Longevity Myths and Legends

An Introduction to Legends of Incredible Lifespans and Miraculous Longevity

Longevity is surrounded by numerous myths and legends from around the world. Some of the most popular legends remain in the realm of the mythical; they are stories that have been told for hundreds or even thousands of years that include mythical characters or places. Other legends of longevity are based closer to reality as they involve places where people are reputed to live extremely long and healthy lives.

When it comes to those more recent legends of longevity, it can still be hard to separate fact from fiction (or at least exaggeration). While the life spans of the people who live or lived in these real places can be difficult to verify, it is true that certain cultures do not suffer from many of the chronic illnesses seen across the world. And there are certainly communities known for their number of lively centenarians.

Though today many longevity legends are meant to entertain or teach, those based in fact present a unique learning opportunity. What can you learn from these 10 common longevity legends?

The Garden of Eden

garden of eden
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In the Genesis stories about the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given eternal life. It was not until they sinned against God that death and disease were introduced into the world.

The Quest for the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is said to be the chalice from which Jesus and His disciples drank from during the Last Supper. Legend has it that anyone who drank from the Holy Grail would be granted an extraordinarily long life. This promise, however mythical, prompted many of the real quests for the Holy Grail and the lasting legends.

The Fountain of Youth

Most in the Western world know the Fountain of Youth as a spring that Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon went looking for in what is now the state of Florida in 1513. It was said that anyone who drinks from, or bathes in the Fountain would have his or her youth restored. More

Shangri La

Shangri La was the name of a fictional place in a 1933 novel entitled Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Shangri La has since entered the culture as a hidden, perfect place often associated with long life, health, and happiness. Often perceived as a secluded valley, Shangri La has been sought by researchers and adventurers. More


According to the Book of Genesis (5:27), Methuselah lived an incredible 969 years. He is the father of Lamech (who he fathered at age 187) and the grandfather of Noah. According to the stories, Methuselah died in the year of the Great Flood. More


Gilgamesh was an ancient Babylonia king who went on a quest for eternal life. The story goes that in the quest, he failed to fulfill the command to stay awake for 7 days and 7 nights and the secret of immortality is thus taken from him.

The Hunza Valley

The Hunza Valley in Pakistan is said to be a place that fosters long life. Legend has it that the Hunza people routinely live until 90 in good health, with many living as long as 120. The Hunza people do, in fact, live healthy lives into old age. They eat a diet primarily of fruits, grains, and vegetables. More

The Vilcabamba

Many of the inhabitants of the Vilcabamba Valley in the southern region of Ecuador are reported to reach 100 and beyond in good health. Some people attribute this longevity to the natural mineral water. However, most experts believe that the claims of the Vilcabamba to have reached ages of 120 and beyond are probably exaggerated. More

The Abkhasia

The Abkhasia are a people living in the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia. They have a reputation for extremely long and healthy lives. In the 1960s and 1970s, claims were made for lifespans of 150 years, marriages at 110, and fatherhood at 136. Though these claims are likely exaggerated, the Abkhasia remain one of the longest living people. More

Greek Legends

The legends and myths of the Greeks are filled with the adventures of the immortal gods and humans who seek immortality through their deeds or through the acts of the gods.

Our obsession with longevity has only continued since then.

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