History Files


Prehistoric Middle East

Great Flood Clue Found

BBC News, 13 September 2000



Scientists have uncovered ancient ruins under the Black Sea indicating that people lived in the area before a cataclysmic flood.

Some scientists have linked the 7,000-year-old event, thought to have been caused by waters bursting through from the Mediterranean Sea, to the Biblical story of Noah.

The American team of explorers said this "major" find off the Turkish shore could see history being rewritten and debate revived over the biblical Ark.

"This is an incredible find," said American explorer Dr Robert Ballard, adding this was far more significant a find than his discovery of the Titanic in 1985.

The team, sponsored by National Geographic, found a rectangular structure, possibly a building, with wooden beam, branches and stone tools lying ninety metres under the sea, off the coast of Sinop.

"It's clear a vast amount of real estate is under water and a vast amount of people were living [here]," Dr Ballard said.

The structure - dated to the Neolithic Bronze Age at around 5000 BC - was described as the "Pompeii of landscapes" by the team's chief archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert.

"This is a major discovery that will begin to rewrite the history of cultures in this key area between Europe, Asia and the ancient Middle East," he said.

Noah's Ark theories

Scientists believe the Black Sea was previously a smaller freshwater lake that was flooded by the Mediterranean Sea 7,000 years ago, when European glaciers melted, [raising sea levels worldwide].

In 1997, two geologists from Columbia University published a book arguing that Noah's Flood took place around the Black Sea, not the Middle East.

Dr Ballard said, however, it was too early to make a link with the Black Sea's flood and the Biblical story of Noah.

"What we are trying to do is gather facts," he said. "We are testing that theory and so far we have not found any holes in it."

Many ancient Middle Eastern cultures also have legends of a great flood, [most notably the Sumerians, from where the Bible's flood story originates].

The team left the relics untouched and captured sonar pictures taken by a mobile machine called Argus.

Dr Ballard said the wood had been preserved to an unusual degree because of the Black Sea's deep, oxygen-free waters.

The team hope to do precise mapping and photo documentation as well as recover human remains for DNA studies to learn more about the ancestry of the people.



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