Great Flood legends of the world

The Deluge ~

The Deluge by John Martin, 1834
The Deluge by John Martin, 1834 | Source

The Great Flood ~

The Christian story of Noah and the Great Flood is not a unique recording in the history of mankind. There are over 500 "Great Flood" legends from different cultures around the world.

It has long been known that legends of a great flood, in which almost all men perished, are widely diffused over the world ...

- Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, pg. 105

— James George Frazer

A few flood legends ~

Following are just a few of the many flood legends from different regions of the world. The event was of such major proportions to each civilization that it was recorded in some way for future generations to read and learn from. The basic teaching of each legend is one of moral responsibility that had been given to mankind by a Supreme Being.

Sumerian ~

The earliest known record of the great flood was found inscribed on a clay tablet excavated in Nippur, Iraq, the most ancient of all Sumerian cities. The Sumerians left a record of an ancient flood on clay tablets - the words carved deeply, dating to around 1600 BC.

Ziudsura, a priest and the last king of Sumer before the deluge, found out there was a pending disaster coming and that the gods conferred and made a decision to not save mankind. An ark was built by Ziudsura, or Atrahasis in a later version of the story.

The floods came and the huge ark survived after seven days and seven nights of storms and tremendous waves. When the flood was over, Ziudsura prostrated himself before the sky god, An, and was given eternal life because he preserved the animals and seed of mankind.

Ruins in Nippur, Iraq ~

Ruins of a temple platform in Nippur-the brick structure on top was constructed by American archaeologists around 1900.
Ruins of a temple platform in Nippur-the brick structure on top was constructed by American archaeologists around 1900. | Source

Greece ~

In Book I of Ovid's Metamorphoses, ancient Greek mythology, Zeus became angry because King Lyacon of Arcadia, sacrificed a young boy to Zeus. This father of all gods was so infuriated about the savage sacrificial offering that he caused a great deluge to destroy the entire Bronze Age. Deucalion, son of Prometheus, was saved from the deluge because his father warned him of the coming disaster. Deucalion built a chest for him and his wife, Pyrrha.

Deucalion and Pyrrha gave thanks to Zeus for their survival then consulted the oracle of Themis as to how they could repopulate Earth. They were told to cover their heads and throw the bones of their mother over their shoulders. To ancient Greeks, Earth was Gaia, the Mother of all living things. Deucalion and Pyrrha did as they were told by picking up stones to cast over their shoulders. When the stones landed, they became people. Thus, the only surviving couple repopulated Earth.

Deucalion and Pyrrha ~

Engraving by Virgil Solis Deucalion and Pyrrha from a 1562 version of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Engraving by Virgil Solis Deucalion and Pyrrha from a 1562 version of Ovid's Metamorphoses. | Source

India, The Deluge of Manu ~

The legend of The Deluge of Manu is included in the Shatapatha Brahmana, which was written in the 8th to 6th centuries BCE.

Sraddhadeva Manu, king of Dravida, was told by the appearance of the Matsya avatar of Vishnu about the pending Great Flood of cosmic proportion that would destroy the world.

Manu built a boat large enough to hold his family, the seven sages (saints), 9 types of seeds, and animals. When the deluge was about to come, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha (primal serpent deity of creation) appeared as a rope. Manu fastened the rope to his boat and the other end to Vishnu.

From the Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the Mahabharata:

And Manu was endowed with great wisdom and devoted to virtue. And he became the progenitor of a line. And in Manu's race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas.

— Mahabharata

Matsya avatar of Vishnu ~

Matsya avatar of Vishnu pulls Manu's boat after having defeated a demon.Painting by unknown author, c. 1820
Matsya avatar of Vishnu pulls Manu's boat after having defeated a demon.Painting by unknown author, c. 1820 | Source

Abrahamic, Noah's Ark ~

In the legend of Noah and the Ark, God decided to destroy the world due to the immoral acts of people, and to return Earth to the state it was in prior to Creation, which was nothing but water.

He instructed Noah, who had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, to build an ark that would house his family and two of every sort of living things, plus grains, seeds, and foods. This was done, the ark loaded and locked up, then the flood came and destroyed all life except what was on Noah's ark. Noah and his people were on the ark for about five or six months. The ark came to rest on top of Mount Ararat in Turkey.

After the waters subsided God made a covenant (Genesis 9:1-17) with Noah that He would never again destroy the world with a flood. The covenant was sealed by the sign of a rainbow, which appeared after the storm and is seen as God's promise, known as the Rainbow Covenant.

Noah's Thank Offering ~

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch)
Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) | Source

Hopi, Native American ~

The Hopi people of the Southwest, United States, believe we are currently in the Fourth World. Their legends tell of three previous worlds that were destroyed by Creator Taiowa and his nephew, Sotuknang. Each world thus far were destroyed because of sins, wickedness, and warring of the people. Creator had instructed Sotuknang to create nine worlds.

