After the last ice age, sea-levels quite understandably rose. This is another area I feel both science and religion have dropped the ball. Science merely states there was an average rise in sea-levels of 180 metres between 10,000BC and 2500BC. Religion will tell you a flood covered the whole planet and wiped out all life except for a chosen few. Of course they are both right and wrong at the same time. The thaw and by consequence the flooding, fluctuated in both speed and volume. It would also be more localised than legends suggest.
For centuries - even millennia - the thaw would have been slow and gradual. On occasion something would occur to briefly accelerate the process and there would be a sudden rapid meltdown and rise in sea-levels, before once again slowing to a comparative trickle. The ancient Greeks mentioned many deluges but the Mediterranean was particularly vulnerable to rising sea-levels. The Chinese give the earliest accounts but dating is disputed. I lean towards between 3500-3200BC from what I have read on the matter, the source being the dating of dynasties. However my research into the Chinese accounts of a deluge were not detailed enough to comment with any authority.
All the other accounts, in geographical areas pertinent to this study, suggest a series of deluges occurring over vast areas between 3000-2800BC. God/Zeus/whoever, was once again the scapegoat, he sent the deluge to wash away the sins of mankind or some such nonsense. Whilst there is no doubt the flooding occurred, and even around the time speculated, it was not how it is commonly portrayed and God is innocent.
Another thing to consider with these legends (I don't believe they are myths), is just what was the cargo, I mean two of every species? Impossible! Well so you would think. Once again I am of the opinion the problem with religious accounts is merely a failure to interpret these legends correctly. Going back to Noah, how difficult would it be to build a boat large enough to house the indigenous species of Israel 5000 years ago? What were there? Goats, sheep, maybe camels, certainly not a lot else that would require much space. No elephants, giraffes, or tigers for instance.
There are a variety of accounts as to where Noah lived. The similarity to the accounts of Utnapishtim could be a reason many believed Noah lived in Mesopotamia. It could also indicate Noah and Utnapishtim were one and the same. It really is of no consequence. So when we boil it all down, the Great Deluges occurred globally between 3200-2800BC but not everywhere at the same time. Nor were Noah and Utnapishtim - and families - the sole survivors. All that really matters is that the floods did occur but they weren't sent by a deity to punish mankind.
Tomorrow we move on to the next section 'Deception'. This is the period when history really began and with it, all the woes of the world.