Damien F. Mackey
I. Introductory Section
For a long time my view of Noah’s Flood was shaped by books like The Genesis Flood, that classic by Whitcomb and Morris, and other like-minded writings on the subject. When the full implications of these writings hit me - of our terrestrial globe being entirely overflown by water, with a massive boat astride it all keeping safe the last eight humans, plus pairs of every known species of animal - I was like a man in a daze: overwhelmed. What an incredible image! Nothing in human experience seemed comparable to it. Later also I became intensely interested in the search for Noah’s Ark, and was quite convinced that a boat-shaped object that had been found on so-called ‘Mount Ararat’ or Agri Dagh (Ağri Daği) in (south) eastern Turkey was indeed Noah’s Ark. In those days I was often in touch with one of the key Ark-eologists (as they have been called), Dr. Allen Roberts, who was then making news with his visits to the Agri Dagh site and his colourful adventures there (allegedly being taken captive by bandits on one occasion). Dr. Roberts and I customarily exchanged phone calls and also articles. I even used to tell enthusiastic school children in a Scripture class that I was taking in a Sydney (Australia) suburb that Noah’s Ark had now been discovered on Mount Ararat ; and we hopefully imagined that one day we might hire a helicopter and go visit the site. At this particular time I probably entirely fitted the image of the Ark tragic whom Professor Ian Plimer has described in his book, Telling Lies for God. Reason vs Creationism (Random House, Australia, 1997), chapter 4, “The great flood of absurdities”. I give firstly Plimer’s provocative description of an Ark-eologist - bearing in mind that he has a certain extreme type of Flood/Ark seeker in mind - followed by that of the latter’s naïve disciple [p. 97]:
To be an ark-eologist is not easy because one has to abandon logic, abandon history, forget geography, abandon interpretation of the Bible, abandon knowledge, abandon modern science and have a blind unreasoning faith that a mythical stupendous maritime wooden vessel sits atop a mountain in eastern Turkey .
Plimer continues [pp. 97-98]:
One can only admire those, who against all odds, go looking for wooden boats on mountain tops. There are those, notwithstanding, who sit at home waiting patiently for their favourite ark-eologist to return with tales of horrors, dangers, divine guidance and supreme success from yet another unsuccessful expedition to eastern Turkey. These devotees already know that Noah’s ark rests on Mt Ararat, have been reassured by the unconvincing ‘evidence’ and acquiesce to supplementary purse-opening ark-eology ceremonies.
Yes, I could once identify with most of this. But, over time, ever so slowly, I came to question: (a) this ‘global’ scenario for the Flood, and (b) the so-called Ark on the mountain - and, more recently (c) “Mount Ararat” as being the actual mountain of the Ark’s landing, or even of its ever having been submerged beneath the Flood (for more on this last, see IV. (c)) - since various lines of research I was pursuing, and methodologies, generally biblical, seemed to be conspiring against the possibility of such a scenario and were indeed pointing in the direction of a different model – indeed a far less vast one.
I refer to a combination of:
(i) looking to read the Scriptures (in this case, Genesis) more and more as ancient, not modern, texts, along the lines of P.J. Wiseman.
[See also Excursus A];
(ii) a developing geography of early Genesis that seemed to make apparent that the pre-Flood world could not have had its geographico-hydrological contours entirely erased, as ‘global’ Flood proponents would tend to argue; and, correspondingly,
(iii) an apparent archaeologically-attested cultural continuity in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq ) from the pre-Flood Cain-ites (descendants of Cain) to the post-Flood (early Dynastic) inhabitants.
Moreover, there were
(iv) those manifold scientific arguments against a ‘global’ Flood, and lastly, but definitely not least,
(v) common sense.
These i-v will be my points of reference in the course of my arguments below.
So, whether or not K. Ham, J. Sarfati and C. Wieland of “Answers in Genesis” [AIG] are correct when they write on p. 137 of The Answers Book (Expanded and Updated) (Tribune Press, Brisbane, 2002) that: “People generally want a local flood because they have accepted the widely believed evolutionary history of the Earth, which interprets the fossils under our feet as the history of the sequential appearance of life over eons of time …”, that generalization of theirs certainly does not apply to me, since I am not an evolutionist. And that, for the following two cogent reasons amongst others:
Regarding the supposed evolutionary progression of the Geological Ages, those polystrate trees alone are enough for me, rendering obsolete - seemingly in one blow - this presumed geological progression and thereby demanding a searching revision of the Geological Ages. The polystrate tree should be adopted as an emblem by anti-evolutionists and worn as their logo;
as far as the fossil record goes, the words of G.K. Chesterton still, to this day, hold good: “The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing.” (Chesterton as cited at www.hissheep.org/evolution/missing_link).
[A Comment on each of these 2 points:
1. The evolutionists’ treatment of polystrate trees I find to be very disappointing; and it seems to be clearly in this case, for instance, that the ‘Creationists’ have the better grasp of the scientific data and its implications. One of the first things I went looking for in Plimer’s book, Telling Lies for God, was his tackling, if any, of the matter of polystrates. Plimer, as it turns out, simply dismisses this devastating, as I see it, evidence, merely by writing [p. 82]: “A spurious argument used by creationists refers to polystrate trees. These are fossil trees which, not unexpectedly, are found at a number of different sediment levels. It is interesting to note that such objects are of little interest to science, creationists have invented both the data and the terminology …”. Unsatisfied by this, I popped into the Department of Geology at the University of Sydney one day and asked a geologist there if I could pose him a question. It was: How to reconcile the standard interpretation of the Geological Ages with the evidence of polystrate trees? Whilst he kindly obliged, he had never in fact heard of polystrate trees. When I, a scientific layman, tried to explain the phenomenon accurately to him, he completely missed the point of the multi-strata and its implications for his science. Plimer is perhaps right then in saying that “… such objects are of little interest to science”.
2. Chesterton’s comment about the missing link is still most relevant. The cover story of the latest issue of TIME (Australia, August 15, 2005), “Evolution Wars”, has Darwinists like British biologist Richard Dawkins admitting to gaps in the fossil record; though still clinging to Darwinism with an unshakable ‘faith’ and not wanting even to entertain any debate with proponents of Intelligent Design (genuine scientists like e.g. Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University). The hilarious Chesterton’s other pithy comment, that the most notable thing about the missing link is that it is “still missing”, probably sums up Darwinian evolution better than anything else, before or since.
Moreover, I am all for shortening conventional time scales. However, I do not personally believe that there is any intrinsic geological connection between the biblical Flood and the age of the earth, be it young or old, despite the ‘Creationist’ insistence that there is.
My initial doubts about the validity of the ‘global’ model arose, then, not as a result of the sort of scientific criticism by people like Ian Plimer, Professor of Earth Sciences (or Geology) at the University of Melbourne, but from a scrutiny of the biblical data itself, especially in regard to the location of Paradise, and from what I now consider to be the pre- and post- Flood Mesopotamian archaeology (the latter to be discussed in III. & IV.).
It was indeed this biblico-archaeological foundation that then made me receptive to both the kind of scientific arguments that I would have in earlier days entirely rejected, and to the common sense that seemed to go hand in hand with many of these. All in all, I am now firmly convinced that the Genesis Flood could not have been ‘global’ in our sense of the term; though it was indeed a ‘universal’ Flood in the sense of its having ‘affected all’ [persons alive at the time]. Thus I do not challenge the testimonies of the Old and New Testament that only 8 persons survived it (cf. Genesis 6:9 & I Peter 3:20), nor that we are all descended from Noah’s 3 sons (Genesis 9:19); a view that may now be being verified also by genetics, according to the following article (from which I shall quote several sections in IV. (d)):
In Search of Our "Biblical Common Ancestor"
by Patrick Young, Ph.D.
Indeed I must say at this point - and I do not mean this to be in the least bit demeaning, as I greatly admire the efforts of ‘Creationists’ and ‘global’ Flood modellers to verify the Bible historically - I now find the type of model pioneered by Whitcomb and Morris, and still fervently promoted by ‘Creationist’ groups (though with various modifications and refinements), to be, and I would not want to put too fine a point on this,
Fundamentalism taken to its most extreme limits!
Admittedly, there are certain common sense counterpoints (from a biblical standpoint) that one must immediately expect from the ‘Creationists’ when espousing the view of a more localised type of Flood. Ham et al. (op. cit.), for instance, have listed some of these on pp. 138-141, preceded by the phrase:
“If the Flood were local, why … [followed by]
- did Noah have to build an Ark ? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and escaped ….
- was the Ark big enough to hold all the different kinds of land vertebrate animals to reproduce those kinds …?
- did God send the animals to the Ark to escape death? There would have been other animals to reproduce those kinds ….
- would birds have been sent on board? These could simply have winged across to far-distant higher ground….
- people who did not happen to be living in the vicinity would not have been affected by it. They would have escaped God’s judgment on sin. ….
- How could the waters rise to 15 cubits (8 metres) above the mountains (Gen. 7:20)?
- God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a Flood again. There have been huge ‘local’ floods in recent times ….”
Proposed answers to all these questions will be provided in the course of this article.
Conversely, non ‘Creationist’ scientists urge a common sense series of their own against the notion of a ‘global’ Flood. Points of this type abound in Plimer’s book for example. Let me preface some of Professor Plimer’s points with his own question [op. cit., p. 75]:
“If there was indeed a ‘Great Flood’, then …:
- how come we still have ravens, if one of the pair was sent off by Noah and never returned? [I think Plimer may mean here ‘one of the pair of doves’. Genesis 8:13].
- from where did the dove get the branch if the whole earth was overlayed by miles of sediment?”
Or this series of questions [ibid., pp. 74, 105]:
- Could an ark be built to accommodate all the organisms?
- Did Noah really have the mathematical skills to solve the differential equations necessary to understand the bending moment, torque and shear stress associated with the roll, pitch, yaw and slamming expected in the turbulent globe-enveloping flood?
- What shipboard problems would exist on an ark of this size?
- How did the organisms travel from the beached ark to their current locations?”
Plimer will also, despite his off-handed treatment of the polystrate fossils, employ many scientific arguments (especially geological); for example, if the Flood were ‘global’, then [ibid., p. 75]:
- every oil well, every coal mine, every drill hole in sedimentary rocks and every cliff profile would show a gradation from basal conglomerate to sand to uppermost siltstones, mudstones and claystones. …[but they don’t, Plimer maintains].
- in the record of rocks, we see evidence that some sedimentary rocks (and fossils therein) are formed in freshwater environments whereas other sedimentary rocks are formed in saline marine water. This presents a slight insuperable problem as the fictitious flood fluids were either fresh or saline but unquestionably could not be both”.
Points of this nature will also be re-visited in sections II.-IV. of this article.
[I am well aware that there has been plenty of debate between Plimer and AIG specifically over some of these points, as well as over many other issues].
Anyway, for what it is worth, I shall now present my arguments against the ‘global’ Flood concept of the ‘Creationists’.
Certain Lines of Argument
Against a ‘Global’ Flood
… there sometimes occurs the ironical - even humorous - situation whereby agnostic scientists will occasionally call for a more enlightened exegetical approach to Genesis than do the upholders of the biblical tradition; whereas the latter will at times arrive at a more accurate interpretation of the scientific data than do their scientific opponents.
Whilst a superficial reading of the Flood narratives of Genesis 6-9 might seem to suggest, according at least to a modern mentality (point i), that the Genesis Flood encompassed the entire globe, covering even the world’s highest mountains, such a ‘total’ view I now urge is to impose upon the ancient Genesis texts (not to mention upon poor old Noah and his family) an unrealistic burden that they are quite incapable of supporting. This last is an exegesis that scriptural scholars well versed in ancient practices warn must be avoided. Ironically, it is even an exegetical method against which the agnostic/sceptic Ian Plimer advises (e.g. ibid., pp. 73f.). In fact there sometimes occurs the ironical - even humorous - situation whereby agnostic scientists will occasionally call for a more enlightened exegetical approach to Genesis than do the upholders of the biblical tradition; whereas the latter will at times arrive at a more accurate interpretation of the scientific data than do their scientific opponents.
‘Tabula Rasa’ Effect
According to the most extreme ‘global’ Flood view, held even by some useful revisionist scholars - like Drs. D. Courville, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, V. II, 1971 [pp. 153f.] and J. Osgood, see below - the Genesis Flood was so immense and powerful that it must completely have swept away all features of the antediluvian world, so that no trace whatever of that primeval world would remain today. It was, they argue, a total tabula rasa effect, wiping the slate clean. Proponents of this view consider it to be a complete waste of time now to go searching for the ancient site of Paradise, for instance; though this is exactly what I did in my recent Internet article, “The Location of Paradise” (www.catholicintl/catholicissues/paradise.htm) – and hence I would maintain against the proponents of tabula rasa that the concept of a Flood that removed all previous contours is un-biblical.
If I am right in this last assertion, then it would be highly ironical that that well-known advocate of the sola scriptura principle, Martin Luther, “maintained that the original location of the garden of Eden, though known to Adam and his descendants, was obliterated by the devastating effects of Noah’s flood”. (D. Hochner, Noah’s Flood, www.angelfire.com/ca/DeafPreterist/Noah.html).
Moreover, this tabula rasa approach turns out to be rather disastrous in terms of:
(i) a necessary revision of the Stone Ages, and
(ii) archaeologically identifying some major early post-Flood events, all related, such as the era of Nimrod, the Tower of Babel incident and the consequent Dispersion (the last, a mass movement of people away from Mesopotamia, eminently lending itself to archaeological identification).
I shall elaborate on these points in the main part of this article (sections II.-IV.).
Dr. John Osgood of Creation Ex Nihilo (now AIG), who has cleverly synthesised Palestinian stratigraphy and pentateuchal history/& the Book of Joshua (notably in regard to the eras of Abram and the Conquest), and who has bravely attempted even a stratigraphical revision of the so-called Stone Ages (Palaeolithic to Chalcolithic), has nonetheless, in my view, made it completely impossible to bring this latter valiant effort of his to any worthwhile fruition owing to his tabula rasa ‘global’ Flood preconception. I give here Dr. Osgood’s point of departure for his revision of the Stone Ages, and I am going to argue that he has immediately taken a wrong and fateful step with his major assumption (“A Better Model for the Stone Age”, EN Tech. J., Vol. 2, 1986, p. 90):
In order to arrive at a terminus for the so-called stone age against the biblical narrative a number of new details must be taken into consideration. Firstly, there should be the fact that the biblical chronology inserts a catastrophic world-wide flood of momentous proportions that was so devastating that it is unlikely that any artifacts of the world before that flood would be likely to be found on the surface of the earth today. … Therefore, the assumption must be made that all the surface artifacts of civilization with which the archaeologist deals must relate to mankind’s history after the great Flood of Noah which has been dated by this writer to be circ. 2,300 B.C.
Thus Osgood will try to squeeze the entire Stone Ages (estimated at over 2 million years) into the approximately half millennium between the end of the Flood (his c. 2300 B.C.) and the early days of Abram in Palestine (dated by Osgood to c. 1870 BC). And he will synthesize the latter (c. 1870 BC) with Palestine’s (specifically En-Gedi’s) Chalcolithic so-called Stone Age era (“The Times of Abraham”, EN Tech. J., Vol. 2, 1986, pp. 79-82).
[I fully accept, at least, Osgood’s compelling Abram/En-gedi-Chalcolithic/(Ghassul IV) synchronization, and I also agree with D. Rohl’s view (The Lost Testament, Century 2002, Ch. 6) that Abram was contemporaneous with the mighty Ur III dynasty in Mesopotamia. See my Internet article: www.specialtyinterests.net/old_kingdom.html#a The implication here is that a highly advanced civilization in one place, the Mesopotamian city of Ur, can co-exist with a Stone Age scenario, Palestinian En-gedi, not geographically all too far away. Osgood has also argued for Jericho Neolithic to have been contemporaneous with the above-mentioned Ghassul-Chalcolithic phase, “… Stone Age”, p. 95].
As I wrote above I am all for shortening conventional time spans. But, whilst I believe that Dr. Osgood was quite correct in his proposing the need for a drastic time reduction for the Stone Ages, I think he nevertheless needed to credit these Stone Ages with yet a further 1656 years - that being the usually accepted time span from Adam to the Flood (see e.g. P. Mauro’s The Wonders of Bible Chronology, Reiner, 1965, Ch. III).
Thus the revised ages model outlined below (to be filled out in sections II.-IV.) for the antediluvian-postdiluvian sequence, interrupted by the Great Flood, will allow - differently from Osgood’s - for there to be an entire archaeology/palaeontology (that is, including the Stone Ages) even for the millennium and a half long antediluvian era:
the terminus post quem of the Stone Age (i.e. the beginnings of the Palaeolithic age above bedrock) is to be dated back about 1656 years before the Flood (see above) - 1656 years being the full duration of the antediluvian age - to the beginning of man;
likewise the eventual cultural evolution (beyond Palaeolithic) from Mesolithic to Neolithic must not be confined entirely to post-diluvian times, as Osgood had thought, but must be recognized as having its origins at least in antediluvian times, primarily with Cain, likely the first city builder (Genesis 4:17) – hence Neolithic? – and with Cain’s descendants, all in southern Mesopotamia, who became more and more ‘civilized’, technologically speaking (Chalcolithic),
all this ‘progress’ culminating in the vibrant Chalcolithic mid-late Ubaid period (still antediluvian), at Eridu, Uruk and Ur in southern Mesopotamia, that absorbed the Hassuna, Samarra and Halaf cultures in the north, and beyond Iraq - this archaeological phase perhaps corresponding with the likes of the highly ‘civilized’, polygamous Lamech and his sons before the Flood (Neolithic/Chalcolithic?).
That this period of flourishing civilization, confined approximately to the area of the Fertile Crescent, was then interrupted by the Great Flood.
But that, soon afterwards, Mesopotamian civilization in particular (cf. Genesis 11:2) was resumed, most notably, according to Rohl (op. cit., Ch. 5), by the Ham-ites such as the adventurous Cush; but especially by Nimrod, the empire builder (ibid., Ch. 4); Nimrod’s phase representing the imperial Uruk I and Jemdet Nasr archaeological civilizations in southern Mesopotamia (c. 3000-2900 BC, conventional dating).
That finally, after Babel, there occurred the Dispersion primarily westwards, shown archaeologically most especially by the Jemdet Nasr expansion (c. 2900 BC, conventional dating), leading to the Early Bronze Age/Early Dynastic phase.
[Whilst I intend to enlarge upon these points of palaeontology/archaeology in sections II. and III., obviously it will require a future series of articles to deal adequately with them].
Courville, convincingly for mine, identified the relatively brief Jemdet Nasr transitional phase (last bullet point above), leading to the Early Bronze Era/Early Dynastic phase, with the post-Babel Dispersion - somewhat miraculously though, given his dubious starting point that the Flood had completely separated Palaeolithic man from Mesolithic man, between whom “not a single link has been found” (op. cit., cf. pp. 144f. & 153). Less fortuitous, I believe, was Osgood, who, having the Stone Ages commencing not much before the time I estimate that the postdiluvian Nimrod would already have started his expansion, consequently had to move the Jemdet Nasr phase down the time line by many centuries (thus away from the actual Dispersion era), and was thus forced to look for evidence of the postdiluvian Dispersion in a period that is in fact reasonably early antediluvian. Osgood may also consequently have confused an antediluvian Cain-ite dominance from southern Mesopotamia (Ubaid), over the northern Mesopotamian cultures, with the northward progression of Nimrod, postdiluvian.
No ‘Tabula Rasa’ Effect
If my argument in “The Location of Paradise” - and also the view of others … - is correct, that the four antediluvian rivers were still active and discernible in Moses’ day, then this
premise in fact yields a scientific ‘king-hit’ to ‘Creationist’ Flood science, so-called!
But there are other biblical-minded writers who, as I noted in “The Location of Paradise”, consider that Genesis 2 does indeed preserve a definite geographico-hydrological link between the pre- and post- Flood worlds. We saw that the four rivers referred to in the antediluvian Adamic toledôt are actually named by the postdiluvian Moses as real rivers, running alongside (or around) real geographical locations. Moreover, Moses uses the very same 3rd person masculine singular Hebrew pronoun hu (comprising the Hebrew letters, he waw aleph), meaning ‘he’ or ‘himself’ (itself), in every one of the four cases, thereby directly connecting Adam’s four rivers with four known rivers of Moses’ time.
Now, this hu is again the exact same Hebrew pronoun that editor Moses would use in his geographical modification of Abra[ha]m’s history, where, in that famous case of Genesis 14:3 he advises his people that the site that was in Abram’s day “the Valley of Siddim” had now become the Dead Sea. Thus Moses: “Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea)”; the Heb. pronoun hu here being translated quite appropriately into English as, “that is”. But even though the Bible seems to be interpreting itself for us here, I have found that ‘Creationists’, whilst willingly accepting the view that Moses was, in the case of Genesis 14:3, pointing to the very same geographical region that was intended in the Abra[ha]mic history (though now with considerable topographical alteration), will strenuously deny any geographical connection whatsoever in Genesis 2 between the pre-Flood hydrography and that later connected there by editor Moses with the pronoun hu.
Now the AIG (some of whose editorial staff at least I know to be keen on the Wiseman toledôt theory in regard to Mosaïc editing of the Genesis texts) co-authors (Ham et. al.) also have argued against any sort of geographical connection before and after the Genesis Flood, in their section: “Answers to objections to a global Flood” (op. cit., p. 144, “Objection 2: The post-Flood geography is the same as the pre-Flood”). Here is how these co-authors tackle the tricky (in their context) matter of the Tigris and Euphrates:
Someone may ask, ‘Then why do we have a Tigris and Euphrates today?’ Answer: the same reason there is a Liverpool and Newcastle in Australia; and London, Oxford and Cambridge in North America, although they were originally place names in England. Features in the post-Flood world were given names familiar to those which survived the Flood.
This, I find though, to be a typically modern ‘surface’ reading of an ancient text, without coming to grips in any way with the realities of the ancient document; with, for instance (a) the fact that commentators consider the elaboration of the four rivers to be an editorial addition to the original text, (b) coupled with the use of the Hebrew pronoun hu, specifically linking the pre- and post-Flood rivers, as it indeed links geographical locations between the Abra[ha]mic history and the era of Moses.
Nor can the AIG co-authors so easily dismiss the two other rivers, Pishon and Gihon, by simply stating (ibid.): “The Pishon is not mentioned post-Flood and Gihon is used of the locality of a spring near Jerusalem in the times of Kings David, Solomon and Hezekiah”. For I referred to Sirach’s testimony, in “The Location of Paradise”, that the Pishon and Gihon were, with the Tigris and Euphrates, still (in the C2nd BC) abundant, active rivers. So again I would emphasise the point (and this is pitched mostly at those who tend to operate according to the principle, sola scriptura), that to hold to a view of no geographical link whatsoever between the pre- and post- Flood worlds is to be un-biblical.
[A geographical note: This case of the 4 rivers and their associated lands, referred to in Genesis 2, seems to be the only occasion in Adam’s toledôt where editor Moses has obliged us with his geographical indicators connected by the Hebrew pronoun hu. There does not appear to have been any such editorial intervention for instance for the purpose of later specifying the location of “the land of Nod” (Genesis 4:16), where the fratricide Cain settled after his becoming a fugitive; its general location “east of Eden” probably being a verse already embedded in the pre-Mosaïc original. That leaves us with the necessary task later of having to identify “the land of Nod” on a modern map in order then to build up an accurate archaeological picture of the whereabouts of the Cain-ite pre-Flood ‘civilization’. Hopefully my previous article, “The Location of Paradise”, will greatly limit global options here, by at least serving to show just from where exactly Cain’s “Nod” was, if I may put it like this, “east of”].
According to my view, we must discard the notion of tabula rasa in regard to the Flood. Dr. David Livingston is somewhat more realistic here I presume than Drs. Courville and Osgood, and the AIG group, in his statement that: “Pentateuchal geography is very interesting in that pre-Flood geographic and geologic features must have been altered to some degree by the great Flood” (“Historical Geography of the Pentateuch”, www.ancientdays.net/histgeopenta.htm). Yes, indeed, “to some degree” as Livingston has well written, and thus apparently not to the extent as to be unidentifiable. Pentateuchal geography moreover, Livingston further notes, is entirely different from modern geography (point i): “The ancients did not have a notion of massive seas and continents as we do today”.
A Geological Blow to the ‘Global’ Flood Model?
If my argument in “The Location of Paradise” is correct, that the four antediluvian rivers were still active and discernible in Moses’ day (and indeed even much later than that) – [and I noted therein that this view was shared by others, and I must now also add to this list Carol A. Hill and her, “The Garden of Eden: A Modern Landscape” (Science in Christian Perspective): www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2000/PSCF3_00Hill.html] - then this premise in fact yields a scientific ‘king-hit’ to ‘Creationist’ Flood science, so-called! Why? I shall let Carol Hill tell why [though, note, I do not share her reliance upon the conventional dating, e.g. of the Ubaid period, nor her views of:
(i) the location of the ancient Paradise in Mesopotamia, nor
(ii) the location of the land of Cush in western Iran.
(iii) Hill and others (see e.g. S. Caesar’s “Lost River of Eden Discovered By Satellite”, www.creationism.org/index.htm) may actually have come up with a better (recently satellite detected) identification for the ancient river “Pishon” (now a dried up fossil river) than the one proposed by Professor Yahuda that I have followed in “The Location of Paradise” (for more see II. (B)].
Hill writes (op. cit.):
Implications for Flood Geology
So far in this paper, I have argued that the Bible locates the Garden of Eden at the confluence of the four rivers of ancient Mesopotamia [sic]. The Bible correctly identifies the Pishon River as draining the land of Havilah (Arabia), from whence came gold, bdellium, and onyx stone.
The Bible also correctly identifies the Euphrates and Tigris, both of which are modern rivers which drain approximately the same area of Mesopotamia as they did in ancient times.
The Gihon, while not positively identified, is probably the Karun (and/or Karkheh), which "encompasses" (winds around) the whole land of Cush (western Iran) [sic]. Thus, the Bible locates the Garden of Eden as somewhere near where the head of the Persian Gulf may have existed some 6000 years ago-- that is, on a modern landscape similar to that which exists in southern Iraq today.
Six Miles of Sedimentary Rock Below Eden
This interpretation of the Garden of Eden as existing on a modern landscape presents a major conflict between what the Bible says and what flood geologists say.67 The reason is this: there are six miles of sedimentary rock beneath the Garden of Eden/ Persian Gulf. How could Eden, which existed in pre-flood times, be located over six miles of sedimentary rock supposedly deposited during Noah's flood? What flood geologists are implying is that the Garden of Eden existed on a Precambrian crystalline basement and then Noah's flood came and covered up the Garden of Eden with six miles of sedimentary rock. But this is not what the Bible says. It says that Eden was located where the four rivers confluenced on a modern landscape. It says that the Garden of Eden was located on top of six miles of sedimentary rock, and thus this sedimentary rock must have existed in pre-flood times.
