A THEORY OF HOW IT HAPPENED
We are not told where human civilization began, but we are given several hints throughout other culture’s documented flood accounts, archaeological evidence, and the Biblical account of the events during the flood that we can piece together to form a plausible theory for the location of the great flood of Noah. This is just one of many theories that exists to determine the location of the Genesis flood talked about in the Bible.
The theory: At the onset of the flood, water begins pouring over the Gibraltar dam, slowly at first then building to a rapid torrent of tsunami proportions as the Atlantic Oceans pours in. At the same time, God brings the rain to rain upon the land. The land shakes and geysers spring up from underneath. The people are swept away by the swiftness of the water. It comes so fast and so hard that no man can stand against it. They have no time to run for the mountains to escape its fury.
As we see in the story of Atrahasis, “Its power came upon the peoples like a battle, one person did not see another, they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe. The deluge belowed like a bull…” and in the Epic of Gilgamesh,
“all day long the South Wind blew, blowing fast – and then the Flood came, overwhelming the people like an attack. No one could see his fellow, they could not recognize each other in the torrent.” This wasn’t a calm and steady rising of a level basin, rising between mountains like water in a bathtub. This was a catastrophe of Biblical proportions that washed the land clean, wiping out any man and animal in its path.
The flood waters swarm the Mediterranean basin, catastrophically raising the sea level for the people living there. With no where else to go, the torrent breaks through to the Black Sea at the Strait of Bosporus, which had prior been a fresh water lake. It rushes over the lowlands of Egypt and into the Red Sea. It flows over the fertile crescent to engulf the land of Mesopotamia. The Ark, caught up in the raging waters, gets pushed back into a pocket of calm water along the mountains of Ararat where it safely rides out the remainder of the onslaught. God sends a wind that causes the waters to gradually recede from the land and dry them out.
The terrain of the land is well suited to support such a deluge. The high mountains on the east of the fertile crescent help to contain and channel away the water, while providing a safe resting place for the ark to wait out the storm.
As we will see below, the Mediterranean Sea is unsustainable without the constant influx of water from the Atlantic Ocean. Without the oceanic movement of water into the Mediterranean, the sea would dry up due to the insufficient amount of water from the rivers that flow into it and the hot climatic conditions of the region. Deep sea drilling by geologists, also mentioned below, located the rock salt deposits and subsequent sedimentary layers which shows that the Mediterranean basin has sustained evaporation, and periods of low sea levels.
The flux of water flowing into the Mediterranean may have been due to several factors including: Ice Age glaciation and warming, tectonic activity, and the damming and opening of the Straits of Gibraltar. Whatever the cause, it appears that during the recent past, within the time frame of man, the Mediterranean was at a low sea level.
THE SUMARIAN KING’S LIST
The Sumerian King List is a manuscript of ancient origin listing the kings of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia), their reign lengths, and the location of the “official” kingship which was believed to be handed down by the gods.1 The list divides the early history of Mesopotamia into two sections: the reign of the pre-flood antediluvian kings (beginning at Eridu), and the reign of the post-flood kings (beginning at Kish).2
“The ancient compilers of the King List regarded the Noachian Flood as an event that made a breach in the continuity of Mesopotamian history; certain cities suddenly being made desolate, while other cities were rebuilt on the ruins of the flood.”2
The Weld-Blundell Prism is a clay four sided object, each side being about 20cm high and 9cm wide. Inscribed on it is the most complete surviving list of the Sumerian kings from c. 3200-1800 BCE.3 At the end of the Eridu reign of kings, it states “then the flood swept over.” The Kish list begins “after the flood had swept over, and the kingship had descended from heaven, the kingship was in Kish.”4 Before the flood, the long lifespan of the kings resembled that of which is found in Genesis and after the flood, they are dramatically shortened.
This interruption in the chronology dates to approximately 2900 BC. Archeological digs in the southern portion of Mesopotamia (Iraq) revealed evidence of localized flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. A sedimentery layer radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC interrupts the continuity of settlement, extending as far north as the city of Kish. Additionally, polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (3000-2900 BC) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum.1
RECENT MEDITERRANEAN GEORGRAPHY
Archaeology shows that humans once lived in a world with a lower Mediterranean sea level. A few of many examples are: 1) ancient structures underneath the Black Sea, 2) an entrance to a cave with human paintings that are only accessible today by divers, 3) the Egyptian Sphinx that shows water erosion in a desert, 4) an underwater Maltese temple, 5) the sinking of the Aegean Sea, 6) and writings by Plato about the “lost island of Atlantis” which may not be as fabled as some believe.
