The great flood stories

10,800 BCE

Is there a relationship between Utnapishtim, Ziusudra and Noah?

There is a relationship between Utnapishtim, Ziusudra, and Noah. These three figures are all associated with flood myths that have similarities in Mesopotamian and biblical traditions.

Utnapishtim is the hero of the Mesopotamian flood myth, which is recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. According to the story, the gods decided to destroy humanity with a flood, but Utnapishtim was warned by the god Ea and built an ark to save himself, his family, and various animals. After the flood receded, Utnapishtim and his companions landed on a mountain and made sacrifices to the gods.

Ziusudra is another hero of a Mesopotamian flood myth, which is recorded in the Sumerian poem known as the Eridu Genesis. In this version of the flood story, Ziusudra is warned by the god Enki and also builds an ark to save himself, his family, and various animals. After the flood, Ziusudra makes sacrifices to the gods and is granted eternal life.

Noah is the hero of the biblical flood story, which is recorded in the Book of Genesis. According to the Bible, God decided to destroy humanity with a flood, but Noah was warned by God and built an ark to save himself, his family, and various animals. After the flood, Noah made sacrifices to God and was promised that humanity would never again be destroyed by a flood.


Ziusudra (also known as Ziusura or Zi-ud-sura) is a character from ancient Sumerian mythology and is considered by some to be the earliest known example of a flood hero. According to the Sumerian King List, Ziusudra was the last king of the city of Shuruppak before the Great Flood, which was sent by the gods as a punishment for the sins of humanity.

The story of Ziusudra and the Great Flood is similar to the story of Noah’s Ark in the Bible and other flood myths from around the world. In the Sumerian version, Ziusudra is warned by the god Enki of the impending flood and is instructed to build a large boat or ark to save himself, his family, and various animals.

After the flood subsides, Ziusudra and his companions offer sacrifices to the gods, and he is granted eternal life by the goddess Ninhursag as a reward for his obedience and piety. The story of Ziusudra is an important part of Sumerian mythology and has influenced later flood myths and legends in various cultures.

The story of Ziusudra is recounted in a Sumerian literary work known as the “Eridu Genesis,” which was written on clay tablets in cuneiform script around the 17th century BCE. The Eridu Genesis is considered one of the earliest known examples of a creation myth and flood narrative.

Here is an excerpt from the Eridu Genesis describing the flood and Ziusudra’s role in it:

“When the gods decided to send a flood, Enki, the god of water, warned Ziusudra in a dream to build a boat to save himself, his family, and the seed of all living creatures. Ziusudra followed the instructions of Enki and built the boat. (…) The flood began, and for seven days and seven nights, the storm raged, the flood waters rose, and all mankind was destroyed. (…) When the flood subsided, Ziusudra saw that he was alone and wept. He opened a window of the boat and saw the water receding. The boat came to rest on the top of a mountain, and Ziusudra released three birds to see if the water had receded enough. The third bird did not return, indicating that the waters had receded. Ziusudra then left the boat and offered a sacrifice to the gods. Enki granted him eternal life as a reward for his faith and obedience.”

Translation by Benjamin R. Foster

“When the gods decided to cause the Flood, Nintu [the goddess of childbirth] was weeping. Enki [the god of water and wisdom] said to her: ‘Nintu, stop weeping! For I myself will do something, and the people will be preserved in a wall.’ (…) Enki said to Zi-ud-sura: ‘O Zi-ud-sura, son of Ubara-Tutu, tear down the house and build a boat, abandon possessions and look for life, forsake worldly goods and preserve the soul alive! Aboard the boat take the seed of all living things.’ (…) In the evening, when the darkness set in, the storm and the flood broke loose. (…) The flood, which had struck terror into the hearts of men, had tossed the big boat about on the great waters like a reed. (…) The flood raged for seven days; it swept over the land for seven nights. When the Flood had swept over the land, and when the seventh day dawned, the storm and the flood ceased. (…) Zi-ud-sura looked out, he saw the expanse of the sea; he was silent, he sat down and wept. He surveyed the horizon, but there was no shoreline. (…) When the twelfth day dawned, the earth was visible. Zi-ud-sura then opened the hatch of the big boat, and the light fell upon his face. He knelt down, he sat down, he wept, tears flowed over his face. He looked in all directions; the sea was flat as a rooftop. He opened everything and saw land.”

