Skip to comments.Explorer Who Discovered The 'Titanic' Sets Out To Prove That Noah's Flood Formed Black Sea
Posted on 07/22/2003 6:51:44 PM PDT by blam
Explorer who discovered the 'Titanic' sets out to prove that Noah's flood formed Black Sea
By David Usborne
23 July 2003
The Bible tells us how the Great Flood happened, compelling Noah to herd all of animal life into his Ark.
The skies opened and it rained incessantly, in fact for 40 days and 40 nights. But some scientists have another theory altogether and this week an expedition will leave for the Black Sea to try to prove it.
Among the team will be Robert Ballard, the American underwater explorer who became famous when he found the Titanic beneath the Atlantic in 1985. He will be going with a special piece of equipment, a remote excavating submarine namedHercules.
No one disputes that the Black Sea was once a fresh-water lake that in ancient times became inundated by the salty Mediterranean. The arguments have been over how quickly it happened - was it only gradual? - and in what period. Until recently, most experts dated the flood to about 9,000 years ago.
But Mr Ballard thinks it was more recent, perhaps 7,500 years ago, which could more credibly make it the same flood that gave us the story of Noah. Moreover, he thinks it was sudden. As the ice age ended, sea levels rose and a strip of land dividing the Mediterranean and the Black Sea was breached.
It was, according to Mr Ballard, 61, a truly cataclysmic event. Previous expeditions tell us that the invasion of Mediterranean waters pushed up water levels in the Black Sea basin by about 500 feet (155 metres) and drowned about 60,000 square miles.
Mr Ballard thinks it was so rapid that salt water pushed in with 200 times the force of the Niagara Falls and that the rate of increase in the water level was six inches a day.
Demonstrating all of this is hard. And Mr Ballard faces scepticism from several quarters. Critics accuse of him pursuing the Noah's Flood legend for the sake of the inevitable publicity. He has never suggested that he will find the actual Ark. But even the vaguest possibility is enough to stir excitement.
Indeed, the $5m (£3.1m), two-week expedition, which begins from the Turkish Black Sea port of Sinop on Sunday, has been set up to garner maximum worldwide attention.
Its progress will be watched live by academics, archaeologists and even schoolchildren around the globe, thanks to a satellite link from the expedition's ship to a nerve-centre at the University of Rhode Island in the United States.
Mr Ballard says the relay is vital because it will allow as many specialists as possible to analyse what he uncovers. "Exploration by its very nature means you don't know what you're going to find," he said. "So in fact it's very probable you're not going to have the right mix of scientists when you make a discovery."
There will also be film crew on board and a full television series is planned for next year.
Sinop, a scenic and popular tourist destination, was chosen because it might have been an important hub for north-south trading across the Black Sea among ancient civilisations. Local populations may have sent olive oil, honey and iron in small amphora-like jars northwards in return for wine and other foods.
Archaeological activity became possible when the Black Sea was opened up with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The interest in exploring beneath its waves was all the more intense because the waters are not oxygenated, offering the prospect of shipwrecks and other remains that should be perfectly preserved. Indeed, what lies beneath the Black Sea could help archaeologists and historians to fill in blanks about periods of human existence going as far back as the Bronze Age and spanning the Roman and Byzantine empires.
Leading this latest expedition with Mr Ballard, is Fredrik Hiebert, a professor of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. He hopes to relocate wrecks that have already been identified, including one called "Shipwreck D", which has already revealed an intact and intricately carved mast protruding from the seabed.
He and Mr Ballard also plan to return to another earlier find - an arrangement of stones about 330 feet beneath the water that might have been a human dwelling. Critical to the venture is Hercules. A remote-controlled submersible, it is just 7 feet long from tip to tail and was built by Mr Ballard at the Robert Ballard Institute for Exploration, in Mystic, Connecticut. The plan is to send it down as far as the stone settlement. Equipped with lights and cameras, the vessel will send pictures to the ship and back to Rhode Island.
In addition, the Hercules has two remote-controlled arms, which will excavate around the site. "If we're successful with this, we're going to change the field of archaeology," Mr Hiebert said. "It's open coastlines all over the globe" for further expeditions.
Mr Ballard first located the stone settlement during an earlier expedition in 2000. It consists of quarried square stones arranged in a rectangle of 33 feet by 40 feet (10 by 12 metres) on a rocky outcrop.
He is hopeful that he will be able to trace the site to a period about 7,500 years - which would bolster his theory that there were human habitations on the shore of the old lake before the flood struck and the area was drowned. "Mother nature does not make square stones," he commented. "Humans make them."
Mr Ballard is not entirely alone in his beliefs. In 1997, the same theory to support the origin of the Noah legends was rehearsed in Noah's Flood, a book written by two leading American marine biologists, Walter Pitman and William Ryan. They concluded that the flood devastated the area 7,150 years ago. But there are problems with the idea. The Bible, for example, tells us that Noah lived in the arid deserts of Mesopotamia - in what is modern-day Iraq - whereas the Turkish shores of the lake where the Black Sea is today would have been lush with vegetation.
"The Noah's Flood idea is very sexy one, but it's wrong," Ali Aksu, a geologist at Memorial University in Newfoundland, told Newsweek.
