The Great Deluge, a global flood. (1869).

Evidence of The Great Flood – Real or a Myth? Part I

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The story of a “Great Flood” sent by God (or gods according to much earlier testimony) to destroy humanity for its sins is a widespread account shared by many religions and cultures around the world, and dates back to our earliest recorded history. From India to ancient Greece, Mesopotamia and even among North American Indian tribes, there is no shortage of such tales that often enough sound very much alike. Some of these stories truly sound so similar that one could wonder whether all cultures around the planet had experienced such an event.

Can it be that all flood accounts so zealously repeated around the world are a collection of myths or isolated incidents, as the mainstream academia maintains? Or was the Great Flood a single worldwide cataclysm that affected all humanity at one point during our prehistory?

Cataclysm

While small, isolated disasters can stress and frighten affected populations equally, their overall effect is short-lived, and they often fade from memory within decades, if not years. In the case of the Great Flood, however, we have a story that seems to have no boundaries and one that every culture insists on its worldwide nature. How big and how destructive though, must have been such a disaster that it managed to sear itself into our ancestors’ collective memory for thousands of years? Judging by the shared testimony, this must not only have been an event that affected everyone simultaneously, but in order for it to have become a permanent fixture in the human psyche, it must have been an experience that persisted not only for days or months, but for several generations.

The Rising Oceans

If not an isolated incident, though, what known worldwide catastrophe qualifies to be called the Great Flood? Without a doubt the significant rise of the oceans—a worldwide disaster that at the end of the last Ice Age erased millions of square miles of dry land around the planet—must have been the doomsday event every culture to this day inadvertently is talking about. More particularly, it was the abrupt rise of the oceans around 8000 BC which ultimately led to the flooding of the Mediterranean first, and finally to the flooding of the Black Sea. (Note: Although in 1997 William Ryan and Walter Pitman suggested that the flood of the Black Sea took place around 5600 BC, a later study in 2005 sponsored by UNESCO confirmed that the incident took place much earlier in time and closer to 8000 BC).

The Great Flood (circa 1450)

The Great Flood (circa 1450) ( Public Domain )

The rise of the oceans was that single, long-lasting event which drastically reshaped the coastlines of our planet and the one which simultaneously affected every coastal civilization around the world at the time. Even when at first look, the gradual rise of the oceans does not seem to meet the criteria as the event behind the legend of the Great Flood, an incident responsible for the sea level to rise globally by more than 400 feet, surely had many random episodes when the flooding was absolutely unpredictable. When considering that humans, by nature, tend to settle in lower elevations and near water, it leaves no doubt that all prehistoric civilizations were totally devastated by this event.

A recent study published in Science News (December 4, 2010) titled “Global Sea-Level Rise at the End of the Last Ice Age Interrupted by Rapid Jumps” better explains that after the end of the last ice age, from around 17000 BC through 4000 BC, sea levels (on average) rose by one meter (3.2 feet) per century. However, the study also indicated that this gradual rise of the seas was marked by abrupt jumps of sea level at a rate of about five meters per century (16.4 feet). More precisely, the study showed that the periods between 13000 BC and 11000 BC, as well as between 9000 BC and 7000 BC, were characterized by abnormal sea-level rise.

When studying closer the abrupt climatic changes during the last 18,000 years, the time between 9000 BC and 7000 BC is of particular interest. As the glaciers began to melt over thousands of years prior to this period, and the temperatures progressively began to increase with each passing century, thus causing the melting process to accelerate, we can easily presume that this must have been the most active period in sea-level rise. More accurately, the absolute worst period must have been the time around 8000 BC and the critical “flood cycle” that preceded the flooding of the Black Sea, which really marked the end of this violent period. (In fact, if past periodic ice ages and floods did not manage previously to add salinity into the fresh water of the Black Sea, then undoubtedly the last global flood around 8000 BC must have been the greatest flood of all time).

Comments

What is missing is that there is telescoping of historical events. Plato wrote in the Timaeus that the Egyptian priests told Solon that the Greeks only remember the last flood of Deucalion and have merged the three previous floods into that one. The Flood of Xiusudra (Utnapishtim) happened in Mesopotamia when the meteor that created the 18 mile wide Burckle Crater east of Madagascar impacted in 3142 BCE and caused a massive tsunami to rush northwards and up the Persian Gulf. It flooded an area 100 miles wide and 400 miles long. It left a 10' layer of mud with pottery below and pottery above, but nothing in that 10', as was excavated by Wooley in the 1920s. The Flood of Noah was a retelling of this flood, which was then telescoped into, or merged with, the end of the Ice Age, 5500 years previously. If you can't tease apart the two events, you will never get the story straight.
As a final point, that is a wretched map of Lake Agassiz and Lake Ojibway. Much better ones are available online.

Tsurugi's picture

I'm fairly certain this article depicts a model of the end of the ice age that is a bit outdated. The best evidence now is pointing to a cosmic impact or series of impacts directly into the North American ice sheet, which melted a huge amount of the ice immediately, along with setting off earthquakes and volcanoes all around the globe. The immense ejecta plume from the impacts caused molten droplets of ejecta material to rain down all over the planet, setting off a global firestorm which consumed nearly all of the plant matter on earth. The smoke, combined with the soot and ash from the volcanoes, darkened the skies and caused rapid cooling and the onset of the Younger Dryas, which lasted for about a thousand years.
Another catastrophic impact event took place around 10,500 BC, which again caused catastrophic melting and global floodwaters. The large portion of the impactors this time went into the oceans, hurling vast amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere, resulting in torrential rain around the globe that likely carried on for months before finally abating. Another effect of the water vapor in the atmosphere was drastic warming, on the order of 10 C(18 F) within a few years, contributing to the continued breakup of the ice sheets.

It's a crazy story but it has the best of modern science behind it(even though many modern scientists do not like it at all), see the work of Firestone and West, et al.

Was there actually a Great Flood at all? 40 days and nights of rain and all that...?

If you look at modern archaeological and geological reporting, the reports of sea-shell beds found at great heights has been commonplace. We know today that this happened as tectonic forces have forced mountains and plateaux to rise in places where the land was once seabed. Could the Great Flood be merely nothing more than primitive people's interpretations for how they would also have discovered sea-shells, that they recognised as being such, lying around in large quantities? For their era and levels of knowledge, a massive inundation would have been a logical explanation for them to arrive at.

Look at the Sun for a good example of how literally those ancestors of ours took their world. The Sun moves across the sky, so it was entirely logical for them to deduce that it revolved around the Earth. It took a chap with a telescope to risk his life proving otherwise to the Christian Church.

Historically, First Nationals in the northwest of the USA came up with supernatural explanations for what we now know to have been tsunamis inundating coastal Oregon and Washington States. The fact that modern science has shown the truth of events there suggests that primitive explanations for such occurrences, while logical to superstitious minds, should be treated with the proverbial pinch of salt during modern searches.

Having said that, it is worth remembering that every legend has a grain of truth at its core. In the case of primitive explanations for the Great Flood, though, perhaps the grain of truth should be restricted to the part of the history that documents the symptom, while being firmly prevented from colouring the probable cause.

Many pre-christian cultures knew the earth revolved around the sun, they knew the diameter of the earth, they knew the earth was a globe.  Heck even in the year 1000 Pope Sylvester II knew the earth was a globe and revolved around the sun.  He died probably poisonned and he was burn in efiigy after his death.  

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Superstition never quite dies. Sylvester was likely frightening a lot of people with his viewpoint.

(Or making them feel mighty real.) ;-)

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