The impact of a 10 km asteroid would blow a mass of vaporized rock and steam high above the atmosphere, forming an immense dust cloud that would slowly settle out through the atmosphere over a period of weeks, perhaps several months, perhaps several years. link

Similar stories

The Great Flood: Berossus

[53] In the second book, Berossus records the ten kings and the length of their reigns, 120 saroi or 432,000 years until the Great Flood. […]

Cronus appeared to Xisuthrus in a dream and revealed that on the fifteenth of the month Daisios mankind would be destroyed by a great flood. He then ordered him to bury together all the tablets, the first, the middle, and the last, and hide them in Sippar, the city of the sun. Then he was to build a boat and board it with his family and best friends. He was to provision it with food and drink and also to take on board wild animals and birds an all four-footed animals.

Then when all was prepared, he was to make ready to sail. If asked where he was going, he was to reply, “to the gods, to pray that all good things will come to man”. He did not stop working until the ship was built. Its length was five stades (one kilometer) and its breadth two (400 m). He boarded the finished ship, equipped for everything as he had been commanded, with his wife, children, and closest friends.

After the waters of the Great Flood had come and quickly left, Xisuthrus freed several birds. They found neither food nor a place to rest, and they returned to the ship. After a few days, he again set free some other birds, and they too came back to the ship, but they returned with claws covered with mud. Then later for a third time he set free some other birds, but they did not return to the ship.

[55] Then Xisuthrus knew that the earth had once again appeared.

He broke open a seam on a side of the ship and saw that the ship had come to rest on a mountain. He disembarked, accompanied by his wife and his daughter together with the steersman. He prostrated himself in worship to the earth and set up an altar and sacrificed to the gods.

After this, he disappeared together with those who had left the ship with him. Those who remained on the ship and had not gone out with Xisuthrus, when he and those with him had disembarked, searched for him and called out for him by name all about. But Xisuthrus from then on was seen no more, and then the sound of voice that came from the air gave the instruction that it was their duty to honor the gods and that Xisuthrus, because of the great honor he had shown the gods, had gone to the dwelling place of the gods and that his wife and daughter and the steersman had enjoyed the same honor.

The voice then instructed them to return to Babylonia to go to the city of Sippar, as it was fated for them to do, to dig up the tablets that were buried there and to turn them over to mankind. The place where they had come to rest was the land of Armenia. After they understood all this, they sacrificed to the gods there and went on foot to Babylonia.

To this day a small part of the ship that came to rest in Armenia remains in the Gordyenian Mountains in Armenia and some people go there and scrape off pieces of pitch to keep them as good luck charms.

And those who had arrived in Babylonia dug up the tablets in the city of Sippar and brought them out. They built many cities and erected temples to the gods and again renewed Babylonia.


Flood stories in the America’s

Flood story of the Hualapai, Arizona

In Arizona, the Hualapai have ancient rock carvings at Spirit Mountain that date back well before European arrival. These carvings depict a flood story with eight survivors.

Their historical narrative states, “For 45 days, rain poured down on the earth. The floodwaters destroyed all people except for an old man on Spirit Mountain.” Subsequently, he sent out a bird, which on its second journey brought back grass in its beak, signaling the retreat of the waters.

This narrative strikingly parallels the account in Genesis, where it is written, “Noah again sent out the dove from the ark. In the evening, the dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf in her mouth, indicating to Noah that the waters had subsided from the earth.” (Genesis 8:10-11)

Flood story of Havasupai tribe

The Havasupai tribe, residing in the Grand Canyon region, shares a flood story where a single girl survives by sheltering inside a hollow tree that floats on the floodwaters, akin to their version of Noah’s ark. According to their tale, “God placed food and other essentials inside this hollow tree and also created a lookout window for her.”

