Scientific Evidence for the Many Myths of the Great Flood
Have you ever heard about Noah's Ark story? This story of the great flood is one of the most popular stories from the Bible. But it is far from the only great flood story to be found in history. Christians are quite familiar with Noah's story when God destroyed all of creation through the great flood owing to the wickedness of men. While many people perceive all this as the great flood myth, scientists have found evidence of the great deluge. Before going to the scientific evidence, let's take a look at the known mythologies that relate to the flood myth.
The Great Flood: Myths in the Bible, Hindu Texts and More
Noah's story in the Hebrew Bible is probably the most well-known myth relating to the great flood. However, a number of other myths related to this event also exist.
According to the Gilgamesh flood myth, Enlil, the highest god, decided to completely destroy the whole world by means of a great flood as the humans had increasingly become noisy. Ea, the god who created human beings of divine blood and clay, warned Utnapishtim secretly about the flood and gave him instructions to build a boat and be saved.
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In the Bible’s Book of Genesis , it is written that Yahweh (the name of the monotheistic god of the Israelites), who created man from dust, decided to bring the great flood to Earth because of mankind’s increasing corruption.
Yahweh was, however, pleased with Noah and instructed him to create an ark for saving humans and animals. On completion of the ark, Noah, his entire family, and two of every type of animal on earth entered the ark. Once the door of the ark was closed, the destructive flood started and cleared all other living beings from the face of the earth. After the flood ended, everyone inside the ark came out, and Yahweh promised never to subject humans to something like the great flood again. The rainbow is known as the symbol of Yahweh's promise.
A 3D illustration of Noah’s Ark in a storm during the Great Flood. Reality or myth? ( fergregory / Adobe Stock)
According to Hindu mythology there is a story about "manvantara-sandhya," a great flood. In the story, Vishnu's Matsya Avatar warned Manu, the first man, about the impending flood and instructed him to construct a giant boat.
According to Zoroastrian Mazdaism, Ahriman tried to destroy the whole world by means of a drought. It is believed that Mithra shot an arrow at a rock, and the flood poured out. Only one man, along with his cattle, survived the flood in an ark.
As per Plato, Timaeus describes a flood myth that is quite similar to the other versions of the great flood. In the Timaeus version, the Bronze race of humans made Zeus angry with constant warring. Zeus decided to cause a flood to punish humanity. The Titan Prometheus , who created humans with clay, shared the plan with Deucalion and advised him to build an ark. It took nine days and nights for the water to recede, and the ark landed on a mountain.
Researchers study a ship graveyard discovered in the Black Sea that may be linked to the Great Flood. ( Paul Vinten / Adobe Stock)
Scientific Evidence of the Occurrence of the Great Flood
While there are a number of stories or myths relating to the great flood, scientists have recently found evidence of the flood. The scientists believe that the great flood did take place around 7,000 years ago in the Black Sea region.
In a book named "Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event that Changed History," two marine biologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan, describe a flood that took place several thousand years ago, before the Biblical story was written by the ancient Hebrews .
According to the two marine biologists , nearly 12,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age, the Black Sea was a partially dried freshwater lake. It was separated from the Mediterranean Sea by the Bosporus Strait , which is a land strip.
The shore of the Black Sea was fertile and was used by the people to start large farming societies. When the ice sheets that covered the Northern Hemisphere started melting, the levels of the sea began rising. It is believed that the Mediterranean Sea broke through the Bosporus Strait about 7,600 years ago.
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With a force about 200 times that of Niagara Falls, the seawater had started rushing in. The level of the Black Sea was increasing by 6 inches (15 cm) every day. Within one year, about 60,000 square miles (15,539,929 hectares) was engulfed and disappeared beneath the rising waters. The settlers of the land moved to different high grounds and never returned.
Pitman and Ryan hypothesize that this trauma story was handed down for about 3,000 years and has been recorded in the form of myths and songs. One of the versions is believed to be the story of Noah's Ark found in the Bible.
The hypothesis of the two marine biologists is mainly based on the sediment cores of the Black Sea as well as seismic profiles. The cores did tell a strange and unique story. Pitman and Ryan discovered a single mud layer that was typically left after the great flood.
It lay over sediment layers that were at one time land surface. The surface contained mud cracks, plant root fossils, and freshwater mollusks that were similar to the dried-out lakeshore. The ancient shoreline was submerged about 460 feet (140 meters) below the Black Sea.
The marine biologists have also pointed out that according to the study of ancient civilizations made by archaeologists, during the flood several peoples with new customs appeared at different places. They were even found in Egypt, as well in the foothills of the Himalayas, and around Paris and Prague. The majority of these “new” people were Indo-European speakers. According to Ryan and Pitman, these peoples might be the Black Sea farmers who had to leave their homes due to the great flood.
The Great Flood (Die Sintflut, Suendflut), a painting by Lesser-Ury (1861-1931), depicts the “horror” of what the deluge of the Bible might have looked like. (Center for Jewish History, NYC / Wikimedia Commons )
Archaeological Evidence of the Great Flood
In addition to the evidence offered by Pitman and Ryan, there are also other pieces of evidence that support the occurrence of the great flood. One such significant piece of evidence was provided by the world-famous underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard. He is especially known for locating and exploring the Titanic wreck.