Sotuknang created Grandmother Spider to create life on the First World and to be a messenger between the people and Creator.

The First World was destroyed by fire after Sotuknang told the good people to go underground and live with the ant people. After the lands cooled off, the people emerged into the Second World.

Again, Sotuknang told the people to go back underground while he destroyed the Second world by having the two minor gods who held the north and south poles to leave their posts, which caused the world to spin and tumble. Great mountains fell into bodies of water and the world froze. The people emerged into the Third World.

When the frozen world began to melt, Grandmother Spider followed Creator's instructions and helped the people emerge into the Fourth World, where she placed them in reeds which she then sealed shut. The melting ice caused the Great Flood. The Hopi journeyed many days till they found and landed in a mountainous region where they populated and restored the Fourth World.

There is a petroglyph in Mesa Verde National Park that shows the place where the Hopi emerged each time into the new worlds. From where they emerged is called the Sipapu - it is very sacred to the Hopi. The location of the Sipapu is somewhere in the Grand Canyon, the Hopi will not disclose the exact spot of the place they emerged from.

Hopi Petroglyph ~

Sipapu, means Womb of Mother Earth. A petroglyph in Mesa Verde National Park. The boxy spiral shape likely represents the sipapu, the place where the Hopi believe they emerged from the earth after the flood into (this) the fourth world.
Sipapu, means Womb of Mother Earth. A petroglyph in Mesa Verde National Park. The boxy spiral shape likely represents the sipapu, the place where the Hopi believe they emerged from the earth after the flood into (this) the fourth world. | Source

Thoughts to ponder on ~

When thinking or reading about any of the flood legends, in any culture, many questions may come to mind. It is very possible that the "world" in an ancient culture was only the lands the people knew of and lived in. It is more than likely in those very early days of humanity that people had no concept of other parts of the planet, nor did they know other civilizations other than their own even existed and survived.

Archaeologists are discovering new civilizations quite often. Just recently, in Dmanisi, Georgia located in central Asia, a human skull over one million years old was discovered. It adds to the collection of four other human skulls from the same area and time period.

Now, according to what is known as the Young Earth creationists, the Earth is only about 10,000 years old. The Old Earth creationists are of the belief which is in line with mainstream scientific thoughts, that Earth is over four billion years old. Well, the skulls found in Asia are 1.8 million years old. This is an interesting study to look into, but is better done in a more comprehensive manner than what can be done in this article.

Now, back to the flood. To use Noah as an example, when he was building his ark and gathering all the people, animals, supplies needed, was he aware that in a land that would one day become North America the Hopi people were preparing their own boats and supplies to survive the destruction of the "Third World"? No - he did not know about those who had to navigate waters that forged the Grand Canyon in Southwest America, nor did the Hopi know about Noah.

The Hopi and Noah only knew that Great Spirit / God had given the instructions on how to survive and begin a new civilization. Unaware of other civilizations, all those humans did what they had to do in their own little "world", believing they were the only humans to come out of the flood alive - therefore, they believed they were the first humans of the new world from which all other humans descended. By passing down verbal history to generation after generation, then eventually by written word, each legend could very well be based on factual happenings of the entire world where many human civilizations thrived, lost most of their people in a flood, and a handful survived to be the ancestors of all mankind.

If all of the flood legends are true, it would mean that it was not just one group that survived to populate the world, but over 500 groups that survived and restored the world and humanity. If there were on average 10 people per group (hypothetical), then 5000 people, with their animals, survived the Great Flood. This would explain how animals were dispersed over a wide area of the planet.

Were all these floods phenomenal flukes of Nature at different times that wiped out only some lands, or was it one cosmic cataclysm that destroyed the whole world at once?

~ ~ ~ ~

Have you read or heard about these flood legends before?

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Note from author ~

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

I write on several different subjects, all evergreen articles. You can read more about me and see more articles I wrote by clicking on my name by the small picture of me at the top right of this page.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor

~ ~ ~ ~

© 2015 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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Comments 33 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 22 months ago from The Beautiful South

So very interesting. I only knew of Noah's flood time. Time does not hurt my faith; such as a skull millions of years old. One; I am not really sure they can date it that well and two, time is of no importance in the scheme of things I don't think, especially knowing a thousand years is like a day to God.

Your article is very well done as always and so much food for thought. ^+


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jackie. I have another friend who told me the same thing, that "time is of no importance in the scheme of things". I just love to research and sometimes toss out an article with a lot of different things to ponder on.