[The Bible] says that the Garden of Eden was located on top of six miles of sedimentary rock, and thus this sedimentary rock must have existed in pre-flood times.
The fact that six miles of sedimentary rock exist beneath the Persian Gulf area is well known by geologists, since this area has been extensively drilled for oil, down to the Precambrian basement. The fact that the Persian Gulf is located in an area of oil recovery is equally as evident to the layperson who, in 1991, witnessed on television the numerous oil fires set off in Kuwait during the Gulf War. The six miles of sedimentary rock below the Garden of Eden area include Tertiary, Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic, and Paleozoic rock up to a depth of about 32,000 feet before the Precambrian basement is encountered.68….
Pitch for the Ark
If the above were not evidence enough, there is another Bible passage which confirms a pre-flood Mesopotamian world on a modern landscape. The Bible records that Noah used pitch in construction of the ark: "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch" (Gen. 6:14). Pitch is a thick, tarry, oil product composed of a mixture of hydrocarbons of variable color, hardness, and volatility. Bitumen mixed with two or three parts of mineral and/or vegetable matter makes asphalt or pitch, a crude but versatile adhesive. Bitumen is a natural petroleum product derived from kerogen. It can be encountered by oil drillers in the subsurface, or it can move up cracks and faults and make its way naturally to the surface in the form of bitumen seepages.
Many bitumen seeps exist in the Middle East.69 Bitumen was used extensively by the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia for every type of adhesive-construction need, including the waterproofing of boats and mortar for buildings (e.g., "slime" for mortar; Gen. 11:3). The center of bitumen production in Mesopotamia was (and still is) at Hit, located along the Euphrates River …. The Hit bitumen occurs in "lakes" where lines of hot springs are welling up along deep faults.70 This water is sometimes accompanied by so much gas that the latter will burn. In the water, "snakes" of asphalt collect together, and the Iraqis consolidate them into lumps. It is likely that bitumen was collected in this same manner in ancient times, because similar lumps of asphalt have been found at Ur in levels dating from about 3000 B.C.71 Sir Leonard Woolley's famous expedition to Ur found a lump of bitumen just above his "flood layer" which had an imprint of a reed basket on it. Even today, bitumen is packaged into reed baskets and floated down the Euphrates in boats. The bitumen from Hit has been utilized by the people of southern Mesopotamia for thousands of years, as recorded at numerous archaeological sites. The earliest evidence of bitumen use is at al'Ubaid (5000-4000 B.C.) [sic], where reed matting plastered with a mixture of earth and bitumen was found during the excavations of Woolley.73 Later in the Ubaid Period … bitumen-covered headdresses of clay figurine goddesses were made at Ur. However, while some bitumen has been found at very early sites such as these, the bitumen industry …had its beginnings between 3500-3000 B.C.74 … The essential point of the above discussion on bitumen now becomes evident. How could Noah have obtained bitumen from sedimentary rock for building his ark, if (as claimed by flood geologists) no sedimentary rock existed on earth? One cannot have it both ways. ….
[End of quote].
[Hit in Mesopotamia was not the only source of bitumen in the Fertile Crescent. Another notable place, for instance, was the “Valley of Siddim”, which was, according to Genesis 14:10 “full of bitumen pits”; these pits becoming death traps for “some” of the fleeing army of Sodom and Gomorrah upon their defeat by the Mesopotamian coalition of four kings. For an historical identification of these Mesopotamian kings, see my article:
Rohl (op. cit., Ch. 6) has independently arrived at largely the same identifications for the four kings. One will find in his discussion some other valuable information, as well, including why Genesis 14:4,5 seems to place the Elamite, Chedorlaomer at the head of the coalition, whereas the revised historical reconstruction clearly reveals the Elamite to have been subservient to the powerful Sumerian king, Amraphel (= Amar-Sin of the Ur III dynasty)].
Carol Hill’s argument above, and its scientific conclusions, would of course be music to the ears of a Professor Plimer. But I believe that it is indeed also hard scientific (geological) fact, and at the same time perfectly in accord with the geography of Genesis.
Were the worldwide layers of sediment all to be regarded as an effect of the Great Flood, causing wicked humans to have perished on so vast a scale, then why don’t the oil geologists, when drilling down miles into this sediment, encounter masses of human bones? AIG’s Ham et. al. (op. cit., p. 32) have rightly claimed that evolution is contrary to the Scriptures, because it would mean that “the garden were sitting on a fossil record of dead things millions of years old” (contrary to Romans 8:19-22) - and they illustrate this with a marvellous cartoon of the Garden and Adam and Eve atop a huge pile of bones (p. 33) – but how do they account for the lack of human bones in the deep sedimentary layers? And why aren’t human fossils found contemporaneously with the fossils of dinosaurs? Plimer has tossed up this very issue in his “Footprints to Fantasy” (op. cit., p. 226f.). Ham et. al., (op. cit., p. 179f.) have, for their part, devoted an entire chapter (Ch. 15) towards settling this awkward matter. But my response to the title of their Chapter 15: “Where are all the human fossils?”, must be: Well, where are they?
Two important Conclusions to be drawn from Carol Hill’s article:
· Both the Genesis geography (point ii) and modern geology (point iv) conspire to make nonsense of the ‘Creationist’ model of the Flood.
· A new model must urgently be developed; one that is fully in conformity with both (a) the biblical texts, as reasonably interpreted (a sound exegesis) (point i), and (b) a genuine science (point iv).
- That brings me to the main part of this Flood article (sections II.-IV.), but fully based on what has already been written in I. The Flood model that I shall be proposing in sections II.-IV. will be (as indeed was section I.), firstly, entirely dependent upon the major premise that I defended in “The Location of Paradise”, of a geographical link between the pre- and post- Flood worlds; but now to be coupled with the geological evidence just referred to, that the antediluvian civilization already sat above six miles of sedimentary rock - the latter in turn layered above a Precambrian basement.
- As a further support to this, the geologico-palaeontological development from bedrock of a realistic new Flood model, I shall be bringing in a basic archaeological model.
- My entire model hopefully to be suffused by a healthy dose of common sense.
II. “The World That Then Was” (2 Peter 3:6)
… my model of an antediluvian micro-world of human existence within our great globe will be my basis for answering AIG’s common sense (from a biblical standpoint) challenge about the veracity of God’s promise to Noah.
Noah’s Weltanschauung (‘World View’)
(A) in General
My threefold argument here will be that:
(i) the antediluvian ‘world’ known to Noah - what the Apostle Peter called “…the world [Gk. kosmos] that then was, [that] being flooded by water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6; cf. 2:5) - was essentially what today some scholars of the ancient Near East might call ‘the Fertile Crescent’, ranging approximately (at least from East to West) from Mesopotamia (Iraq) to Egypt/Ethiopia; human habitation established along the riverine system described in Genesis 2 (a hydrological system that I detailed in “The Location of Paradise”);
and, consequently, that
(ii) for the Flood to have been ‘universal’, to have destroyed all human beings save Noah’s family, it need not to have covered the entire globe as we now know it, nor all of its highest mountains. Noah’s micro-world is, I believe, still largely retrievable by archaeology; though, obviously, with some difficulty.
(iii) Nor was it necessary for Noah to have collected whatever birds and animals (including dinosaurs?) lived beyond his very small (by our standards) ‘world’.
Now my model of an antediluvian micro-world of human existence within our great globe will be my basis for answering AIG’s common sense (from a biblical standpoint) challenge about the veracity of God’s promise. This model does not however, of itself alone, answer those other questions regarding why Noah would need to have built an immense Ark, nor indeed any sort of vessel at all. These and related questions will obviously require more complex answers, pertaining to the singular structure/topography of Noah’s ‘kosmos’ (see B. below) and to the distinctive Flood mechanisms (see IV. (a)).
Ø My antediluvian-to-Flood model will obviously be far less vast in scope than are any of the proposed ‘global’ Flood models; these generally, I should think, presupposing an Eden that has since been completely submerged beneath the sea, or at least beneath layers of sediment.
Ø But my model will at the same time be significantly more vast in scope - and certainly more universal - than are those proposed models localized to just one ancient country or region, usually Mesopotamia (e.g. Rohl, op. cit. Ch. 3; Plimer, op. cit., pp. 94-95); Mesopotamia generally being also the preferred location for Eden (e.g. Hill, op. cit.; Rohl, op. cit. Ch. 1). It will also allow for a degree of contemporaneous upheaval or catastrophism in various other, uninhabited (by humans), parts of the globe (and therefore not affecting any human beings).
Ø In terms of geographical extent only, my model will be far closer to that of Rohl and Plimer than it is to what I consider to be the entirely unrealistic ‘global’ Flood models.
The basically two opposing Flood models as outlined above (the ‘local’ and ‘global’) enable for their protagonists to arrive at two quite different estimations, respectively, of the person of Noah himself.
… the open-ended model (at its most extreme) of a ‘global’ Flood, that entirely erased all trace of the bygone world, allows for one imaginatively to reconstruct a ‘Noah’ who can be
a superman, a physical and technological giant the like of whom we have never seen.
Whilst the Flood model of, to use Professor Plimer’s words “a local, but great Flood” (op. cit., p. 94) - a description that can be entirely accommodated to my own model - would limit Noah and his ancestors to specific, known archaeological periods (contemporaneous with e.g. the Eridu, Ur, Ubaid and Halaf, Hassuna, Samarra phases in Mesopotamia), whose architecture, pottery, building methods, measurements and technology in general are now quite well known, the open-ended model (at its most extreme) of a ‘global’ Flood, that entirely erased all trace of the bygone world, allows for one imaginatively to reconstruct a ‘Noah’ who can be a superman, a physical and technological giant the like of whom we have never seen.
Scripture tells us that there were in fact giants in Noah’s day, the Nephilim, perhaps perverse fruit of the union between the once-godly Seth-ites and the ‘fair’ Cain-ite women (Genesis 6:4). These ‘Titans’ were amongst those destroyed in the Flood, whose cause the wise king Solomon discerningly attributed right back to Cain himself (Wisdom 10:3-4).
There were of course belligerent giants in post-Flood times as well (e.g. Numbers 13:33).
According to a fascinating TV documentary, “In the Footsteps of Goliath” (Lost Worlds), the giants whose bones have been dug up in Palestine were no more than 2 metres tall. Whilst that conclusion might be disappointing for we who have grown up with tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk”, it was nevertheless extremely tall by the height standards of the day. The documentary explained that even the imposing Goliath himself was only approximately 2 metres tall, as verified by the more ancient Dead Sea Scrolls texts about the famous giant (replacing the previous view - based on later translations - that Goliath stood as high as 3 metres). It was even suggested that Goliath may have suffered from a form of gigantism that causes large features, a big tongue and a booming voice, tunnel vision (hence David’s advantage in speedy movement); though the down side of this would be the unlikely symptom that the giant might have been unstable in walking and shaky on his feet. And having to wear heavy armour would only have exacerbated such a condition.
Anyway, the Bible nowhere says or implies that the long-lived Noah was a gigantic man, and it would be most unlikely, given the perverse Nephilim of his day, that he was.
[Even the haughty and rebellious Nimrod, who was – according to Josephus – “a bold man, and of great strength of hand” (Antiquities, Bk. I, iv:2), was unlikely an actual giant. We have various representations of the historical Nimrod I think in Mesopotamian art, as Enmerkar, or N-M-R “the hunter” (=kar), of the Uruk I dynasty, not long after the Flood, and he looks like an ordinary human being, though certainly physically powerful].
Some propose a supposed hugeness for Noah and his sons in order to account for the fact, as they see it, that so few as 4 men had built an Ark so immense. For, according to Ham et. al. (op. cit., p. 172), Noah’s Ark had “the equivalent volume of 522 standard railroad stock cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep”. Or, as one Baptist minister seriously told me: “… it [the Ark] was the length of the Melbourne Cricket Ground” (this ground has just recently held some 91,000 plus persons for a Grand Final). [The longevity of Noah and his sons is yet another factor sometimes argued in favour of gigantism].
According to my antediluvian model, to be set archaeologically in Eridu, Ur and Ubaid times, and palaeontologically in Neolithic/Chalcolithic times, for AIG’s Ark to have been produced then is just plain ridiculous! It defies common sense!
The fact that a boat of such alleged proportions was never even remotely matched by shipbuilders after the Flood, e.g. by Ham’s son, Cush, the seafaring colonizer of Ethiopia (if Rohl is correct, op. cit., Ch. 5), or his empire loving, God-defying hunter son Nimrod, nor even by the world-conquering Romans (millennia later than Nimrod) - whose technological skills astound even today - would be easily explained of course by ‘global’ Floodists: the technology and know-how, they would say, was all totally lost in the upheaval of the Flood. However, I think that such an imagined vessel was never built in the first place; and that the answer to Plimer’s question, stated earlier: “Did Noah really have the mathematical skills to solve the differential equations necessary to understand the bending moment, torque … associated with the roll, pitch, yaw and slamming expected in the turbulent globe-enveloping flood?”, has to be an emphatic No!
No one would be more surprised than Noah and his sons to learn of what stupendous mathematical and technological skills have been attributed to them by some moderns! The problem may be in the figures that have come down to us. The size of the Ark, like the alleged size of Goliath, has perhaps grown some substantial extra dimensions with the passing of time. (See also my Excursus B on Biblical Numbers in IV. (b)).
I shall be returning to this controversial matter of Noah’s Ark in more detail also in IV.
Ancient and Semitic Ways of Thinking
If one is going to talk about biblical context: namely, in this case, the proper context for the geography of the Flood narratives … the particular geographical context could only be that of Genesis 2 …..
I wrote in “The Location of Paradise” that Canaan was the hub of the ancient world even down to the time of Alexander the Great (C4th BC). Indeed for Jesus and his fellow Jews it was, as I am going to suggest, still the point of reference as late as the C1st AD. And the mediaeval Crusaders considered Jerusalem to be the centre of the world in their day. ‘Creationists’ though, making much of the fact that the Genesis Flood narratives use language that they say unequivocally indicates totality and universality - and indeed they surely do when read at face value, from a modern (western) point of view - are forced to situate Noah and his family in the same sort of vast global environment, virtually, as now inhabited by 3rd millennium man. Ham et al. (op. cit., pp. 141-143), for instance take such Hebrew phrases from the Flood narrative translated as e.g. “all flesh”, “all the earth”, “every living thing”, “under the whole heaven”, etc., as clearly implying a global Flood. Though they do note (ibid., p. 143), at least in regard to the word ‘all’ (Hebrew kol), here, that:
Some have argued that since ‘all’ does not always mean ‘each and every’ (e.g. Mark 1:5) the use of ‘all’ in the Flood account does not necessarily mean the Flood was universal. That is, they claim that this use of ‘all’ allows for a local flood.
Again, the co-authors are adhering to a true literary principle - applicable to both ancient and modern writings - when they insist that the meaning of any word (such as ‘all’) needs to be determined according to its [geographical] context; that: “From the context of ‘all’ in Luke 2:1, for example, we can see that ‘all the world’ meant all the Roman Empire”. D. Hochner (op. cit.), though, having also considered these same sorts of ‘total’ Hebrew phrases in the Flood narrative, concludes that the Flood was not global. Here is what Hochner has to say, for instance, about the key word “earth”/“land” (Heb: eretz/erets):
Erets (#776 in Strong's), the Hebrew word that [is] translated "earth" throughout the flood account and it does not require a world-wide meaning. This word translated "country" (140 times) and "land" (1,476 times!) in the Bible. Many of them are often of limited land areas.
Hochner then proceeds to produce a list of Old and New Testament usages of this word, eretz, to show that its meaning is often localized, and certainly never globalized in our modern sense. To give just one of his examples (his point e):
… Acts 11:28 speaks of a similar famine throughout all the world, yet it is not likely it really meant over the whole globe including the New World.
One encounters again, later in the Old Testament, a phrase very reminiscent of the Flood narrative, namely, ‘spread over the face of the earth’ (Numbers 22:5,11): ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth’, complains the Moabite king, Balak, of the Israelites on their way to cross the River Jordan. But how far ‘spread over the face of the earth’ were the Israelites at this particular point in time? A few verses earlier (22:1) we are told just how far: “The Israelites …camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho”. Not very far at all according to a global context!
Thus, certain Semitic geographical phrases that would seem to us to imply ‘total’, or ‘global’, do not necessarily mean that!
Given the nature of Semitic thinking or reasoning though, as I am now going to discuss in the following brief Excursus A, lifted largely from Professor Stalker’s The Life of Jesus – contrasting the Oriental (Semitic) with the western way of human thinking – even ‘context’ may not always be as obvious as we westerners might like it to be.
Excursus A: Two Different Intellectual Emphases
Whilst the mind is a faculty (of the spiritual soul) that is an integral part of each human being, the mode of intellectual emphasis amongst human beings can differ significantly.
So this little Excursus will be entirely a matter of mental emphasis, not a challenge to the Aristotelico-Thomistic epistemology.
Professor Stalker, in The Life of Jesus, has well and poetically explained how this applies, for instance, in the comparison between the oriental (more contemplative) cast of mind and the western (discursive, analytical) one (p. 65. I lack the full bibliographical details for this document):
“Our [western] thinking and speaking when at their best are fluent, expansive, closely reasoned. The kind of discourse which we admire is one which takes up an important subject, divides it out into different branches, treats it fully under each of the heads, closely articulates part to part …”.
By contrast, the oriental or Jewish mind, Professor Stalker goes on to say (ibid.):
“… loves to brood long on a single point, to turn it round and round, to gather up all the truth about it into a focus, and pour it forth in a few pointed and memorable words. It is concise, epigrammatic, oracular”.
Whereas a western speaker’s discourse, he continues (ibid.): “… is a systematic structure, or like a chain in which link is firmly knit to link, an Oriental’s is like the sky at night, full of innumerable burning points shining forth from a dark background”.
A fortiori should Professor Stalker’s enlightening contrast here between the eastern (Oriental/Semitic) and western mind-sets be applicable to the difference between the ancient (especially, for our purposes, Semitic), and the modern western, mind-sets. It is the kind of contrast of which one should always be well aware when approaching the ancient biblical texts.
Returning to ancient geography, then, I ask: How, for instance, are we meant to place in any proper geographical context Jesus Christ’s statement about “the queen of the south” as coming “from the ends of the earth” (Matthew 12:42), when Jesus himself gives no such specific context? Though it might greatly help if one were to know that the prophet Daniel had already, centuries earlier, used this broad phrase “of the south” to designate an un-named “king” who would rule Egypt and Ethiopia (e.g. Daniel 11:5); just as, it seems, “the queen of the south” would later rule Egypt and Ethiopia as ‘king’ (pharaoh).
[For I accept both (i) Josephus’s testimony that the biblical queen was historically the queen of Egypt/Ethiopia and (ii) Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s (in Ages in Chaos I, 1952) specific identification of her with Queen (later Pharaoh) Hatshepsut of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty at Thebes. For my modified version of/ Velikovsky’s thesis on the biblical queen, see: www.specialtyinterests.net/david_abishag.html
Clearly, the ancients did not always oblige us with the sort of obvious geographical context that we might expect a contemporary to give.
Now I think that, just as in the case of “the queen of the south”, so in the case of Noah, does one need to ‘search the Scriptures’ for the intended geographical orientation.
[Noah, who was certainly most ancient, cannot strictly be classified as a ‘Semite’ of course. It was in fact Noah’s most blessed son, Sem (or Shem), the great Melchizedek, who was the eponymous father of the Semitic races. Shem had at least a third part involvement in the Flood account, the toledôt history of Noah’s 3 sons (Genesis 6:9b-10:1), and Shem was in fact one of the very few (eight) actual surviving eye-witnesses of the Flood. And indeed the next toledôt series, “the generations of Shem” (10:2-11:10a), belonged entirely to Shem and was most likely also written by him – perhaps after he had become separated from his 2 brothers due to the Dispersion subsequent to the Babel incident].
If one is going to talk about biblical context: namely, in this case, the proper context for the geography of the Flood narratives, with their frequent references to “the earth” (Hebrew eretz) – and several times to “all the earth” (e.g. Genesis 7:3; 8:9) – I suggest that the geographical context could only be that of Genesis 2: namely, that portion of the earth associated with the primeval riverine system.
[As with the first book of the Bible (Genesis), so with the last (Revelation) is there made the same sort of linguistic overstatement, where one turns the Greek tês gês, “the whole land” (i.e. the land of Palestine, or eretz Israel) into “the whole earth”, meaning the global world. K. Gentry, “A Preterist View of Revelation”, Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Zondervan 1998, pp. 48, 73), however, has properly understood the (geographical) context, showing that the length of “the land” so often referred to in Revelation is clearly that of Palestine as a Roman province:
…John actually focuses on all the tribes of “the land” (Gk. tês gês), the well-known Promised Land in which the Jews lived. (We should probably translate the Greek word hê gê as “the land” rather than “the earth” in the great majority of cases where this word occurs in Revelation). ….
… “They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia” (14:20).
For compelling reasons “the city” here appears to be Jerusalem: (1) John defines “the city” earlier as Jerusalem (11:8); (2) the “harvest” is in the earth/land (Gk. hê gê; 14:15-19); (3) this judgment falls on the place where Jesus was crucified: “outside the city” (John 19:20; cf. Heb. 13:11-13); and (4) the Son of Man “on the cloud” (Rev. 14:14-15) rehearses Revelation’s theme regarding Israel (1:7). The distance of the blood flow is 1600 stadia, which is roughly the length of the land as a Roman province: The Itinerarium of Antoninus of Piacenza records Palestine’s length as 1664 stadia. This prophecy refers to the enormous blood flow in Israel during the Jewish war.
[End of quote].
Moreover, the Temple is yet still standing and the Sabbath restrictions are still in place, necessitating a scenario and date of composition pre-70 AD. If one is to talk about the literal level of meaning, then - substantially speaking - the Book of Revelation was literally fulfilled with the Jewish war against Rome (69-70 AD), culminating in the destruction of the Temple of Yahweh in 70AD. Despite all this, many extrapolate Revelation, literally, to a modern global scene. And they have done the very same, geographically – and with even less justification – with the most ancient Flood narratives].
[Further comment: I am not denying of course that the Holy Spirit has also endowed this extraordinary book (Revelation) with other levels of meaning, supra-literal, that make it spiritually applicable to all generations. Also, one seems to encounter in Revelation certain stunning parallels between St. John’s era and our times, and even certain intriguing details: e.g. St. John’s reference to “wormwood”, 8:11, and the fact that the Ukrainian name ‘Chernobyl’ also apparently translates as “wormwood”, as pointed out in J. Foley’s gripping current article, “The Strange Association Between Fatima and the Number 13”, Immaculate Heart Messenger, July-September, 2005, p. 9].
So let us be wary of imposing our modern ways of thinking upon these ancient texts!
Examples from the New Testament, of how differently the ancients viewed the world (common sense should tell us that anyhow), are many. Here are just two such examples:
As earlier mentioned, Jesus recalled the “queen of the south” as having come “from the ends of the earth” to hear the wisdom of Solomon (Matthew 12:42). In modern terms, the biblical queen must have come from somewhere deep in our southern hemisphere: e.g. from New Zealand, or from South America, or from my homeland island of Tasmania.
According to the common view though (but not mine, as I have noted above), the biblical queen was no further away from Jerusalem than Yemen (Sheba) in southern Arabia. And I am sure that ‘Creationists’ generally would take Jesus’s description in a similar sort of localized, rather than ‘global’, context.
To top it all off, consider how, at Pentecost, there were living in Jerusalem – and here is one of those ‘total’ sorts of biblical phrases: “… devout Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). From where did these various Jews hail? From each of the 5 continents? No, from ancient lands that were either right within the geographical sphere of Noah’s micro-kosmos, or closely adjacent to it:
‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome … Cretans and Arabs …?’ (vv. 7,8-10,11).
So, all of this strange modern interpretation of their ancient toledôt documents would have been startling news to old Noah and to his three sons, and even also to St. John (Revelation) - but especially to the former. If Jesus, in his own day could use so broad a geographical phrase as “the ends of the earth” in connection with what any sensible person today would accept as intending quite a localized context, and if the inspired author of Acts 2 could use so global-like a phrase as “from every nation under heaven” merely to designate Jews from largely the region of the ‘Fertile Crescent’ and its environs, then a fortiori must Noah and his sons (about two and a half millennia earlier) have meant something local by our standards. The ‘world’ known by those 8 survivors of the universal Flood must have been one considerably more compact even than the world of the Roman empire known to St. Peter, who referred to Noah’s kosmos as “the world that then was”. Not St. Peter’s relatively large world; and certainly not our global one.
Whose Flood testimony then are we to believe:
The Answers Book of Sarfati, Ham & Wieland, or the
eye-witness toledôt history of Shem, Ham & Japheth (Genesis 10:1)?
[Sorry, I could not resist the recurrence of the name ‘Ham’ here!].
As noted at the start, I have no intention at all of ridiculing good people who are sincerely trying to seek out the meaning of the Bible. The Answers Book of Ham et. al. has much excellent and genuinely scientific material between its two covers. It is a superb reference book on Genesis related issues. Moreover, I too was for a long time a global Floodist. But, looking at it all now from a different perspective, one that hopefully (from my point of view) is truly biblically-based, then I cannot help but exclaim:
No wonder many scientists, and moderns in general, resist the Scriptures!
And it could well be that some of these, perhaps ready to be persuaded, have nonetheless been turned away by a Fundamentalist insistence upon wildly overstated biblical meanings that the former find to be incompatible with their scientific expertise (not to mention with common sense). Who would want to follow an unreasonable God like that, they might be led to conclude? But it is not God’s fault. He inspired a marvellous book, full of wisdom. It is we who in our folly read into this Bible meanings that are ridiculous and unscientific and entirely anachronistic. And a primary reason for this is, as I am reiterating here, because we have that fatal tendency to read the Scriptures largely with a modern mentality - be it the first book of the Bible, Genesis, or the last book, Revelation - and, thereby, hopelessly to miss the point and the context intended by the original writers.
(B) Noah’s World in More Detail
(Topographical & Palaeontological)
A General Introductory Comment
Here I shall begin to construct a basic scenario that, coupled with the proposed Flood mechanisms in IV. (a), will enable for me to attempt an answer to those so far unanswered ‘Creationist’ questions pertaining to why, if the Flood were not ‘global’, did Noah need to have built an Ark in the first place? And why did he not simply move elsewhere to escape the Flood? And what about God’s promise to Noah signed with rainbow colours? Basically my answer to these questions will be that, owing to the peculiar structure of Noah’s world, and the manner in which this world was eventually hemmed in by water on all sides, before finally being completely overrun by water, there was actually nowhere for Noah and his family to go but into the Ark, to escape the Flood. That those who did not have recourse to the safety of the Ark were then bound to perish.
