In The Epic of Gilgamesh there is a being called Gilgamesh who is almost perfect. He is two-thirds god and one-third man. He is mortal, but walks equal with the gods of Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh had unintentionally won the heart of Ishtar, the goddess of love, but he rejected her love and in turn Ishtar wanted revenge. So she struck ill Gilgamesh's friend Enkidu out of anger for her unreturned love. Gilgamesh was upset that his actions had caused his friend pain. Enkidu died in shame and that only exacerbated Gilgamesh's rage. He fled his home in search of peace, and a man named Utnapishtim who could tell him of everlasting life.
He found Utnapishtim on a remote isle of paradise. He told Gilgamesh of the great flood that had deluged the earth and that he had been protected because Ea, the god of wisdom, had forewarned him. Ea had come to him in a dream telling him to build a boat and fill it with every creature on earth. He did so and the flood did indeed come in torrents. They survived and to see if the waters had subsided, Utnapishtim sent out three different birds to tell whether land had surfaced. The third never returned, telling that there was land.
In the book of Genesis in the Bible there is a tale of Noah and the Flood. Noah found himself in almost the exact same situation as Utnapishtim. God had been displeased with His creations on earth and decided to demolish all the evil He had created. He decided to flood the entire earth. Noah was a righteous man of virtue. God saw that Noah was a good man so He forewarned him of the flood. God told Noah to build a huge ark and to fill it with his family and two of every living creature on earth. Noah did as he was told and soon enough the floods came and lasted for forty days. To see if the waters had gone down, Noah sent out three doves into the vast waterworld to see if the waters had subsided. The first dove came back promptly to the ark, the second came back with a twig showing there was vegetation and land. The third of the doves did not return at all showing it had found a perching place.
These two stories are written by different cultures, with different beliefs and religions, and in somewhat different time periods, yet they seem to be the exact same event. Both Noah and Utnapishtim were forewarned of a great flood by their god. They were both told to construct a huge ark made of wood with multiple levels. After they built the arks they were to fill them with every living creature on earth. The amount of creatures put on each ark differed slightly however. In Noah's ark there were to be two of every living creature, and in Utnapishtim's ark there was to be the seed of every living creature. Another facet the stories had in common was that they both sent birds out of the arks to see if the flood waters had subsided, and in both cases the third time they sent out a bird, it did not return. In both stories the only land visible after the flood was a mountain. In Gilgamesh it was Mt. Nisir that they rested on. It is even said to be the equivalent of Mt. Arrat in Noah and the Flood, which was the mountain on which the bird found land.
The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in the Mesopotamian culture and the story of Noah and the Flood was written in the Hebrew culture. Now the Mesopotamian culture actually influenced the Israeli or Hebrew culture, which may be why these two stories seem to be so alike. Maybe Noah originated from Gilgamesh, maybe there really was a great flood, unfortunately those facts are lost in time.