The greatest floods in history. What are the real disaster behind ancient myths?

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Among the many mythological stories tales of the deluge
take a Central role. They exist in almost all world

cultures. The Bible and the Popol Vuh, the Epic of Gilgamesh and ancient Greek
legends, the Vedas, and African tales, Chinese legends and Bashkir
Kubaisi — all in their own way telling a story about the incredibly powerful
the flood that changed human society and the face of the earth.

What was the basis of these ancient myths? Could on the planet
do to happen the deluge? What are the real destructive
the disaster became the prototype of the extant legends?

Recently, Chinese scientists found traces of catastrophe
around 1290 BC, when the waters of the yellow river flooded huge
site. The incident corresponds well to the devastating flooding
during the time of the mythical Emperor Yao, described in Chinese sources.
Similar stories about the flood were known, and many other Nations, and
some of them probably also reflect the extensive flooding that occurred in


Just before Europeans were known to ancient Greek and biblical
legends about the flood. In 1872 sensation was discovered and
translated by George Smith excerpt Akkadian stories about the world
the flood. The Smith report in the Society of biblical archaeology 3 Dec 1872
year entered the history of science. It was attended by even the Prime Minister
William Gladstone.

For the believing part of the British discovery was a confirmation of the biblical
history, for the skeptics — an indication that the story of the flood from the Book
Genesis is a myth, like the Akkadian text. Thanks
the interest of the public Smith has received funding for an expedition to the ruins
Nineveh and, most surprisingly, found there other parts
narration (“the epic of Gilgamesh, where the flood — only
small and even not the most important episode.

“I looked at the face of the weather — // it is Terrible to look on the weather was. // I
have entered the ship, tarred his door — // For Smolenice ship the boatbuilder
Puzur-Amurri // the Palace I gave him // Barely engaged in the radiance of the morning, //
the foundations of heaven arose a black cloud <…> // That was bright —
the darkness turned, // the Whole earth is cracked like a bowl.

// The first day of the raging South wind, // Quickly swooped down, submerging the mountains,
// Like a wave overtaking the land. // Sees no one else, // And with the heavens
not see people. <…> // Walks the wind six days, seven nights, //
Flood storm covers the land. // At the onset of the seventh day // Storm
the flood war stopped, // the Ones that fought like the army. //
The sea calm, the hurricane subsided, the flood ceased.”

In XIX—XX centuries, scientists learned more about the mythological traditions
the peoples of South-East Asia, America, Australia, and Oceania, where over and
again found stories about the flood. It is much harder to find a region of the world
where there is no myth about the flood than the one where it is available. Almost
missing this story only in Africa. Few African options
clearly bear traces of the biblical and Quranic stories.

Of course, differed in detail: the causes of the flood, method (precipitation, river water
or sea), ways to save the few survivors and rebirth
of mankind. For example, in the myth from the Indonesian island of Solor during
the flood were saved, a brother and sister who climbed the coconut tree.
Every day they threw down the coconut, on the eighth day, a nut fell on dry
the ground and split.

The people of bontoc, living in the mountains of Northern Philippine island of Luzon,
was told that once a stranger with boa told one family to make
a ceremony in his honor, threatening that otherwise his boa will close the hole
in the North, in which rush of the river, and the deluge begins.

The parents laughed at him, and he made good on his threat. Children — brother and
sister was saved on the mountain. The stranger appeared again, this time with
giant crab, and said that he would send the crab to remove the obstacle to
water, and forced the siblings to forget about their relationship and told them
to marry.

In one Chinese myth, the God was angry with the people when they refused
to make a human sacrifice. Then God blocked the gateways, and
the water rose up to the sky. From the flood escaped otter, ducks, lampreys, and
the ancestor of the Duma, who had taken refuge in the hollowed-out log. From his four
the sons are the Chinese and the people, and the ancestors of other peoples Duma
made from pieces of wood.

“The flood was created by the Heart of heaven, was arranged the great flood,
fell on the heads of the wooden creatures. The flesh of the men were made of wood
site, but when the Creator and the Creator created woman, her flesh was
made of the core cane.

Here these were the materials the Creator and the Creator wanted
to use creating them. But those, which they have created, those they
have done, thought and spoken before the face of his Creator, before
the face of the Creator. And because of this they were destroyed, they were

Thick resin poured from the sky. The one who called Chebotkova came
and tore out their eyes; Kamali came and tore their heads; Cotzbalam came and
devoured their flesh. Tokumaru also came, he broke and tore their bones
and their veins, it is triturated and crushed their bones. It is (was made) to
to punish them, because their thoughts did not reach to the face of their mother, to the face
their father, Heart of heaven, which is called Hurakan. And for this reason, lik
the earth darkened, and began to fall black rain; rain by day and rain by night.

