'Titanic' Explorer Sets Out To Prove Noah's Flood Formed The Black Sea

ArthurASCII

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This looks like a really interesting expedition.

Here's the info from a news article in the Indy today:

Explorer who discovered the 'Titanic' sets out to prove that Noah's flood formed Black Sea

By David Usborne
23 July 2003

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=426749

The Bible tells us how the Great Flood happened, compelling Noah to herd all of animal life into his Ark.

The skies opened and it rained incessantly, in fact for 40 days and 40 nights. But some scientists have another theory altogether and this week an expedition will leave for the Black Sea to try to prove it.

Among the team will be Robert Ballard, the American underwater explorer who became famous when he found the Titanic beneath the Atlantic in 1985. He will be going with a special piece of equipment, a remote excavating submarine namedHercules.

No one disputes that the Black Sea was once a fresh-water lake that in ancient times became inundated by the salty Mediterranean. The arguments have been over how quickly it happened - was it only gradual? - and in what period. Until recently, most experts dated the flood to about 9,000 years ago.

But Mr Ballard thinks it was more recent, perhaps 7,500 years ago, which could more credibly make it the same flood that gave us the story of Noah. Moreover, he thinks it was sudden. As the ice age ended, sea levels rose and a strip of land dividing the Mediterranean and the Black Sea was breached.

It was, according to Mr Ballard, 61, a truly cataclysmic event. Previous expeditions tell us that the invasion of Mediterranean waters pushed up water levels in the Black Sea basin by about 500 feet (155 metres) and drowned about 60,000 square miles.

Mr Ballard thinks it was so rapid that salt water pushed in with 200 times the force of the Niagara Falls and that the rate of increase in the water level was six inches a day.

Demonstrating all of this is hard. And Mr Ballard faces scepticism from several quarters. Critics accuse of him pursuing the Noah's Flood legend for the sake of the inevitable publicity. He has never suggested that he will find the actual Ark. But even the vaguest possibility is enough to stir excitement.

Indeed, the $5m (£3.1m), two-week expedition, which begins from the Turkish Black Sea port of Sinop on Sunday, has been set up to garner maximum worldwide attention.

Its progress will be watched live by academics, archaeologists and even schoolchildren around the globe, thanks to a satellite link from the expedition's ship to a nerve-centre at the University of Rhode Island in the United States.

Mr Ballard says the relay is vital because it will allow as many specialists as possible to analyse what he uncovers. "Exploration by its very nature means you don't know what you're going to find," he said. "So in fact it's very probable you're not going to have the right mix of scientists when you make a discovery."

There will also be film crew on board and a full television series is planned for next year.

Sinop, a scenic and popular tourist destination, was chosen because it might have been an important hub for north-south trading across the Black Sea among ancient civilisations. Local populations may have sent olive oil, honey and iron in small amphora-like jars northwards in return for wine and other foods.

Archaeological activity became possible when the Black Sea was opened up with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The interest in exploring beneath its waves was all the more intense because the waters are not oxygenated, offering the prospect of shipwrecks and other remains that should be perfectly preserved. Indeed, what lies beneath the Black Sea could help archaeologists and historians to fill in blanks about periods of human existence going as far back as the Bronze Age and spanning the Roman and Byzantine empires.

Leading this latest expedition with Mr Ballard, is Fredrik Hiebert, a professor of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania. He hopes to relocate wrecks that have already been identified, including one called "Shipwreck D", which has already revealed an intact and intricately carved mast protruding from the seabed.

He and Mr Ballard also plan to return to another earlier find - an arrangement of stones about 330 feet beneath the water that might have been a human dwelling. Critical to the venture is Hercules. A remote-controlled submersible, it is just 7 feet long from tip to tail and was built by Mr Ballard at the Robert Ballard Institute for Exploration, in Mystic, Connecticut. The plan is to send it down as far as the stone settlement. Equipped with lights and cameras, the vessel will send pictures to the ship and back to Rhode Island.

In addition, the Hercules has two remote-controlled arms, which will excavate around the site. "If we're successful with this, we're going to change the field of archaeology," Mr Hiebert said. "It's open coastlines all over the globe" for further expeditions.

Mr Ballard first located the stone settlement during an earlier expedition in 2000. It consists of quarried square stones arranged in a rectangle of 33 feet by 40 feet (10 by 12 metres) on a rocky outcrop.

He is hopeful that he will be able to trace the site to a period about 7,500 years - which would bolster his theory that there were human habitations on the shore of the old lake before the flood struck and the area was drowned. "Mother nature does not make square stones," he commented. "Humans make them."

Mr Ballard is not entirely alone in his beliefs. In 1997, the same theory to support the origin of the Noah legends was rehearsed in Noah's Flood, a book written by two leading American marine biologists, Walter Pitman and William Ryan. They concluded that the flood devastated the area 7,150 years ago. But there are problems with the idea. The Bible, for example, tells us that Noah lived in the arid deserts of Mesopotamia - in what is modern-day Iraq - whereas the Turkish shores of the lake where the Black Sea is today would have been lush with vegetation.

"The Noah's Flood idea is very sexy one, but it's wrong," Ali Aksu, a geologist at Memorial University in Newfoundland, told Newsweek.

He says that he can demonstrate that the Black Sea was already at current levels 7,500 years ago. Nor, he says, was there ever a dramatic and sudden flood.