[Please note that this is a new scenario for me, one that I hope to develop in future articles. It is therefore to be regarded at this early stage as merely a work in progress, rather than as a fully mature thesis. A significant amount of fine tuning should be expected later on].
A Singular ‘World’: Adam’s and Noah’s
The ancient ‘world’ (or kosmos) at which we are looking in terms of Adam’s era, but especially Noah’s, the ‘Fertile Crescent’, is geographically singular insofar as it lies at the meeting place of 3 continents. M. van de Mieroop describes its unique structure and position (A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, Blackwell, 2004, p. 7):
The Near East is a vast landmass situated at the intersection of three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Three tectonic plates meet there and their movements determine the geology of the region. The Arabian plate presses to the north underneath the Iranian plate, pushing it upwards, and is itself forced down. Where the two plates meet, there is a long depression stretching from the Mediterranean sea to the Persian Gulf in which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow, turning a desert into highly fertile land wherever their waters reach.
The African and Arabian plates meet at the western edge of the Near East and are separated by the Great Rift, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean coast and creates a narrow valley lined by the Amanus and Lebanon mountains. There is little room for coastal settlement except in the south, where the plain widens.
The north and the east of the Near East are also dominated by high mountain ranges, the Taurus and the Zagros, which contain the sources of all rivers in the region. The south of the region is a huge flat landmass, containing the Syrian and Arabian deserts. These become more mountainous the further south one goes and are almost entirely deprived of water.
Geological phenomena, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as well as the effects of wind, rain, and water have created a highly diverse area. ….
Here van de Mieroop lays out quite a useful, generalised picture of the region under our investigation; it being a somewhat enclosed region, the meeting place of 3 continents, and hence subject to tectonic activity – the last being a factor that commentators who take seriously the early Genesis narratives consider to have been one of the mechanisms for unleashing the Flood. The region is hemmed in, in most directions, by either mountains, deserts, or seas. Since, however, van de Mieroop wrote his book largely from a Mesopotamian perspective, he mentions in the above description only 2 of the 4 major (named) rivers of Genesis 2: namely, the Mesopotamian ones, “Tigris” and “Euphrates”. The same approximate eastern region, G. Roux has described as “a triangle covering an area of about 240,000 square kilometers, limited by arbitrary lines drawn between Aleppo, Lake Urmiah and the mouth of the Shatt-el-‘Arab” (Ancient Iraq, Penguin, 1980, p. 2). Thus the vast land of Ethiopia, or Nubia (region of the “Gihon” river), and the gold-bearing Arabian land of “Havilah”, a bit further to the east (region of the “Pishon” river) largely miss out and need to be added to this geographical picture, to complete it.
Hill (op. cit.) on the “Pishon”: “In his article, "The River Runs Dry [BAR, July/August 1996]," James Sauer describes how satellite images have detected an underground riverbed along the Wadi al Batin ….4 Sauer identified this river as the Pishon River of the Bible, a river which flowed at a time when the climate was wetter than it is today. The Wadi al Batin/Wadi Rimah system drains some 43,400 square miles of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The now dry Wadi al Batin enters the Persian Gulf at Umm Qasr in Kuwait … but in the past the Pishon entered the Gulf north of Umm Qasr, in the Euphrates-Tigris river basin. The evidence for this is a triangular, fan-shaped, delta.
From the Persian Gulf at Umm Qasr, the now dry Wadi al Batin can be followed to the southwest, upstream past the borders of Kuwait, and into Saudi Arabia, where it is incised into a Tertiary limestone- sandstone sedimentary rock terrain.10 Then, just past Al Hatifah, the dry riverbed is engulfed by immense sand dunes and disappears ….
This is where the satellite photos come in.
These photos indicate that the Wadi al Batin continues to the SW, beneath the sand, and emerges as the Wadi Rimah (that is, both wadis were part of the same river system in the past, before being covered by sand dunes). About eighty miles further in the upstream direction, the Wadi Rimah bifurcates into the Wadi Qahd [NW], and the Wadi al Jarir [SW] ….
The Wadi al Jarir continues up gradient to the area of the Mahd adh Dhahab gold mine exactly as the Bible says: "The River Pishon encompasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold" (Gen. 2:11). Sauer remarked in his article: "This implies extraordinary memory on the part of the biblical authors, since the river dried up between about 3500 and 2000 B.C." [sic].11
Interestingly, Sauer began his article with these words: “I speak as a former skeptic …. Now I am recanting” (ibid., p. 64).
We find, in van de Mieroop’s geographical description above, some of the basic elements that we are going to need to build up our picture of Noah’s ancient world; the latter being not entirely however the pristine world of Adam before the Fall, as I am now going to discuss as a lead in to Noah and the Flood.
The Primeval World’s Devolution
A Palaeontological Overview
[A note: Though the conventional scholars (especially when influenced by evolutionary time scales) often tend to line up the Geological Ages and Stone Ages and Archaeological Ages and Dynasties in a linear (or “Indian file”) fashion - with fatal results for chronology - the reality is not simply like that. Already in this Flood article I have given the example of the contemporaneity of the advanced Ur III dynasty with the late Stone Age, or Chalcolithic period, and I shall soon give other such similar examples. See also my “Comparing One Dimensional Biblical Stratigraphic Models with Multi-Dimensional Models”, re the extremely complex stratigraphical issue of the most ancient city of Jericho, famous for its fallen walls toppled to the ground during the Joshuan Conquest: www.specialtyinterests.net/full_dimensional_archaeology.html#mc].
So the progression through the Stone Ages (Palaeolithic to Chalcolithic), that I am now going to outline, with regard to the antediluvians - to be filled out archaeologically in III. - is meant to be only a very simple guide. Moreover that very same sequence, Palaeolithic to Chalcolithic, would most likely have recurred after the Flood, due to necessity, with that handful of survivors progressing from the simplest of life-styles at first, to ever increasing cultural sophistication; though a much abbreviated sequence presumably this time with far more rapid technological progress now, based on foreknowledge. And it may not always be easy to distinguish between these two separate sequences.
Ø Adam (Palaeolithic)
Palaeolithic, the text books tell us, entirely fills the geological period called Pleistocene (part of the Quaternary period of the Palaeozoic era).
Adam’s ‘world’ must, as I am arguing, have been confined entirely to the riverine system of Genesis 2.
Some who imagine that the antediluvian kosmos has been completely lost to us can take the same sort of liberties with reconstructing Adam’s pristine world as they do with reinventing Noah. They idealise it in a way that may not be realistic – in this case, as a perfect world. For instance, one might not perhaps expect in an imagined perfect world any desert. Yet the fact that both Adam and red earth (desert?) have the same Hebrew root in the Book of Genesis, namely, adam[ah], coupled with the mention of “dust” (Genesis 2:7), would seem to indicate that Adam was made (bodily) from desert dust - at least that is Professor A. Yahuda’s interpretation of it - and was then placed in the oasis, or Garden (The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford U.P. 1933, p. 146):
We thus have in [adamah] a close adaptation to the Egyptian dšr.t [= ‘desert’], and now the connexion of [adam] ‘red land’ becomes perfectly clear. That the author of this creation-narrative actually conceived [adamah] as desert-land is obvious from Gen. 3, 23, where the statement that Adam was expelled ‘from the Garden to till the [adamah]’ implicitly suggests that the ‘red land’ was desolate country in contrast to the Garden of Eden. Our interpretation of [adam] also explains why in the second chapter of Genesis the creation of man is effected from red earth. It was intentional to let the first man be produced from ordinary unhallowed soil in order to obviate any possibility of the first man being deified in polytheistic fashion. The whole idea of the first man being created from red land, and placed on the same level as the animals, made likewise from ‘red land’ (2, 19), was moreover, to lead up to the fall, and to indicate that the earthly origin of man made him from the beginning in comparison with God, a mean and frail creature. Hence, the fact of his formation from ‘red land’ is particularly stressed after his falling into sin (3, 19).
Thus there were even in those pristine times, just as there are now, both desert land and fertile land. God could have made a better universe, and a better world, had He wanted to, just as He could have made man more perfect than He did. But what He chose to make sufficed for his far-seeing purposes, and thus it was all “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Climatic conditions in this region were apparently eminently favourable for man at this approximate time. Thus Roux (op. cit., p. 36):
Throughout most of the Pleistocene period both the western desert and the foothill region of Iraq were grassy steppes and uplands benefiting from a comparatively temperate and uniform climate and offering highly favourable conditions to the existence of prehistoric [sic] men.
The simple fruit picking, soil tilling (presumably with stone implements) lifestyle of Adam and Eve, and of their children, in the earliest times, would probably now be interpreted according to a Palaeolithic framework; even though early Homo Sapiens was far from being the brainless brute (Chesterton’s ironical “simius insipiens”) palaeontology might imagine him to have been.
Some of the potentially hazardous (e.g. vast tracts of barren desert), or even catastrophic (e.g. volcanic eruptions, earthquakes) features that van de Mieroop has attributed to the region would presumably not have been present/active before the Fall.
Nor have I ever read any mention of dinosaurs in this particular region of the world; though there may have been.
* I think that dinosaurs may be overrated anyway. There seems to be an almost total lack of evidence for the intermediary stage that is presumed to have separated the smaller dinosaurs from the later, larger ones, and that gave rise to the latter. Probably far fewer dinosaurs inhabited the earth than are generally estimated.
Moreover, seas - those entities that, in biblical metaphor, sometimes indicate restlessness and danger to man - were probably not on Adam’s close horizon. The latter part of the Book of Revelation, which seems to project a symbolical return to an Eden-like environment, tells of the “sea [being] no more” (21:1). Interestingly, the Mediterranean and Red Seas, now so prominent in the region, apparently have not always been there. There was a time when, according to C. Pellegrino: “The Red Sea did not exist as yet” (Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, Avon, 1994, p. 46). W. Ryan and W. Pitman have discussed what they consider to have been the comings and goings of the Mediterranean Sea (in Noah’s Flood, Touchstone, 2000, pp. 71-92). Thus, most likely, the “little room for coastal settlement” (the confining Mediterranean corridor) of which van de Mieroop has written may not have been a factor in Adam’s day, nor even during most of the millennia and a half long antediluvian times (but perhaps only towards the Flood, and ever since). The same sort of marine fluctuations may also have applied to other seas in the approximate region. For example, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea have certainly undergone major fluctuations over time (S. Lloyd, The Archaeology of Mesopotamia, Thames & Hudson, 1984, p. 23), and the same applies to the Persian Gulf, for which “Pleistocene and Holocene [our age] changes in world climate …were … responsible for wide fluctuations in the level of the Gulf waters …” (Roux, op. cit., p. 4).
[Some further comments on, respectively, the once ‘non-existence of the Red Sea’ and the ‘fluctuations of the Black Sea’:
· Pellegrino’s testimony above that the Red Sea did not once exist may now provide us with an ideal opportunity for reconciling Professor Yahuda’s identification of the land of “Havilah” encompassed by the Pishon (op. cit., p. 184f.): “.... The gold mines of the so-called ‘Arabian desert’ on the Egyptian side, south-east of upper Egypt, between Assuan, Koptos (the present Kuft), and the Red Sea”, with the view of Hill, et. al., that “Havilah” (meaning “sandy”) was Saudi Arabia with its famous “Cradle of Gold”, Mahd adh Dhahab; these two legendary gold-bearing regions now being separated by the Red Sea.
[The Bible in fact records two “Havilah’s” (cf. Genesis 10:7, 29)].
· The now celebrated ‘Black Sea Flood’ of Ryan and Pitman (op. cit.), dated to c. 7000 BC, I shall be chronologically realigning with/incorporating into, the Great Genesis Flood (c. 2300 BC), as being an integral part of the latter. Thus, the stupendous geophysical mechanisms that unleashed the ‘Black Sea Flood’ will be found to be common also to the Great Genesis Flood. See IV. (a).
The geographical picture that has emerged here would explain Dr. Livingston’s words: “The ancients did not have a notion of massive seas and continents as we do today”.
The amazing Rift Valley likewise probably did not exist in Adam’s day. Here is a description of this incredible geological feature by R. North (“Biblical Geography”, Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 73:33. Emphasis added):
The two mountain ranges, Transjordanian and Palestinian, are the continuations respectively of the Antilebanon and Lebanon ranges of Syria. Originally one, these ranges were cleft in two from N to S by the folding of the earth’s crust; in the Palestine area this cleft took the form of the great Rift Valley (Arabic: Ghor) through which the Jordan River now flows from above the Huleh Basin in the N to the Dead Sea in the S. This great cleft in the earth, which descends to 1300 ft. below sea level at the Dead Sea, continues S of the sea as the barren valley of the Arabah that opens into the Gulf of Aqabah. (The cleft has left its mark right down into Africa, visible if one follows the line from the Red Sea to lake Nyassa and the Victoria Falls ...).
I have already discussed how the fertile Valley of Siddim sank and became the Dead Sea; but only as late as the time of Abra[ha]m. Though there may perhaps have been an earlier initial sinking of this once fertile valley as a result of the explosive tectonic activity (“folding of the earth’s crust”) unleashed prior to, and helping to cause, the Flood.
This great cleft is highly significant in connection with man’s primitive history. It is a geographical ‘line’, through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, to the Olduvai Gorge, near Lake Victoria, and on to the Transvaal, where the earliest examples of man are considered to have been found (e.g. ‘Lucy’; the ‘First Family of Man’; ‘Koobi Fora Skull’; ‘The Boy’; ‘Zinjanthropus’; ‘Homo Habilis’; ‘Australopithecus’); be they truly human or otherwise. Indeed, it would not be at all surprising if early man (though not necessarily antediluvian) were to be found in regions not far from the Nubian Nile (primeval “Gihon”), at Lake Victoria (modern source of the Nile), and the environs of the “Pishon”. One might expect traces of both pre- and post- Flood man along the great Rift Valley, and these would be living in a most basic fashion, out of necessity, given their distance from the cultural centre. But man did not originate there in Africa as the palaeontologists imagine.
After the Fall (which my timetable allows to have occurred well after the creation of Adam), a harsher environment may have set in as the result of glaciation (an Ice Age). That the ice though did not penetrate as far as our Near Eastern area under discussion is apparent from Roux (op. cit., p.36): “Although there is some evidence of cyclic glaciation in the Taurus and Zagros mountains, the great ice-sheets never reached as far south as the Near East”. But with the glaciation reaching as far south as the Caspian Sea, as it did, it must have had a significant climatological/sociological effect upon our central region, serving to dry up waterways and forcing migrations. Even the perennial Jericho spring dried up in Mesolithic times, necessitating a long-time abandonment of that ancient site.
Possibly, then, that pious legend to which I referred in “The Location of Paradise”, that the un-named Paradise river had dried up as a result of the Fall, might also have a climatological explanation. There may even be a connection between that Paradise river and the Jericho spring, given the common origin of both in the Judaean mountains. We recall that the Paradise river had formerly been the source of the four named rivers: the “Tigris” and “Euphrates” (in the east), the “Gihon” and “Pishon” (in the west). Did all 4 antediluvian rivers once debouch together in the very same region near the Persian Gulf?
Ø Cain and Abel (Mesolithic to Neolithic)
By the time that Adam’s sons had reached maturity, there were, recorded, features of human living that a palaeontologist might perhaps associate with Mesolithic (or Epipalaeolithic) man. I refer to the basic cultivation of crops, cultic religion and simple animal husbandry. But still largely a hunting-gathering culture. The fertile site of Jericho, a spring-fed oasis, is considered to be the most ancient cultivated site on earth (its first level of occupation being Mesolithic). It is in this Jericho region that there has been found the first evidence for wheat farming (conventionally dated to c. 9000-7000 BC).
Was this initially the work of farmer Adam? Or farmer Abel? Or both?
My model would necessitate anyway that agriculture must firstly have arisen in what we now call Palestine, in the region of Jerusalem and Jericho; an estimation actually borne out by the study of agriculture. Ryan and Pitman tell of the discovery of D. Harris, director of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London, who has arrived at a view different from the standard notion of “centers of origin” for the agricultural revolution (op. cit., p. 171):
…based on considerable substantive evidence, much of it collected only in the last two decades, Harris did not believe this was the case. For him the data showed that “agriculture originated independently only very rarely – possibly only twice – in the history of Eurasia” (first in the Near East and later in China). The earliest event had taken place in the late tenth millennium B.C. [sic] in what Harris called “rift-valley oases”. He placed its location on the western side of the Fertile Crescent at a place such as Jericho, not far from the Dead Sea. In a thousand years the so-called founder crops spread northward to Anatolia and eastward to Iraq and Iran. Domesticated sheep and goats (the caprines) came a few hundred years later out of the Taurus and Zagros mountains of Anatolia and Persia.
Human ‘civilization’, as we now tend to think of it, really begins with Cain, and that after his act of fratricide. But it is a kind of cultural ‘progress’ that the Bible never endorses (see I. Kikawada’s and A. Quinn’s excellent treatment of this in Before Abraham Was, Ignatius Press, 1985, Chs. II & III). T. Lahaye, in his fascinating (fictional) account of the Flood and the Ark (The Secret on Ararat, 2004, p. 316), quotes Josephus, who wrote that “Cain was the father of weights and measures and cunning craftiness”. Cain was seemingly, therefore, the prototypal ‘sophist’ - like the later Protagoras of Thrace (and, in the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci) - for whom man became ‘the measure of all things’. It was almost certainly this same Cain, ‘surveyor and determiner of property boundary lines’ (ibid., p. 315), who built the world’s very first town, or city, which he called after his oldest son, Enoch (Genesis 4:17). And this is where things start to become more interesting, at least from a palaeontologico-archaeological perspective.
Though, from a wisdom (or Divine) perspective, the line to follow is that of the Seth-ites, especially through the holy patriarch, Enoch, Noah’s great grandfather (Genesis 5:21-28), and on to Noah himself.
“In the East”
Whilst I cannot at this stage, due to a dearth of biblical evidence, specify where exactly “east of the garden of Eden” (3:24) Adam and Eve dwelt after the Fall, presuming that they did in fact dwell east of it, I am considerably more optimistic about being able to determine the location of Cain (and the Cain-ites) “east of Eden” (see III.). That is because the Bible actually names the city that Cain built: “Cain built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch” (4:17).
In III. I shall also give my guesstimate as to where the Seth-ites may have dwelt.
It should be quite apparent by now that the most common geographical expression used in the first 4 chapters of Genesis (so devoid of specific geographical indicators) is that general word/phrase, “[the] east”. Thus the Lord plants “a garden in Eden, in the east” (2:8). And “…east of the garden He placed the cherubim” (3:24). And Cain “settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (4:16). (This eastern orientation is taken up again in Ezekiel 47:8). W. Albright though contended most interestingly that Hebrew miqeddem means “in primeval times” and not “from or in the east” (W. Albright 1968:97, as cited by Dr. Livingston, op. cit.). That would certainly make the more sense for me, at least in regard to the usage of this phrase in Genesis 2:8; for it would remove a geographical complication (by actually taking the geography right out of it) that I had encountered in “The Location of Paradise”, when trying to situate the Garden “in Eden, in the east” (instead of, perhaps, “in Eden, in primeval times”).
Presumably the Garden of Eden still remained the primary point of reference or orientation for exiled man and woman: their prototypal holy place. Just as Jerusalem would later be for the Israelites/Jews even during their various exiles (Assyria, Babylon). And I argued in “The Location of Paradise”, based on the testimony of Jesus as I have interpreted it, that this was the very site where Abel the Priest was slain by his envious brother, Cain, when the former was bringing his acceptable offering unto the holy mountain (Genesis 4:4-8). Wherever Adam and Eve may have dwelt subsequent to the Fall, the Garden of Eden presumably continued to be the ‘altar’ to where Adam seasonally would bring his offerings. Perhaps pious tradition can fill in at least one gap by telling us that Adam (his head, at least) was buried at this sacred site (Jerusalem). Thus R. Graves (The Greek Myths, 146:2): “… according to Ambrose (Epistle vii. 2), Adam’s head was buried at Golgotha, to protect Jerusalem from the north”.
This may in fact be the very origin of the name of that place:
So they took Jesus; and carrying the Cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him …
(John 19:17, 18).
The Divine plan of salvation has this perfect symmetry about it:
the New Adam redeemed humankind, died, was buried and rose, precisely where the Old Adam had caused humankind’s Fall, and was ultimately buried.
Ø Cain’s Descendants (Neolithic to Chalcolithic)
With the biblical testimony of Cain’s building of a town, we now move into what would be the palaeontologists’ realm of Neolithic man, no longer strictly hunting-gathering.
The name Enoch was common to both the Seth-ites and Cain-ites (as were also it seems the names Methuselah/Methushael; Lamech/Lamech; Yered/Irad. Cf. Genesis 4 & 5). This commonality would suggest, as I shall discuss in III., that the two families lived in close proximity. The Genesis text referring to Cain’s town, also goes on to name Cain’s grandson (4:17,18): “Cain had intercourse with his wife, she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became builder of a town, and he gave the town the name of his son Enoch. Enoch had a son Irad ...”. I shall also consider in III. the crucial matter of where the city of “Enoch” likely was - and also what city, if any, was called after Cain’s grandson “Irad”.
Whereas prior to the Cain-ite Lamech, the descendants of Adam and Eve (at least the very few in connection with whom a spouse is mentioned) were monogamous, Lamech was the first recorded to have been polygamous, having “two wives”, Adah and Zillah (Genesis 4:19). Lamech’s three named sons became highly skilled and successful men (vv.20-22): thus Jabal ‘progressed’ to being, not a mere herdsmen, but a cattle baron, also having male and female slaves (see Kikawada and Quinn on this, op. cit., pp. 56-57); Jubal was an accomplished instrument maker/musician; and Tubalcain was the inventor of “all kinds of bronze and iron tools”.
[Apparently the latter was later deified; for the Romans knew Tubalcain as the smith-god, Vulcan. Our word ‘volcano’ comes from this Roman name].
With Lamech’s skilled progeny, we find ourselves squarely in Chalcolithic times.
Ø Noah’s ‘World’ (Chalcolithic)
Now, I shall begin to answer those questions, in a local Flood context, related to why Noah had to build an Ark, and why he did not just take his family elsewhere. I shall be taking a deeper look at some of the geographical, climatological and other factors that I think may have limited Noah’s and his family’s movements. Some of these factors were already in effect, at least potentially, in Adam’s time, as I have discussed in regard to the singular geography of the region. Generally we are talking natural boundaries here (but also other factors, including dangerous animals and hostile humans):
Ø Beyond the riverine system and its attendant oases was desert. Desert, which I suggested may even have been a factor prior to the Fall, later increased in extent due to adverse climatological factors and would definitely have constituted one form of inhospitable boundary limiting human expansion.
Ø Wild animals (massive dinosaurs?) would have been another factor.
Ø Bandits in desert regions were always also a factor. Moreover, Genesis 6:11 records the ubiquitous human “violence” that “filled” the earth.
Ø Mountains, and especially ice, were assuredly other limiting factors. It is possible that the antediluvian period corresponded with an Ice Age throughout most of the globe, but apparently not in the Fertile Crescent, and that ice sheets - and especially icy mountain ranges - were another formidable barrier. Certainly Ryan/Pitman attribute the Flood, in part, to a change in global sea levels due to a massive melting of ice after a cold period (op. cit., pp. 107ff.); the latter caused, according to Rohl, by a catastrophic volcano in the Aleutian islands (op. cit., p. 50). Any such climatological change would of course have affected a vaster region of the world than merely the ‘Fertile Crescent’; but it is only what happened to the latter approximate region, I am arguing, that would have affected humankind.
Ø Climate. An extremely arid climate might have made certain formerly inhabitable areas unlivable.
Ø Seas or oceans would have been a further mighty barrier to ancient man. And their size would only have increased as the ices melted. The ancients had a cosmology of a pristine world ringed by the Ocean (Oceanus). This may perhaps reflect the antediluvian world that perished. (Scientists and marine biologists should eventually be able largely to reconstruct this world).
Ø Nor did Noah and his contemporaries have the maritime expertise to travel the vast and ever-enlarging seas to safety.
Van de Mieroop (op. cit., p. 9) has also raised this issue of boundaries for the region, preceding his discussion with mention of “long periods of drought …a drying of the climate which made rainfed agriculture impossible in zones usually relying on it, and which lowered the rivers to such an extent that irrigated areas were substantially reduced”. Some of the natural boundaries van de Mieroop will now refer to were only able to be overcome by human beings, albeit still with difficulty, as late as the neo-Assyrian era (say, a good millennium and a half after Noah), whose technology would have been far superior to any known to Noah and his sons:
A second important characteristic of the geography of the Near East involves the question of boundaries. These are created by mountains, seas, and deserts, which could all be crossed, although in limited places and with special technology only. The Zagros and Taurus mountains were massive barriers to the states of Mesopotamia, and could only be entered through the river valleys. Military expansion was thus always restricted there, even by such mighty powers as Assyria. ….
Mountains were also the habitat of many uncontrollable groups …. [So apparently were the deserts, ibid., p. 10]. To the dwellers of the plains, the mountains must have presented a fearful and inhospitable sight.
Seas form a very different kind of boundary, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf being the most important [i.e., from a Mesopotamian perspective]. They do create a border, but once crossed [presuming one has the appropriate maritime skills to do so], they provide access to regions at great distances. ….
All in all, I believe that the antediluvian world was a fairly well circumscribed one and was built around the riverine system that appears to be the stand-out feature of our only reliable description of it: namely, Genesis 2.
Factors limiting human expansion beyond this world may have been continental merging (tectonic activity); deserts; ice and mountains; wild animals; bandits (“uncontrollable groups”); universal “violence”; and seas. Moreover, seas, rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps, would have greatly increased in size just prior to the Flood (see III. & IV. (a)). The possibility of escaping from this world to one that was not going to be severely affected by the Flood probably, then, never even occurred to Noah.
Conclusion to A Palaeontological Overview
The supposedly extremely slow cultural progression from Palaeolithic man to Chalcolithic man that the evolutionary-minded palaeontologists have read into the march towards human civilization of Homo Sapiens will need to be reduced from over 2 million years to something like 1000 times less that figure (to perhaps some 2500-3000 years). However, it is a progression towards ‘civilization’, so-called, that may to some degree reflect the early Genesis saga, albeit briefly recorded. Thus: from a ‘civilization’ perspective, man (Adam) began in naked simplicity, fruit picking (roughly corresponding to Palaeolithic), progressed to working the soil (Abel) and herding (Cain) (roughly corresponding to Mesolithic). Man proceeded to build houses and cities (Cain after his flight to “the land of Nod”) (roughly corresponding to Neolithic), and also went on to develop technology and sophisticated arts (Cain’s descendants and Noah and his family) (i.e. Chalcolithic).
