Date of Publication

5-13-2013

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Ramsay, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Abstract

This paper addresses the theme of the creation myth in a selection of cultural groups. Cultures around the world have developed their own mythologies each with their own pantheon of gods, goddesses, and heroes. They also have been spreading throughout the world since the beginning of humankind. As such, each culture not only has a different way of explaining creation, but they each have different ideas as to how something was created, as well. Every mythology is either subtly or extremely different from other culture’s mythology which is why creation mythology is such an interesting topic; no two mythologies are identical, yet there can almost always be found at least one similarity between myths.

The creation of the universe, the Earth, and humans, are three major subjects covered in nearly, if not all creation mythology. It is part of the human condition to want to explain occurrences of the past, why things are the way they are within a present context, and to explain how something was created. The focus of my research is the comparison of the similarities and the differences found within each creation myth of the specific cultures I have chosen. Also, the myths relevance to modern society will also be examined. It is possible that by studying each cultures mythology, information on the beliefs, the practices, and the overall ideologies of that culture can too be revealed.

The cultures discussed within this analysis are the Iroquois Nation, the Aztec, the Inca, the Norse, the Mesopotamian, the Yoruba, the Chinese, and the Maori. These cultures were chosen since they are spread throughout the world both geographically and chronologically, which provides a holistic look at creation mythology. Specifically these cultures were located in what would today be considered, the eight major geographical areas of the world which are as follows: North America, Mesoamerica/Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania.

The structure of this paper will begin with an explanation of terms pertinent to the research. Then the theoretical analysis will be discussed followed by the methodology that was utilized. Background information of each culture, a synopsis of each culture’s creation mythology, and my analysis of the major themes found within the creation mythology will come next. The comparative analysis will also be described along with the diversity found between the eight chosen culture’s creation myths. Finally creation mythology’s relevance to modern society will be discussed.

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