I’ve been fascinated by the archaeology of the Black Sea region ever since, in the late 1990’s, I read the book ‘Noah’s Flood‘ by William Ryan and Walter Pitman. It postulated that an inundation of the Black Sea area by the Mediterranean, several thousand years ago, was the origin of the Biblical flood myth.
Over the years since then, archaeologists and other specialists have tried to debunk Ryan and Pitman’s theory, but no-one has been able to prove conclusively that they’re wrong. Their theory remains the subject of a lot of academic debate. Fuel was added to the fire by an expedition to the Black Sea in the early 2000’s, led by Robert Ballard, rediscoverer of the Titanic. He made a TV documentary about that expedition. As recently as 2012 he said:
“We went in there to look for the flood,” he said. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.”
Four hundred feet below the surface, they unearthed an ancient shoreline, proof to Ballard that a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, Ballard said he believes they have established a timeline for that catastrophic event, which he estimates happened around 5,000 BC. Some experts believe this was around the time when Noah’s flood could have occurred.
“It probably was a bad day,” Ballard said. “At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under.”
. . .
Ballard said he is aware that not everyone agrees with his conclusions about the time and size of the flood, but he’s confident he’s on the path to finding something from the biblical period.
“We started finding structures that looked like they were man-made structures,” Ballard said. “That’s where we are focusing our attention right now.”
. . .
Ballard does not think he will ever find Noah’s Ark, but he does think he may find evidence of a people whose entire world was washed away about 7,000 years ago. He and his team said they plan to return to Turkey next summer.
“It’s foolish to think you will ever find a ship,” Ballard said, referring to the Ark. “But can you find people who were living? Can you find their villages that are underwater now? And the answer is yes.”
There’s more at the link.
I was reminded of this by a New York Times article a few days ago, describing recent marine archaeology discoveries in the Bulgarian economic zone of the Black Sea. The level of preservation of these shipwrecks is remarkable. An expedition participant had this to say.
Professor Jon Adams, Founding Director of the University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Principle Investigator on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) says: “We’re endeavouring to answer some hotly-debated questions about when the water level rose, how rapidly it did so and what effects it had on human populations living along this stretch of the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea. As such, the primary focus of this project … is to carry out geophysical surveys to detect former land surfaces buried below the current sea bed, take core samples and characterise and date them, and create a palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of Black Sea prehistory.”
. . .
During these surveys, members of Black Sea MAP have also discovered and inspected a rare and remarkable ‘collection’ of more than 40 shipwrecks, many of which provide the first views of ship types known from historical sources, but never seen before. The wrecks, which include those from the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, provide new data on the maritime interconnectivity of Black Sea coastal communities and manifest ways of life and seafaring that stretch back into prehistory.Professor Adams comments: “The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys. They are astonishingly preserved due to the anoxic conditions (absence of oxygen) of the Black Sea below 150 metres.
“Using the latest 3D recording technique for underwater structures, we’ve been able to capture some astonishing images without disturbing the sea bed. We are now among the very best exponents of this practice methodology and certainly no-one has achieved models of this completeness on shipwrecks at these depths.”
Again, more at the link.
I’m fascinated to see how much is slowly coming to light about a previously neglected part of the seven seas. Who knows? Maybe they’ll prove the Flood hypothesis after all. I’m sure both Gilgamesh and Noah would be pleased by that, if they’re watching from the hereafter.