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Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History
by William Ryan, Walter Pitman

Published: 2000-01-25
Paperback : 320 pages
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Over the millennia, the legend of a great deluge has endured in the biblical story of Noah and in such Middle Eastern myths as the epic of Gilgamesh. Now two distinguished geophysicists have discovered a catastrophic event that changed history, a gigantic flood 7,600 years ago in what is ...
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Introduction

Over the millennia, the legend of a great deluge has endured in the biblical story of Noah and in such Middle Eastern myths as the epic of Gilgamesh. Now two distinguished geophysicists have discovered a catastrophic event that changed history, a gigantic flood 7,600 years ago in what is today the Black Sea.

Using sound waves and coring devices to probe the sea floor, William Ryan and Walter Pitman revealed clear evidence that this inland body of water had once been a vast freshwater lake lying hundreds of feet below the level of the world's rising oceans. Sophisticated dating techniques confirmed that 7,600 years ago the mounting seas had burst through the narrow Bosporus valley, and the salt water of the Mediterranean had poured into the lake with unimaginable force, racing over beaches and up rivers, destroying or chasing all life before it. The rim of the lake, which had served as an oasis, a Garden of Eden for farms and villages in a vast region of semi-desert, became a sea of death. The people fled, dispersing their languages, genes, and memories.

The Deluge of Noah has long been one of the points of tension between geology and Christianity. Scientific diluvianism--the theory that the earth's history was shaped by a universal flood--collapsed in the early 19th century, well before Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species. Since that time, scientists and historians have assumed that the flood story derived from local events in Mesopotamia.

In 1997, geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan proposed the first truly novel interpretation of the flood in over 150 years. Their studies of sediments in the Black Sea convinced them that the body had been a freshwater lake until about 5600 B.C. When the rising waters of the Mediterranean broke through the Bosporus, "ten cubic miles of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls."

With great intellectual daring, Pitman and Ryan have moved outside of their academic niche to suggest that this event had enormous consequences for human history. They marshal evidence from archeology, mythology, linguistics, and agriculture to describe a flood-driven diaspora of early farmers. Subsets of these people became (variously) proto-Indo-Europeans, Sumerians, Beaker People, Vincas, Tocharians--the founders of the early cultures of Europe and western Asia. --Mary Ellen Curtin

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Why did the authors turn the process of finding the information into a narrative? Would a straight thesis and support have been interesting?
What did the authors learn themselves vs. what did they pull in from other fields? Are the archaeological, genetic, linguistic, etc. supports necessary to tell their story?
It's been known for a long time that the flood account in the bible corresponded to accounts in other ancient writings; why did the authors title it "Noah's Flood"?
by SueIsaac (see profile) 06/19/12

What are the prose and cons of the writing style used by the authors?
by KeaKiya (see profile) 06/19/12

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Flood?, yes; ark?, not the topic here.
by SueIsaac (see profile) 06/19/12
This book describes the many contributions leading to the authors' theory that a catastrophic, permanent flood was the basis of ancient flood myths in several cultures.
maps
by KeaKiya (see profile) 06/19/12
It would be helpful to have a variety of color maps, both political and topographical, of the areas that are subjects of the book. Rock candy, mussels, and clams (and seaweed for vegetarians) might be some appropriate foods to accompany your discussion!

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Fascinating account that needed tighter editing"by SueIsaac (see profile) 06/19/12

Our club just had a spirited discussion of Noah's Flood. Some members were more intrigued by the geology, others by the language elements, still others by the world-wide scope of information assembled... (read more)

 
  "Don't let the title fool you!"by KeaKiya (see profile) 06/19/12

I learned so much, despite (or because of) gaps in my knowledge of the sciences, history, and religious history!

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