Flood Myth

Nanabozho

A flood myth or deluge myth is a mythical or religious 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 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.

Historian, Adrienne Mayor first 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. However, Leonardo da Vinci postulated that an immediate deluge could not have caused the neatly ordered strata he found in the Italian Apennines.

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