Einde IJstijd veroorzaakte bijbelse vloed
- Electronic Telegraph)
Thursday 21 January 1999
End of Ice Age caused Noah's flood in Black Sea, say scientists
By Jonathan Petre
THE biblical story of Noah's flood was based on an actual event, but the
whole world was not under water - just settlements around the Black Sea,
according to a new book by two geophysicists.
The scientists have amassed fresh evidence to support their controversial
contention that the area was overwhelmed by a catastrophic deluge about
7,600 years ago. They believe that salt water from the Mediterranean burst
into the Black Sea - then a freshwater lake - with great force and flooded
an area the size of Florida within a few months.
The force of the incoming water generated a roar which could have been
heard 60 miles away, causing farmers along the shore to flee with their
families and animals, possibly on boats or rafts, say the scientists.
The deluge would have cast such a long shadow over succeeding cultures that
it could have inspired the flood account in the Babylonian epic of
Gilgamesh 3,000 years later and, in turn, the story of Noah in the Bible.
The flood is described in the Book of Genesis as having killed off all
mankind except for Noah and his family, who took refuge in the fabled Ark.
Critics say that the new book's authors, William Ryan and Walter Pitman,
senior scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of New York's
Columbia University, have yet to produce convincing archeological evidence
of the exodus. But other scientists, using advanced dating techniques, have
independently found evidence of the flood.
The book says the flood was caused by the collapse of a huge plug of silt
in the Bosporus channel separating the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara
and the Mediterranean. During the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago, so
much water froze that the levels of the world's oceans fell dramatically,
and the Bosporus was silted up to form a dam, it says. As the ice melted,
the rising waters broke through, causing a sudden flood.
More than 60,000 square miles of land would have been overwhelmed within a
few months. Early farmers, who had settled around the Black Sea "as an
oasis" during a cold, arid period before the flood, could have fled back to
Mesopotamia with an apocalyptic tale that became a legend.
"Once the water had started to get through the Bosporus, it would have
taken three months," said Mr Pitman. "This flood was probably the biggest
in the human history of the world. It would have been terrifying. You would
have had to flee two kilometres a day, bringing mother and the kids.
Although we have no conclusive proof, I would say there is a very good
chance that this was the origin of the flood legend. The story would have
been passed down by word of mouth, and other, smaller floods would act as a
The book's publication coincides with a BBC2 television documentary,
entitled The Flood, which is being broadcast on January 31.