It is most interesting to note that, whilst palaeontology and archaeology would generally point to a steady evolution from lower to ever higher ‘civilizations’, the Book of Genesis on the other hand would rather reflect a cultural devolution, a plummeting downwards, from simplicity and a pristine friendship with God, to the Fall; then the steady decline of the Cain-ite line (from the murderer Cain to the vengeful, polygamous Lamech), the wicked and violent Cain-ites in turn corrupting the once-godly Seth-ite line.
Then came the catastrophic Flood.
OF PART TWO
III. The Antediluvian Archaeology
If Dr. Osgood is correct in his view of the need for a radical revision of the Stone Ages, then man’s cultural evolution could by no means have been the exceedingly long and drawn-out process that the text book palaeontology tells it to have been. Osgood maintains that any given earlier so-called Stone Age (e.g. the Neolithic) ought, here and there, to be integrated with another, later one (in this case, Chalcolithic), as well as with the archaeology of the Fertile Crescent - which reveals that some of the earliest technological or artistic achievements of man were the most perfect. Let us take a part of Osgood’s explanation of the conventional interpretation of the Stone Ages, before considering his proposed revision (“… Stone Age”, p. 88):
The stone age chronology is clearly evolutionary, and occupying a period of approximately 2,000,000 years, telescopes down as we get closer to the present. It begins, by definition, where our supposed ancestors finally developed into Homo Erectus. Homo Erectus occupies a large portion of the Lower Paleolithic until the theoretical development of Homo Sapiens or modern man, from which time cultural evolution is prominent.
(Ibid., p. 91):
Present evolutionary theory sees man’s origin somewhere around the African continent and spreading in many different directions. As far as the concept of civilization is concerned, most would agree that the zenith of mankind’s early civilization was the early Chalcolithic cultures of Mesopotamia. From here civilization is generally seen to have spread into many different regions.
Osgood continues, showing that the “Indian file” arrangement of Stone Ages - he actually calls it the ‘chest-of-drawers’ sequence, following J. Oates (Osgood, ibid., p. 81) - is quite rigidly fixed in the minds of the palaeontologists:
Wherever a culture is dated as Paleolithic it is generally assumed to pre-date that which is labelled Mesolithic, which is in turn assumed to pre-date that which is Neolithic, which is then usually presumed to pre-date that which is Chalcolithic. Thus the Mesolithic culture in the lowest level of Jericho would be assumed to pre-date the Chalcolithic culture of Eridu in Mesopotamia, despite the fact that the ancients regarded Eridu as the oldest city on earth. This developmental type concept has rarely been seriously challenged. It is …here completely challenged.
Dr. Osgood will mount his ‘challenge’ to the presumed ‘chest of drawers’ sequence of cultures concept by introducing two other (and I believe eminently more realistic) stratigraphical principles: viz., 1. the ‘Pond Ripple Effect’, and 2. the ‘Mushroom Effect’: “In order to understand the significance of the biblical model in relation to the archaeological evidence of the ancient world …”.
[Important comment: As far as the Flood scenario is concerned, for a complete realization of this there will be the need to apply such realistic sorts of principles as 1. & 2. above, not only to the Stone Ages and Archaeological Ages, as Osgood has attempted to do, but even to the Geological Ages. These 3 sets of Ages need to be both properly correlated within, as well as synthesised (or integrated) as a whole. This is of course a huge undertaking, to be attempted only in outline in this article].
Summarising the ‘Pond Ripple Effect’, Osgood writes that in certain cases (ibid., p. 92):
The Paleolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic could well be contemporary, and might simply be an indication of the different conditions and the different environment and distance from the centre point available to each of the different cultures.
[Comment: An example of ‘distance from the cultural centre point’ would be man’s presumed progression southwards down the great Rift Valley in Africa].
Next, Osgood will apply the ‘Mushroom Effect’ to the Mesopotamian strata, firstly explaining how this principle differs from the evolutionary approach (ibid.):
Presently held in Mesopotamian chronology is the idea that the majority of the five great Chalcolithic cultures of Mesopotamia [i.e. the Halaf; Hassuna/Samarra; Ubaid, Uruk and Jemdet Nasr] were not contemporary with one another but knew a serial arrangement. This concept again appeals to proponents of evolutionary theory, but is not necessarily supported by hard evidence.
[Comment: However I believe that the Jemdet Nasr, and the (late) Halaf that was tied to it, were separated from the earlier Chalcolithic cultures by the Flood, and hence I would be only partly in agreement with Osgood here: i.e. in principle, but not in detail.].
Osgood next introduces his realignment of Mesopotamian palaeontology and archaeology against Syro-Palestinian palaeontology, based on the research of Andrew Moore whose findings Osgood considered to be “devastating” to the conventional view (ibid., p. 93):
In 1982, under the title “A Four-Stage Sequence for the Levantine Neolithic”, Andrew M. T. Moore presented evidence to show that the fourth stage of the Syrian Neolithic was in fact usurped by the Halaf Chalcolithic culture of Northern Mesopotamia, and that [the latter] … was contemporary with the Neolithic IV of Palestine and Lebanon. This was very significant, especially as the phase of Halaf culture so embodied was a late phase of the Halaf Chalcolithic … implying some degree of contemporaneity of the earlier part of Chalcolithic Mesopotamia with the early part of the Neolithic of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria …. This finding was not a theory but a fact, slowly and very cautiously realized, but devastating in its effect upon the presently held developmental history of the ancient world.
A query: Given the validity of Osgood’s argument here, then, why, one might ask, was the west (e.g. Palestine) culturally lagging a step behind the east; especially if man had indeed first dwelt in what we now call Palestine, not in Mesopotamia?
My answer: Civilization indeed originated in Palestine. But, after the Flood (postdiluvian) - which is where I would locate the late Chalcolithic Mesopotamian strata (e.g. late Halaf and Jemdet Nasr), and so would Osgood of course - men made a bee-line again for the alluvial lowland of southern Mesopotamia (Sumer), or, as Genesis puts it, “a plain in the land of Shinar”, (11:2), presumably after an initial stint in the mountainous region of the Ark’s landing (see IV. (c) for my view on the whereabouts of the biblical “mountains of Ararat”, Genesis 8:4, not “Mount Ararat”). So this time round, post-Deluge, urban civilization would probably have kicked off largely in the east. The renowned cities of southern Mesopotamia, now emerging from their watery graves, would have been reclaimed and rebuilt by the post-Flood immigrants.
The Pre-Flood Mesopotamian Cities
The Sumerians were famous for their cities. The Sumerian King Lists inform us of a succession of five pre-Flood cities Eridu, Badtibira, Larak, Sippar and Shuruppak: “… five cities were they; 8 kings reigned there 241,200 years”. So far, attempts to harmonise the large Sumerian figures, and the names of the antediluvian kings, with the early Genesis data, have not proved to be particularly effective. The “8 kings”, for instance, were not necessarily all (though some may have been) patriarchs named in Genesis.
But “Ziusudra, the Sumerian Noah”, wrote M. Mallowan, “was King of the city of Shuruppak where he received warning of the impending disaster” (“Noah’s Flood Reconsidered”, Iraq, XXVI, Pt. 2, Autumn 1964, p. 69).
The five antediluvian ‘cities’, Eridu, Badtibira, Larak, Sippar and Shuruppak, were the first to exercise “kingship”, and that in the order given above, with Eridu being the first. This does not mean, necessarily, that these were then the largest settlements in the land, nor that all of them even really qualify as proper cities. Conspicuously absent from the list, for example, is the very large settlement of Uruk (also called Warka), which was certainly also antediluvian. My approximate guide here in regard to what constitutes an ancient city will be:
CITIES OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: AN INVENTORY
(-3500 TO -1200)
July 10, 1997
Department of Political Science
University of Washington
According to Modelski, giving his reason for the neglect of Uruk in the King List:
“The entire Sumerian King List, most likely is, as Michalowski (1883) has argued, a propaganda piece on behalf of the Isin Dynasty that followed Ur III, and need [sic] to be viewed with caution”. To which he attaches the note: “The term “kingship” in the context of the Sumerian King List might be better rendered, especially for the “antediluvian” period, as “leadership”.”
Modelski next gives his:
Criteria for inclusion
Let us define as a city a community with a significant degree of division of labor that makes it part of a network of cities. That would distinguish it, for instance from a settlement of farmers, such as Jericho, with a population believed to have been, ca. 000, in the region of 1-2,000. albeit protected, famously, by a wall, but not operating in a system of cities.
To create a list continuous with Chandler’s [Tertius Chandler, 1987] for this, initial period of urban formation (from about -3700, the Early Uruk period) let us consider all cities that fall within the range of 10,000 to 100,000. That seems to be the size of population within which a systemic division of labor might take firm hold. In this ancient era (-3500 to -1200; cf. Modelski and Thompson 1996), the upper limit of city populations seems to have been about 100,000, the size attained on Chandler’s list only once, by Avaris, in -1600; McEvedy’s first reaching of the 100,000 mark occurs in -825, at Niniveh.
The lower limit of 10,000 is about the same size criterion as McEvedy’s and only slightly lower than that implied in Chandler’s listings for -2250, 2000 and 1800. That would make inclusion warranted for settlements at least one order of magnitude larger than those comparable to Jericho. We aim to include all cities that meet the criterion of 10,000 but might not, of course, be able to do so due to data limitations. The major cities in this survey are thus selected on the basis of the criterion of population size. This is the onset of urbanization, and cities are small in size, and their populations hard to estimate. The written record of Sumer, as well as of Egypt, does supply us with the names and some descriptions, particularly so in the case of Sumerian literature, so strikingly proud of its cities, but that record does not include counts of populations; censuses are non-existent, even though the practice of counting e.g. armies and battle casualties does seem to be taking hold by the end of the period.
[End of quote]
From his detailed study, Modelski will arrive at the following nine earliest cities, for his estimated range of 3700-3100 BC (giving firstly those five ‘kingship’ cities):
TELL BRAK (N.E. Syria)
A full 7 of these 9 cities (but not the last two) are located in southern Mesopotamia; constituting that first network of ancient cities that Gordon V. Childe would call the "Urban Revolution" (as cited, ibid.), launching civilization as we know it.
Modelski’s only candidate ‘city’ from the whole of Syro-Palestine is TELL BRAK in Syria. (We saw that he does not classify early Jericho as a city). Modelski has also listed here one city from Iran (Persia), namely ANSHAN.
Amazingly, there is not a single candidate from Egypt in Modelski’s list, for this early period (though Modelski does consider Hierakonpolis in Middle Egypt to have been a most ancient settlement). Here is part of what Modelski has written about Egypt (ibid.):
Egypt: civilization without cities?
Some students of the ancient era have been known to argue that, unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt lacked anything that could be regarded as cities in modern terms. That great country did have temples, palaces, and cemeteries, often of monumental proportions, as early as the fourth and third millennia but its capitals seem to have lacked remarkable size, and have left little evidence either of intellectual life, or of commercial activity in particular (given the crown's monopoly of power, and of foreign trade). As John A. Wilson put it: "For nearly three thousand years, until the founding of Alexandria, Ancient Egypt was a civilization without a single major city" (in Kraeling and Adams 1960:135).
Manfred Bietak (1979, 1991) rejects this rather stark view of the Egyptian experience and pleads that urban archaeology of that area is still only in an elementary stage. Fascinated by a multitude of beautiful objects, much in demand by the museums of the world, and hampered by the difficulty of digging in the overcrowded valley and delta of the Nile, archaeologists neglected the study of the ancient city. He argues nevertheless that Egypt was "an urbanized society from the beginning of the Old Kingdom", and even pre-dynastic (pre-3100) Egypt had several centers of political and economic power, both in Upper Egypt as at Hierakonpolis, or in the Delta, such as Buto.
I shall return to the subject of Egypt again soon.
The most ancient Mesopotamian city of UR, which had become so powerful by the time of Abra[ha]m, is also not classified in Modelski’s early list. It, too, was definitely a pre-Flood city. Perhaps its being peripheral in southern Mesopotamia meant that its population was not large at the time. KISH was also a pre-Flood settlement, but does not figure as one of Modelski’s cities until c. 2800 BC. Though I suspect that his calculations may be right out of kilter here (see IV. (a)). J. Hawkes describes this region of cities and settlements, that came to be called “Sumer”, in The Atlas of Early Man; though with some variation from Modelski in estimating what were the most ancient cities (as cited by D. Fischer, “In Search of the Historical Adam: Part 2”, American Scientific Affiliation: www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Evolution/PSCF3-94Fisher.html Pt. I, p. 7):
The fourth millennium in Sumer is one of the most remarkable passages in human history. Already at its beginning old settlements such as Eridu, Uruk, Ur, Lagash and Nippur had become substantial towns and from 3500 BC they waxed into cities. The citizens now included large numbers of specialist artisans – “potters, carpenters, makers of mudbrick, coppersmiths – and fine sculptors too”.
* In an important section below, “Adapting the Antediluvian Cities to the Cain-ites”, I shall attempt to link up the earliest of the cities of southern Mesopotamia - the ones whose origins were most definitely antediluvian - with Cain and his descendants.
Civilization thus seems to have come to southern Mesopotamia fully grown, as nothing less primitive than skilled Chalcolithic. Much of what Wallace Johnson wrote on this very subject in 1987, in his book, Evolution? (Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Inc., pp. 87-88), still holds good today. [In retrospect, I may have been greatly influenced in what I wrote at the end of II., about human ‘devolution’ and ‘civilization’, by this tireless Australian anti-evolutionist, Wal, now deceased]. Here is some of his useful contribution:
Man was civilized from the start. The story of man is divided into two parts by a cataclysmic flood. The cradle of culture was in the center of the world – the Middle East – both before the flood and after the flood. Then, as men migrated away from the center of culture and the mainstream of tradition, so did their culture deteriorate. According to this interpretation, for which there is very impressive evidence, the post-flood era begins at Mount [sic] Ararat where the Ark is believed to have grounded.
When Noah stepped out of the Ark, there were only eight people alive in the world and they were eight cultured people. They had the culture and the technology of a civilized world that had just been wiped out.
Probably Noah’s descendants lived in the highlands for a time. Then it seems that some of them moved down the east side of the Zagros mountains to the first settlements of Iran, and then to Susa, then on the plains of Mesopotamia where the great civilization of Sumeria quickly arose with a culture ready-made, in a land which had previously contained civilized people before the flood.
It is impossible to fix dates before written history, but Sumerian civilization flourished perhaps 3,000 to 4,000 years before Christ, and it did not evolve up from savagery. There was never a savage in this land.
When we look back fifty centuries to Sumeria, the curtain rises on a people fully civilized, living in prosperous cities and using metals. The high point of Sumerian culture was its early period with artistry that amazes us with its beauty.
Post-Flood Ur was a great Sumerian city. It was the city where Abraham lived. From the archaeological work of Sir Leonard Woolley, we know a great deal about Ur, both post-flood and pre-flood. This high civilization appeared from nowhere. The artifacts and the dress of these people, recovered by archaeology, manifest a degree of culture which matches any existing today.
Wal continues, now introducing important Egypt, and after that the major countries of the Far East (ibid., p. 88):
The Sumerian culture was carried to Egypt. There arose the mighty Egyptian empire. The migrants from this central area moved to India and the great Indus civilization was founded. China, before 2,000 B.C., was being peopled by civilized men from the central cradle ….
Wal is quite correct in his assessment that “the Sumerian culture was carried to Egypt”. For, chronologically speaking, sophisticated technology did arise firstly in Sumeria. The more westerly lands of Ethiopia and Arabia would have, like Syro-Palestine, consisted largely and almost entirely of non urban settlements, as is borne out by Modelski’s research - though the general palaeontological view, taken up even by Courville (op. cit., p. 166), that: “Chalcolithic is not known in Palestine”, is way too broad I think and would be seriously challenged by Osgood’s revision. These basic settlements would assuredly have been situated alongside the great western rivers (that is, in their ancient courses), or their tributaries. Thus one finds, for instance, the ancient site of Hierakonpolis (Egyptian Nekhen) situated, not surprisingly, on the ‘Nubian Nile’ (or “Gihon” river) near Aswan.
But what of northern (Lower) Egypt, the famous Delta region at the Mediterranean end of the Nile? Was this, too, a part of the riverine system in antediluvian times. And did humans settle there?
Whilst Professor Yahuda had sought to identify the “Gihon” and “Pishon” rivers as, respectively, the ‘Nubian Nile’ (i.e. from the 1st to 4th cataracts) and the ‘Egyptian Nile’, two parts of the same river - arguing that the ancients had considered these to be two separate rivers - Sirach actually mentions the Nile apart from the “Gihon” and “Pishon”. Could it then be that the ‘Egyptian Nile’ was formed in the aftermath of the great Flood, and that it had not in fact been there in antediluvian times?
This is an important enough question and one that I hope to revisit in IV. (a) & (d).
But let us already make some observations about it here.
If this were to be the case, that the ‘Egyptian Nile’ is entirely post-Flood, then one should not really expect signs of early man in northern Egypt. And indeed it is in southern Egypt where one apparently finds the earliest traces of human habitation. Though, according to Egyptologist N. Grimal (A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell, 1994, p. 18), man is thought to have entered the Egyptian part of the Nile Valley also during the Acheulean period (which is conventionally classified as Lower-Middle Palaeolithic):
… [Acheulean] was the last stage in a process of development that can be traced back to the remains discovered near the rock temple at Abu Simbel [in Nubia], the earliest of which probably date to the end of the Lower Pleistocene, about 700,000 BC. From the end of the Oldowan period onwards (i.e. throughout the Acheulean), there was a continuous human presence in the Egyptian and Nubian sections of the Nile valley, from Cairo to Thebes and Adaima.
According to Dr. Osgood (“… Stone Age”, p. 97), the Palaeolithic phase for Palestine has the following three standard subdivisions:
(a) The Lower Palaeolithic – Acheulean.
(b) The Middle Palaeolithic – Mousterian.
(c) The Upper Palaeolithic – Aurignacian.
He of course though will, according to his “principle of mushrooming”, challenge this linear view, referring to “the possible horizontal contemporaneity of at least the last two of these cultures, the Mousterian and the Aurignacian”.
But the more interesting point that Dr. Osgood makes is that of the need, as he sees it, for radically re-locating the Acheulean phase, and its characteristic hand-axe, downwards (presumably by millions of years) from the early Stone Age to the early post-Flood period (ibid., p. 96):
There is strong evidence for a very wet climate in The Middle East and for left-over basins of water over many areas of the Middle East in the early days which the biblical model would allow to be called post-Flood, but which the evolutionary model would call the stone age. ….
Osgood, citing several sources, gives such examples of this wet climate as the following from north and south Palestine and the Sinai:
…north-eastern tip of Upper Galilee, a large lake filled the entire Huleh Basin …
…Strikingly thick accumulations of sediments occur in Wadi Feiran and its tributaries in south central Sinai …
…widespread occurrence of Upper Paleolithic sites throughout the central Negev and down to the very arid southern Sinai would suggest a regionally wet climate, which enabled the Upper Paleolithic people to exploit an area which today is hyper-arid. ….
…[east Jordan] … the stratification in the north, west, and south trenches reflects the existence of a Pleistocene pluvial lake that shrank until a widespread marsh formed during the Early Neolithic.
…During the Late Acheulian period of the Late Pleistocene, the scene around Ain el-Assad was quite different: an immense lake, roughly five times the size of the present Dead Sea ….
…Wet conditions and afforestation may well be one of the explanations for the earliest type of culture found in many parts of the Middle East and Europe, that is the Acheulean, the most characteristic tool of which was the hand-axe. The need to clear land, to chop trees, and to build shelter from wet conditions, as well as to shape tools such as spears for hunting in that early survival culture, may well explain the ubiquity of the Acheulean hand-axe, a fairly basic tool. But then, the conditions also were very basic, and survival was the name of the game.
The fact that this culture known as Acheulean would spread right into Europe would necessitate, according to my estimation of the extent of the Noachic kosmos, that it was a postdiluvian culture, pervading well beyond the Fertile Crescent and its primeval riverine system. Grimal has the Acheulean culture following a pluvial period, though he dates the Acheulean somewhat later than does Osgood, to Middle Palaeolithic (op. cit., ibid.):
The evidence suggests a starting point for Egyptian prehistory at the end of the Abbassia Pluvial period in the Middle Palaeolithic (c. 120,000-90,000 BC). In fact, a grossly oversimplified scenario might be that the desert was gradually being populated during the long Abbassia Pluvial period and that this zone was eventually opened up to the expansion of the Acheulean culture which was developing on the banks of the Nile.
If this scenario is correct, then it might serve to confirm my hypothesis that the ‘Egyptian Nile’ region was not inhabited (did not come into existence in fact) until after the Flood.
The Naqada I and II phases in Egypt, whose cultures are, respectively, Amratian and Gerzean, are conventionally assigned to the Chalcolithic stage of the Stone Ages. But Osgood, in his radical fashion, appears to re-assign Naqada I and II to the same wet phase of the Acheulean culture, when large trees were growing in every part of the Nile Valley (ibid.). The wetter conditions, with the consequent build up of silt and layers (e.g. in caves) have led palaeontologists to assign far longer periods of time than Osgood thinks are factually warranted (ibid., p. 97).
I shall return to this discussion of the western Fertile Crescent in IV. (a). But here I want to continue on a bit further with Wal Johnson’s singular Flood model, leading in to his astute comments on the Geological Column. Wal was I think unique in that he simultaneously embraced a connection between pre- and post- Flood southern Mesopotamian civilization (notably the city of Ur), as I do, but was at the same time a ‘global’ Floodist in the mould of Whitcomb and Morris, believing that (op. cit., p. 57): “… the rocks and valleys had been moulded by a flood that enveloped the earth”, and that (ibid., p. 63) “… the fossils represent, for the most part, creatures engulfed by the flood sediments during a short period of a year or so”, and that (ibid., p. 64, with reference to Morris and Whitcomb, op. cit., p. 270) the “sedimentary rocks in strata varying from a few feet to 40,000 feet or more”, covering “at least three-fourths of the earth’s land area …bear witness to one-time water action on an inconceivable worldwide scale”. Whilst I now think that the geological evidence, at least for the Fertile Crescent region, would entirely negate Wal Johnson’s view that all of the vast sedimentary layers throughout the world were deposited at the time of the Flood (and I also think that Wal might have been hard put to reconcile a ‘global’ Flood with the merely 11 feet deep stratum of Flood deposit that Woolley had famously located at Ur – see IV. (a)), I would like to propose the following concept of (Wal’s synthesis modified):
A degree of catastrophic activity, certainly involving water, in regions beyond the Fertile Crescent (Noah’s ‘world’) approximately contemporaneous with the universal Flood that destroyed all of the sinful inhabitants of the smaller ‘kosmos’ inhabited by Noah and his family.
Let us conclude our segment from Wal Johnson with his pertinent comments on the largely Procrustean (or artificial) nature of the Geological Column; a view that may now be getting scientific support from the research of Guy Berthault and colleagues at the Colorado State University, who have undertaken flume experiments which showed that in a water current, strata do not form successively and vertically one on top of the other (experiments published by the French Geological Society) (ibid., pp. 58-59):
Basic to evolution and to the new geology is the geologic column. The Geologic Column has become scientifically sacred. Yet it has no physical reality. It does not exist in any part of the world. In any one place, you will find one, or two, or a few of these strata, often with strata missing, and often with the theoretic sequence reversed. The geologic column is not a column you can dig through. It is a mental image only. It is an imaginary column put together by correlating and inserting segments of the fossil record from various parts of the world.
If you think that radiometric dating helped to build the geologic column, forget it. The geologic column was devised long before radiometric dating was heard of. There is no way of telling the age of a rock by examining it. In the early 19th century, a canal engineer, William Smith, began a system in England of classifying rocks by the particular fossils found in them. This became the method for assigning ages to rock strata in England and parts of Europe. Soon it was projected to fit all the rocks of the world. But does it fit the rocks of the world? Only for those with great faith, as we shall see. And was it presumptuous? As if in answer, a surprising admission was made, in 1956, by Ohio State University’s Professor of Geology, Dr. E. M. Spieker, himself a uniformitarian:
“I wonder how many of us realise that the time scale was frozen in essentially its present form in 1840 …? How much world geology was known in 1840? All of Asia, Africa, South America, and most of North America were virtually unknown. How dared the pioneers assume that their scale would fit the rocks in those vast areas, by far most of the world …? The followers of the founding fathers went forth across the earth and in Procrustean fashion made it fit the sections they found, even in places where the actual evidence literally proclaimed denial. So flexible and accommodating are the ‘facts’ of geology”.
Tracing the Paths from Eden
Whilst Fischer (op. cit., Pt. 2, p. 3), thinks that “Eden” probably derives from the Sumerian word, “edin” (meaning “plain”, “prairie” or “desert”), I think it more likely that the reverse would have been the case. It may well be that the reason why (Sumeria) southern Mesopotamia has commonly come to be associated with the ancient Paradise was because this was the region towards which men tended to migrate and settle, bringing their ancient folklore with them. Perhaps southern Mesopotamia with its famous alluvial soil continued to be cultivable land even during the harsh and arid times after the Fall.
Moreover, at least 3 of the 4 named Paradise rivers, if not all 4, may have converged there, to the north of Umm Qasr (itself north of the Persian Gulf).
The ancient tales of Adam and Eve, and the Garden, and the Fall, that the migrants from the west would have brought with them to Mesopotamia would have become corrupted with the passing of time. And indeed archaeologists have over the years discovered and deciphered many ancient Mesopotamian legends that are at once recognizably akin to the various Genesis narratives whilst yet being pagan and polytheistic. Some of the most famous of these, it should be noted, date (at least in the form that we now have them) to as late as the neo-Assyrian era (c. mid-1st millennium B.C.) Fischer recounts one such legend, about a first man, Adapa, in which he rightly recognizes likenesses to the story of Adam. He goes even further and actually looks to locate the first man in Eridu. I, however, would regard this legend of Adapa as being simply one of those above-mentioned Mesopotamian appropriations/corruptions, of a Genesis narrative; though I would not entirely discount Fischer’s view that Adam may have, in the course of his long life, dwelt at Eridu. Here I add my comments to some of Fischer’s comparisons:
The Legend of Adapa Related to Adam
Several fragments of the “Legend of Adapa” were taken from the Library of Ashurbanipal (668-626 BC) at Ninevah [Nineveh]. One was also found in the Egyptian archives of Amenophis III and IV of the fourteenth century BC.
Ø Hence this “Legend of Adapa” was a very late document. According to my revision of ancient history, pharaohs Amenophis [Amenhotep] III & IV [‘Akhnaton’] need to be chronologically re-dated from the C14th to the C9th BC.
Ø Ashurbanipal, I have argued (cf.):
was the very Assyrian king who humbled himself before the prophet Jonah (aka Nahum, aka Isaiah, aka Hosea, aka Uzziah of the Book of Judith).
