More on the Great Flood of biblical and other ancient myths - see possibly related post on the "Garden of Eden" I did a day or two ago.
Massive Canadian melt may have triggered flood of biblical proportions
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News December 10, 2010
A British researcher has published a startling new theory that the remains of untold ancient settlements from a 100,000-year stretch of human history were submerged by the rapidly rising waters of the Persian Gulf around 6,000 BC — the result, in all likelihood, of a catastrophic, planetwide flood triggered in Canada.
There's a consensus among scientists that the collapse of a kilometres-high glacial dam at the end of the last ice age caused a massive outflow of meltwater into the Arctic or North Atlantic Ocean near Hudson Bay, generating a sharp rise in sea levels around the world and profoundly altering the Earth's climate.
Some scientists have even speculated that ancient myths about great floods — culminating in the biblical story of Noah's Ark — were inspired by the worldwide deluge.
But the new theory, advanced in the latest issue of the journal Current Anthropology by University of Birmingham archeologist Jeffrey Rose, offers the clearest picture yet of what may have been lost at the Middle East nexus of human civilization when Canada's super-sized Lake Agassiz — a remnant of which is today's Lake Winnipeg — suddenly burst its banks 8,000 years ago.
The resulting rise of the Indian Ocean flooded a Great Britain-sized expanse of the Arabian Peninsula that had previously been above water and was almost certainly inhabited by ancient peoples for as long as 100 millennia, Rose stated. The rising water created the present-day Persian Gulf and drowned shorelines around the peninsula, along the northeast coast of Africa and elsewhere around the world.
And the flooding of those lands, Rose argued, would have submerged extensive archeological evidence of key moments in the evolution of the human race, of the initial stages of their eastward migration out of Africa, and of the cultural developments leading to the early civilizations of the Middle East. Rose stated in a summary of the study that recent archeological discoveries along the Persian Gulf coast show relatively advanced cultures with no apparent precursor settlements to explain how they attained their level of cultural sophistication.
"These settlements boast well-built, permanent stone houses, long-distance trade networks, elaborately decorated pottery, domesticated animals, and even evidence for one of the oldest boats in the world," Rose noted.
"Perhaps it is no coincidence that the founding of such remarkably well-developed communities along the shoreline corresponds with the flooding of the Persian Gulf basin around 8,000 years ago," he added. "These new colonists may have come from the heart of the Gulf, displaced by rising water levels that plunged the once fertile landscape beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean."
In an email to Postmedia News from Oman, Rose said further research into the precise timing and nature of the flood-triggering event that created the Persian Gulf is "an integral part of the puzzle."
He also referenced groundbreaking studies by University of Manitoba geologist James Teller, whose reconstructions of the colossal drainage of ancient Agassiz — the meltwater basin that once covered most of Central Canada, and held a volume equivalent to 15 Lake Superiors — have initiated a wave of new research on outburst impacts ranging from global climate cooling to the origins of agriculture in southern Europe.
"There is now a critical mass of evidence to indicate that some significant flooding event greatly impacted an indigenous group that had been living within the (Persian Gulf) basin," Rose said. "Whether this was a gradual process over a few thousand years, or, as Teller suggested, happened relatively quickly due to a (meltwater outburst) in the North Atlantic at 8,200 years before present, is one of the questions to be addressed going forward."
As early as 2004, Teller was tentatively linking the 6,000 BC Canadian gusher to flooding in the Persian Gulf region and the ancient flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which scholars see as a possible model for the later biblical account of Noah's flood.
"Who knows how well the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Bible is really reflecting the real world," Teller told Postmedia News at the time. "But the floor of the Persian Gulf is really, really flat in the middle. And like dumping a cup of water on a table — or even a thimbleful — it will rush across the tabletop to the far end."
Rose, referring to recent archeological finds in Oman and Yemen, said there is now evidence suggesting a human presence in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula as early as 100,000 years ago. He noted that such a discovery "alters our understanding of human emergence and cultural evolution in the ancient Near East." These and other findings, the summary stated, indicate that "vital pieces of the human evolutionary puzzle may be hidden in the depths of the Persian Gulf."
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