The Black Sea
The Black Sea, located just north of the Mediterranean Sea, is connected to the ocean waters by the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus straits. The Dardanelles is 55m (180.45 ft) deep and the Bosphorus is 36m (118.11 ft).5
The freshwater Black Sea basin was also home to an ancient civilization which no longer exists, the evidence of which is found underwater along the coastlines of the Black Sea where man-made structures were found in 100m (328 ft) of water.5
“Recent explorations have turned up direct evidence that the Black Sea (which lies north and west of the Mountains of Ararat) was once a fertile valley inhabited by many people. Geological studies of the Black Sea done by the Russian research vessel Aquanaut have revealed that this region was once a much smaller fresh water lake hundreds of feet below the present sea level.
The shore line of that lake was surrounded with villages and core samples estimate an age (via radioactive Carbon dating) that places the demise of those cultures around the same time as generally accepted for Noah’s deluge, roughly 5000 years ago.”7
Led by Robert Ballard, a team of marine archaeologists identified what appeared to be “ancient shorelines, freshwater snail shells, drowned river valleys, tool-worked timbers, and man-made structures in roughly 100 metres (330 ft) of water off the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey.”8
Cosquer Cave – French Cave Paintings
The Cosquer Cave is located in France, on the Mediterranean Sea. What is unique about this cave is that “the only entrance to the cave is through a tunnel that is 125 feet (37m) below the water and 575 feet long. This long, sloping tunnel leads to the large, air-filled main chamber of the cave.”9 Inside the cave are no less than 125 paintings of animals, and 55 depictions of hands.10
The Cosquer Cave is one of many caves found in France with the same type of art. Some of the animals depicted in these renderings are now extinct, such as the Irish Elk.11 The latest remains of which have been radiocarbon dated to about 7,700 years ago.12
The Egyptian Sphinx
The Egyptian Sphinx lies in the Northern part of Egypt on the Giza Plateau. It was carved out of limestone and bears the likeness of a lions body with the head of a man.
The French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero surveyed the Sphinx in 1886 and concluded:
“The Sphinx stela shows, in line thirteen, the cartouche of Khephren.14 I believe that to indicate an excavation carried out by that prince, following which, the almost certain proof that the Sphinx was already buried in sand by the time of Khafre14 and his predecessors [i.e. Dynasty IV, c. 2575–2467 BC].”15
If the Sphinx was not built by Pharaoh Khafra, then where did it come from? One theory suggests that a people who live in the area before the Egyptian’s built it. The Sphinx was last uncovered from the desert sand at the turn of the 20th century and it must constantly be worked at to keep it clear. If it was left to itself, it would be covered by sand again in as little as fifty years.16
So what caused the erosion of the Sphinx? Dr. Robert Schoch, professor of geology at Boston University, was asked to evaluate the nature of the erosion of the Sphinx.
“After careful investigation, Schoch concluded that the “weathering” of the Sphinx was done by water, rather than by wind and sand as commonly believed; that it was first created back during the alluvial period toward the end of the Ice Age when Egypt was experiencing copious amounts of rainfall; and that the Sphinx must be at least 7,000 years old.”16
On the day of the Spring equinox in the year 10,500 B.C., the Sphinx would be looking at the constellation Leo the lion in the morning sky. It is also argued that the head of the Sphinx was originally the head of a lion.16 A London University geologist and Egyptologist, Colin Reader noticed that the Egyptian head we see today is too small in proportion to the body of the Sphinx. In addition, the face is not as eroded as the body, even though it should be more so since it has been exposed to weather. Reader believes the head of the original sphinx has been re-sculpted from a lion’s head into an Egyptian pharaoh-style head.16 It is believed that an unknown culture may have sculpted it in the Predynastic times – the evidence of which may lie on several pieces of Predynastic ivory labels seen here (under “A Predynastic Sphinx”).
Regardless of its origins, the Sphinx apppears to have the signs of water erosion, as opposed to sand and wind. Since the Egyptian desert only receives 1″ annually of rainfall, this alone would not support its degredation.17
“According to Schoch, the area has experienced a mean annual rainfall of approximately one inch (2.5 cm) since the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2134 BC), such that, since Egypt’s last period of significant rainfall ended between the late fourth and early 3rd millennium BC, the Sphinx’s construction must date to the 6th millennium BC or 5th millennium BC.”17
A significant source of water was involved in its erosion, compounded by rain.