But Jonah’s was not the only ‘biblical influence’ to which this great Assyrian king would have been exposed, as his Ummanu, or Vizier, ‘second only to the king’ (Tobit 1:22), was Tobit’s very nephew, the legendary Ahikar (var. Achior), the Achior of the Book of Judith (aka the Rabshakeh, or ‘great man’, of Sennacherib’s army, cf. 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 36:2); a fluent Hebrew-speaking Naphtalian Israelite who would convert to Judaïsm (Yahwism) after having witnessed Judith’s victory over “Holofernes”.
Continuing the multiple identifications (alter egos):
this “Holofernes” was in turn the Assyrian prince, Esarhaddon (aka Ashur-nadin-shumi), Sennacherib’s son and commander-in-chief (aka the Nadin/Nadab of the Ahikar legends), of whom Ahikar had been the “adviser”.
So Ashurbanipal’s renowned antiquarian interest in Genesis-like legends - even pre-Flood writings which Ashurbanipal actually claimed to have read - would not have been surprising under such Israelite/Jewish influences.
Ø Pharaoh Amenhotep [Amenophis] III ‘the Magnificent’ had also come under Jewish influence, himself being of king David’s very blood, as a great/ great/grandson of David’s son, Solomon, through, not the latter’s Egyptian wife, Hatshepsut (biblical “Queen Sheba”), but a concubine named Isis:
Fischer continues with the Legend of Adapa (ibid.):
According to Accadian [Mesopotamian] legend, Adapa was created an exemplary man by Ea [some look to equate this god with Ya-weh], endowed with “superhuman wisdom”, but not eternal life. A fishing accident angered Adapa, who broke the wing of the south wind, and was summoned to heaven to appear before the god Anu. Adapa was warned by his father, Ea, not to eat a certain food or drink any water that would be offered to him. A cautious Adapa shuned [sic] the food and water of life, through which he would have acquired eternal life.
A fragment of one record of the Adapa legend inscribed in Amorite rests in the Pierpont Morgan Library. This is part of the translation:
In those days, in those years, the sage, the man of Eridu,
Ea, made him like a (riddi) among men;
A sage, whose command no one could oppose; the mighty one, the Atra-hasis of the Anunnaki, is he;
Blameless, clean of hands, anointer, observer of laws.
With the bakers, he does the baking;
With the bakers of Eridu, he does the baking.
Adam of the Bible and Adapa of Amorite legend were both human sons of God, or a god. According to the legend, Adapa was a sage in Eridu.
Could it be only coincidental that Adam was told “by the sweat of his face” he would eat “bread”, and Adapa was a baker by trade; or that Adapa was deprived of eternal life by not eating or drinking the “food or water of life” while Adam was cut off from eating the fruit of the “tree of life”?
Eridu, the Home of Adapa
[Comment: Here I am more interested in what Fischer has to say about the city of Eridu and its archaeology (at its earliest levels) than in the actual legend of Adapa].
Fischer continues (ibid., citing S. Lloyd, “Ur-Al ‘Ubaid, Uquair and Eridu”, Iraq, n. s., 22, 1960, p.25):
In 1940-41, the Iraqi government undertook the excavation of Eridu, home of Adapa.
Here at last it was possible to trace a full and uninterrupted sequence of occupations back through the whole duration of the Al ‘Ubaid period to an earliest settlement with some features so distinctive that doubts arose as to whether the name Al ‘Ubaid could still appropriately be applied to it.
Some of the pottery found at the lowest of nineteen levels of occupation was so distinctive that the excavators called it “Eridu ware”. It was described as an “extremely fine quality monochrome-painted ware, often with a buff or cream slip”. There was also at the lowest level a high percentage of coarse green pottery typical of Ubaid ceramics. Remember, the Ubaidians, dating to between 4500 BC to 3500 BC, were precursors to the Sumerians. Enough similarities were noted between the coarse Ubaid pottery at Eridu with that of the earlier Hassuna and Samarra cultures to denote that at least some of those early settlers had been migrants from the north. If the two different pottery styles found at the lowest level of the site are indicative of two separate cultures living side by side, one Adamite the other Ubaid, then these pottery shards are of some importance. Quite possibly some of these remnants are from early Adamite populations.
Whatever culture was responsible for Eridu ware, Adamite or otherwise, it was evidently supplanted by Ubaid culture, because only Ubaid pottery could be found at higher levels. And just as the pottery disappeared, so did the Adamites, by moving north, probably to Erech, also called by its Sumerian equivalent, “Uruk”.
[End of quotes].
Adam, deified, may also figure in Egyptian mythology as the mighty god, Atum [Adum], who, like the first man, had a descendant called Seth. Fischer tells of it as follows (op. cit., p. 4):
In Egypt, the pyramids of king Mer-ne-Re and Nefer-ka-Re were inscribed with a dedication dating to about 2400 BC (many centuries before Moses). The text speaks of a first creation and a deified “Atum” who was on a primeval hill arising “out of the waters of chaos”. Among those “whom Atum begot”, according to the inscription, is one named “Seth”.
[Comment: In a revised context, though, pharaohs Merenre and Neferkare were actual contemporaries of Moses; likely, respectively, the Pharaoh of the Exodus and his first-born son. See:
So an Egyptian version of the story of Adam would undoubtedly have been due to the early Hebrew influence in Egypt, e.g. of Joseph and Moses. Atum’s presumed dwelling “on a primeval hill” would then perhaps have been a reminiscence of the original holy mountain, the fertile Garden of Paradise, an oasis, fresh from its creation from “the waters of chaos”].
Now what, in an early Genesis context, can we make of Fischer’s description of the Eridu and Ubaidian archaeology?
My tentative scenario, based loosely on Fischer’s overview - and to be given a more complete geographical and archaeological explanation in (b) and (c) - is that Cain may have been preceded to Mesopotamia (Iraq) by other Adam-ites, and that amongst these perhaps were Seth-ites, favourable to the murdered Abel, hence Cain’s fear that others might harm him (Genesis 4:14):
‘… I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me’.
Both northern Mesopotamia (represented by Hassuna and Samarra cultures) and southern Mesopotamia (by Eridu ware) had already been settled by the time of Cain’s arrival, even though - at Cain’s birth - there had been only 3 human beings on earth. The numbers now to be found in Mesopotamia would undoubtedly have been relatively small. The pace would have picked up some time after Cain’s arrival, when he launched the first city in the region, “Enoch”, as opposed to what had previously been only settlements. And this would have led in turn to other cities, e.g. “Irad”, until a network of these cities, or cult centres, had been established in the region.
For a more scholarly and detailed account of this urban development, refer back to Modelski’s study of the early cities.
The “Land of Nod”
According to our developing geographical scenario, then, the biblical “land of Nod” (Genesis 4:16) to which Cain, the fugitive, had fled after his act of fratricide, must have been in Mesopotamia. Cain, we are told, “settled” there and built his “Enoch” town (v. 17).
What human (Adam-ite) migrations may have preceded all this?
(a) The First Human Migration (to Stone Age Jericho?)
According to early Genesis, the first significant human migration was away from the Garden of Eden, probably in an eastwards direction. It is impossible for me to say just to where our first parents migrated after the Fall. Perhaps ancient traditions will be able to supplement the meagre Genesis account. But presumably the distance travelled was not terribly far, at least initially. The Garden, as I have noted, must still have served as the main point of orientation for the first human beings, and Abel was almost certainly murdered in that region by his older brother, Cain.
And Adam was, at least partly, buried there.
The fertile site of Jericho, a spring-fed oasis, must have been a highly attractive prospect to the Adam-ites from the earliest times. As we have already discussed, the Jericho region is today considered to be the most ancient cultivated area on earth, with the first evidence for independent crop farming (conventionally dated to c. 9000 BC) having been found there. The crucial region of Jericho - even if it were not the location for the first town or city on earth - may well have been the very first place of refuge and settlement after the Fall. It was certainly extremely old, with its stratigraphic levels estimated to date right back to Stone Age Mesolithic.
The Jericho oasis is to the (north)-east of Eden (later Jerusalem) and it is almost certain that - especially given the eastern orientation of Adam’s history - this fertile site, occupied over millennia, must have been one of the very first human settlements, and certainly settled before southern Mesopotamia. But let us not imagine that those who first settled Jericho were technologically-challenged brutish types, for, according to Courville (op. cit., p. 168), citing Dame Kathleen Kenyon:
… these earliest occupants [of Jericho] were able to bore a hole in stone to a depth of two and one half feet, and shortly thereafter, build a tower that represented “an amazing bit of architecture” for the era involved.
Harris, whom we met in our earlier discussion of Jericho and its agriculture, has also provided a useful account of how climatological factors affected the transition to a non hunter-gathering lifestyle. Thus Ryan and Pitman again, summarizing Harris (op. cit., ibid.):
… Harris believed that environmental change - particularly climate - was instrumental in bringing about the transition from foraging to agriculture. Excavations showed quite clearly that people lived in rather sizable villages for a substantial part of the year far in advance of the observed domestication of cereals (barley, einkorn, and enmer wheat) or pulses (pea, chickpea, lentil). The sedentism commenced about the time of the large meltwater pulse, seen by Richard Fairbanks, in the coral reef of Barbados beginning around 12,500 B.C. [sic]. It thus occurred during the initial deglaciation when the entire Near East was warmed by shifting patterns of atmospheric and ocean circulation – far in advance of the Black Sea flood.
(b) The Migration to Eridu
It has already been noted too in this article that Eridu in southern Mesopotamia was considered by the ancient Sumerians to have been the world’s oldest city. My belief, following the suggestion of others, is that this city of Eridu was named after Cain’s grandson, Irad.
But was Eridu in fact the oldest city?
Whilst the first city to be mentioned in the Bible was, quite specifically, given “the name of [Cain’s] son Enoch”, Kikawada and Quinn have argued that, according to ancient practice, this city would most likely in fact have been named after Cain’s grandson, Irad; and that this was that most ancient Mesopotamian city of Eridu (op. cit., p. 55):
Robert Wilson in his important recent book, Genealogy and History in the Biblical World, has compared [Cain’s] genealogy with other ancient Near Eastern genealogies and points out that ordinarily the city builder would be the second on the list, and this builder would name the city after his son. Thus in this Hebrew genealogy we would expect - and presumably so would a sophisticated Near Eastern audience - that Enoch would be the builder and the city would be named after Irad. This expectation finds a striking, if indirect, confirmation, in that the first city according to Mesopotamian tradition is Eridu, as close to Irad as one can reasonably expect, given the difference in languages.
That ancient Eridu was named after Irad is therefore pretty compelling. But was it the world’s oldest city? The Sumerians considered Eridu to have been the first city upon which kingship was conferred from heaven. So it might have been the world’s first royal city, rather than its very first city. Thus the world’s first city can still have been named, as the Bible says it was, after Enoch.
What is most certain is that the earliest antediluvian settlements would have been tiny by our own standards, as would have been their earliest towns (so-called cities). Even by the time of Joshua (c. mid-2nd millennium BC), the renowned, walled city that Jericho had become (Early/Middle Bronze Age) covered only a small block by modern standards, with a relatively small population. Significantly smaller still - and with far fewer inhabitants - must have been that primeval city that Cain had built in honour of Enoch. But the fact that Cain had opted to build a city would indicate that there were by then a significant amount of people with him in southern Mesopotamia; for Cain would hardly have built a city for just himself and his wife (his sister, Awan, according to the Book of Jubilees).
Rohl is of the opinion that the ancient Mesopotamian cities of Uruk and Ur were both named after Enoch, which cities he nonetheless dates after the settlement of Eridu (Legend. The Genesis of Civilisations, 1998, p. 410):
Enoch also established other settlements in southern Mesopotamia which were later named after him. Thus Uruk (Sum. Unuk) and Ur (Sum. Unuki) [var. Unu(g)ki] were founded shortly after Eridu. The tell-tale archaeological evidence of their early foundation is the appearance of ‘Eridu Ware’ at all three sites. Archaeologists have shown that Eridu Ware was a direct descendant of the pottery from Tepe Guran and other Neolithic sites in the Zagros mountains.
Fischer in turn, has, with reference to Waddell, opted for “E-Anna(k)”, in Uruk, as being the equivalent of the biblical name “Enoch”. He explains this though largely in a post-Flood context (op. cit., p. 5):
Naming the city Enoch” may seem like Bible trivia, but it is not without significance. According to the Sumerians, kingship resumed at Kish after the flood. Twenty-three kings ruled there until, “Kish was smitten with weapons, its kingship to E-Anna(k) was carried”.
In the Makers of Civilization, Waddell translated E-Anna(k) directly as “Enoch”, reckoning it as the Sumerian equivalent for Enoch, the city Cain built.
Although the flood erased the early inhabitants, the Sumerians re-established Enoch and other pre-flood cities. It was here Mes-kiag-gasher [or … -kasher, the biblical Cush, father of Nimrod] became high priest and reigned 324 years. His son, Enmerkar, built or continued building Uruk, the biblical Erech, part of Nimrod’s [who Enmerkar in reality was] kingdom (Gen. 10:10).
E-Anna(k), “the House of Heaven”, is the oldest preserved temple at Uruk, and was supposedly the dwelling place of the goddess Inanna, the Accadian “Ishtar”.
[Series of comments: According to Rohl (Lost Testament, p. 59), “… Inanna [Ishtar] was in reality the great earth-mother-goddess Ninhursag in a new guise”, with the footnote: “And from the Genesis perspective she is recognisable as a deified Eve, the ‘mother of all the living’.”
… Could the “new guise”, Inanna/Ishtar, represent Noah’s wife, virtually the new ‘mother of all the living’ (as deified by the Ham-ites)?].
[For me the likely connections between biblical Enoch and Ur (Unuki) (and) Uruk (Unuk), and between Irad and Eridu, provide us with virtually the earliest tangible historico-geographical links between early Genesis and Middle Eastern (indeed world) history].
[If the most ancient of Mesopotamian cities, Ur and Eridu, are indeed to be identified with, respectively, the Cain-ites Enoch and Irad, then Cain was exiled beyond the Euphrates, which is certainly “east of Eden”. This would be consonant with the biblical view that sin must be carried away and expiated beyond the Euphrates; the haunt of demonic spirits (cf. Jeremiah 13:4-7; Babylonian Captivity; Revelation 9:14; 16:12). Moreover, if I am right in interpreting Jesus’s words as meaning that Cain murdered Abel at the site of Jerusalem, then Cain’s exile beyond the Euphrates would necessitate a distinction between the ancient Paradise and Mesopotamia; so that the latter could not have been the location of Paradise].
Tracing Cain and the Cain-ites
Since it seems apparent that the site of Eridu would have been settled by Adam-ites long before Cain, or his son Enoch, had raised the site into a city in honour of Irad, there is now the possibility that Adam had at some point in time, in the course of his very long life, established the first settlement at Eridu and dwelt there (which would certainly give more force to the Adapa legend).
There is also the possibility that the enigmatic “land of Nod”, nowhere else to be found in the Bible (and hence probably a description rather than a permanent geographical name), first got its designation from the fact that Adam and his family had become nomads there; “Nod” thought to mean “wandering”, from Hebrew nad. “Nod” was perhaps therefore a region of impermanent settlements, occupied by bands of nomads, until Cain arrived and settled there and - as Josephus attributes to him - determined property boundary lines (Lahaye, op. cit., p. 315).
[In an article, “The Land of Nod”, that I wrote in 1999 for The Glozel Newsletter (No. 5:4-5, N.Z.), I had then tried to make geographical sense of this biblical phrase, “the land of Nod”, by looking to identify it with the biblical “land of Nimrod” (Micah 5:6), a Jewish term for the land of Assyria (the Assyrians also often ruled southern Mesopotamia – hence the geography is not too far off), thinking that Nod may have been a corruption of Nimrod. Here now, though, I reject that earlier reconstruction; for one might presume that, had Moses added the “land of N[imr]od” as an explanatory gloss to the ancient Genesis text, he would have connected it to the latter - according to his custom - with the pronoun hu. But, as it stands, the ancient text appears to be seamless, with no such editorial intervention].
Turning to supplementary legends for Cain’s place of settlement, one encounters the name dunnu. If we are on the right track in pursuing Cain, then dunnu should be equivalent to southern Mesopotamia or Sumeria: our region of location for the Cain-ite cities of Ur, Uruk (ENOCH) and Eridu (IRAD). I had never previously heard of this land, and could honestly say before, in regard to dunnu, that I dunnu where it is. But then I found this piece on the Net:
Kidinnu -- Facts, Info, and Encyclopedia article [New Window]
Kidinnu (also Kidunnu) … was a (An ancient region of Mesopotamia lying between the Euphrates delta and the Persian Gulf.
There we have it: Ki-dunnu or ‘The Land of Dunnu’ [not that unlike ‘The Land of Nod’], precisely our southern region of those most ancient Cain-ite cities of Ur, Uruk and Eridu! With Cain’s son, Enoch, and grandson, Irad, I think that we have now begun to establish a definite geography for the antediluvians, with a corresponding archaeology (much more precise than broader palaeontology). And it all commences in southernmost Mesopotamia (or Kidunnu), rightly considered by archaeologists to be the very “cradle of civilization”. So let us cease to focus upon Cain for the moment and try, geographically and archaeologically, to follow the paths of Enoch and Irad, and on to their descendants, and the other antediluvians - at least the few whose names the Book of Genesis mentions - to whom we shall also look to assign cities right up to the time of the Flood (which Leonard Woolley dated "not very much later than 3500 BC".)
Adapting the Antediluvian Cities to the Cain-ites
The name Enoch means ‘Founding’ or ‘Foundation’ (var. ‘Initiation’ or ‘Consecration’) and it is common to both a holy Seth-ite and to Cain’s oldest son.
That the Cain-ites and Seth-ites lived close together, or came to, would seem to be suggested by their commonality of names. It would further be suggested by the fact that the Seth-ites (“sons of God”), later, “when people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them” (Genesis 6:1), became paganised by their inter-marrying (“they took wives for themselves, of all that they chose”) amongst the (“fair”) Cain-ite women, thereby inciting the wrath of God. Perhaps this moral decline is borne out symbolically in the antediluvian pottery, when the “extremely fine quality …Eridu ware” was replaced by the more “coarse green pottery typical of Ubaid ceramics”.
Rohl, who appears seriously to have confused the Cain-ite Enoch with the Seth-ite Enoch (the latter being the subject of the Books of Enoch), has nonetheless made the plausible suggestion that the Anunnaki or legendary ‘founding fathers’ of Mesopotamian folklore (we met them previously in the Adapa legend) were Enoch-ites (Lost Testament, p. 33):
This eponymous founder [Enoch] of the third dynasty of the Adamites would be remembered by his distant descendants as the first builder of cities. Apocryphal works (the Books of Enoch) would be written about him, portraying this legendary figure as the first ‘holy man’ in history. So worthy was this man of god and sage that the angels took him away from mankind and carried him up to heaven. His name – Enoch (Hebrew Hanok = ‘founder’) – was given to the pre-eminent Sumerian city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in its original Sumerian form Unuk. The Mesopotamian civilizations of later centuries elevated Enoch and the ‘mighty men’ of the primeval age who followed him to the status of gods whom they called Anunnaki or Anunna (‘founders’). The name Anunnaki can also be understood as ‘the ones of heaven and earth’ – in other words those who came from heaven (an) to settle on earth (ki) or from the mountains to the alluvial plain. They were mortal men who became gods.
When the gods were Man … [Atrahasis Epic, line 1]
… The Egyptians also knew them [i.e. the Anunnaki] as the mythological founders of civilization, known as the Shebtiu.
[End of quote].
Highly cultured, too, was the Seth-ite Enoch, if one is to believe this testimony about him from the Book of Jubilees: “[Enoch] was the first among men that were born on Earth who learnt writing and knowledge and wisdom and who wrote down the signs of heaven according to their months in a book”. [Though I would imagine that these words would be even more applicable to Adam himself]. This same Enoch was reputed to have been taught mathematics and knowledge of the planets and the calendar during his heavenly journey, and, most interestingly, was shown the location of the ‘Seven Metal Mountains’ on Earth in the West. Could this last possibly be a reference to the western mountains of Saudi Arabia (“Havilah”), area of the “Pishon” river, with its gold-rich mines on the flanks of Mount (Jebel) Mahd adh Dhahab (“Cradle of Gold”), and its precious stones?
The name ‘Cain’ has come to be associated with ‘smith’ or ‘metal working’, and such was certainly the trade of his descendant, Tubal-cain (both these names mean ‘smith’), the son of the Cain-ite, Lamech. Tubal-cain was later deified as the mighty Smith-god (Roman: Vulcan; Greek: Hephaestus; Egyptian: Ptah).
Lahaye, though, stretches the imagination somewhat when attributing to the antediluvians the mastering of “tungsten steel” and even of having used batteries (op. cit., Ch. 41).
Given the apparent Cain-ite attraction to metallurgy, it is not surprising to read in the Sumerian King List of the kingship passing:
Ø from ERIDU to
Ø BAD-TIBIRA, meaning “City of the Metalworkers” or "Fortress (or canal) of metalworkers" (Hallo 1970:65, as cited by Modelski, op. cit.).
Ø In a similar vein, so to speak, we can connect up the antediluvian city, SIPPAR, meaning "City of bronze" (Hallo 1970:65, ibid.).
Ø In the same paper, Hallo proposed the possibility that another of the 5 cities, LARAK, might be connectable with LAMECH (Hallo 1970: 64., ibid.).
Ø Finally the city of SHURUPPAK, in approximately the same closely knit region of southern Mesopotamia, is traditionally considered to have been the very home of the ‘Sumerian’ Noah himself, “Ziusudra” (meaning “long-lived”, “far-distant”) - known by the Semitic-speaking Mesopotamians as “Atrahasis” (“exceedingly devout”); the “Utnapishtim” of the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh - and of his father, Ubartutu (who would thus correspond with the biblical Lamech, father of Noah).
[Rohl, Lost Testament, p. 46, has suggested a possible link between the name ‘Noah’ and “the second element of Ut-na-pishtim (sometimes written Ut-na’-ishtim where the na’ may have been vocalized nua”), with a footnote to this indicating that “earlier scholars” had read the Babylonian name as Nuh-napishtim, where “Nuh would also be the equivalent of Hebrew Noah”].
[Lahaye claims Noah was married to Tubal-cain’s sister, Naamah (op. cit., p. 315). If so, then even Noah was compromising to some degree with the prevalent ‘fashion’ of his day. (Don’t we all!)].
Many seem to favour the view that the biblical drama leading up to the Flood actually took place in southern Mesopotamia (Sumeria). We saw that Carol Hill had, to strengthen her view of Noah’s residing in that region, added the further argument that this was a place of bitumen. Though I myself have been divided on this matter of Noah’s location - thinking that at least one other possible candidate for his pre-Flood dwelling could have been Thebes (Egyptian Waset) in Middle Egypt (I had also wondered about Eden itself, incidentally), as the Greek name “Thebes” (Thêbai or Thêba) seems to correspond perfectly with Hebrew têbã[h], ‘Ark’, and Egyptian teba[t] [db3.t], ‘coffin, box, chest’ - I too would now tend to lean towards Shuruppak in southern Mesopotamia. For this region (i) has the tradition; (ii) has the bitumen; (iii) had the (Chalcolithic) technology for the Ark; and (iv) may have seen Noah’s intermarriage with the family of Tubalcain in that region. Moreover, Modelski (op. cit.) would have the Egyptian city of Thebes developing way too late for it to have been a serious contender for the Noachic era.
Despite this, there is a certain unmistakable Egyptian-ness about the Flood story, as is apparent most notably from the fact that the Egyptian loan-word, teba - rather than the Akkadian (Mesopotamian) word for Ark, elippu, - is used. Also, the Egyptianised Moses presents himself as if a ‘second Noah’; an idea I got from Kikawada and Quinn (op. cit.).
Here is what I wrote on these fascinating Noah-Moses parallels in 1998, for the U.K’s Society of Interdisciplinary Studies:
Taken from Damien F. Mackey’s “A Tale of Two Mountains: Ararat and Sinai”,
Chronology & Catastrophism Review (1998:2, UK, pp. 28-32):
Comparisons between Noah and Moses
On the subject of the similarities between Noah and Moses, the authors of Before Abraham Was [p. 115] have written:
“In the spirit of good creation, the author of Exodus 2:10 borrows the words of Genesis. When Moses’ mother sees her newborn son, how good he is, she cannot help defying Pharaoh’s command by hiding her son. And then when she can no longer hide him, she seeks some other way to save her son (2:2-3). The famous story of the baby Moses in the basket of bulrushes corresponds to Noah’s Flood and to the Great Flood of Atrahasis [one of the Babylonian accounts]. The story occupies the same relative position in Exodus 1-2 as did Noah’s Flood in Genesis and the Great Flood in Atrahasis. All three stories contain the motif of salvation of a hero from the water - the last and severest of the three threats against the undesirable population. In addition to the motif parallels between the Genesis and Exodus flood stories noted above, there are lexical-syntactical parallels that demonstrate the Moses story to be a miniature flood story. These parallels are found in the description of how Noah is to build his têbah:ark and how Moses’ mother constructs the têbah:basket for her child. Noah was commanded:‘Make for yourself a têbah of gopher wood .... and pitch it with pitch inside and outside’ (Genesis 6:14).
In the book of Exodus, the actions of Moses’ mother are described thus: “She took for him a têbah of bulrushes and she pitched it with pitch and with mortar” (Exodus 2:3).
The Bible seems to be interpreting itself here. In the second part of this parallel description I think that we may have the key to the nagging question of the nature of the material used by Noah to construct the Ark: the so-called gopher wood. The Exodus account reveals the material to be “bulrushes”. According to The Jerusalem Bible translation, God told Noah: “Make yourself an Ark of resinous wood. Make it with reeds and line it with pitch inside and out” (Genesis 6:14).
It sounds very Egyptian, doesn’t it?
D. Fasold, whose background is maritime (The Discovery of Noah’s Ark, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1990, p. 263. He refers to himself here as a “shipmaster”), has concluded from a comparison of these two biblical texts that (ibid., p. 271): “The ark of Moses in which he was placed as a babe, was a papyrus reed boat with a covering of protection, an enclosure ... covered with a symbolic kaphar of slime and pitch (Exodus 2:3), a perfect description of the Ark of Noah, which preceded Moses’ ark”. Writing at some length on the design and structure of Noah’s Ark (ibid., pp. 262, 263), Fasold is adamant that the massive vessel as a whole could not have been made of hard wood, except for parts such as the hogging-truss support poles, the beams and the floor-boards. Maritime experience in the early part of this century had proven, he said, that 300 feet was the absolute limit for fibre stress of any wooden material for a ship. Noah’s Ark, Fasold concluded, was a raft-shaped ‘boat’ of gum-resinous papyrus reeds, protected by a covering, as according to the Sanskrit version of the Ark (ibid., pp. 265, 269, 274).