Ballard found evidence of people who had perished in the great flood that took place in the Black Sea and linked it with Noah's Ark story.
Ballard and his team made use of advanced robotic technology to find evidence that might support the Noah story. They were able to unearth an ancient coastline that was about 550 feet (168 meters) under the water surface. It was considered significant proof of the catastrophic event. Ballard took some samples including saltwater and freshwater mollusks from the ancient beach for testing.
When radiocarbon dating of the samples was done, it was revealed that the freshwater mollusks were relatively older in comparison to the saltwater ones. All the freshwater mollusks that were taken for sample testing were of the same age.
It could be assumed that all the mollusks died due to the occurrence of a sudden flood. This is because if they had died due to the slowly rising water, the ages would have differed. It was found that the mollusks died somewhere around 5,600 BC. It is approximately the same time when the great flood during Noah's time is believed to have occurred.
About 310 feet (94 meters) below in the Black Sea, Ballard and his team were also able to find an ancient house that had collapsed. In addition to the house, they also unearthed a number of stone tools, storage vessels made of ceramic, and ancient mud. The archaeologists believe that the culture found at the bottom of the sea was thousands of years old.
The evidence collected by Robert Ballard and his team suggests that the traumatic great flood story was handed down from generation to generation. This eventually inspired Noah's Ark story that is mentioned in the Bible.
"The Deluge" drawing was used as the frontispiece to Gustave Doré's illustrated edition of the Bible. Based on the story of Noah's Ark, the drawing shows humans and a tiger doomed by the flood futilely attempting to save their children and cubs. (Gustave Doré / Public domain )
Scientific Evidence Against the Great Flood
While there is scientific evidence that supports the occurrence of the great flood, there is also scientific evidence that argues against it. Some believe that the great flood may have occurred during Noah's time, but that it happened over the entire Earth rather than some regional parts.
As per the Bible, the rain during the great flood lasted for 30 days, and the Earth was flooded for 150 days. Only after one year, two months, and twenty-seven days, did the Earth dry and thus Noah, his entire family, and all the animals were able to move out of the ark.
The great flood was intended to completely destroy all life on Earth. As the sedimentary rocks over all the continents do contain fossils, the great flood could represent the destruction of all living beings. Thus, the story of the global flood mentioned in the Bible might have been true.
However, the sedimentary rocks have interlayers of gypsum, evaporite rock salt, anhydrite, and magnesium and potash salts. All these are related to red beds that contain fossilized mud cracks. The red beds and mineral compounds have a measurable combined thickness on various continents.
The red color of the red beds is mainly due to the presence of hematite, an iron oxide that is formed from oxidized magnetite grains when the mud gets exposed to oxygen present in the open air. Mud cracks can only occur under severe drying conditions that result in the shrinking of mud and the formation of polygonal cracks.
The evaporite deposits are believed to occur when a marine sea that existed disappears and becomes completely dry. In such a case, the evaporites are expected to be found at the top of the flood deposits of the great flood. However, the evaporites were found in different layers and not on the top of the flood deposit. This makes certain scientists believe that the great flood never took place.
Moreover, it is written in the Bible that at some time the flood waters started receding and left the ground completely dry. There were no repeated cycles of floods of this size. According to this, it is quite logical that the red beds and evaporite deposits in different levels of the flood deposit could only be formed in local climates having desert drying conditions.
However, it is not possible this was formed at the same time the great flood covered the surface of the whole Earth. On this basis, it can be said that a massive regional flood could have occurred but not a whole-Earth flood.
The Matsya Avatar of Vishnu Uttar Pradesh, India. Matsya is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Often described as the first of Vishnu's ten primary avatars, Matsya is said to have rescued the first man Manu from a great deluge. The Matsya Avatar is often depicted as a giant fish. (Victoria and Albert Museum / Public domain )
While much debate surrounds the “truth” of the great flood, it is quite hard to say whether it actually occurred or not. As per the Bible, Noah used to live in the Mesopotamian desert , but the coastline of the Black Sea was forested and lush back then.
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More and more geologists are coming up with different revised theories and trying to build solid proof for an event that occurred during ancient times. Geological expeditions continue to search the Black Sea. These very expensive geological expeditions are also getting funded by people who are interested in knowing the truth of the Noah's Ark story mentioned in the Bible.
Scientists and archaeologists are still trying to locate ancient villages beneath the surface of the seas. It will be very interesting to see what additional evidence for the great flood is revealed in the coming years.
Top image: The Deluge (1840), a painting by Francis Danby, part of the Tate Gallery collection, which shows how horrible the Great Flood must have been, if, and when, it happened. Source: Francis Danby / Public domain
By Bipin Dimri
Noah's Ark myth has evidence of great flood. Available at - https://www.irishtimes.com/news/noah-s-ark-myth-has-evidence-of-great-flood-1.386181
Evidence found of Noah's ark flood victims. Available at - https://www.theguardian.com/science/2000/sep/14/internationalnews.archaeology
Yes, Noah's Flood May Have Happened, But Not Over the Whole Earth. Available at - https://ncse.ngo/yes-noahs-flood-may-have-happened-not-over-whole-earth