Submerged Temples of Malta
The island of Malta lies in the heart of the Mediterranean. Just off the coast of Malta (about 1.5 miles out) and under 19m of water, lie the ruins of what appears to be a temple, named Gebel Gol-Bahar. This find is however controversial as not much investigation has been done on the site. It is claimed that the structures found are kidney shaped and resemble those that can be seen on land today. An 7-minute underwater video of this temple can be seen here.
“Malta has huge ancient structures that are now dated as 9,000 years old or older and are said by orthodox archaeologists to be the oldest stone ruins in the world. Malta is now a small rocky island that once had elephants and shows evidence of having been destroyed in a huge cataclysmic wave.”18
The Lost Island of Atlantis
In about 360 BC, Plato wrote about a lost “continent” named Atlantis. According to the story, Atlantis became corrupt and greedy and the Gods decided to destroy them. A violent earthquake ensued, bringing giant waves that engulfed the land and the city of Atlantis sank into the sea never to be seen again. Does this sound familiar?
“There were earthquakes and floods of extraordinary violence, and in a single dreadful day and a night…the island of Atlantis was…swallowed up by the sea and vanished.” –Plato Timaeus and Critias
It is presumed that Plato took some artistic license to write the story, but there remains enough factual details that the island of Atlantis is believed by some to be a real place. Plato also talked about the formation of the Greek Islands and Aegean Sea from the devastating earthquake and flood that destroyed Atlantis at this same time.
“The consequence is, that in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left.”19
“…the mere skeleton of the land being left.” ~Plato
He also tells of abundant fountains and springs of fresh water in the fertile plain of Attica. One theorist suggests that the “increased hydraulic pressure from tidal waves in the Black Sea, possibly aided by the earthquake and aftershocks, catastrophically fractured the proposed subterranean outflow channel into the Mediterranean Sea. The subterranean channel ruptured from the hydraulic pressure of the surging waters within the channel beneath. A series of three magnificent fountains, as geysers, broke through the fractures and erupted in the heartland of Attica. The hydraulic pressure of the immense geysers excavated the present-day Sea of Marmara.”20
MESSINIAN SALILITY CRISIS
In the 1970s, while looking for a seismic feature in the Mediterranean Sea, geologists drilling 3,000m into the sea floor happened across a layer of salt sandwiched between sedimentary layers.21 Halite (or rock salt) forms in large beds of sedimentary evaporite minerals that result from the drying up of enclosed lakes, playas, and seas.22 On top of this salt layer, a thick layer of anhydrite was found – an evaporite rock common in salt basins.23 This rock and salt layer were subsequently found across the Mediterranean. This era of salt deposition is referred to as the Messinian Salinity Crisis.
The geography and climate of the Mediterranean basin does not allow the survival of a sea without the Atlantic Ocean flowing into it. The rivers which flow into the basin do not have enough volume to support the heavy evaporation that occurs to the water in this area.
“The dry and hot Mediterranean basin has been an area with a negative precipitation-evaporation budget for millions of years. Without a significant inflow of Atlantic Ocean water, the Mediterranean Sea cannot be sustained.”23
The salt layer meant that the Mediterranean Sea had been exposed to the salty ocean, its water source then cut off and then its waters evaporated, leaving the salt behind. The Messinian Salinity Crisis came to an end with the deposit of the next layer of sedimentary rock, laid down by what is known as the Zanclean flood.
The Zanclean Flood is theorized to have occurred directly after the Messinian Salinity Crisis about 5 million years ago, based on the subsequent sedimentary rocks layers which lay above the salt layers in the Mediterranean Sea. The theory states that the Straits of Gibraltar were opened to allow the Atlantic Ocean to pour in at a rate that would fill up the Mediterranean Sea in a matter of months to two years
from its dried state, rising greater than 10 meters per day.24
Scientific studies revealed a 200 km long channel at the Gibraltar Strait that was carved by flood waters. The water descended not like a waterfall, but more like a ramp into the Mediterranean. The velocity is calculated to have been about 300km per hour and may have been triggered by tectonic subsidence.25
The Zanclean Flood may have not been the first and only of its kind. It is believed that the Straits of Gibraltar have been closed and reopened in the past, especially in more recent history.
