Historicity of The Flood

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Thu Jun 10 09:09:52 UTC 1999

I would rather support Michael Rabe's position, stressing

>> striking similarities that ... exist between the Matsya-avatar stories and
>> the Middle Eastern references to an ark

and object to Paolo Magnone's view,
acc. to which

> different flood traditions may have independently developed the
> idea of an "ark"; and ... the similarities do not go much
>beyond that.

Here are some other similiarities between Ancient Indian and Mesopotamian

1. Both INDIA and MESOPOTAMIA: a pious man is warned about the flood.
A god/fish gives him advice to build an ark/ship. The difference between two
forms of a benefactor is diminished by the fact that Sumerian/Mesopotamian
god Ea/Enki sometimes appears in the form of a fish.
2. MESOPOTAMIA: the pious man takes on board "the seed of souls of every kind";
INDIA: Manu takes on board "seeds of all kinds" (Mbh).
3. Number "7" plays some role in both myths, MIDDLE EAST: 7 months of the
flood (Bible), 7 nights of the flood, 7+7 incence-burners used in the final
sacrifice (Sumer); INDIA: 7 sages aboard the ship; 7 clouds of Doomsday flood
the earth.
4. Both INDIA and MESOPOTAMIA: landing at the top of a mountain.
5. Both: the final sacrifice. MIDDLE EAST: the God "sensed the smell of
Noah's sacrifice" (Bible), gods like flies sense the smell and come together
to Utnapishti's sacrifice; INDIA: Manu poured into the water clarified butter,
milk etc.: out of it arose IDA (ILA), soon after that "Mitra and VaruNa met
her", i.e. the sacrificial offering (as in Mesopotamian accounts too)
reached the gods.

There is one significant difference: Sanskrit versions contain no mention of
any bird sent to look for a dry land. However birds appear in some tribal
Indian flood myths: e.g., God sends two birds to see are there any survivors
after the flood, the birds perch on the "ark" (hollow log) and hear the voices
of children (survivors) inside (Kamars). It is tempting to view in this light
the well-known IVC representation of a ship with two birds on it.

Even without the "bird" motif, there are too many similiarities between Indian
and Mesopotamian flood myths and this points to some kind of genetic

         Indian myth has no Indo-European parallels. It was most probably
borrowed from a non-Aryan source (IVC heritage?). It is worth notice that
in its earliest form (Zatapatha BrAhmaNa) the fish appears without any name,
is not identified with anyone of Vedic gods, and this means probably that
the ZatBr story is a first stage in the process of assimilation of a foreign
(substratum?) myth. The similiarity between the hypothetical IVC flood myth
and the Mesopotamian one would not be a surprise for us (some mythological
motifs common for IVC and ancient Middle Eastern art have been discovered and
studied already by Parpola, During-Caspers and other scholars).

        I would be glad ti know what the participants of this discussion think
about my "list of similiarities".

        Best regards,
                                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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