The myth of a great flood – a terrible catastrophe, sent by divine power in time immemorial to destroy human civilization – is widespread among dozens of peoples of the world. The most famous of these myths are the biblical story of the Flood and Noah’s Ark, the Hindu legend of Manu, the tale of the Deucalion Flood in Greek mythology, the Babylonian myth of Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The earliest existing legend of the Flood appeared in the Ancient Sumer. The text of the Sumerian flood poem, dated to the 17th century BC. It was found during excavations of the city of Nippur and in 1914 it was published by Arno Poebel. The poem tells how the god Enki warned the king-priest Ziusudra about the decision of the gods to destroy mankind. Enki ordered the king to build a large boat. The flood lasted seven days and seven nights, after which Ziusudra left his ship and sacrificed bulls and sheep. Then the hero was instructed to populate the land again.