He says that he can demonstrate that the Black Sea was already at current levels 7,500 years ago. Nor, he says, was there ever a dramatic and sudden flood.
Water from the Mediterranean, Mr Aksu counters, sloshed back and forth over countless years.
If the Back Sea 'sloshed back and forth', there would me many shore lines underwater at various depths. All that has been found is one well defined shore line dated at 5,600BC. I support the Ryan & Pittman theory of a sudden, massive flood.
They are marine scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia U.
The book discusses at length the geological, oceanographic, archealogical, and linguistic evidence to back up this theory.
Thanks, I have it and also highly recommend the book.
Sexy? Perhaps his concept of sex is a bit different than mine.
Another excellent book is The Tarim Mummies by Victor Mair.
Given the mythological explanation, it is still possible that the myth is based on some historical event. There is for example a world-wide flood in Ovid's Metamorphoses which parallels but does not agree with the Biblical account in all respects.
He may be right about the geological history of the Black Sea, but this isn't Noah's Flood even given the mythological explanation. Too early.
Another theory is a tsunami in the Mediterranean caused by the volcanic eruption on Crete which destroyed the Minoan civilization around 3000 BC.
And if you like your theories wild, there is always Velikovski's Worlds in Collision scenario.
The 300-500ft sea level rise at the end of the last Ice Age flooded the continents sometimes hundreds of miles inland.
Take a look at this map of the world's oceans lowered by about 300 ft. Notice that there's no Persian Gulf, the Red Sea is land locked, the Mediterranean was seperated into at least three segments and I speculate that the Gulf Of Mexico was sealed off also, etc. That was a worldwide flood.
Yup. I expect that's on the schedule, recall that they have already seen structures down there.
"Our work indicates that the protolanguage originated more than 6,000 years ago in eastern Anatolia and that some daughter languages must have differentiated in the course of migrations that took them first to the East and later to the West. "
When they can prove that, then I'll listen to them.
Indeed. And not the only time it happened. But way too early for Noah, and not covering the tops of the highest mountains as the Bible said.
Biblical chronology is fairly straightforward. Certain historical personages such as Cyrus the Great can be independently dated tracing back from the present. From there it is just a question of following the Bible. Given a bit of ambiguity, Noah is 4000 BC or so.
A miraculous flood is a defensible position, but it isn't science.
The mythological approach has its problems also. Given the precision of Biblical chronology, at what point does it become pure myth?
I tend toward the mythological approach myself, but if I'm proven wrong it won't be by geology. You'll have to convince me that science isn't the last word on the subject.
"Space giants" from a culture that had no concept of outer space? That sounds to me like some New Age silliness, or "re-interpretation" if I was being nice.
The KJV translates it "giants" and describes them as "mighty men of old". Apparently the offspring of demon-possessed men, killed in the flood. I have seen Jewish speculation that the mythology of the Greek and Roman gods were distortedly based on them, but this is not part of the Jewish religion, nor am I convinced by this. Such speculation is merely a data point.
The "Greek and Roman gods" hypothesis, if I may so dignify it, is not irrelevant. Ovid attributes the flood to Jupiter having a snit, nothing about Divine justice. It's worth reading Metamorphoses just as part of a general cultural education. The creation story is much like the Bible as well, except that creation is attributed to an unknown god. After creation and the flood, it is not even slightly similar to the Bible, but it is as much part of our cultural heritage if not of religious truth or morality.
Maybe the Jason Project?
"Space giants" from a culture that had no concept of outer space? That sounds to me like some New Age silliness, or "re-interpretation" if I was being nice
Reading right out of the Torah in Hebrew the word is "nefilim", which means "the fallen" (from the Heavens, presumably) and is rendered as "the Titans" or "Giants" in most English translations of the Hebrew Scriptures. "Giants Fallen From the Heavens" is more-or-less the same thing as "Space Giants", isn't it?
We know that the Nefilm were halfbreeds -- the offspring of fallen angels ("the Sons of God") and human women. How exactly was this twisted mating accomplished? Nobody knows, of course, but with a bit of imagination one can speculate that perhaps it occurred through technological means, implying a society far more advanced than is usually imagined for that early period of history.
As I said: I'm no scholar. All of this is pure moonshine. Still, one must admit that there are an awful lot of funny things about the Noah story.
Everything before the flood is up for grabs. Presumably the book of Genesis as we know it was compiled rather than simply dictated. This is completely consistent with Divine inspiration as well as the mythological explanation.
If compiled, this would explain the allusions to stories that were known in more detail at one time. For example, Tubal-Cain inventing metal working, but only mentioned in passing as part of a genealogy. Or Enoch, who was "taken". There's even a whole apocryphal literature about Enoch, but this dates from much later.
The pious explanation is that the details of these stories are not necessary to understanding God's purposes. But they must have been known at one time, at least as stories.
Yup. There would have been millions of refugees from flooding everywhere and no-one would have figured out exactly the cause. Noah would have had decades (perhaps) of warning before the Black Sea flooded.
Sorry to hear that. Keep checking in as you can, we'll be here when you get back 'in business.'
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