Canadian Rockhound: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries
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  •   Canadian Rockhound - Vol. 5, No. 2


    Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History

    By William Ryan and Walter Pitman
    Reviewed by Marilyn Fraser

    And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold I will destroy them with the earth. And, behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

    In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

    Genesis 6:13, 17; 7:11, 19, 24.
    The Holy Bible, King James version, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London

    Cover photo.

    The book opens with an attention-grabbing fictional prologue ancient people escaping a disasterous flooding pulling the reader into the story. The legend of the great deluge has persisted for millennia. Two geologists show the Flood really did happen. Part One of this book deals with the discovery of the Flood Story. The first chapter brings the reader up to the year 1835 and Henry Creswicke Rawlinson's discovery of ancient inscriptions, the Behiston Rock, in the Zagros Mountains of Persia (This mountain area is in Iran, in Reader's Digest Atlas, 1987.).

    William Ryan and Walter Pitman explain how a tremendous deluge in the Black Sea wiped out a Goddess culture by leading the reader on a fantastic journey of historical and geological discoveries through the years Louis Agazziz's dangerous excursions into Alpine glaciers; the Tigris River's flooding of Baghdad; the adventures of Austen Henry Layard who opened the minds of the Victorian world to the lost treasures of the Tigris and Euphrates, rivers that, according to Genesis, had flowed through the Garden of Eden. We read the history of ancient cities with ancient palaces and their libraries of records, some, like the Gilgamesh saga, on broken pieces of clay and some on worn and stained parchments.

    One reads Part Two as though it were a mystery novel as we follow the geological discoveries that lead to the possiblility, and finally the evidence, of a real flood. A hidden river, a gigantic waterfall, vanished deserts and the Aquanauts all play a role. The geology of the Bosporus is particularly unusual. The description and explanation of the two strong currents flowing in opposite directions, one above the other, through the Bosporus, is wondrous. Drilling cores and using sound waves and dating techniques, the authors reveal clear evidence that the Black Sea had once been a fresh water lake. 7600 years ago the salt ocean visibly rose in Marmara and then roared through the narrow Bosporus, tearing and gouging at the rock to change their history forever. As this "Garden of Eden" became a gigantic sea of death, people fled in every direction dispersing language, myth and memories; and so was born the saga of Gilgamesh.

    Part Three asks many questions such as who was there? Part Four discusses the flood stories told. "... the method here is to start with the catastrophic pouring of salt water through the Bosporus gorge. The rapid and permanent filling of the Black Sea is taken as a fact, deduced from the scientific evidence. The strategy here is to search the mythology to check for any credible Black Sea fingerprints. Are there clues within the myths that might point to a Black Sea origin?" Ryan and Pitman ask.

    According to George Smith whom the authors quote, "The details given in the inscriptions describing the Flood leave no doubt that both the Bible and the Babylonian story describe the same event, and the Flood becomes the starting point for the modern world in both histories." As the authors point out, "...some myths may have a firm foundation in historical events, particularly one as dramatic and devastating as the flood."

    In an Epilogue the authors tell of the traditional ongoing story-telling of Atrahasis, perhaps the oldest preserved account of the flood, on the outskirts of Mari on the Euphrates where the yearly floods are unpredictable. In the marketplace with all gathered around to listen, the poet Nur-Aya begins again to chant the ancient story of the building of a boat and a great flood.

    In an appendix, Ryan and Pitman have provided numerous notes on each chapter of the book and an extensive index. I recommend this book to anyone who is as interested in geology as I am, for reading it is like reading a geological P.D. James thriller.


    • Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History, By William Ryan and Walter Pitman, 2000, Simon & Schuster, New York; Touchstone Canada, Illustrated. 319 pp., ISBN 0-965-077695.

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    Copyright 2001 Marilyn Fraser

    This article may not be copied, distributed or reprinted in any form without the author's permission. To contact the author, please use the e-mail address provided. If you are unable to contact the author, please contact the Canadian Rockhound. Authorized reprints must acknowledge the authors and the Canadian Rockhound, and include the website URL address of the Canadian Rockhound.

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