The Great Flood

This flood, also called the Deluge, is very important to all seafarers, past and present. It is not only Christians who believe in the story. Jews believe in accounts of the disaster described in the Holy Torah whilst Muslims have references in the Koran. The first historical record of the disaster appeared in eighteenth century BC Babylonian writings, whilst the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh is also concerned with a great flood. ‘Flood’ traditions and references exist in 300 different cultures around the world; Ancient Greeks, Romans and Native Americans all have fables of a terrible flood that left only a few survivors. There are suggestions that the Noah flood may have been the same event that destroyed Atlantis. It is the great flood that covered the earth as a mark of God’s wrath toward man for his sins and general iniquity and a sign of God’s regret at having created him in the first place: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air.”

This biblical account is in fact a fusing of two traditions from which a continuous story emerges; for example, in one version the beasts fit for ritual sacrifice are taken into the ark by sevens and the remainder by twos, and it takes seven days for them all to enter the ark; the other tradition lists all the beasts alike in twos, and seemingly these all embark in one day. Only the pious Noah and his wife and Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives were to be spared, along with a male and female animal of each species, by means of a great ship or ark that God ordered Noah to make. This ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, the Hebrew cubit being about 22 inches long—a large vessel even by modern standards.

According to legend, Noah’s wife was unwilling to enter the ark and she and her husband, or so the story goes, had quite a quarrel about it. Chaucer refers to the quarrel in “The Miller’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales: Hastow not herd, quod Nicholas, also The sorwe of Noe with his felawshipe Er that he mighte gete his wyf to shipe? Seven days later the rain began, lasting for forty days and forty nights in the story that is familiar to many of us (in the parallel tradition the flood doesn’t end until after 150 days), a thundering downpour that must have exhausted virtually all of the atmospheric moisture in the heavens at the time. Underground water was caused to flood the earth along with the heavy and continuous rain from above; this flood “prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days” until all the land was inundated and every living thing had perished—except, of course, Noah and his companions in the ark. When the rains stop and the ark comes to rest on the summit of Mount Ararat, Noah sends out a raven, then a dove, but they both return repeatedly, showing that there was still no dry land they could alight on.

Evidence from the bottom of the Black Sea suggests it was once dry land. Was it drowned in Noah’s flood?

A week later he lets the dove go again, and this time it returns with an olive leaf in its beak, a sign to Noah that “the waters were abated from off the earth.” God then instructs Noah to leave the ark, whereupon Noah builds an altar on the newly dry ground and sacrifices animals to show his thankfulness to the creator, who in turn promises that never again would there be such punishment inflicted on mankind (“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth”), and as a sign of this a rainbow appears in the heavens (see The Rainbow in this chapter). Finally Noah and his family and the cargo of livestock are blessed by the creator and given the instruction, in that famous biblical phrase, to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” The ark of Noah derives from the Latin arca, chest, related to arcere, to keep off; hence the ark of Noah that “kept off ” the flood.

An interesting suggestion for the source of “Noah” is Nuah, a moon goddess from Babylonian times, with the subsequent ark being used to ferry men from one world to another, as when Osiris, a principal Egyptian god, ferries the dead to the Otherworld; when Charon ferries his cargo of souls over the River Styx to Hades; and when King Arthur is taken by barge to Avalon. Similar stories of a universal flood that wipes out an errant mankind are to be found in many other cultures. The best-known of these is perhaps the biblical account, briefly summarized above, this being but a variation of the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, a story so old that it predates Homer.

In 1853 twelve clay tablets were discovered in the excavated library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. On these tablets, some of which date back to 2000 B.C., were a number of ancient Babylonian stories and myths, the central hero of which was Gilgamesh, legendary king of Erech or Uruk. Gilgamesh learns that the god Ea has told Utnapishtim, an ancestral being, to build a boat and fill it with his family and relatives, his valuables, and animals both wild and tame; this ark is cube-shaped and measures some 120 cubits along each side (about 220 feet). A storm rages for six days and nights; on the seventh the ark comes to rest on Mount Nisir, whereupon Utnapishtim sends out a dove, which returns, then a swallow, which also returns, followed by a raven, which does not. Greek myth asserts that Deucalion, one of the sons of Prometheus, and his wife Pyrrha both survive the deluge in an ark and become the ancestors of the renewed human race by means of the novel method of casting stones behind them, which then turn into human beings.