Somewhat similarly, Egyptological expert Professor Yahuda had noted that the material used for the ark in which the infant Moses was placed was made of Egyptian papyrus reed, or km3 (kemah) [op. cit., p. 264]. Could it be in this Egyptian word km3, equivalent to the Hebrew word gomeh, we have the mysterious (mistranslated) gopher-wood - or bulrush material?
Yahuda has provided the following interesting account of the type of ark in which the child Moses was hidden, and his account might possibly explain the design of the Ark of the Covenant as well (and even of Noah’s Ark with its upper door) (ibid., p. 262ff.):
“We must ask: What sort of ‘ark’ was denoted by …[tebah], and how did the mother imagine the rescue of her child by using just this particular ark? It has long been established that …[tebah] is the Egyptian db3.t = taibe .... But whereas it is applied to ‘ship’, in the flood-story, Gen. 6,14ff., db3.t is used here in its real meaning of coffer, chest, holy shrine, coffin. Such a chest generally had the form of a divine shrine (Naos), and served as housing for images of gods which were dedicated to the temples. Of the numerous shrines which have been preserved several are in stone of different qualities, while others are in plain wood, according to the prominence of the deity represented and the pecuniary means of the donors. The simpler ones chiefly comprise the shrines given by humble people, in the form of a longish chest with a small door in the upper portion of the front for statues of gods about the size of a child. .... On certain festivals as well as on the occasion of great victory fêtes they were borne in solemn procession, or were carried on the Nile, from one temple-town to another on a bier which was usually given the form of a bark, such as was conceived as vehicle for the sun god Re, Osiris, and other gods”.
Yahuda continues (ibid):
“Just such a chest is to be understood by the …[tebah] in the Moses narrative. The mother had devised a means of saving her child which was peculiarly conformable to Egyptian conditions. She placed the infant in a chest which was exactly in the form used for enshrining images of gods, and laid it among the bulrushes at the spot where Pharaoh’s daughter was accustomed to bathe at a certain hour. Her hope was that the princess would, at first glance, suppose it to be a chest containing the image of a god, that had fallen into the river and drifted ashore, and that she would have rescued it forthwith. It was true that the mother might have thought that the discovery of the strange find would arouse in the princess disappointment or even indignation; in that case the child would meet with the inevitable fate of all Hebrew boys. But on the other hand the effect might be different, and the maternal heart trusted in the divine protection, in the beauty of her child, and, not least, in the royal pity and compassion”.
Amongst numerous other similarities to be found between the Noah and Moses stories, I select the following, striking parallels:
(i) The Wicked Drowned
According to the Flood account: “… the waters prevailed … and all flesh died that moved upon the earth …, and every man” (Genesis 7:20, 21).
Likewise, in Exodus, the Egyptian forces were drowned: “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh …. And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore” (Exodus 14:28, 30).
(ii) Blotting Out
In Genesis, God decided to “blot out” humankind from the face of the earth because of its universal wickedness: “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord” (6:7, 8).
In Exodus, during the incident of the ‘Golden Calf’, God bade Moses: ‘…let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation’. But Moses interceded for his fellow-Israelites, saying: ‘… if Thou wilt forgive their sin – and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written’ (Exodus 32:10, 32).
(iii) Ark Specifications
Noah built the Ark according to the specifications God gave him (Genesis 6:14-16).
Likewise, Moses built the Ark of the Covenant according to very precise, Divine instructions (Exodus 25:10-22).
(iv) Seven Days & Forty Days/Nights
Noah and his family entered the Ark. “And after seven days the waters of the Flood came upon the earth …. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:7,10,12).
Moses went up onto Mount Sinai. “The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud .... And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:15,16,18).
(v) Same Date
Here I quote from G. Mackinlay, who synchronises the date of the Flood and the Exodus, tying these in also with the New Testament (The Magi. How They recognized Christ’s Star, 1907, p. 143, with ref. to R. Anderson’s The Coming Prince, note on p. 118):
“[Christ] rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath after the Passover (John 20:1); the day on which the sheaf of first-fruits, promise of the future harvest, was waved before God (Leviticus 23:10,11). Hence we are told by St. Paul that as “Christ the first-fruits” (I Corinthians 15:20,23) rose, so those who believe in Him will also rise afterwards.
This day was the anniversary of Israel’s crossing through the Red Sea (Exodus 12-14), and, as in the case of the Passover, it was also a date memorable in early history, being the day when the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:4)”.
(vi) Ark at the Mountain
The Flood that destroyed humankind carried Noah and his family safely to the mountain, where the Ark landed (Genesis 8:4).
Moses led his people safely through the Sea, which closed over their enemies. He had the Ark of the Covenant constructed at the sacred mountain (Exodus 25:10ff.).
(vii) Altar Built at the Mountain
Noah built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20).
Moses built an altar at the foot of the mountain; according to the design he had seen on the mountain. (cf. Exodus 27:1, 8).
(viii) Covenant at the Mountain
God made a covenant with Noah at the mountain (Genesis 9:9).
God made a covenant with Moses at the mountain (e.g. Exodus 24:8).
The laws that God gave to Noah were few by comparison with those given to Moses at Sinai. These few, nonetheless, are strikingly similar to certain of the latter:
God’s first command to Noah was: ‘… be fruitful and multiply upon the earth’ (Genesis 8:17).
God tells the Israelites at Sinai: ‘And I will … make you fruitful and multiply you’ (Leviticus 26:9).
‘You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood’ (Genesis 9:4).
Similarly, at Sinai, ‘you shall eat no blood whatever’ (Leviticus 7:26).
And regarding murder: ‘whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed …’ (Genesis 9:6).
This is summed up at Sinai by: ‘You shall not kill’ (Exodus 20:13).
“Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father [Noah]” - an act of incest of which Canaan was the product - and so Canaan was cursed by Noah (Genesis 9:22,25).
This was remembered at Sinai, when God told Israel: ‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father …’ (Leviticus 18:7).
Assuredly, one day it will be possible for scientists (geophysicists) and archaeologists to determine with real precision - from a combination of (i) a better understanding of the Flood mechanisms, (ii) the nature of the silt deposit, and from (iii) any genuine relics of the true Ark on (iv) the properly identified “mountains” of the Ark’s resting (see IV. (c)), just exactly where Noah dwelt and where he built his boat; from where it ‘set sail’ and why it ended up just where it did.
For now, I must content myself with Mesopotamian Shuruppak’s being Noah’s home.
I conclude this section by briefly tabulating the following possible links between the most ancient antediluvian cities and the Cain-ites, and, finally, perhaps, Noah:
1. UR, URUK = ENOCH
2. ERIDU = IRAD
3. BADTIBIRA = CAIN-ITE METALWORKERS
4. SIPPAR = CAIN-ITE BRONZEWORKERS
5. LARAK = LAMECH
6. SHURRUPAK = NOAH’S HOME
Antediluvian Tales Preserved and Spread
Though men returned to Sumeria as the favoured location after the Flood, they were forced, consequent to the Babel incident (see Rohl’s geographical reconstruction of this in Lost Testament, Ch. 4), to disperse far and wide. That saw the beginning of the Bronze Age in Syro-Palestine - with its major Canaanite (not Cain-ite) cities being built (Hazor, Taanak, Megiddo, Shechem, Beeroth and Jerusalem) - and of dynastic history in Egypt.
Eastwards, the spread of civilization was to Persia, then to the Indus valley, and then China, as noted by Wal Johnson.
A possible further palaeontologico-archaeological proof that Noah’s world had not even extended beyond the Zagros mountains in the east, to the Iranian Plateau, may arise from this testimony by Osgood, that the first settlers arrived there only after the Flood (“… Stone Age”, p. 85): “Prior to the earliest appearances of man in the Iranian Plateau, there is strong evidence of much residual water and of wet conditions, the sort of conditions we would expect following the great Flood”.
Man also spread north westwards into Eurasia (Turkey) Europe (Greece), and southwards down through Africa. These movements can be traced, for instance as we have seen, in the Acheulean culture.
And man even ventured at some point in time as far as the Americas, to where some of them (e.g. the Aztecs) carried tales that uncannily resemble parts of the biblical history of the Cain-ites. R. Smith tells of this in “Cain’s Lineage” (pp.1-2)
The peoples of central America have preserved in their native Nahuatl language tales of wandering, arrival at a final destination, settling marked by the building of a city; of a patriarch with two wives and two sons of whom tribal nations have evolved; of that [sic] became renowned for being a craftsman in metals – do they not read almost as the biblical tales? Even the Nahuatl stressing of the number seven is reflected in the biblical tales, for the seventh descendant through the line of Cain, Lamech, enigmatically proclaimed that:
‘Seventy-fold shall Cain be avenged, and Lamech seventy and seven’.
Are we, then, encountering in the traditions of the seven Nahuatl tribes echoes – olden memories – of the banished line of Cain and Enoch?
And perhaps even more startling (ibid. p. 3):
The Aztecs called their capital Tenochtitlán, the City of Tenoch, so naming it after their ancestor. Considering that in their dialect the Aztecs had prefixed many words with the T, Tenoch could have originally been Enoch if the prefix T is dropped.
So striking are some of these parallels, in fact, that one will encounter those who try to argue that the Aztec world (or America) was in fact the Cain-ite world of the Bible.
IV. The Flood
… though the world at the time of Noah was quite large enough to accommodate its entire population, human beings then - like now - tended to gravitate towards the cities, and the cities then were virtually all confined to the one small geographical region ….
(a) Mechanisms for the Flood
Whilst the population issue is one that could be used to challenge my antediluvian model, it is also, as I noted, a problem for both the evolutionary (where are the masses of bones spanning millions of years?) and ‘Creationist’ (a global world filled with wicked people) models. It might be argued that, with a population accumulating over 1656 years, there would have been far too many people to fit into my proposed antediluvian micro-kosmos. It is interesting in connection with this that, in one of the Mesopotamian flood stories, Atrahasis, a raison d’être for the god Enlil’s unleashing of the Flood was over-population: the overcrowding on earth (and the terrible din that emanated from there, irritating Enlil). Kikawada and Quinn (op. cit., Ch. II) tell of this, and they note also that the Greeks had a similar idea: “It is strange to think of the Trojan War as a divine solution to the “modern” problem of overpopulation” (p. 37).
The impression that I get from the archaeology of these times, however, does not appear to bear out that there was an overflow of people in this microworld. Adam, despite his longevity, is traditionally for his part supposed to have fathered only some 50-60 children. And we know from the story of Noah’s drunkenness that he was having difficulty procreating by about his 600th year; and so his son Ham stepped in (cf. Genesis 8:13 & 9:20-21). We do not know at what age these ancient patriarchs began to beget children, nor at what age they had to cease from it.
We have also considered the many factors that could have served to limit life spans on earth (despite the longevity of some of the Patriarchs), notably climatological factors, but especially the universal “violence” prior to the Flood. So, without daring figures, I am positing a not massive population occupying the antediluvian world (and archaeology should be able to provide us with some sort of estimation of it) at the time of the Flood.
Still, there is often a degree of reality in the pagan legends admixed with a fair amount of fable. Can we therefore squeeze something out of their emphasis on the population issue? I think that we actually can, and that this could turn out to be rather enlightening. Whilst I believe that the world at the time of Noah was quite large enough to accommodate its entire population, human beings then - like now - tended to gravitate towards the cities, and the cities then were virtually all confined to the one small geographical region in southern Mesopotamia. So, in a sense, it was a “modern” problem of urban over-population. But being confined is not what God - apparently very much in favour of decentralization - had asked his creatures to do, but rather to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth …” (Genesis 1:28). Babel was another attempt by world leaders to confine man to an urban environment, in defiance of God, and perhaps to build a city, Eridu, high enough upwards so as to escape future floods (see Rohl, Lost Testament, Ch. 4, on this).
So, in a sense, the Flood was about population ‘control’, or population movement.
Basically, so far, my argument has been that the antediluvians lived in a world whose natural and other boundaries and obstacles - as well as their own limited technology - prevented them from journeying beyond it. And I had also gone a stage further by suggesting that, in the lead-up to the Flood proper, the antediluvians became even more hemmed in due to the increase of water, rising water levels, as a combined result (no doubt related) of tectonic activity - to which the region was prone - and of ice melt (meltwater). Now I have just added that there was likely a further, self-imposed confinement by the antediluvians to the handful of cities then occupying a tiny portion of the inhabited world. Perhaps the biblical key to this is that Cain “settled” in a land that had formerly been known as a land of “wandering” (nad), or nomadism.
In light of all this I would now argue that, whilst the Flood proper with its torrential rains was of a relatively brief duration, as Genesis 7 tells it, there was perhaps quite a lengthy lead up to it all that saw a very gradual diminishing of the already small (globally speaking) antediluvian world. Perhaps the more lengthy pagan legends of the Flood give us clues that are omitted by Noah and his sons in their very brief, eye-witness version (which may perhaps however have been longer in the original). According to the legend of Atrahasis for instance, as summarized by Kikawada and Quinn (op. cit., pp. 42-43), ‘the supreme god Enlil had first tried to quieten the earth with a plague. When the noise returned, he tries a famine caused by drought. When the famine seems to be insufficient, he intensifies it. When even this fails, the persistent Enlil and his assembly try to get the god Enki to exterminate mankind with a flood’. Once again one is reminded of Egypt, with its Plagues and the stubborn resistance by Pharaoh leading ultimately to destruction. No wonder Moses emerges as ‘a second Noah’.
This pattern of increasing trials upon earth, as recalled by the Atrahasis legend, would parallel to some extent the aridity and climatological difficulties that the palaeontologists and archaeologists have discovered, without their having properly grasped however how chronologically to synthesise it all. It would also be in line with how God has operated, giving man a chance to repent after each new trial, perhaps some of the major trials being punctuated by the emergence of a holy Seth-ite proclaiming the need for repentance; Noah himself being “the eighth preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).
With the ever intensifying trials and hardships there would have occurred continuous loss of life. Death, from drought and famine, and at times from river floodings - a characteristic of course of riverine systems - would therefore have been familiar to the antediluvians (and seems to be attested by archaeology) who continued to go about their normal lives, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38), just as no doubt the folk of New Orleans were recently doing even as hurricane Katrina was gathering force. Sin would have made the antediluvians hard-hearted and obstinate like the tragic pharaoh of the Exodus. “… they knew nothing until the Flood came and swept them all away” (Matthew 24:39). ‘There were bodies floating past my front door. Call it biblical’, recalled a New Orleans evacuée, Robert Lewis, of Katrina’s aftermath.
The singular topographical situation of New Orleans in relation to the sea and waterways can give us some glimpse into how the antediluvians would have become trapped owing to the unique structure of their own world. And their confinement to cities would have made the majority ‘sitting ducks’ when the Flood was finally unleashed in all its force.
What were the mechanisms for this Great Flood?
The Bible simply tells it like this: “… all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11,12). Basically, it was an overflow of waters from above and below. While Noah and his sons would have recorded only what they saw locally, and what they had been told by others, there were no doubt however other causal factors involved - unknown to the antediluvians, but examinable today by scientists - that would have been in operation long before that ‘day’ of the Flood: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month”; the “very same day” that Noah and his family “entered the Ark” (7:11, 13). Preceding that momentous day for humankind there must have been atmospheric and climatological upheavals and events and tectonic activity (possibly meteorites/bolides, volcanoes, glaciers and ice melts, rising water levels, natural dam bursts and flooding), not all known to - and certainly not scientifically understood by - the antediluvians.
I think that the reader would gain a far deeper insight into all this by reading Ryan and Pitman’s account of the ‘Black Sea Flood’ (op. cit.), too detailed to repeat here. Tectonic activity, volcanoes, and the destruction of barriers (such as the Gibraltar dam) that had kept out the Atlantic. (Surely the legend of Atlantis has to do with the Noachian Flood). These mechanisms served to destroy the natural boundaries that, whilst they had kept the antediluvians in, had also served to keep, out, such potential disasters. The Black Sea, a freshwater lake, was flooded by melted glaciers from the (newly created?) Mediterranean Sea. Seawater flowed over the lake at a rate 200 times greater than Niagara Falls. The swollen Mediterranean burst 600 miles southwards into Egypt, to as far as Aswan.
I wonder if indeed the ‘Egyptian Nile’, as opposed to the ‘Nubian Nile’ (the “Gihon”) was created only as a result of the Flood. Here is Pellegrino’s dramatic description of what may have been happening to this part of the world (op. cit., pp. 47, 49):
Under the Nile itself are remnants of a deep valley to rival the Grand Canyon. River silts began covering it up as soon as the Gibraltar dam broke open and the Atlantic spilled in, but oil geologists drilling through thousands of feet of mud have located the solid bedrock of the Nile Canyon’s floor. It lies nearly two miles beneath the city of Cairo.
For a brief time…the Nile poured over a cliff forty times higher than Niagara, but within a half million years [sic] … it had chewed back the bare limestone, slashing the earth from Cairo to Aswan.
… the Nile flowed north under Cairo, carrying river silts over Mediterranean salt flats as far away as Crete (the river’s banks can still be seen today on the actual bottom of the Mediterranean Sea). On Crete the fossil bones of dog-size hippos, shrews, and elephants …
… the [animal] inhabitants of the Nile … they and their world …lay in the path of the Atlantic Ocean’s inevitable breach of the Gibraltar dam … there came a deluge of such proportions that the biblical parting of the Red Sea might easily have been dwarfed by one of its eddies, as a raindrop is swallowed by the ocean.
Whilst Pellegrino has dated the ‘breaching of the Gibraltar dam’ here to “about 6.5 million B.C.”, I suspect that it occurred only millennia ago and that it was one of the mechanisms leading eventually to what Noah and his sons were to eye-witness in their own region of the world, on that very specific day, later to be recorded in the toledôt of Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 7:11-12,13). The once distant seas had burst forth upon the riverine world of early Genesis.
Archaeologist Max Mallowan, husband of Agatha Christie, would however - according to his localized Mesopotamian view of the Flood, based on the period when he “worked at Ur of the Chaldees, 1925-30” - deny that the sea could have been in any way involved (op. cit., p. 64):
I remember a day in the month of November, either 1925 or 1926, when in a torrential downpour we had to use our two hundred workmen to complete a dyke across the courtyard of our expedition house in order to save it from being swept away; within a few minutes of this cloud-burst we were standing chest-deep in water outside our own front door. I do however agree with Heidel, and indeed with Parrot, that there is no evidence whatever that the cuneiform [Mesopotamian] records imply any kind of marine inundation, and indeed only by a stretch of the imagination can the bursting of the subterranean fountains in the Old Testament account imply this. But it would undoubtedly follow that in an exceptionally rainy season the rivers would rise and burst their banks, and had the Flood rains occurred in the earlier part of the year during the spring, combined with a melting of the snows, the country would have been submerged beneath hundreds of miles of lake, as happened for the last time in 1954, before the construction of the Samarra barrage and dam which now enables surplus Flood-water from the Tigris to be diverted into the Wadi Thartar.
Perhaps Mallowan might have reconsidered the ‘marine’ factor had he been aware of the ‘Black Sea Flood’ and the bursting of the Gibraltar Dam.
If southern Mesopotamia were indeed the home of the Flood hero - as Mallowan would certainly hold, and I too think that it is the likeliest regional candidate - then there rises a serious problem for the view of Mallowan and others that the Flood was localized entirely to this region. That problem is that the Ark should have ended up further to the south (e.g. the Persian Gulf) instead of on one or other of the various northern mountains of rest attributed to it in the ancient accounts. Here is how Mallowan saw it (ibid., p. 65):
There is moreover another passage in the Gilgamesh Epic which presents a difficulty. It is stated that the boat came to rest on Mount Nişir, which most commentators accept as being identical with the mountain-range of that name mentioned in the annals of Aššur-naşir-pal II of Assyria, to be located not far from the Lower Zab river – the modern Pir Omar Gudrun in Kurdistan. This identification, in my opinion, is as incredible as that of the Old Testament which mentions Ararat, for it implies that the Ark would have drifted far to the north against the rushing tide of the Flood-waters.
Mallowan, due to his limited view of the Flood, was therefore forced to change the location of Mount Nişir, from Kurdistan to southern Mesopotamia (ibid.):
We should surely look for Mount Nişir in a more southerly direction. Indeed, if one were to look for an appropriately situated mountain the obvious choice would be Jebel Sanam, which rises to about 500 metres, the highest elevation in Babylonia, now located some 30 miles S.S.W. of Basrah.
No need for any such relocation though, I suggest. The Genesis Flood was sufficiently large to have caused the Ark to float against the local currents; just as the ‘Black Sea Flood’ moved in the opposite direction of the flow of the original sea there; evidence for the two opposing currents being still most apparent to this day (Ryan and Pitman, op. cit., see e.g. Ch. 6, “Hidden River”).
The beginning of this whole catastrophic process must have well preceded Noah’s 600th year, then; but largely unbeknownst to Noah and his sons, and to their contemporaries. These, despite the impression that some commentators would like to give, were not modern scientists. They did not have the advantage of satellites, radar, sound waves, seismology, coring devices - not even telescopes - to measure and tell exactly what was happening in seas and regions far distant from where they lived. They would have described only what they saw - or what others living further afield may have been able to report to them. That is why the Flood took the antediluvians largely unawares, and quite ill prepared.
In Search of a Better Translation
A pre-conceived estimation of the Genesis Flood as global has, I believe, influenced translators of the ancient text to adapt the words to fit their far-ranging scenario. If such a scenario is unrealistic, however, as I have attempted to argue it most certainly was (using the multidisclipinary approach), then the meaning of the key words of the original text will need reassessment. The concept of a localized Flood, therefore, will now require a translation of the Genesis narrative that, whilst being perfectly faithful to the Hebrew words, is also fully compatible with the new model. Happily, Rohl has provided just such an alternative translation (Lost Testament, p. 53):
The King James version of the Deluge story has tended to give a rather misleading impression of the scope and dynamic of the flood catastrophe.
“And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered”. [Genesis 7:18-20]
Two words have been translated here to their maximum effect or dimension – but both can be understood in a quite different and less spectacular way.
(1) Just as in the English language, the Hebrew noun eretz has two meanings – Earth (i.e. the planet) and earth (i.e. the ground or land). When the flood waters cover the earth/ground/land it does not therefore imply that the whole of the Earth was drowned as is often claimed.
(2) The Hebrew noun har also has several meanings – mountain, hill or mound – and so, in the flood story of Genesis, the expression harim haggebohim need not mean that ‘the highest of the mountains’ but rather ‘the great city mounds’ were submerged. This translation of har as ‘mound’ or ‘hill’ is reinforced by the biblical name Har-Megiddon (‘city mound of Megiddo’) from which we derive the term Armageddon. Again, the plural word of har (harim) is used in the final statement ‘and the mountains were covered’ (by implication under fifteen cubits of water). So this line can be understood simply as ‘and the hills (or city mounds) were covered’.
Once these alternative and perhaps more believable translations are taken on board, it become quite reasonable to assume that the biblical passage is describing the depth of the water which drowned the city mounds as just seven metres above ground level. There is no reason to understand this passage to mean that the great mountain ranges of the earth were submerged. No doubt this local Mesopotamian [sic] catastrophe, experienced by the flood hero and his family, was completely devastating to the population living on the alluvial plain. …
Rohl now ventures his new translation of this text (ibid.):
So, an alternative and more realistic – though still acceptably interpreted – translation of Genesis 7:18-20 might therefore be:
The waters rose, swelling higher above the land, and the ark drifted away over the waters. The waters continued to rise above the land until all the highest city mounds under the whole of heaven were drowned. The waters finally reached their peak of fifteen cubits (seven metres) and the mounds were submerged. [Genesis 7:18-20]
I think that Rohl has done biblical scholarship a huge service here. No longer does one need to try to explain how, for example, the mighty Himalayas could have been submerged beneath the water. Nor how Noah and his sons would even have known what was happening at that time in far off regions like the Himalayas. These mighty mountains were doubtless snow bound as usual. Not even the summit of Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh) in Turkey was likely covered by the Flood waters, as I shall propose in (c).
Whilst I believe that Sir Leonard Woolley did indeed find traces of the Genesis Flood at Ur, separating the late Ubaid period from the Jemdet Nasr - and that the Flood level was also uncovered by him and other archaeologists, like Max Mallowan, at other of the antediluvian cities in southern Mesopotamia, such as Shuruppak, Uruk, Lagash and Kish (those “city mounds” of Rohl’s translation above), one needs, for a full appreciation of the Flood that affected Noah’s kosmos, to go way beyond archaeology alone, to:
A synthesis of archaeology with the Geological Ages (e.g. climate) and the Stone Ages (e.g. the pluvial period and afforestation).
I already touched on this need for an overall synthesis in III.
Moreover, one needs properly to co-ordinate the antediluvian archaeology in itself, since there appear to be various major flood levels in the region, two notable ones (Ur and Kish) thought to be separated the one from the other by about 500 years. This repetition of an event 500 years later though is one very familiar to chronological revisionists. It is not always factual, often requiring a revision that bridges the chronological gap and synchronises the two events.
Finally, there is the real problem - given that one accepts Woolley’s Mesopotamian flood evidence as pertaining to the Genesis Flood - that an appropriate flood level has apparently not yet been found in Ur’s neighbouring city, the most ancient Eridu; though it most assuredly should have been if, as I am maintaining, the Flood had submerged the entire Fertile Crescent. That matter must now be considered.
The Mesopotamian Flood
Mallowan, almost despite himself, had come to the conclusion that the Sumerian King List of pre- and post- Flood rulers had some sort of historical basis (ibid.., p. 69):
Perhaps indeed we have now reached the realms of fantasy and should call a halt to these speculations, and this we would readily do had not all our discoveries since the time of Woolley’s excavations in the Royal Cemetery of Ur tended to validate the solid historical substratum upon which the Sumerian King List is founded.
Mallowan then proceeded to offer his tentative reconstruction of the Flood events based around the epic hero, Gilgamesh, about whom Mallowan has written (ibid., pp. 69-70): “… the significance of the name of Gilgamesh in the context of the Flood Story is that it was in his time that the memory of the Flood was committed to writing”. Here is how Mallowan perceived the Flood in an historical context, based on the information of the Sumerian King List; all of which he tied in with Woolley’s celebrated discovery at Ur (ibid., pp. 70-71):
However that may be, let us admit that by about 2650 B.C. Gilgamesh was the auditor of a Flood story associated with the name of a king who had once ruled in Shuruppak (Fara). This ruler [Ziusudra = Utnaphistim/Noah] who lived an unknown number of years before Gilgamesh may be accepted as a prehistoric figure within the period which we now define archaeologically as Early Dynastic I-III. And since Gilgamesh now appears to belong with Mesannipada to the period E.D. III, we should assign the name of the Flood king to the period E.D. I or II. In other words, if the Flood was an historical event, E.D. I or II is the period to which we should look for evidence of it.
What then is the archaeological evidence?