“There is general acceptance that, on more than one occasion, the Strait of Gibraltar was closed completely. Tectonic plate movement, worldwide sea level drops due to the onset of Ice Age glaciation or a combination of both, could have caused this. There is also clear undisputed evidence that the Mediterranean Sea has dried out completely on a number of occasions. What is not clear is when the last desiccation or partial drying-out of the Mediterranean ended. The conventional date given for the last breaching of a Gibraltar Dam is 5 million years ago. However, there is a small but growing opinion that there was a more recent breach of a dam within the memory of modern man and preserved in his history and myth.”26
ATLAS’S ATLANTIC OCEAN
The Atlantic is named after Atlas of Greek mythology, also known as the “Sea of Atlas.” The term ocean was known to the Greeks as the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. What little they knew of the world at the time, they believed the Atlantic Ocean to be a gigantic river encircling the world.27
We see Atlas is depicted as carrying the weight world on his shoulders. A Greek myth concerns Hercules’ theft of the Golden Apples, placing the giant, Atlas, and his task of supporting the weight of the world, at the “Pillars of Hercules” (or the Straits of Gibraltar).28
THE FLOOD STORY IN OTHER CULTURES
The Bible is not the only source to document the events of the flood. There is a vast repository of documented flood stories by ancient cultures worldwide, the more popular Epic of Gilgamesh being among them. While they vary in the details of the story, most of them carry the same theme: that there was a favored family who built a boat, the earth was flooded, and subsequently repopulated.
The people of Mesopotamia have stories which are similar in nature. Flood stories found in Mesopotamia and bordering lands refer to a flood within Mesopotamia and to a man from Mesopotamia who survived the flood in a boat.2
Sumer: Eridu Genesis
The Eridu Genesis was written on a Sumerian cuneiform tablet. Portions of the text have been lost, but can be partially reconstructed using other documents.29 Read the full Eridu Genesis excerpt.
“All the evil winds, all stormy winds gathered into one and with them, the Flood was sweeping over the cities of the half-bushel baskets, for seven days and seven nights. After the flood had swept over the country, after the evil wind had tossed the big boat about on the great waters, the sun came out spreading light over heaven and earth.”29
Babylonia: The Epic of Atrahasis
The Epic of Atrahasis is the most complete Mesopotamian account of the flood. In the final part of the epic, the gods begin to complain and refuse to work any longer. Mankind is created, but make so much noise that the gods decide to destroy them. The god Enki warns Atrahasis in a dream. Read the full Epic of Atrahasis excerpt.
“The outlook of the weather changed. [The storm god] Adad began to roar in the clouds. The god they heard, his clamor. He brought pitch to seal his door. By the time he had bolted his door, Adad was roaring in the clouds. The winds were furious as he set forth, He cut the mooring rope and released the boat.
… the storm … were yoked Anzu rent the sky with his talons, He … the land and broke its clamor like a pot. … the flood came forth. Its power came upon the peoples like a battle, one person did not see another, they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe. The deluge belowed like a bull, The wind resounded like a screaming eagle. The darkness was dense, the sun was gone, … like flies. the clamor of the deluge.”30
Babylonia: The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the more famous flood stories. A king named Gilgameš, is trying to find immortality and meets Ut-napištim. Ut-napištim tells Gilgameš how he survived the great flood.
It is very similar in to and sometimes an almost verbatim quotes from the Epic of Atrahasis.31 Ut-napištim would represent Noah. Read the full Epic of Gilgamesh excerpt.
“I went into the boat and sealed the entry. For the caulking of the boat, to Puzur-Amurri, the boatman, I gave the palace together with its contents. Just as dawn began to glow there arose from the horizon a black cloud. [the storm god] Adad rumbled inside of it, before him went Šhullat and Haniš [Sack and Suppression], heralds going over mountain and land. [The god of destruction] Erragal pulled out the mooring poles, forth went [the war god] Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.
The gods lifted up the torches, setting the land ablaze with their flare. Stunned shock over Adad’s deeds overtook the heavens, and turned to blackness all that had been light. He shattered the land like a raging bull, broke it into pieces like a pot. All day long the South Wind blew, blowing fast – and then the Flood came, overwhelming the people like an attack. No one could see his fellow, they could not recognize each other in the torrent. Even the gods were frightened by the Flood, and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu. The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall.