Yet another Greek legend, the Ogygian Deluge, has the great flood occurring during the reign of King Ogyges, some two hundred years earlier than the flood that beset Deucalion (see Island of Ogygia, chapter 2). In the Indian Rig Veda (Sanskrit rig, rich = praise; veda, knowledge)—a series of psalms comprising perhaps the oldest document extant among the sacred scriptures of the world’s living religions, dating back to at least 2000 B.C.—the ark of Manu (the ancestor of mankind) is towed to safety by a giant fish that Manu had earlier preserved from death when it was small.

The Norse epic Edda (a word related to the Sanskrit veda) relates the death of Ymir, the first being (a giant, in this case). He is killed by the god Odin and his blood swamps the world, destroying all other beings except Bergelmir and his wife, both of whom survive in a boat and who later bring forth a new race. The Hopi people of Arizona tell how the creator-god Sotuknang destroyed with a flood the inhabitants of a former civilization, the Hopi themselves reaching safety on rafts made from reeds.

Maori legend relates how the god Tawaki vented his anger on humanity for their persistent sin by releasing all the waters of heaven on them, only some selected individuals being permitted to reach safety on rafts. Trow, the mythical ancestor of the Dyak people in North Borneo, finds salvation by crouching in a feed trough until the waters dry out; the Arapaho nation in North America tell of their god Rock being preserved in a vessel made from spiders’ webs and fungi; while the ancestors of the Lithuanians were saved by sheltering in a nutshell; and the forebears of the Chane people of Bolivia floated to safety in a clay pot.

Hawaiian legend tells of Nuu who, with his wife, his three sons and their wives, waited out a world-destroying flood by seeking refuge in a huge ship that he had built; when the waters had subsided their vessel came to rest on Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in those islands (the similarities between this legend and that of Noah are striking). Venezuelan lore records the “Time of the Great Water” in rock carvings on very high cliffs, chiseled there by long-gone artists working from their canoes floating on once-high waters. Scholars have long known of the broad agreement between many flood myths found in many different cultures, especially details concerning the size of the raindrops that fell from the open heavens and the heat of the water released upon the earth.

For example, amongst North American Indians the Sacs and the Fox peoples relate that each drop was the size of a wigwam; Saint John describes the hail that rained from the sky as “every stone about the weight of a talent.” (A talent was an ancient weight, and also a sum of money, of varying value among the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, etc., the later Attic people putting it at about 57 pounds troy weight; Gordon, Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends, suggests that Saint John’s talent was equal to about a hundredweight, some 112 pounds.)

The Zend-Avesta of ancient Persia mentions raindrops the size of a man’s head; the Makah tribe of Washington State and the Vugul people of Finland speak of rain that is boiling hot, as does a Jewish account of the Flood myth and that of the Ipurinas of Brazil. In like manner, Syrian legend tells of huge volumes of water being thrown out from the earth followed by torrential rain pouring from above and drowning everyone, as does also the Koran, wherein quantities of hot water burst from an “oven.” Many of these myths share the common belief that man’s sinful nature was the cause of the Flood that destroyed all life on the planet, except for those few who were chosen by the creator to replenish the earth with people.

Although tradition and mythology has often represented strong circumstantial evidence, recent provable scientific knowledge has been crucial in helping to support the ‘Great Flood’ theory. The scientific approach began in the 1990s when two geologists from Columbia University, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, pieced together clues that they believed suggested a great ancient flood actually did occur. Ryan and Pitman formulated a theory which proposed that the European ice sheets melted about 7,500 years ago as the world rapidly grew warmer following the last Ice Age. The excess water caused the Mediterranean to overflow into the Black Sea which Ryan and Pitman believe was initially a shallow, land-locked fresh water lake with river-fed fertile plains surrounding it.

