Riddles and Secrets-Noah-Local Flood Theories
Local Flood Theories
In Part 1 National Geographic decided that the Bible’s description of a world wide flood was wrong. The producers therefore move on to the local flood theory. While there are a number of theories regarding large (and really regional rather than) local floods the show only deals with one, the Black Sea Flood as proposed by William Ryan and Walter Pitman in their book Noah’s Flood. The basic proposal is that sometime around 5600 B.C. the fresh water lake that preceded the Black Sea was flooded by water coming over a natural dam at the Bosporus. This flood was then recorded as the Gilgamesh Epic.
The book itself is well written and in some respects plausible. But it definitely records a local flood (Black Sea region), and one that did not even require an ark to survive. The water rose at a fairly slow rate but when it was done it did not go down, unlike Noah’s Flood.
An earlier local flood was also recorded as Noah’s Flood, and that is the flood found by Leonard Woolley at Ur. Woolley had been excavating the city and his workers came upon a sterile layer. That is apparently fairly normal, but Woolley but didn’t think it was and ordered his workers to keep digging. They dug through 11 feet of sterile soil before they began to find artifacts again. Woolley called in fellow archaeologists to discuss this anomaly and as they threw around ideas about what it might mean, Mrs. Woolley said “It’s Noah’s Flood.” And so the find was trumpeted as the discovery of Noah’s Flood. Unfortunately no corroborating evidence was found at other archaeological sites. What Woolley had discovered was a local, even if catastrophic, flood.
The anomalist Graham Hancock in his book “Underworld” makes a good case that there are remains of unknown civilizations under the coastal waters of the Middle and Far East. His theory is that during the last Ice Age the oceans were considerably lower. On what would have been the coastal plains of those times, civilizations emerged which, when the ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age (c. 10,000 B.C.) moved to the higher ground which we now inhabit. This has caused a number of archaeological and historical anomalies. These include civilization appearing rather abruptly in several places around the globe, Sumer, India and South America. This may also be the reason, according to his theory, why there are so many similar Flood myths around the world.
Egyptologist David Rohl has a somewhat different idea with a definitely different date. He postulates in his book From Eden to Exile, that a major flood occurred in the Persian Gulf area about 3113 B.C. This happened as a result of flooding caused by the end of little ice age that began as the result of an eruption in the Aleutian Islands around 3119 B.C. The global cooling caused by the volcanic dust and aerosols produced a mini ice age and when the air cleared the ice melted and the area at the northern end of the Persian Gulf experienced a flood. The ark of his flood hero settles on Mount Judi Dagh on the edge of the Zagros Mountains. This experience produces the Gilgamesh Epic, the Atrahasis Epic, and the Ziusudra Epic, and through them, Noah.
These are all somewhat interesting and in the details there may be an element of truth, but in no sense are they Biblical. In the Biblical description of the flood the fountains of the deep open first, then it begins to rain. The rain lasts for forty days and forty nights, after the rain stops the flood waters keep rising for another 110 days, for a total of 150 days the flood water rise. It was 2 and half months more before Noah could see the ground. Three hundred and eighty two days after Noah entered the ark, he and his family were finally able to leave.
The global flood, whether caused by Hydroplate movement or Catastrophic Plate Tectonics, produced global volcanism. This volcanism left a lot of warm water in the oceans and a lot of dust in the sky. Warm water evaporates readily, dusty skies mean cooler temperatures, an ice age followed the Noah’s flood. It took approximately 500 years for this ice age to reach its maximum and 200 hundred years for the ice sheets to melt to the point we first meet with them in the historical record. Chronology wise (I accept a 7000 year chronology for the earth) Noah’s flood took place about 3350 B.C. There would have been a number of local/regional floods in the aftermath, as well as flooding at the end of the only ice age (c. 2800 B.C.). Flood histories became confused as people spreading out from Babel took with them the history of Noah and then experienced their own local but catastrophic floods.
The riddle of Noah exists only for unbelievers who try to reconcile a partially true Bible (in their view) with an evolutionary development of civilization and history. Some of the more comprehensive theories they develop to explain their views do contain some interesting facts, the ice age, the effects of volcanism, regional flooding. These facts do indicate that there is something to the Genesis account of the flood. But as the facts accumulate and point toward a literal understanding of the Bible and its God, people will veer away and to avoid finding God they will search for Noah.
- Associates For Biblical Research - Flood
An index of Bible and Spade's articles on Noah's Flood.
- Gilgamesh Epic v Genesis, thesis by Nozomi Osanai -- Chapter 5 : A comparison of scientific reliabil
A book chapter that compares Noah's flood with the flood of Gilgamesh
- Epic of Gilgamesh
My novel of the time before the flood.