This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Comparative mythology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark) under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
In one of our ancient scriptures called Matsya Purana (Matsya means fish) there is a story about how Manu (the son of the Sun God) saved Earth upon the instructions of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu came to him in the avataar of a fish and told him that soon the entire world would be flooded. He asked him to build a ship and instructed to place all living beings on the boat to save them during the deluge guided by the fish avatar. Once the waters receded he would populate the earth. Sound familiar?
Similar flood stories have been found in religious text of other cultures.
Resource: Comparative mythology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark)
Main article: Flood myth
“The Genesis flood narrative is one of several similar flood myths. The earliest known written flood myth is the Sumerian flood myth found in the Epic of Ziusudra. Later and very similar Mesopotamian flood stories appear in the Epic of Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh texts. Many scholars believe that Noah and the biblical flood-story derive from the Mesopotamian versions, predominantly because biblical mythology that is today found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mandeanism shares overlapping consistency with far older written Mesopotamian stories of the Great Flood, and because the early Hebrews were known to have lived in Mesopotamia, particularly during the Babylonian captivity.
The parallels – both similarities and differences – between Noah’s ship and that of the Babylonian flood-hero Atrahasis have often been noted. Noah’s ship is a rectangle, while Atrahasis was instructed to build his in the form of a cube; Atrahasis’s ship has seven decks with nine compartments on each level, while Noah’s has three decks, but he is not given any instructions on the number of compartments to build. The word used for “pitch” (sealing tar or resin) is not the normal Hebrew word but is closely related to the word used in the Babylonian story.
The causes for God/gods having sent the flood also differ: in the Hebrew narrative the flood comes as God’s judgment on a wicked humanity; in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh the reasons are not given and the flood appears to be the result of the caprice of the gods; whereas in the Atrahasis version of the Babylonian flood story the flood was sent by the gods to reduce human over-population, and after the flood other measures were introduced to prevent the problem recurring.”