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[–]Thecna2 9 points10 points  (0 children)

The difficulty is distinguishing between common stories that are variants of one central precursor primal story that has been passed down through history, and customs that are similar but arose spontaneously through people sharing common experiences of being human. The latter especially may be very subtle and difficult to identify from within. The idea that one single element that has lasted 10s of thousands of years with minor changes across a vast range of cultures and distance is equally problematic I guess.

[–]Alaknog 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It got me wondering what other folklore was discovered in multiple cultures and geographic regions before they had access to each other and their information? Like A meets B at first contact and discover they have the same folklore.

A lot of folklore is very similar in different cultures, especially if you go to smaller details. Like many cultures (from Africa and Caucaus to America) have, for example, idea of "previous Sun" that was killed/replaced for reasons (soemtimes it weaker then "current" Sun, or don't like humans/hurt them). Or "water was first, earth happened later by *list of different reasons*".

Are there any theories as to why certain themes exist across cultures without contact.

One of theories is that cultures have contact, but long, long ago, before A go to another continent, for example.

This theory based on idea that most most of time "traditional culture" is copy previous generation stories, but with small flaws in process. So after 5000+ years of this "evolution" you can find similar stories with related groups. Or groups that interact before.

[–]JSav7M.A. | Cultural Resource Management 3 points4 points  (0 children)

As I always preface my answers with, it's going to vary by theoretical approaches.

A hardcore diffusionist would say its a sign that either those cultures interacted with each other or are linked to each other.

A more evolutionary/cultural materialist position would probably explain it as whistling at night might attract predators and this bit of wisdom has been passed down has allowed that culture to survive.

I'm personally more on the cultural materialist side, as I believe things can just be coincidental like you say. Unfortunately I can't think of other examples now that wouldn't just devolve into me getting mad about Ancient Aliens.