Myths are an attempt by pre-scientific people to explain the environment around them.(Lecture Jan, 09, 2003) Oftentimes myths would be started to explain why catastrophes occurred. It was not only easier, but also more entertaining to blame a benevolent being, rather than find the actual source. Myths are commonly confused with legends and fables. Legends are partially based on truth and they are normally started to entertain the masses.(Lecture Jan, 09, 2003) Fables, on the other hand, are a way of spreading morality, yet they too contain a level of entertainment.(Lecture Jan, 09, 2003) As a way of understanding ancient cultures, historians commonly look at myths. The The oldest written myth is The Epic of Gilgamesh, which bares strong resemblance to the Genesis Flood story, written 1500 years before.(Human pg. 7) Although the two stories have some differences, in general the plot lines are similar. .
Gilgamesh and Genesis have many similarities. Both tell of mass destruction. God of Genesis and the Gods of Gilgamesh killed all humans on the world except one religious man and his family.(Human, pg. 7) In both stories the mass destruction takes place by flooding and an ark is built to hold a pair of all the animals of the world. A deity intervenes to save mankind and when given the task of hero, both men complain about the assignment of building the ark. Another similarity is that the hero of both stories sends out three birds.(Discussion Jan, 09 2003) The third bird is the indicator of finding land. Both heroes sacrifice something to their god or gods. Also, both deities seem sorry for the destruction. During this period of time many cities laid on rivers. .
As a result of the myths containing flooding, the people were trying to explain a common occurrence. Yet, the people needed security from the fear of a flood wiping out the world. Hence, the gods or god promising to never wipe out the earth.