As flash floods, tidal surges, cyclones, burst riverbanks and downpours have impacted on much of Eastern Australia, we’ve heard many references to the floods that have gone before. These floods stand as markers and reference points, in both practical and symbolic ways.
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This Assyrian tablet tells the story of a plan by the gods to destroy the world by means of a great flood. Ut-napishti, like the biblical Noah, builds a huge boat to rescue his family and every type of animal. When this tablet was first translated in 1872 it caused a sensation. How could the similarity between the Mesopotamian myth and the biblical Flood story be explained?
A piece of the world’s oldest literature
Mesopotamian poets had told versions of the story of the flood for 2,000 years before this tablet was written for King Ashurbanipal’s Library. This version is part of the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh - the first great epic of world literature. Gilgamesh is a hero who sets off on a quest for immortality. He battles with monsters and ultimately must confront his own nature and mortality.
In Margaret Atwood’s new novel, a natural disaster has altered the earth and wiped out most human life. Two women survive, and "The Year of the Flood" is their story. We speak with the author about her career, the new book and what she thinks the future holds for our fragile planet.