We must begin with Ur. In the season of 1928-29 Leonard Woolley sank two deep pits beneath shaft graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur and exposed a stratum of “clean water-laid clay” which varied in thickness at different points from 3.70 to 2.70 m. and petered out almost completely at the mound’s foot, “where its place is taken by a channel of running water”. A test pit sunk into the great courtyard of the Nanna Temple produced similar evidence, a layer of clean water-laid clay 1.70 m. thick and under it quantities of prehistoric Al ‘Ubaid painted potsherds. Woolley had no hesitation in identifying these strata as the legacies of the Noachian Flood which separated “Sumerian” Ur from the city which had been founded by the painted-pottery-using peoples of Al ‘Ubaid. Subsequently Woolley sunk approximately a dozen pits to sea level or near it, and only in two cases did the expected stratum of clean clay fail to appear. …
These absences he had no difficulty in explaining away as due to the conformation of the ground levels of prehistoric Ur. From his examination of the deep strata under the Royal Cemetery, and particularly in Pit F he concluded that when Ur was founded it was an island in a marsh, and that at the time of the Flood it was already sufficiently ancient to have been an elevated settlement on an artificial hillock composed of successive remains of the preceding ‘Ubaid settlements. The force of the Flood would first have struck Ur on the S.E. side which was exposed to the Euphrates, but on the lee side the city must have been completely sheltered [sic]. Nor is it necessary to suppose that the entire island was submerged by the waters, although, if all these assumptions are correct, at the time of the Flood it doubtless appeared as but a pin-point of habitation in a great inland sea.
Mallowan continues with his account (ibid., p. 71):
After he had exposed the water-logged soils under the Royal Cemetery, Woolley proceeded, in 1929-30, to dig a pit on a much larger scale with the express purpose of testing the architectural succession in ancient Ur from a point on the surface where Early Dynastic buildings of a plano-convex mud-brick appeared, down to virgin soil. Here at the appropriate depth he triumphantly vindicated his previous identifications by discovering a bank of clean sand which, deep down below the Early Dynastic remains, separated the pre-historic ‘Ubaid from “Sumerian” strata of the Jamdat Nasr period. The succession has been described by him in detail ….
Mallowan, citing W. Macfadyen, went on to raise the question of the composition of the Ur Flood deposit (whether aeolian/dust, fluviatile, lacustrine, estuarine, marine, mixed?), whilst urging the need for a more up-to-date re-appraisal of this Mesopotamian deposit (ibid., p. 74):
“… marine deposits may be hall-marked by their included microfauna of recent foraminifera and micromollusca of the Hammar Formation”.
Macfadyen has also pointed out to me how far sedimentary studies have advanced since 1930 and how desirable it would be for some specialist to re-examine the relevant Flood deposits, all of which would need to be re-excavated.
Mallowan concluded this discussion with this unintendedly ironical note (ibid.):
We may also note in passing that if the Flood stratum at Ur proved to be of marine formation this in itself would be sufficient to disprove its claim to be a legacy of the Noachian Flood, for there is really nothing in the Old Testament and cuneiform sources to warrant such an origin. As we pointed out earlier, rain and storm, doubtless allied to flooding of the rivers, are the dominant features of the legends.
Besides Ur, Flood deposits have been found at other key southern Mesopotamian sites: Kish, Shuruppak, Lagash and, possibly, Uruk (or Warka). Though Mallowan had this to say about Frankfort’s claim of Flood evidence at the latter site (op. cit., p. 76, n. 41): “There is no evidence so far for Frankfort’s ascription of a Flood to Warka, as in his “Archaeology and the Sumerian Problem”, OIC., No. 4, Table opposite p. 72. The caption under Erech, Clay Deposit 1.55 should be deleted …”. But critics of Woolley’s Flood theory point to the apparent lack of any Flood deposit at ancient Eridu, situated only about 20 kilometres from Ur, and supposedly on a lower level. They also query that, whilst there is indeed thick Flood deposit at Kish, it, dated to about 2900 B.C., must have been laid down some 500 years after the Ur Flood as dated by Woolley (c. 3500 BC).
Let me say a word about Kish, before turning to a discussion of the important Eridu, which really does seem to loom as a problem for the Flood theory. A 500-year gap is common in the standard reconstruction of ancient histories. Often it is due to an artificial reconstruction of history based upon an “Indian file” mentality, chronologically speaking. My suspicion is that the huge Flood as recorded at Kish, and the one that occurred at Ur, are one and the same catastrophic event, and that the Bible enables for this tightening up of antediluvian history and early Mesopotamian Dynastic history.
But much more work will need to be done on this.
Eridu and the Flood
Regarding the city of Eridu, Mallowan had received this objection from Professor Seton Lloyd (ibid., p. 75):
Much more important is Seton Lloyd’s objection that Eridu lies in a hollow and that after you climb up from Ur to the sandy ridge which forms a barrier separating the two cities you drop down perceptibly to reach Eridu. Unfortunately the precise relative heights above sea levels of the comparable strata at Ur and Eridu are unknown to me ….
On the same page Mallowan has included this footnote on the matter (n. 38):
My own recollection is that in travelling from Ur to Eridu there was a gradual rise up to the ridge, and although Eridu may appear to be in a hollow there may not have been a great discrepancy between the latest ‘Ubaid levels at Ur and the latest ‘Ubaid levels at Eridu because the latter rested on a much greater depth of accumulated debris which may have compensated for the difference above sea level of the two sites.
On pp. 76-77 Mallowan gave these two reasons why he thought no Flood deposit was found at Eridu:
…there are two other considerations that need to be taken into account: first that Eridu was remoter from the Euphrates than Ur, and we may presume that the first impact of a Flood would have been less violent there; secondly that the pebbly sandstone ridge which separated the two cities could conceivably have acted as a partial protection against the Flood clay. It thus appears that the fact that no Flood deposit has been observed at Eridu, though possibly surprising, cannot be used as a valid argument to disprove the identifications of the Flood at Ur.
But I think it not just “possibly surprising”, as Mallowan has put it, but positively mind-blowing - given the closeness of Eridu to Ur - that the former would not have been affected by this Flood. As Pellegrino tells it (op. cit., p. 134), Woolley had estimated, from the depth of clay, that the Ur Flood “had engulfed an area four hundred miles long and a hundred miles wide”. This could not but have affected Eridu, no matter what its topography, with the city standing as it does only 20 kilometres away from Ur.
There is also the possibility, given Rohl’s identification of Eridu with the biblical Babel (which last he shows could definitely not have been Babylon, that came into existence only centuries later) - whose purpose according to Josephus, as Rohl tells it (Lost Testament, p. 66), was to elevate the Tower of Babel to a height beyond all possibility for destruction by another such Flood, “if [God] should have a mind to drown the world again” - that the Uruk I phase builders of this city, Nimrod (Enmerkar) and his allies, had completely tampered with its natural topography and generally erased Flood traces, in reconstituting the place upwards “like a mountain” (as told in “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta Epic”).
Mallowan, continuing with his discussion of the lack of Flood deposit at Eridu, made the point, citing Woolley, that even Ur itself does not display consistent Flood evidence (op. cit., p. 76):
… there is in any case no need to assume that a flood deposit observed at Ur would necessarily appear at Eridu or indeed at Uruk: Woolley himself remarked “Had we dug in the middle of the town mound, as did the excavators at Warka, we should have found no trace of silt, nor should we have found any in the surrounding plain; it was by the accident of discovery that our pits were sunk in just those places which could produce the only possible material evidence of this historical inundation”.
I have already mentioned the lack of human bones in regard to both the evolutionary model and the global Flood model. But can I myself now offer any evidence of dead bodies in connection with my smaller-scale Flood? Possibly, some, by taking what Woolley had believed were the bodies of Flood survivors, and re-considering (at least some of) these as Flood dead, later buried by the postdiluvians who would come to occupy the plain of Shinar (Sumer). Here is how Mallowan told it (ibid., p. 77):
As regards the date of the Ur flood-bank we need only recall that it separated the late ‘Ubaid settlement from debris of the succeeding Uruk-Jamdat Nasr periods, and if, as Woolley has cogently argued, some of the burials within it may be attributed to survivors of the Flood then we can correlate the event with a well-defined period at Eridu, because the pottery associated with the Ur graves is typologically similar to that found in the famous Eridu cemetery which was contemporaneous with Eridu temples VI-VII, that is, to the end phase of the ‘Ubaid period.
It may just be that the famous burial of a king with his retainers at Ur was a mass suicide, an act of desperation to escape the oncoming Flood waters.
There is no doubt that this whole Mesopotamian Flood scenario now needs to be re-assessed by modern specialists, as Macfadyen had said, “to re-examine the relevant Flood deposits, all of which would need to be re-excavated”.
(b) Noah’s Ark
If Noah and his sons had really been capable of building an Ark of the proportions that ‘Creationists’ have estimated it to have been, then God must have suddenly endowed them with superhuman powers and a knowledge quite unknown to their contemporaries, who were still building reed boats. It would be somewhat akin to an Olympic pole vaulter all of a sudden being empowered to scale the Empire State Building. Superman indeed! As Professor Plimer has rightly noted (op. cit., p. 103):
The building of Noah’s ark some 4000 years ago must surely be the greatest building feat ever achieved in the history of the planet. It makes the Seven Wonders of the World and pyramid building look like children’s play. To build such an immense structure with a work force of four males and four females using hitherto unknown shipbuilding skills stretches the ark myth just a little bit too far.
The description of the Ark specifications in Genesis 6:15 gives the boat’s length as “300 cubits”, its width as “50 cubits”, and its height as “30 cubits”. Archaeologists could probably now be able to tell us exactly how long the “cubit” was for the antediluvians. Though generally based on the length of the forearm, the cubit did however vary quite a bit (as much as nearly 5 inches) from nation to nation (Egypt, Babylon, Rome). Wal Johnson, with reference to Whitcomb and Morris, had estimated the size of the Ark in terms of feet, using about the shortest version (Roman, I think) of the cubit:
If we assume 171/2 inches for a cubit, the Ark would have been 437 feet long by 73 feet wide and 44 feet high – built like an enormous barge and almost uncapsizable. Its gross tonnage would have been 14,000 tons. It was, by far, the biggest vessel ever built until very recent times. The three decks would give a carrying capacity equal to 522 standard American railroad trains.
This last figure of 522 was the very one, as the reader may recall, adopted by Ham et. al. So it represents a current ‘Creationist’ estimation. But would such a vessel really have been “uncapsizable”, as Wal had claimed?
No, according to Plimer, who puts all of this into some sort of modern perspective (op. cit., p. 108):
In the early twentieth century, nine six-masted schooners of some 90 metres length were launched. Huge structural stresses developed, the ships sagged and had to be braced with diagonal steel ribbing and the smallest wave made the ships snake. Consequently they leaked like a colander. The longest wooden ship ever built was the six-masted USS Wyoming with a length of 110 metres, and this vessel was so unstable that it could only be used for short coastal hauls and had to be pumped continually.
Creationists postulate violent turbulent conditions with kilometre-high waves during the great flood. No vessel, let alone a highly unstable twisting leaking wooden ark 50 per cent longer than the USS Wyoming could survive such conditions. As steel had not been invented, Noah could not have braced his ship. Pumps did not exist in Noah’s time hence the crew of eight on the ark would have had to haul at an extraordinary rate. Furthermore, the ark was supposedly a rectangular structure which is both structurally weak and highly unseaworthy.
The Ark would of necessity have been a product of the technology and knowledge of its time, which I have shown to have been - or at least to have been contemporaneous with - the Ubaidian Chalcolithic culture of southern Mesopotamia. As already discussed, it would have been composed of reeds from the local marshes and sealed with bitumen presumably from Hit. According to Rohl (Lost Testament, p. 48): “For eighteen months Noah and his three sons laboured to build the ark …. The final act was to daub the whole vessel with bitumen in order to make it watertight. The great black ship was ready for its task …”. Its dimensions, like those that have come down to us for the height of Goliath, but far more so, ought now to be seen as being totally unrealistic. These numbers will thus need to be reassessed. That mistakes can easily be made with the transmission of biblical numbers will become abundantly clear from Excursus B below. In this case, then, I would have to agree with Mallowan (op, cit., p. 65), that the figures for Noah’s Ark (as they now stand in Genesis 6:15) cannot be deemed “credible”:
… since we have abundant evidence from cuneiform tablets and other sources to show that Babylonian ships very rarely if ever exceeded one hundred tons in capacity, we can hardly accept the Babylonian and Biblical figures as credible.
Excursus B: Biblical Numbers
Commentators agree that biblical numbers can easily be misread by translators, who then pass on incorrect figures. I can exemplify this by quoting from part of a very informative piece by J. Wenham, entitled “The Large Numbers of the Old Testament” (I lack the full bibliographical details for this document that a reader has sent to me):
“The Old Testament in various places records numbers which seem impossibly large. It has often been assumed that these figures were simply invented, and are evidence that the Bible is historically unreliable. But who would make up figures which are patently absurd? Would any man in his senses invent a story of a bus crash in which 16,000 passengers were killed? It is much more likely that these Old Testament numbers were faithfully copied out, despite the fact that they did not seem to make sense. Invention does not satisfactorily account for them. The explanation must lie elsewhere. And in fact patient research has gone a long way towards resolving this knotty problem.
The corruption of numbers
There is evidence that the Old Testament text is on the whole marvellously well preserved. There is also evidence from the parallel passages in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles and (especially) in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 that numbers were particularly difficult to transmit accurately. We have instances of extra noughts being added to a number: 2 Samuel 10:18 reads ‘700 chariots’, I Chronicles 19:18 reads ‘7,000’. A digit can drop out: 2 Kings 24:8 gives the age of [King] Jehoiachin on accession as 18, whereas 2 Chronicles 36:9 gives it as 8. An entire numeral can drop out: I Samuel 13:1 says “Saul was years old’. In Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 the digits often vary by one unit. And there are other errors of copying, many of which are easily explained.
The confusion of words
In the modern Hebrew Bible all numbers are written out in full, but for a long time the text was written without vowels. The absence of vowels made it possible to confuse two words which are crucial to this problem: ‘eleph and ‘alluph. Without vowel points these words look identical: ‘lp.
‘eleph is the ordinary word for ‘thousand’, but it can also be used in a variety of other senses: e.g. ‘family’ (Judges 6:15, Revised Version) or ‘clan’ (Zechariah 9:7; 12:5,6, RSV) or perhaps a military unit. ‘alluph is used for the ‘chieftains’ of Edom (Genesis 36:15-43); probably for a commander of a military ‘thousand’; and almost certainly for the professional, fully-armed soldier.
At certain periods warfare was conducted by two sharply distinguished types of fighting men – the Goliaths and the Davids – the professional soldiers who were fully armed, and the folk army, whose only weapon were those of the peasant shepherd. It seems clear that in a number of places the word for professional soldier has been misunderstood as meaning ‘thousand’. Take, for example, the attack on the little town of Gibeah in Judges 20.Verse 2 says that 400,000 foot-men ‘that drew the sword’ assembled. If these were in fact 400 fully-armed foot-soldiers, the subsequent narrative makes excellent sense”.
[End of quote].
Towering giants, massive armies, a stupendous boat – these all belong more to the realm of folklore and fantasy than to the biblical world as revealed to us by archaeology. Plimer is, I believe, far more realistic with his Thor Heyerdahl-type reed boat model for the biblical Ark than are the ‘Creationists’ with their 522 railroad cars version. Here are some excerpts from Plimer’s account (op. cit., pp. 89-90):
The archaeological record of Iraq shows that reed vessels were an integral part of Mesopotamian and Babylonian cultures. These boats were sickle-shaped with transverse rope lashings and were commonly depicted as hieroglyphic signs on cylinder seals and on commemorative stelae. Circumstantial evidence is also strong. The modern-day marsh Arabs of Iraq have villages hidden deep inside the marshes at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. They still practice the 5000-year-old Sumerian art of building their houses entirely out of reeds, the largest of which are the mudhifs (guest houses) and it is clear that the skills for building large ocean-going vessels from reeds still exist. In 1977-78, Thor Heyerdahl built a large ocean-going reed vessel called Tigris from reeds harvested in the marshlands of southern Iraq.
The Tigris sailed 6800 kilometres during a five-month voyage thereby demonstrating that the ancient civilisations of northeast Africa and the Indus Valley could be linked with ancient civilisations in Mesopotamia. Such a reed vessel reminds one of the Gilgamesh Epic where Uta napishtim, the “Noah” hero, links ancient society with naval architecture with the common raw material:
‘Reed-house, reed-house! Wall, O wall, hearken reed-house, wall reflect; O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu; tear down your house and build a boat, abandon possessions and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul alive. Tear down your house, I say, and build a boat’.
The pagan legends, as I have said, have generally preserved some core degree of actuality, and these - including the Sanskrit version of Manu and the Flood, that has some likenesses to the biblical account - have the Flood hero saved in a reed boat, or raft. And none of these legends has a menagerie of exotic animals aboard, but just local domestic animals.
Global Floodists apply the same sort of totality that they have read into the ancient account for the extent of the Flood to the extent of the animals taken on board the Ark, giving ‘maximum value’, as is their wont, to phrases like “every living thing”, “every kind”, and “every creeping thing on the ground” (Genesis 6:19,20). It is really quite painful and embarrassing to read, or view on TV, explanations by well-meaning ‘Creationists’ as to how every single species of living creature had to be fitted into the Ark. I have even seen proponents of this view on TV with a model of the Ark and toy dinosaurs having to be fitted inside, alongside lions, tigers, giraffes and kangaroos ….
This is, I repeat, Fundamentalism taken to the extreme.
Noah would have had to fit on the Ark only such animals as would have been needed for food, and later on for sacrifice, and for breeding and farming purposes: domestic animals, (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, etc.) the type that are named in other versions of the Flood.
Plimer of course has a field day with the ‘Creationist’ version of the Ark’s menagerie, and rightly so inasmuch as it is embarrassing, non-scientific nonsense. In his section, “The Freighter’s Cargo” (ibid., Ch.4, pp. 109-134), Plimer raises such points as:
How did Noah build a system to preserve Eucalyptus leaves for the Koala passengers from Australia, which was then undiscovered, and had an unknown flora and fauna?
Whales would have bloated with clay as they tried to strain for the odd krill which had not choked and sunk. The flood waters would have been so muddy that light could not have entered the top centimetre of water, hence aquatic animals would die.
Some organisms just don’t survive as a couplet. For example, bees, flies and other organisms live in swarms and without community activity they can neither function nor survive.
… the literal interpretation has no exceptions – not one species of bacteria to be omitted, no 80-tonne Ultrasauri, no Tyrannosaurus rex, no whales, no maritime organism. Nothing!
Some organisms only eat live food and, if it is not available, then they eat their partner (for example, praying mantis).
Many carnivores need to gnaw on bones to avoid dental diseases and many animals such as rodents need to gnaw to stop teeth overgrowth. Did the thousands of known rodents gnaw on the timbers structurally supporting the ark?
Another problem was clean potable water. A bucket could not really have been thrown overboard as it is felt that there would have been mass carnage if all organisms were fed on 1:1 saline water-mud mix.
Many animals are so sensitive that they do not survive in zoos, and yet they managed in this wildly lurching overcrowded ark for a year.
The magnitude of the feeding task is astronomical. If the crew of four males worked 24 hours a day for the 371 days at sea, then each animal would have received a total of six seconds of attention for the whole year.
It is a little difficult to calculate the volume of excreta generated by extinct animals, however even the most basic calculations shows that thousands of tonnes of urine and excreta were generated on a daily basis by those unwilling passengers. We must remember that the ark had a ventilation port of one square cubit. …
And then there are those manifold varieties of termites ….
I think that I have included sufficient here from Plimer (and he gives much more) in regard to the presumed animals of the Ark for us to get the message.
But Plimer will also have much fun at the expense of the ‘Creationists’ in regard to the aftermath of the Flood (ibid., p. 91):
… the maiden voyage of Noah’s love boat was a dreadfully harrowing journey with no chance of survival for the passengers. It makes the maiden voyage of the Titanic look like a Sunday afternoon ferry trip in calm waters. This trip is recognized in the Yahwist’s version as traumatic because, once on dry lands, Noah planted vines (Genesis 9:21)! It appears that the ark trip was so harrowing than Noah reverted to periods of dreadful drunkenness and slept naked in his tent (Genesis 9:21)! This I can identify with. Under the circumstances, I think we can all forgive Noah for this minor peccadillo. Don’t ask me where he got the vines from after the ‘Great Flood’ which destroyed the world ….
‘God is his Truth’, and hence there should be no conflict or disharmony whatsoever between religious (biblical) and scientific truth. The same goes for philosophical truth. Sometimes we need to let go of our preconceived ideas to bring our thinking right into conformity with demonstrated fact. A classical example of someone’s doing this is the case of Rev. William Buckland, as narrated by Ryan and Pitman (op. cit., pp. 33-34, 55-56). Buckland was a C19th guru of the ‘global’ Flood view, for whom the signs of major catastrophism throughout the world were largely due to the Flood. About him it was said that “his elegance rolled like the deluge retiring” (ibid., p. 34). Then, one day, a young Swiss scientist, Louis Agassiz, changed Buckland’s mind with an in situ demonstration on the effects of glaciation. Here is how Ryan and Pitman recount the story (ibid.):
Buckland’s recent magnum opus, attesting to the action of a universal flood, had been met with critical praise. Although the chief architect of the catastrophic synthesis and Agassiz had met before and had even deliberated the ice age theory during an outing in the Alps, a reconciliation of their enormous differences in the interpretation of the apparent evidence had been inconceivable until the Reverend was secure on his home turf in the British Isles. There in the autumn of 1840, following the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Oxford don, in characteristic fashion with top hat and academic robe, escorted the Swiss naturalist to a classic site of the “drift” deposits on Blackford Hill, south of Edinburgh, Scotland. Pointing authoritatively to the unstratified boulder clay (the inferred deposits of Noah’s torrential flood) at his feet, Buckland pronounced that the rocks within contained no scratches from glacial gouging.
However, Agassiz was wary of an ambush by Buckland …. Instead, [he] ushered Buckland aside to a nearby cliff that neither had visited before and climbed up to the underside of an overhanging ledge where the rock leaned forward, forming a sort of vault. There Agassiz brushed the dust from the face of the stone, exposed a stunning outcrop of striations (the parallel grooves indicating the action of a moving glacier grinding away at the landscape), and pronounced, “That is the work of ice!” Buckland’s conversion from diluvialism was instantaneous.
According to my rather elastic Flood model, though - [with humans confined to the Fertile Crescent, though the catastrophic effects of the Flood mechanisms were far more wide-ranging] - necessitating a synthesis of Geological (including Ice Ages), Palaeontological and Archaeological Ages, then there may perhaps today be the chance of effecting a reconciliation between the once seemingly irreconcilable and polarized worldviews, respectively, of Buckland and Agassiz.
(c) The Mountain of the Ark’s Resting
So much for the horrendous zoo-keeping problems on the Ark.
But things would not have got all that much better after the Ark had landed on the summit or upland slopes of Mount Ararat (Judi Dagh); the location favoured by some ‘Creationists’. This tall mountain is actually dangerous and extremely difficult to climb (see case of James Irwin further on). One can get some impression of the extreme rigours and dangers to be endured by a small group of experienced mountaineers climbing to the heights of this mountain to discover Noah’s Ark, by reading Lahaye’s fascinating fictional version (op. cit.). Better still, though, read the following (www.noahsarksearch.com/)
Mount Ararat 1999 - Courtesy Rob Michelson
Mount Ararat is located in Eastern Turkey on the borders of Iran, Armenia (formerly U.S.S.R.), and Nachivan. This volcanic mountain rises 5,165 meters or 16,945 feet high above the plains and is the highest location in the ancient kingdom of Urartu, a region which covered thousands of square miles. Ararat is the bastardized name of Urartu from the Hebrew Torah … which only included the consonants "rrt". However, the translators of the Bible replaced the "rrt" with the later name, "Ararat." The Assyrians wrote about battles against the Urartian tribes from the thirteenth century BC until the sixth century BC when Urartu was destroyed by the Medes. The name Urartu then vanished from history and was replaced by Ararat and Armenia in the vicinity as well as in Bible translations in English, etc. As history went on in the first and second millenia AD, the mountain became known as Ararat and the region as Armenia. Many people believe that Mount Ararat is the place where Noah's Ark landed but the Bible does not state this. It simply says that the boat landed in the Urartian mountains, of which there are hundreds, although Ararat is the highest. Since Mount Ararat is the highest location in Urartu, some people throughout history have jumped to the unproven conclusion that it was the landing place and promoted that concept as a regional tradition.
Was Agri Dagh in fact the true place of the Ark’s landing, whether it be near its summit or at Akyayla at the much lower altitude in the foothills of Mount Ararat; the region favoured by Dr. Allen Roberts and also by Ron Wyatt and David Fasold, where a massive boat-shaped formation certainly does exist?
My conclusion will be ‘No’.
Whereas Mount Ararat is one very specific mountain, Genesis 8:4 is rather general: “… the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat”. Ancient “Ararat” was the country of Urartu (including modern Kurdistan), largely to the southeast of today’s Mount Ararat.
What the Bible seems to be saying, therefore, is that Noah’s Ark landed in the mountainous region of the land of Urartu. And it is in this region, as we are going to find - specifically the mountain known as Judi Dagh, or Çudi Dagh - that can boast the most ancient traditions regarding Noah and his Ark. Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh), on the other hand, has not the ancient traditions, as Plimer has noted (op. cit., p. 98):
This mountain is now conveniently called Mt Ararat by American religious fundamentalists. Even the Armenians did not recognize the mountain called Ağri until 800 years ago! … according to Bailey (1978), the term Ararat refers to a rather extensive area with slightly fluctuating boundaries.
Apparently it was a St. Jacob of the Christian era who was one of the first to popularise Mount Ararat in Turkey, claiming to have been actually carried up to the Ark by an angel, after having failed in his own attempts to ascend the rugged mountain. Stories about the Ark’s presence on Mount Ararat became especially common during the Middle Ages.
What seems to happen is this: When pious folk go off in search of a biblical mountain, such as the Mountain of the Ark or Mount Sinai, they seek out the most impressive mountain in the approximate region, as far as they can estimate it. Thus, for Mount Sinai, the Byzantine Christians chose an impressive mountain in the Sinai Peninsula probably assuming that a definitive moment like the Theophany at Mount Sinai must have occurred on a significantly tall and imposing mountain. Consequently that mountain is today known as Jebel Musa (“Mountain of Moses”). But Professor E. Anati has comprehensively shown from the archaeological data that there was no significant human presence around Jebel Musa for the time of Moses by any chronological estimation (The Mountain of God, Rizzoli, N.Y., 1986). Nothing substantial between the early Stone Age times and the Byzantine era.
Similarly, others opted for the impressive snow-capped peak of Agri Dagh for Noah’s mountain.
Both apparently got it wrong.
Whereas neither Mount Ararat nor Jebel Musa would have been an easy prospect for people and animals to negotiate - and remember that both Noah and Moses were old when they found themselves on their mountain - there is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate that either Patriarch had any trouble negotiating his mountain.
