EthnoAstronomy: Star Myths Deluge Stories
The story of a devastating flood is a notable aspect in several existant Mesopotamian mythic compositions. From the early second millennium BC, the Sumerian King List notes that a flood separates antedeluvian dynasties from a longer list of dynasties, the first after the flood being Kish. After Kish, kingship was transferred to Uruk where figures well known from Mesopotamian literature include Gilgamesh as king.
While Pitman and Ryan’s core samples demonstrate a massive flood around 5600 B.C., their hypothesis that it was the same flood that gave rise to the Biblical and Babylonian legends is in dispute by scientists who think that memory of the flood could not have survived intact through oral history for 2,500 years until writing was invented by the Sumerians in 3000 B.C.
But we have the constellations, those visual mnemonics whose origins are indeed ancient. Perhaps we have here in these constellation names and placement a faint memory of human witness and perhaps history. Did the constellations inspire the myth or did the myth inspire the constellations? Perhaps the latter is the case, for what better way to aid the memory, and establish a truth-kernel, than to associate the constellation star-patterns with these ancient stories.