In the society in which it is told, a creation myth is usually regarded as conveying profound truths, metaphorically, symbolically and sometimes in a historical or literal sense. They are commonly, although not always, considered cosmogonical myths – that is, they describe the ordering of the cosmos from a state of chaos or amorphousness.

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The Creation (c. 1896–1902) by James Tissot

Creation myths often share a number of features. They often are considered sacred accounts and can be found in nearly all known religious traditions. Creation myths develop in oral traditions and therefore typically have multiple versions; found throughout human culture, they are the most common form of myth.

We are familiar with creation myths from ancient Israel, but how much do you know about those of Israel’s neighbours, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Hittites and the Egyptians? Further afield, Viking, Kikuyu, Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, Japanese and Navajo myths abound.

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