They suggest that it was a heavily populated area which was completely drowned by the rising sea levels. Ryan and Pitman suggest that as the ice melted, the Black Sea rose by as much as six inches per day, with water rushing in at 200 times the rate of Niagara Falls. Within a year, 60,000 square miles of land was lost under water, and the fresh water basin became a salt-water extension of the ocean. The farmers and settlers who had relied on the natural environment of the area were forced away, not only by rising water levels, but also by the loss of their fresh water resources. Ryan and Pitman believe the ancient lake shoreline now lies around 5,000 feet below the present water level. Sediment core samples take from the centre of the Black Sea have provided fascinating evidence. Plant roots and mud cracks in these samples suggest a dry riverbed covered in a layer of mud, which indicates a great flood.

As a continuation of Ryan and Pitman’s work, the underwater explorer Robert Ballard decided to study the area in 1999. Ballard was the man who discovered remains of the Titanic and, using highly technological equipment, he and his team found a previous coastline 550 feet deep and 20 miles out into the Black Sea. They took samples which included freshwater and saltwater molluscs from the ancient seabed. Apart from the well preserved geographical and oceanographic features of the underwater area which pointed to a coastline flooding gradually, the freshwater molluscs species were carbon dated at an age older than the saltwater molluscs. Scientists also discovered that the fresh water molluscs all seemed to die at the same time, suggesting an immediate change in environment for them. The youngest freshwater shells were found to be 7,460 years old, whereas the oldest saltwater creatures dated from 6,820 years ago.

This suggests the flood happened somewhere between those two dates, confirming Ryan and Pitman’s original theory. Ballard returned to the area in September 2000, and discovered some even more fascinating revelations. They found ancient tools and rubbish sites, and crucially, what may be a prehistoric dwelling. The wooden beamed man-made structure contained ceramic vessels and stone tools and was found 300 feet down. The team referred to it as ‘Noah’s House’, although radiocarbon dating has proved it was too young to be from Noah’s time.

However, it did provide real evidence that the area was inhabited before the ‘Great Flood’ and would have produced witnesses to the catastrophic event. The condition of the house also showed that the flood had happened at such a speed that surface waves had not had time to batter the building before consuming it.

These theories and discoveries offer many fascinating avenues for further study. Anthropologists are interested to see how population movements are caused by terrible disasters and how ancient races have passed on their great tales using only word of mouth. Geologists and oceanographers are fascinated by immense sea-level changes and flood lands, particularly with the looming threat of global warming. For scholars, historians and the religious alike, the confirmation of an amazing Biblical story is a welcome change in an age of legend destroying scientific discovery.

Such a common stock of worldwide beliefs has led various researchers to the notion that the catastrophic deluge that annihilated virtually all living things on earth at some time in the distant past is less myth and more a race memory of an actual event. If it is in fact only myth (so the argument runs) one is left wondering the obvious: how is it that so many disparate and unconnected peoples on the face of the earth persist in relating legends of mass global destruction, legends that all share many points of similarity?

(Source : Seafaring, Lore & Legends; 100 Most strangest Mysteries by Matt Lamy)
(Pics source : Pic 1. taken from The Most Strangest Mysteries page 109 ; Pic 2. taken from The Most Strangest Mysteries Page 110)

Written By Tripzibit on Feb 23, 2009 | 15:49

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6 komentar:

attayaya said...

yup langsung di donlod

Lea said...

I knew that science had verified a world destructive flood, but I didn't know about all the stories of a great flood(other than the Bible's version) from various nations.

Interesting and informative. Thank you for sharing this information.

tripzibit said...

(attayaya) silahkan di-donlod

(Lea) You're welcome

Rob said...

It would explain the presence of things like seashells found on mountaintops.

Hercolubus said...

There are people who thinks that the Great Flood is due to the approaching to the Earth (because of the axis rotation) every sidereal year of a very big planet, some call it Hercolubus.

Check these videos about it:

Hercolubus: the planet of the end of the world


UFO, extraterrestrial and the end of times

Oshayr said...

Both the Mediterranean sea and the black sea flooded (at least in parts, if not mostly) within human existence. Around the million of years that man kind was starting to leave Africa. It is not to hard to imagine, that such a huge flood would have major affects upon the believes of the humans of the time, and would sprout many stories. Which would travel and evolve with the humans to wherever the ended up in the world. One such story evolved into the Epic of Gilgamesh, which anyone who has read it would agree was and older version of the story told in the Old testament, upon which the Jewish, Cristian, and Muslim's stories are based.