods, we will parish. Maybe if we all do our part to be perfect and learn to let go of our vices, we can earn immortality and eternity, or maybe its just wishful thinking.