Thank you so much for reading, commenting and the votes.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 22 months ago from New York

This was fascinating. Putting all these floods together certainly says there was a flood. I've always believed in Noah's story and I totally agree time has no importance in the scheme of things because who knows how time was measured.

This was a great read Phyllis and as always your interesting facts read like a good story.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Mary. My goodness, thank you so much. I had fun collecting these stories and finding images to match. I so appreciate your reading, lovely comment and votes. Thank you!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton

Informative, fun- fiction/fact, collection..that's what I call it, but I know research had you feeling excited.. because I displayed excitement reading your hub Phyllis..:)


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

wow, i never heard of the great flood, except Noah's Ark, great hub


Jasmeetk profile image

Jasmeetk 22 months ago from India

very interesting.. read about all these great flood legends for the first time. Thanks for the information!!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Frank. So happy to know it excited you so. I could have gone on and on with this hub - there are many more legends from around the world. Thank you very much, dear Frank.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Peachy. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jasmeetk. You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting.


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

Absolutely wonderful. You put the Noah's Ark story into context. My personal belief is that the floods you discuss were all local floods in the world known to the people who created the legend. I doubt a world wide flood would have left any survivors. The animals taken onto the arks and boats would have been live stock animals not every single animal in their world. Voted up and sharing.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Catherine. Glad you enjoyed the legends. I appreciate your reading and commenting - votes and share, too. Thanks so much.


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 22 months ago from Minnesota

The legends are interesting to read about on your hub, Phyllis. Someday I hope we will all know the true accounts of how and what happened. Just maybe, we will.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi colorfulone. I believe we will know all truths someday about these legends. It is remarkable, really, how similar they all are. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.


DWDavisRSL profile image

DWDavisRSL 22 months ago from Eastern NC

The parallels that can be found among the stories and legends of ancient peoples makes a fascinating study. In my Social Studies classes this year my students have been amazed to learn how closely tied many of the creation myths are among early civilizations that would have had barely, in any, contact with one another.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi DW. It is a fascinating study, one I often delve into and enjoy. Thank you for the visit and comment.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 22 months ago from sunny Florida

I read this yesterday and am not sure if I got to comment...lots interrupts us at times.

But it was so interesting to me to read this. I had so little knowledge of the 'other' floods. I will be rereading this as it is so filed with information that I find so fascinating.

Also please know I reposted a hub I wrote and I mention you in it at the very beginning to thank you !!! Angels are on the way to you ps


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Patricia. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I so appreciate it. I am having minor surgery this afternoon, so must get going here. I will read your hub later and look forward to it. Thank you and bless you and yours.


newjerusalem profile image

newjerusalem 22 months ago from India

It's really an in-depth study of violent floods that caused great damages and unique changes in the human history. I appreciate your idea to work on this subject. Thanks for sharing this in Hub Pages.


DDE profile image

DDE 22 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Incredible! I like the photos and you enlightened me on different topic.


tlcs profile image

tlcs 22 months ago from Hampshire, UK

Good read Phyllis, thank you. I hope your minor surgery went well.


tlcs profile image

tlcs 22 months ago from Hampshire, UK

Good read Phyllis, thank you. I hope your minor surgery went well.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 22 months ago from Dubai

Very interesting and informative hub. So many interpretations of the Great Food in different religions and cultures. Enjoyed reading and voted up.


Jackie 21 months ago

Lost your email; hope you are doing well!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi newjerusalem. You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Devika. Thank you so much. I apologize for not replying sooner. I just got out of hospital this morning. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi tlcs.. Glad you enjoyed the hub. My minor surgery involved some repair on an unknown injury a little further up the spine, which left me in need of being heavily medicated for pain and three weeks of rehabilitation to be able to walk again. Thank you for asking and thank you for reading and commenting.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Vellur. This is a very interesting subject based on legends from so many cultures of the world. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jackie. I am just back home from hospital. It will take another week or two to get back to my normal strength and endurance - more likely I will be better than before due to all the therapy I have had the last three weeks and exercises I must continue to do every day. Hope all is well with you.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 21 months ago from the Ether

Loved this article, Phyllis. I always found the great flood legends very interesting, but I did not know that there are more than 500 of them! That confirms it for me that they many if not all of them probably happened at the same time. Makes sense to me! Thanks for sharing with us.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi KItty. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. Romeos Quill sent me a link to read about the Great Flood - he says it is interesting and provides some truths to how many survivors there were. Thanks again for your visit.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 21 months ago from Massachusetts

Hi Phyllis. Simply fascinating. I am certainly aware of the flood related to Noah's Ark but was not familiar with the others. Thank you for the history lesson.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Bill. Growing up, I had only heard of Noah's flood. So, I was surprised and fascinated when I found out there were others recorded. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

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