Came in despair (wooden people) ran as fast as I
they could; they wanted to climb to the roofs of the houses, but the houses were falling down and
threw them on the ground; they wanted to climb to the tree tops, but
the trees shook them away from him; they wanted to hide in the caves, but
the cave had covered their faces”

The people Yupa (Northern Andes) in the flood saved a group
animal-ancestor, who was sitting on the mountain. The woodpecker flew on reconnaissance and
learned that the water held by the dam of clay. Cayman decided to find out
deep water and threw wild boar, tapir and other animals.

They were all drowned. Finally, Caiman, Turtle and Armadillo dived in
the water reached the dam and dug it. Water rushed into the gap and
left, and on the backs of armadillos, turtles, and caimans that can still be seen traces

In the Pacific Islands, Palau was told as a leader stole
gods, one of the eyes, they look at the earth (star). The gods
went down, but only one old woman invited them to his house. They
told her to make a bamboo raft, where she escaped to cast
them of the flood. The old woman became entangled in a tree on the mountain Arlegui, and
the gods found her dead, revived, after which she gave birth to them five
children who re-populated the earth.

The Indians of COWETA (Peru) hero by the name of Company fell into the river, all
they laughed at him, and only two people helped out. He told them
to climb the highest tree takon, taking baked tubers, where these
the two were saved from the sent the flood. The water closed other
trees, but tree takon miraculously grew and towered over


For a long time researchers have wondered how to explain such a
widespread myths about the flood. Answers to this question
offered three. First, myths are a reflection of the real world
disaster. Secondly, myths can arise independently in different parts of the
of the globe and reflect the catastrophic floods there.
Thirdly, the story of the flood could appear in one place, and then
to spread among other peoples through oral tradition.

Some time the first answer was seriously considered.
An English theologian of the seventeenth-century Thomas Burnet in his work “the Sacred theory
Of the earth (Telluris Theoria Sacra) has estimated the approximate number
the waters in the seas and oceans and understood that for the flood it
not enough. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the great flood
happened when on the surface of the water erupted from inside the Earth which
Burnet believed in the Vena cava.

Georges Cuvier suggests that during the existence of the Earth
there have been several disasters on a planetary scale, of course, created
such a theory to explain the disappearance of species of animals, petrified
the remains of which are the scientists. But the existence of ancient myths about
the flood, if not inspired, then at least supported him
conviction. Even after the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Lyell
convincingly refuted the hypothesis of Cuvier, it has long supported some
scholars based in and the authority of Scripture.

“And proceeded to flood the earth for forty days and the waters increased, and
lifted the ark and it was lift up above the earth; and the waters prevailed very
increased on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. And increased
water exceedingly upon the earth, so we covered all the high mountains which
under the whole heavens; fifteen cubits upward did the waters, and
the mountains were covered.

And lost his life, all flesh that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle,
and beasts, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and all people; all that he had
the breath of life in its nostrils on the dry land, died.

Were exterminated every creature that was on the surface of the earth; from
both man and beast, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, — all were exterminated from the earth,
left only Noah and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on
the earth an hundred and fifty days” — Genesis (7:17-24), NASB

The theory of the borrowing of the same story, resulting in one
the place looked much better. In the nineteenth century often offered
to believe that many myths about the flood in different parts of the world — not
nothing but a distorted reflection of the biblical narrative.

But the difference in specific detail was too big to
the explanation was correct. “In these various, often as fanciful,
childish and amusing tales is difficult to see a human copy of
one common divine original,” wrote renowned researcher
folklore James Fraser. Besides, it soon became clear that the story
The book of Genesis is a variant of the earlier Akkadian and
Sumerian narratives.

Apparently, most close to the truth the combination of the second and third
answer. Legends about the flood, of course, repeatedly
borrowed and passed from the folklore of one nation to another. However
had they not once and in specific cases could be a reflection
natural disasters that occurred in reality.

Most likely as a result of borrowing spread such
mythological motifs as “God warns of the flood”, “animal
warns of flood,” “the birds are sent to intelligence”, “heroes are thrown
the fruit from the tree to determine whether the left water” (Melanesia, East
Asia, South America), “birds, fleeing from the flood on the trees, wet
tails” (common in North and South America), “died at
the flood, people turning into aquatic animals.”

Of course, borrowing should be explained, for example, the story of
how one of the animals save the ark from sinking, plugging its
body hole or done by someone malicious hole. The Catalans,
the Balkan Slavs, peoples of the Caucasus, the Baltics, the Volga region, Kyrgyz is
the snake, the Eastern Slavs, too, the Romanians — lizard (stuffed tail)
Mari the cat, and the Selkups the frog.

Scientists never cease to look for traces of real natural disasters that have become
the primary source of the legends about the flood in different regions. Already in the XIX century
it was proposed to explain the emergence of the Sumerian (and after him, and
the Babylonian and Jewish) myth of the flood a real flood
that happen in Mesopotamia in the years when in the mountains, where
the origins of the Tigris and Euphrates, is particularly strong in the summer the snow melts, and in the lower reaches
it rains a lot.