The lack of suitability of Mount Ararat for the mountain of the Ark’s resting had previously led me to propose, in “A Tale of Two Mountains: Ararat and Sinai”, a theory - that I now completely reject - that the mountain of the Ark may have been the same as Mount Sinai/Horeb, hence the holiness of this mountain. This also seemed to support the view of Moses as a ‘second Noah’.
There is again today a lot of interest focussed on Mount Ararat in Turkey. Lahaye’s best-selling book is just one example of this. Mount Ararat has become a favourite destination for the Ark-eologists, who are prepared to risk life or limb, braving Kurdish bandits and wild dogs, to view what they imagine to be Noah’s Ark. Plimer tells of one such celebrated Ark-eologist, the former astronaut James Irwin (op. cit., p. 99):
The Apollo 15 astronaut, James Irwin, who walked on the moon in 1971, showed that you don’t have to be an astronaut to be off the planet. Irwin relied on modern science to get him to the moon and to return him safely. In retirement Irwin devoted his time to religious activities. He evolved into a religious fundamentalist, established an organisation called the High Flight Foundation and led four ark-eological expeditions to Ağri Daği looking for the remains of Noah’s Ark.
Plimer continues his discussion of Irwin, taking several swipes at ‘Creationism’ along the way (ibid., pp. 99-100):
Of interest is that Irwin personally collected the oldest lunar rock (4 500 000 000 years old) which, by ascribing the inerrancy of the Bible, can only be 6000 years old. For Irwin to get to the moon, he must also have penetrated the crystalline firmament and the ‘waters above the earth’ as described in Genesis, yet neither NASA not Irwin seems to record these somewhat harrowing penetrations! Although he managed to walk on the moon without mishap, some nine years later Irwin happened to fall over a 30-metre cliff on Ağri Daği at an altitude of 4200 metres while on his fourth futile search for the ark.
The striking boat-shaped object in the Akyayla area, about which fierce controversy has been raging, appears to be nothing more than a natural feature (a geosyncline?). This is how Professor Plimer has professionally estimated it (op. cit., p. 101): “… on the basis of Turkish geological reports and geophysical investigations and my own geological experience, the Akyayla ark site is a normal geological structure called an allocthonous block”.
All in all, Mount Ararat is quite unsuitable. Michelson again (op. cit.):
Mount Ararat may be the largest single-mass or volume mountain in the world as it is huge (one really has to see it in person to appreciate its immensity) and rises to 17,000 feet from the plains surrounding it at 2,000-3,000 feet while most other large mountains are in a mountain range with less differential and base circumference. Ararat has only a few native trees growing on it in Ahora village and several small forests on Little Ararat. Views differ as to whether Ararat formed much of its size after the flood (post-flood) or during the flood as some geologists like Seventh Day Adventist Clifford Burdick Ph.D. have claimed to find pillow lava (lava spewed into water) around the 14,000-foot level. Some geologists claim that cylindrical mountains like Little Ararat show that it is a post-flood mountain. There are also claims of fossils and sedimentary layers on Greater Ararat but these claims have not been backed up with evidence as of this date although there are fossils near Ararat. From 14,000 feet to 17,000 feet, much of the lava is covered by an ice cap which is about 17 square miles in size and is up to 300 feet deep. ….
Since the upper reaches of this volcanic mountain are covered with broken lava rock everywhere and are currently extremely difficult to ascend or descend, its present state makes it a poor location for Noah's Ark to land and for all the animals to easily descend. Yet, Mount Ararat has the bulk of the purported eyewitnesses of the boat-like structure, especially since 1850. These "alleged" eyewitnesses are the only reason why the search should continue on the mountain.
B. Crouse, also with reference to Burdick, has argued that Mount Ararat may never even have been submerged by the Great Flood (“Noah’s Ark: Its Final Berth”, www.noahsarksearch.com/noah.htm): “There seems to be almost a total lack of evidence this mountain was ever under water. If the Ark landed on Ararat, why is there not some evidence of flooding such as sedimentation, fossils, etc?” And he adds: “Geologically, we can conceive of a scenario where the mountain may have risen during the Flood, but we still need evidence of the Flood waters”.
Is it realistic to expect that Noah’s Ark, a sturdy boat of reeds according to this study, could have survived in the mountains - exposed to the elements - for more than 4000 years? I would have to concur with Plimer on the extreme unlikelihood of this. But I also believe that wood from the true Ark has been collected from Çudi Dagh in ancient - and even in more recent - times. [See e.g. Rohl on this, Lost Testament, Ch. 3 & pp. 54-55]. Here is Dr Willis’s encounter with Çudi Dagh:
Is This The Tomb of Noah?
P.O. Box 3118, Pinedale, California 93650
Fax: 559-447-8418, To Email: CDJAPHETH@aol.com
Ancient World Foundation
After 20 years of research, a modern-day explorer recently made an adventurous solo incursion in to remote southeastern Turkey searching for the facts and remains of Noah and his Ark. Reminiscent of a 19th century explorer, Dr. Charles Willis traversed a region kept in turmoil by renegade local terrorist groups. Here Willis believes he located and photographed for the first time the tomb of Noah.
A veteran explorer to the region and a neuropsychiatrist by trade, Willis has led four expeditions up Mt. Ararat, the traditional site of the landing of Noah's Ark. Yet, the results of his investigation on that mountain, as well as years of research into historical sources, suggested to him that Ararat is not the mountain of Noah or the Ark.
Furthermore, Willis does not believe the Ark is even intact. Noting the great time period since the event, the harsh topography, geology and meteorology of the region, and the Ark being a natural source of building material for generations, Willis does not expect to find any major portions still intact. Furthermore, despite all the reports of sightings, none have been substantiated by later exploration/investigation. "Those who continue to look for the Ark on Ararat are looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing," Willis said.
His research suggests the mountain known today as Mt. Cudi is the best candidate for the Ark landing and the subsequent settlement of Noah and his family. Here, too, he believes Noah died and was buried. Called by different names over the years, including Mt. Ararat, Mt. Judi, Mt. Nisir, Mt. Nipir and Mt. Lubar, it is neither as high as Ararat nor as snow covered and treacherous most of the year.
It was on this mountain's Ark plateau in 1953, a few miles from the site Willis believes is Noah's tomb, the German professor Friedrich Bender discovered pieces of wood he believed came from Noah's Ark. The samples carbon-dated to 4500 B.C.
The Ark is not the real focus of Willis' exploration. Evidence of Noah and his family in their post-Flood community is where Willis is concentrating. The structure he is looking for is the tomb of Father Noah, as Willis likes to refer to the ancient mariner. "After all," Willis said, "the whole human race comes from Noah by way of his three sons - so is the Father of us all."
Modern local tradition places the grave of Noah on the southern slope of Mt. Cudi. In 1911, British explorer Gertrude Bell recorded the location of Noah's tomb on the mountain. She wrote "I ought to have completed the pilgrimage by visiting his (Noah's) grave, but it lay far down upon the southern slopes of Judi Dagh. "In addition, the ancient "BOOK OF JUBILEES" states "Noah slept with his fathers and was buried on Mt. Lubar in the Land of Ararat" (10:13-17). One of the region's major cities lies just north of the mountain, Sirnak. "Sirnak," Willis noted, comes from Sehr-i-Nuh or "city of Noah."
His recent trip to Mt. Cudi included traveling alone, staying in a local village and befriending its chief, sleeping under armed guards and carrying an AK-47, a gift from the village chief, for protection. From his accommodations in the village, Willis could see the ruins of Heshton ("Village Of The Eight"?) site of the first Noahic village according to local tradition. The site identified as Noah's tomb is in a solitary location on a gentle slope of the mountain's south side. It is overgrown and undisturbed. Cut out of solid rock as a horizontal cave, it has a facade of built stone.
Inside the tomb, Willis believes he may find texts from the early post-Flood period. But his real hope is to find some antediluvian written material. "I know that most scholars do not believe that man wrote that early, but there are ancient references to pre-Flood texts," he said. "It seems reasonable Noah would have taken into the Ark any pre-Flood archives available to him. That would be the real find from Noah's Ark."
In conjunction with the Ancient World Foundation, Willis intends to mount a multidisciplinary campaign to the site of Noah's tomb in the near future. He hopes his team of geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists and linguists will be able to study the area, excavate the tomb, examine remains and decipher ancient texts.
[End of quote].
Annually on September 14, according to Gertrude Bell (1910), Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sabians and Yezidis would gather together on the mountain, Çudi Dagh, to commemorate Noah’s sacrifice.
It is fitting that this date should mark both Noah’s sacrifice in commemoration of he “the righteous man [being saved] by a paltry piece of wood” (Wisdom 10:4) and the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the righteous Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the wood of the Cross for the salvation of the world.
(d) Flood Aftermath
The saved 8 presumably continued to live on the slopes of the mountain whilst the earth was returning back to normal. Though it would never be quite the same as it was before, its primary topographical features and riverine system would still have been easily identifiable again to Noah and his family. Noah yet had plenty of centuries left him. We know that he became a vinedresser. We also know that he had trouble fulfilling the Divine command “to increase and multiply” (Genesis 9:20-22).
According to Dr. Willis’s estimate, Noah would have died and been buried on the mountain.
His immediate sons, perhaps the 3 of them, and their families, would have been amongst those “[who] travelled east and came upon a plain in the land of Shinar” (11:2). There they would have noticed - apart from a possible mass of corpses that they proceeded to bury - that the Tigris and Euphrates were significantly vaster than before and that the distant Ocean (Persian Gulf) was now at their very doorstep. But Ham’s sin of incest had no doubt led to a rift between him and his 2 brothers (9:27), and presumably at some stage he went to Egypt, known as “the land of Ham” (Psalm 106:22) - though this might simply mean that Egypt was chiefly populated and ruled by Ham-ites, such as Mizraim; the country of Egypt being referred to this day in Arabic as ‘Masr’ after Mizraim).
Perhaps Ham was later deified as the Egyptian god, Amun.
Travellers to the west at this time would have been struck by some significant changes, viz. the new Sea (Mediterranean), serving to create a narrow corridor with the mountains to the east of it. And another Sea (Red Sea) as a geographical barrier. Meanwhile the retreating Eocene Sea (Cenozoic Era) to the west had left behind the ‘Ur Nil’, the large ancient Nile.
Presuming that the 3 sons, or 2 of them, were still together in Sumeria, the Babel incident with its confusion of languages probably separated them once and for all. Shem, blessed by Noah, would have succeeded his father as King and Priest. Shem ended up in Salem (Jerusalem), in the centre of the ancient world, as the great Melchizedek.
Ham’s people populated places like Arabia, Canaan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Whilst the Japethites became the Indo-European peoples, whose god was Iapetos (Greek), Pra-Japati (“Father Japheth”) (Indian), etc. All of us are children of Shem, Ham and Japheth. The following may be genetic proof of this:
In Search of Our "Biblical Common Ancestor"
by Patrick Young, Ph.D.
Several research papers have been published over the years attempting to justify the evolutionist’s idea of human / ape common ancestry via DNA comparisons. Perceived genetic bottlenecks have been identified, which report the existence of a single male and female that all humanity originated from. The titles of Adam and Eve have been given to these perceived male and female ancestors perpetuating significant confusion in both the scientific and religious world.
Well-meaning theologians have mistakenly placed deep religious significance on these conclusions while proclaiming the Genesis account has been confirmed.
Although some of the genetic comparisons may have religious significance, Christians need to realize that several assumptions in the scientific analyses are distinctly evolutionary and hence unbiblical.
Conversely, evolutionists have claimed the confirmation of man’s common ancestry with apes and the establishment of a firm location and timelines. Realistically, a significant amount of the data is subject to conjecture from cladistics, demographic models, and parsimony analysis. Furthermore, several assumptions are made about clock-like mutation rates and the perceived factual nature of human / ape common ancestry.
This discussion will evaluate the scientific methods used to certify these results and determine if the conclusions are justified. Secondly, a religious evaluation of the data will be made so the Christian may comprehend our true ancestral genealogy via the Bible.
In 1987, a group of researchers published a paper reporting their discovery of the common matriarchal ancestor of all living human beings 1. Their theory is based on the use of DNA from the mitochondria to trace all human genetic diversity back to one female, hence the name "Mitochondrial Eve".
Every cell in the body contains tiny organelles called mitochondria ….. These organelles are sites in which nutrients for the body are broken down to create energy for eukaryotic cells2. DNA from the mitochondria is especially interesting because it originates from the ovum3, while nuclear DNA (DNA from the nucleus) is a genetic mixture of all four grandparents4.
The lack of genetic mixing in mitochondria anticipates the offspring will receive an almost exact copy of their maternal grandmother’s DNA except for some possible mutations. Evolutionists believe these mutations occur at a specified rate and thus may be used to determine the age of the female common ancestor.
Mitochondrial Eve is probably not a real person but a mathematical representation of the woman whose original mitochondrial DNA is present in all humans alive today. The report states she is ~200,000 years old and originated in Africa 5.
Several authors report studying various sequences in the paternally inherited Y-chromosome to determine the common ancestor of all males. Although mitochondrial DNA originates only from the mother, it will be assigned to both the males and females of her offspring. Conversely, Y-chromosomes are only transferred through the patriarchal lineage resulting in a less diverse but equally interesting data set some have called "Genetic Adam" ( or "Y-chromosome Adam").
In 1995, Dorit, et al studied a specific intron of 38 separate men containing 729 base pairs from the Y-chromosome 6. Introns are part of the DNA sequence that do not code for proteins or RNA 7. The function of introns and over 95% of DNA is largely unknown and considered by many evolutionists to be molecular "junk" 8. For this reason, Darwinists believe mutations originating from introns will essentially be neutral and not subject to the concerns of natural selection. However, this assumption is not completely valid since a few current studies suggest both functionality and design in these noncoding sequences 9.
More recent Y-chromosome studies concentrate on a series of noncoding haplotypes to form the genetic marker in the analysis 10,11. Haplotyes are a combination of alleles located on the same chromosome and tend to be inherited together 12. The data in these experiments have more statistical credibility because their characteristic mutations add significant weight to the scientific analysis.
"Genetic Adam" is the male version of "Mitochondrial Eve". It is considered the most recent patriarchal common ancestor and is also a mathematical determination. Dates for "Genetic Adam" have ranged from 35,000 to 100,000 years 13,14 depending on the mutation rate and demographics model used.
The techniques mentioned below were used to determine the existence of both "Genetic Adam" and "Mitochondrial Eve". The primary criteria for the acceptance of these methods by evolutionists are, (1) evolution via common ancestry is fact and (2) humans and apes diverged from a common ancestor about 5 million years ago. Obviously, neither one of these parameters can be rectified with the biblical account of Genesis or Christianity. Furthermore, there are other assumptions made in these methods that are questionable even for an evolutionist. The discussion that follows will focus on the overall validity of these methods to draw such far reaching conclusions about "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Genetic Adam".
Cladistics is a technique in taxonomy designed to reconstruct genealogical relationships based on the idea of common ancestry 15. The methodology proposes that all living creatures may be classified based on a set of perceived primitive or derived characteristics found in modern organisms. One of the most common techniques used to judge the significance of certain cladistic trees is called parsimony. The procedure involves creating cladistic data sets of evolutionary trees and assessing the number of mutational changes in each tree. The most parsimonious tree and hence the most desirable, is the one with the least number of mutations 16.
There are several assumptions in parsimony analysis that can result in significant errors. (1) The tree displaying the least number of mutations is considered the correct evolutionary pathway, which may or may not be true. Moreover, there may be more than one tree with maximum parsimony, but demonstrating a very different mutational pathway 17. Even if the assumption of evolution is valid, it is well known the fossil record demonstrates a muddled pathway that is anything but simple.
(2) If a character trait is shared between two taxa, it is assumed to have been derived from a common ancestor 18. Only if the trait is shown to be shared by two taxa and not a third is homoplasy invoked. Sometimes the researcher believes there is tangible evidence a character could have only evolved once. A weighting factor is then used to minimize the effect of homoplasy in the parsimony analysis. Homoplasy is used liberally by evolutionists to explain observed character traits that cannot be explained by common ancestry.
(3) Occasionally, an assumption is made that character traits in evolution are irreversible and can’t revert to the ancestral state 19. Ancestral reversals are another ploy by evolutionists to explain observations that do not fit the common ancestry theory.
The genetic conclusion that the common ancestor for all humans originated from Africa is based on the principle of maximum parsimony. Just how valid is this conclusion? The problem with the data in question is that several other researchers discovered numerous different trees which display maximum parsimony 20. Furthermore, some of these trees do not demonstrate an out of Africa sequence 21. Other researchers have even found trees more parsimonious than the original mitochondrial DNA tree of Cann et al 22. There is also evidence that low level genetic mixing in ancient human populations have confused the DNA such that no conclusion can be made about African origin 23.
The principle of maximum parsimony may provide a viable method to exclude certain evolutionary trees from an experiment, but assuming the simplest tree as correct is not always valid. It is curious the amount of weight this technique has in the biological sciences because it is well documented that evolution (assuming it happens), rarely takes the most efficient route to achieve any type of change.
The idea of homoplasy is a significant problem because there is clear evidence this occurrence is more common than evolutionists care to admit 24. Perceived evolutionary reversals have been observed in the fossil record and assuming they do not exist can result in serious errors.
Homoplasy and reversals appear to be used as crutches by the Darwinian community to explain observed characteristics that do not follow evolutionary dogma. Both of these terms mean nothing to a creationist because if you do not believe in evolution, then evolutionary reversals and homoplasy are impossible.
DNA and Mutations
The foundational premise for a mutation rate is the assumption that gene alteration proceeds via clock-like behavior. If this uniformitarian concept is illegitimate, then any conclusion on the age of the common ancestor will be inaccurate. Recently, it has been discovered the mitochondrial DNA clock rate may not be as constant as originally thought25. A condition called heteroplasmy was discovered in the mitochondrial DNA of a known sample set. Heteroplasmy occurs when an offspring will inherit two different mitochondrial DNA sequences from their mother. Although, it was previously thought to be a rare occurrence, heteroplasmy appears to be a frequent event resulting in a significant acceleration of the mutation rate. As an example, the most widely used mutation rate for mitochondrial DNA assumes humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor ~5 million years ago 26. This equates to one mutation about every 6000 – 12,000 years. Recent studies have confirmed the existence of mitochondrial DNA base pair changes resulting in one mutation every 800 years! If this new mutation rate is used on the "Mitochondrial Eve" data, it changes the recent common ancestor from living 200,000 years ago to just 6000 years 27.
The measurement of DNA mutations to resolve human origins gets even stickier. A mystery the molecular evolutionist needs to solve, is how do you know which DNA sequence is the result of random mutations over millions of years and which sequence has remained static. To obtain this answer, one needs to know what the DNA of the original humans looked like before there were any mutations. The creationist would have difficulty answering this question because he would need to analyze the original DNA of the first man. Since Adam is not around, analyzing his DNA is impossible. Evolutionists however, believe that humans and chimpanzees split from a common ancestor ~5 million years ago. So a comparison of human and chimpanzee DNA will identify the sequences to analyze. Therefore, evolutionists can determine the human common ancestor by assuming they already know (or at least are close to) who the common ancestor is. This is called circular reasoning 28.
Our "Biblical Common Ancestor"
The Bible states the first two humans to walk the earth were named Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had numerous children but only three whose names are explicitly mentioned in the Bible. The book of Josephus actually says Adam and Eve had thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters 42 .
Their first two males of distinction were named Cain and Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, while Cain was a tiller of the ground. Both sons’ were consistent at bringing the fruits of their labor to the Lord. However, God had more respect for Abel’s offering because the animal firstfruits were considered of higher quality. This resulted in Cain being resentful of Abel. The Genesis account goes as follows;
"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass,
when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his
brother, and slew him". (Gen. 4:8)
After Cain slew Abel, God banished him to the land of Nod where he would be a fugitive and a vagabond.
Eve then gives birth to Adam’s third son of distinction and named him Seth. Seth becomes the father of the patriarchal lineage whose names are written in the book of Genesis.
This complete ancestral genealogy is shown in Figure 3 and proceeds all the way to Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. …
Due to the rebellion and unrighteousness of man, God chose to destroy all flesh on the earth except for Noah, his sons and their wives (eight people in all). God commanded Noah to build an ark and design it to house the only humans and animals surviving this great flood.
Since Noah and his sons were the only men surviving the flood, all patriarchal genetic diversity concentrated with Noah. However, the women are more complex. There is no biblical evidence of any sibling or matriarchal relationship among the wives, so their genetic diversity would not intersect at the flood (Figure 4). ….
Although the Bible is silent on this detail, there is not enough evidence to conclude the genetic lineage of women would branch completely back to Eve. ….
Conversely, it is obvious the female genetic diversity does not bottleneck at the flood.
This brands the matriarchal "biblical common ancestor" conceivably to be Eve and the genetic patriarch as Noah. Some theologians attempt to report our patriarchal lineage extends to Adam and generally, this is correct. However, the global deluge enforced a genetic bottleneck of all male ancestors resulting in a more recent patriarchal lineage than matriarchal.
It is interesting to note some secular researchers have attempted to castigate biblical teaching because their data shows "Genetic Adam" was younger than "Mitochondrial Eve". Furthermore, they state these two mathematical creations probably never met and thus demonstrates the Genesis account is in error 43,44. Armed with the correct understanding of Genesis, the Christian can easily refute this misconception and know the Bible continues to be the foundational truth of God.
"Mitochondrial Eve" was identified from a particular gene sequence and suggested as the first female to carry the code which later spread to all living humans. "Genetic Adam" was identified from the sequencing of a small noncoding region of the Y-chromosome that all males carry. Both of these conclusions originate from mathematical derivations and are probably not actual people. Futhermore, this observed intersect could result from one of many possible genetic "bottlenecks" resulting from a catastrophic event and not the original common ancestor at all.
The 200,000-year age of "Mitochondrial Eve" is skeptical because a constant mutation rate is questionable. Any age of "Genetic Adam" is considered dubious because the data in the original study is the weakest portion of the equation. If the data lacks authority, then the model chosen becomes the basis for interpretation resulting in circular reasoning. Since the most important parameters in their equations are weak, any verdict on age and location is suspicious at best. More recent studies on "Genetic Adam" utilize a more diverse sampling group and have minimized the previous weaknesses in the data set. However, the assumption of a constant mutation rate is still suspicious, so any conclusion on age continues to be suspect.
The conclusion "Mitochondrial Eve" originated from Africa via parsimony analysis is dubious at best. It has been demonstrated that the most parsimonious tree does not necessarily point to Africa. Furthermore, evolution (if it is believed) does not always follow the simplest route which questions any conclusion via parsimony analysis.
Cladistics, mutation rates, parsimony analysis, and demographics parameters for "Mitochondrial Eve" / "Genetic Adam" should be taken with a grain of salt by the creationist. The primary criterion is based on the notion that humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor millions of years ago. This opinion is unproven and clearly unbiblical.
Evolutionists believe that DNA similarities between humans and chimpanzees are a confirmation of common ancestry. However, similarity (homology) does not confirm common ancestry (evolution). DNA is the information carrier for the development of organisms. If two organisms are morphologically similar, we would expect their DNA to also be similar. It they are not, then the idea that DNA is the informational blueprint for the body plan is in error. This type of similarity is actually strong evidence for an intelligent designer and not evolution via random mutations.
Adam and Eve are considered the parents of all biblical creation, but due to the flood, Noah became the father of all living by virtue of a genetic bottleneck. The science to determine genetic modification verifies mathematical common ancestors for all living men and women today. Scientific information to date also confirms a more recent heredity for the patriarch than matriarch. Both of these conclusions are not in conflict with the Bible but conversely, they should not be considered as a confirmation of the Genesis account either. ….
[End of quote]
Some Concluding Words
The postdiluvians carried their legends to all corners of the world, including their accounts of the Flood that ‘Creationists’ have shown to have existed in practically every culture. Thus for the Mesopotamians it was the Epic of Gilgamesh, and later, for the Babylonians, Atrahasis. For the Greeks it was the legends of Deucalion and of Ogyges.
We should expect to find a Flood legend also in the sophisticated Egyptian mythology; especially since the Hebrews had brought to the Land of the Nile (through Jacob and Joseph) their own toledôt records, and since Joseph and Moses had been such prominent characters in early Egyptian history. But, strangely enough, ancient Egypt is thought by some to be one of the few nations in which the memory of a universal Flood has not been preserved. Perhaps the accounts are so obvious as to have been missed.
That last, at least, is the view of Fasold (op. cit., pp. 16-17) who has, in regard to one of the myths, pointed out that the name of the begetter of the ‘gods’ of Egypt was Nu, a name that is not dissimilar to Noah (and is virtually identical to the Arabic version of the Flood hero, Nûh). Moreover, the original gods of the Egyptian pantheon were eight in number; eight being also the number saved in Noah’s Ark (cf. Genesis 7:13 & II Peter 2:5). According to Fasold in fact (ibid.):
A closer approximation to the Noah of the Genesis account is hard to imagine. In this regard Noah was the preserver of the seed of mankind .... Noah, or Nu, being one with the original eight gods of the Egyptian pantheon also accounts for Nu being the progenitor of the father of their civilization. These eight were viewed as gods by having passed through the judgment and survived as well as their longevity, which their offspring did not inherit to the same extent. Naturally they were held in awe.
In the light of Sir Wallis Budge’s view that Nu represented the watery mass from which the gods evolved, Fasold was able to add a bit further on, in regard to details about Nu, that: “It takes little imagination to view Nu as directly connected with the watery mass of the Flood, and the ‘bark of millions of years’ as the Ark from ancient times, with the ‘company of gods’ as the survivors”. The ‘goddess’ Nut, the mother of all the living, who accompanied her husband Nu on the voyage, must then stand for Noah’s wife. She, Nut, was also held in high esteem among the gods.
Thus I do not think that the notion of the Egyptians having no remembrance of the Flood can realistically be sustained. Nor is this apparently the only Egyptian version of the Flood. For yet another example, see Yahuda, op. cit., pp. 219-211.
The aborigines of Australia even have their Flood stories, and I wonder if the fabulous Rainbow Serpent of Australian aboriginal folklore, for instance, may have its origins with the brilliant rainbow that appeared in the clouds after the Flood (cf. Genesis 9:13).
Mallowan noted in connection with such Flood legends that (op. cit., p. 63, n. 5):
A convenient summary of early Flood legends in various parts of the world will be found in H. Peake, The Flood (1930), Chapter II, based mainly on the work of Sir James Frazer, Folklore in the Old Testament.
His next statement needs to be kept well in mind however when looking to attribute Flood legends to the different nations (ibid.): “It is interesting that tribal legends in Africa when obviously related to the Old Testament story can be ascribed to the teaching of Christian missionaries and are relatively modern”.