Tohono O’odham tribe in Arizona

The Tohono O’odham tribe in Arizona recounts a flood narrative featuring Montezuma, their version of Noah. They say Montezuma received a forewarning about a devastating flood set to destroy all life on earth. Heeding this prophecy, Montezuma constructed a boat in which he survived the flood. When the waters receded, his boat came to rest atop the highest peak of Santa Rosa. In their story, the roles of Noah’s raven and dove are replaced by a coyote.

Pima tribe

Similarly, the Pima tribe has a flood tale in which they were forewarned about the impending deluge. Their story tells of a man who survived the flood by floating on a ball of resin. They also claim to know the exact mountain where this floating ball eventually landed.

The Hopi tribe describes a cataclysmic event in their flood narrative, saying, “The earth was rent in great chasms,” as God unleashed a flood in his anger. In their version, the ark is replaced by hollow reeds that float on the water. Additionally, they recall sending out birds to determine if the floodwaters were receding.

The Navajo

The Navajo attribute the cause of the flood to human sinfulness and speak of a “reed of great size” that served as their floating refuge. Their story details, “Once everyone was safely inside, the opening sealed itself, just in time to shelter them from the roaring floodwaters outside.” They also vaguely remember the story of Noah’s raven and dove.

Acagchemem tribe of southern California

Similarly, the Acagchemem tribe of southern California has preserved the flood story in their songs. They recall God’s promise to Noah not to destroy the world again with a flood, echoing the biblical narrative.

The Cochiti

The Cochiti, a Pueblo tribe from New Mexico, share a flood story in which they constructed a large boat. They narrate, “They began to load the boat with a lot of corn and took various animals aboard, including a white pigeon.” After the rainfall ceased, the chief decided, “Let’s send the white pigeon to check if the earth is uncovered again.” When the pigeon returned, it carried a flower, which they interpreted as a sign that the flood was subsiding.

Owens Valley Paiute

The Owens Valley Paiute also have a flood narrative. They state, “Once the whole world was flooded.” According to their tale, one man managed to survive the deluge by staying in a boat. He spent a considerable amount of time paddling across the flooded earth until the waters eventually receded.

Apache tribe

In the Apache tribe’s flood story, Kuterastan, their equivalent of Noah, anticipated the flood and constructed a substantial vessel, referred to as a “tus.” He used gum from the pinion tree to seal it, similar to how pitch is used. Those who were with him entered the tus, and they sealed it shut. The narrative describes, “The flood completely submerged the earth for twelve days. Afterward, the waters receded, leaving the tus atop a hill.” At the conclusion of the flood, they dispatched two birds to explore the newly emerged land. Interestingly, one version of this story mentions the survival of seven people, one fewer than the eight survivors in the biblical account of Noah’s flood.

Iroquois tribe

In 1911, an elderly man from an Iroquois tribe recounted a flood tradition that was said to have wiped out all life, including “huge, serpentine sea and land animals” — possibly a reference to dinosaurs. According to the tradition, a few people were forewarned about the impending flood by the Great Spirit. These individuals, along with their selected animals, sought refuge on Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondack Mountains, which was the only land not engulfed by the floodwaters.

Interestingly, this Iroquois tradition not only recalled the occurrence of the flood but also its date. The old man shared that his people had celebrated the 4,000-year anniversary of their survival from the flood a few generations earlier. They gave thanks to the Great Spirit on the slopes of the significant Adirondack mountain. 4,000 years ago, would set the flood at 2388 BC.


Last Glacial Maximum

For thousands of years the Ur-Shatt (a confluence of the TigrisEuphrates Rivers) provided fresh water to the Gulf, as it flowed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of OmanBathymetric data suggests there were two palaeo-basins in the Persian Gulf. The central basin may have approached an area of 20,000 km2, comparable at its fullest extent to lakes such as Lake Malawi in Africa. Between 12,000 and 9,000 years ago much of the Gulf’s floor was not covered by water, only being flooded by the sea after 8,000 years ago.

The Last Glacial Maximum

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