Supporting this hypothesis Frazier in the confirmation brings the story of
British geologist and archaeologist William Loftus about the flood of 1854,
the incident is under such circumstances. Overnight
the rising water of the Euphrates sank about seven thousand houses. Baghdad,
surrounded by urgently built dams, like the island, a
miles around which overflowed of the sea.

Archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia allowed to find the evidence
real flooding, which claims to be the source of the myth
the flood. During excavations of the Sumerian city Shuruppak (Iraq) traces
fluvial deposits that interrupt the cultural layer.

They are dated by radiocarbon analysis of approximately 2900 years before
ad. About the flooding in Shuruppak misleading and written sources.
“After a flood washed away (country) and the Kingdom was sent down from heaven
(the second time), Kish became the seat of the throne,” — said in Nipponskoy
the Royal list.

Do the river sediments extend North from Shuruppak, but not
affect the city of Kish, which after the flood has passed the leadership in
the region. Shuruppak tradition calls the home of the hero Ziusudra, who
better known by the Akkadian name Utnapishtim and famously
survived the flood. Traces of floods archaeologists have found in other Sumerian
the cities of Ur, Kish, Uruk, Lagash, Nineveh. But they belong to different

The flood in the myths of the Indians of North America appeared, probably after
the crash, which occurred about 8,400 years ago. Then the water is huge
glacial lake Agassiz broke through to the sea along the valley of the current river
Ottawa. All this was accompanied by enhanced melting of glaciers. Sea level
rose sharply and flooded coastal areas.

The melting of glaciers and associated with a Mesopotamian flood. Geologists
note that the sea level in the Gulf rose by 120 meters over the
the period from 18 thousand to 8 thousand years ago. Probably about 7,500 years ago
the rising waters was particularly fast.

The emergence of yet another hypothesis related to the underwater crater Berkel
(Burckle Crater in the Indian ocean East of Madagascar. Diameter
the crater is about 30 kilometers, that is, it is about 25 times wider than
the famous Arizona crater. It arose as a result of the fall of a large
meteorite approximately 3000-2800 years ago. Researchers believe
this event caused a huge tsunami on the coast of Asia,
reflected in the myth of the flood, including Mesopotamia.

“Phaeton, son of the Sun and the Pre, secretly ascended the chariot of his father and
rising too high above the earth, from fear fell into the river Eridanus.
When Jupiter struck him with lightning, everything started to burn. Below,
taking advantage of this opportunity to exterminate the whole race of mortals, Jupiter did
like wants to put out the fire. He shot from everywhere flows, and all that generation
mortals died except Deucalion and Pyrrha. And the sisters of Phaeton, who,
despite the ban of his father, harnessed the horses for him, turned into trees
poplar” — Hyginus

The flood of myth Deucalion trying to explain a volcano eruption
Santorini and the ensuing earthquake and tsunami that
really was very destructive and caused the decline of Minoan
civilization on Crete.

Finally, another theory links the Mediterranean myth of the flood
a hypothetical sharp rise in Black sea level in the result
breakthrough of water from the Mediterranean sea. All this happened at
the authors noted that about 5600 BC after an earthquake
of which caused the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

A similar idea was expressed in the nineteenth century Thomas Huxley, and detailed and
justified its development was presented in 1996, William Ryan, Walter
Pitman, and their colleagues, an article which was published in the journal Marine

According to their calculations, the rising waters of the Black sea flooded in short
a period of about 155 thousand square kilometers, where there were fields and forests.
According to some theories, these dead under water plants
are the main source of hydrogen sulfide in coastal waters of the Black

“In the morning, Manu was brought water for washing hands, as well as now
bring water for washing hands. When he was washing, his hands were
fish. She told him: “Take care of me and I will save you”. — “From what
will you save me?” — “A flood will carry away all living things. From the flood I’ll save you.”
“How am I supposed to take care of you?”

She said: “While we are small, we face many dangers. Fish
devour each other. Put me first in the pot, and if I then
too big for him, then dig a hole and put me in it. If I
going for her is too large, then carry me into the sea: for then I will
out of danger”. Soon it became the big fish — she grew quickly.

“At this time there will be a flood, then build the ship. When the flood
will start, come up to the ship. Then I’ll save you.” Taking care of her
as she told him, he took her into the sea. In the year indicated he
fish, he built a ship. When the flood came, he went to the ship,
sailed fish, and he tied the rope of the ship to the horn of the fish. She quickly
swam to the North mountain.

She said, “I saved you. Tie the ship to a tree, so as not claimed
you water, while you’re on the mountain. When the water come, come on down
[from the mountain]”. [When the water subsided], he came down from the Northern mountains,
therefore it is called Manawaiopuna. The flood killed all living things, and
Manu was left alone in the living” — Satapatha-brahmana, I, 1, translated by V. V. Shevoroshkin

Translated by Yandex Translate