Six days and seven nights came the wind and flood, the storm flattening the land. When the seventh day arrived, the storm was pounding. She who had been struggling with itself like a woman writhing in labor, the sea, calmed; the whirlwind fell still; the flood stopped.”31
The Story From The Quran
The story of the Great Flood is told twice in the Quran, in Sura 11 and Sura 71.32 Read the full Story from the Quran excerpt.
“And it moved on with them amid waves like mountains; and Nuh called out to his son, and he was aloof: “O my son! embark with us and be not with the unbelievers. He said: ‘I will betake myself for refuge to a mountain that shall protect me from the water.’ Nuh said: ‘There is no protector today from Allah’s punishment but He Who has mercy; and a wave intervened between them, so he was of the drowned.’ And it was said: ‘O earth, swallow down your water, and O cloud, clear away”, and the water was made to abate and the affair was decided, and the ark rested on the al-Gudi, and it was said: “Away with the unjust people.'”32
1 Wikipedia, Sumerian King List (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_King_List)
2 Carol A. Hill, The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, pg 181, (http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Carol%201.pdf)
3 The Center For Online Judean Studies, “Weld-Blundell Prism, c. 1800 BCE”, (http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Weld-Blundell_Prism,_c._1800_BCE)
4 Jona Lendering, Sumerian King List, (http://www.livius.org/k/kinglist/sumerian.html)
5 Wikipedia, “Black Sea”, Mediterranean connection during the Holocene, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea)
6 Sofia News Agency, “Black Sea Used to Be Freshwater Lake, Experienced Deluge – Scientists” (http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=129985)
7 Bible and Science Upon The Mountains of Ararat (http://www.tidings.org/studies/science200504.htm), April 2005
8 Wikipedia, “Black Sea deluge hypothesis”, Evidence from archaeology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_deluge_hypothesis)
9 Cosquer Cave, (http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=29569)
10 Cosquer Grotto, Harcourt School Publishers, (http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/cavepaintings/cosquer.html)
11 Archaeology: Cave Beneath the Sea, (http://daphne.palmar.edu/mhudelson/Videos/CaveBeneathSea_WA.html)
12 Wikipedia, Irish Elk, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Elk)
13 Wikipedia, Great Sphinx of Giza, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Sphinx_of_Giza)
14 Wikipedia, Great Sphinx of Giza, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Sphinx_of_Giza) Early Egyptologists were inconsistent in their transliteration of pharaonic names: Khafre and Khephren are, of course, both references to Khafra.
15 The Great Sphinx at The Global Education Project, (http://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/egypt/articles/phototr3.php), retrieved 23 December 2008.
16 Archaeological Perspectives, The Egyptian Sphinx, (http://www.atlantisquest.com/Archeology.html)
17 Wikipedia, Sphinx water erosion hypothesis, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphinx_water_erosion_hypothesis)
18 Underwater Temples and Atlantis, (http://www.carnaval.com/malta/atlantis/)
19 Plato’s Critias (111b) (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0180%3Atext%3DCriti.%3Asection%3D111b)
20 Leon Flying Eagle & Mary Whispering Wind, THE GREAT ATLANTIS FLOOD “The ‘extraordinary inundation’ of the Empire of the Hellenes” (http://atlantis-today.com/Atlantis_Great_Atlantis_Flood.htm)
21 Rob Butler, A brief history of the Messinian on Sicily, (http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/structure/tectonics/messinian/history.htm)
22 Wikipedia, Halite, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halite)
23 Steven Earle, New insight into the Messinian salinity crisis, (http://records.viu.ca/~earles/messinian-crisis-apr03.htm)
24 Wikipedia, Zanclean flood, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanclean_flood)
25 World News Australia, “Dramatic flood filled Mediterranean Sea”, (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1149387/dramatic-flood-filled-mediterranean-sea)
26 Tony O’Connell, Atlantipedia, Mediterranean Sea Level, (http://atlantipedia.ie/samples/mediterranean-sea-level/)
27 Wikipedia, Atlantic Ocean, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Ocean)
28 William Serfaty, The Pillars of the Phoenicians, Mythology (http://phoenicia.org/gibraltar.html), 1997.
29 The Great Flood: the Eridu Genesis (http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/flood/flood2-t.html)
30 The Great Flood: the Epic of Atrahasis (http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/flood/flood3-t-atrahasis.html)
31 The Great Flood: the Epic of Gilgamesh (http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/flood/flood3-t-gilgamesh.html)
32 The Great Flood: the Story from the Quran (http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/flood/flood1-t-quran.html)