Water from the Mediterranean, Mr Aksu counters, sloshed back and forth over countless years.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The University of Rhode Island has a news article here:

http://www.news.uri.edu/releases/html/03-0716.html


Does anyone know how one might access the live info?
 

filcee

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A quick google shows quite a few references to Robert Ballard, this site appears to be the official website for the 2003 expedition. The Mission Updates section will have live updates from July 28.
The story of the flood is not restricted to the judaeo-christians and Noah. The most famous alternative is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest written record of which dates from around 4500 years ago (the Noah version was first recorded about 3500 years ago, relating events which supposedly occurred 4500 years ago). Another alternative is the story of Ziusudra, a Sumerian king who reigned about 5000 years ago.
All these stories share similarities, although there are also discrepancies (Noahs flood lasted 40 days and nights (a significant period of time in Hebrew law), the others only 6 days), and it would appear they all reflect broadly the same event.
 
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Bob Ballard's been up to this sort of caper for a while hasn't he?

There was a documentary repeated on Discovery yesterday about his efforts to find a perfectly preserved ancient ship at the base of the black sea.
 

stu neville

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Ballard's that rare thing: a scientist respected in his own scientific community, who's genuinely enthusiastic about his field and can communicate both the science and the enthusiasm in understandable terms without patronising or alienating anyone. On top of that, he has the ability to embark on projects like this whilst maintaining objectivity and avoiding grandiose predictions of the outcome.

Fairest of play to the bloke: we could all do with a great many more like him :).
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Black Sea mystery


By Richard C. Lewis
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Four years ago, scientists thought they had found the perfect place to settle the Noah flood debate: A farmer's house on a bluff overlooking the Black Sea built about 7,500 years ago — just before tidal waves inundated the homestead, submerged miles of coastline and turned the freshwater lake into a salty sea.

Some thought the rectangular site of stones and wood could help solve the age-old question of whether the Black Sea's flooding was the event recounted in the biblical story of Noah.

That story told of a calamitous flood occurring over 40 days and nights. Scientists largely had dismissed that theory, arguing the Black Sea filled gradually with gently rising waters. That wisdom was rocked, however, when two scholars said several years ago that the Black Sea's flooding was more recent — and so rapid and widespread that it forced people to move as far away as mainland Europe.

Scientists who, in the summer of 2003, visited the underwater site off the northern Turkish coastal town of Sinop couldn't arrive at any conclusions. The settlement, about 330 feet underwater, was "contaminated" by wood that had drifted into the area, foiling any attempt to accurately date the ruin — and thus date the flood.

"We were not able to get a smoking gun," said Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer and discoverer of the Titanic, who led the million Black Sea expedition.

But the trip was successful nonetheless, and the scientists are preparing to publish their findings early next year.

Mr. Ballard heralded the work of Hercules, an underwater excavator that was used for the first time. The 7-foot robot gingerly dug around the deep-water ruins and retrieved artifacts using pincers outfitted with sensors that regulated the pressure they exerted — much like a human hand.

Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeology fellow at National Geographic, said the mechanical excavator's success ushers in a new era in ocean archaeology.

"We now have the technical capabilities to excavate scientifically in underwater environments," the former University of Pennsylvania professor said. "We've moved beyond the grab-and-look part of [underwater] archaeology."

The team also used high-definition cameras, a new Internet bandwidth and satellite hookups to link scientists and schoolchildren live to the mission — the first time all such technologies had been employed simultaneously on an expedition.

On another leg of the journey, the explorers took a closer look at a 1,500-year-old trading vessel that they say is the best preserved ship of the Byzantine period ever located.

Scientists were especially interested in this site, dubbed "Shipwreck D," because the Black Sea's unique, oxygenless water leaves everything on the bottom mostly intact. Shipwreck D is so well-preserved that cord tied in a V-shape at the top of the trading vessel's wooden mast is still visible.

Researchers noted that the ship's planks are coated with a substance thought to be wax, an indication that the merchants were transporting honey, said Cheryl Ward, a maritime archaeologist at Florida State University who led the study of Shipwreck D and three other ship ruins nearby.

Hercules brought up six amphoras — slender, carrot-shaped shipping jars — from which the sediment will be analyzed for traces of pollen that would solidify the honey theory.

Miss Ward thinks the ship could have been part of a transport fleet for a family-owned grocery store.

"These were like the 18-wheelers that hauled our food from production to market," Miss Ward, 43, explained by telephone from an archaeological dig in Turkey.

She thinks the boat was one of hundreds plying the Black Sea in the 5th and 6th centuries in a frenetic outburst of commercial activity, as Rome ordered more taxes to be collected from its eastern province. The edict spawned a boom in local production and trading among communities across the Mediterranean and north to the Crimea.

"It was a very, very dynamic time," Miss Ward said. "It's like the early '90s Silicon Valley takeoff, [when] everyone had a lot of great ideas.

"It proves we're part of a longtime continuum of humanity."

Mr. Ballard, 62, hoped he would draw a more definitive line to the Noah flood theory that the trip's main sponsor, National Geographic, had highlighted to spur public interest in the expedition.

Scholars agree that the Black Sea flooded when rising world sea levels caused the Mediterranean to burst over land and fill the then-freshwater lake. The flood was so monstrous it raised water levels by 509 feet and submerged up to 58,000 square miles of land, an area roughly the size of the state of Georgia.

But scholars are divided on when the flood occurred and how rapidly. Most thought it took place about 9,000 years ago and was gradual. But Columbia University marine geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan wrote in 1997 that the flood was sudden and took place about 7,150 years ago. The scientists' conclusions reinvigorated the Noah flood debate.

Mr. Hiebert had hoped wood pieces from the suspected homestead would prove it was built before the flood, which would help date the event once and for all. But some of the retrieved pieces dated to after the flood, meaning that no one can say exactly when the settlement had been built.

Also, scientists found nothing that could have established whether the site was a human settlement.

"We didn't find a farmer or his tools," Mr. Ballard said.

Still, scientists are puzzled as to why a ruin, then located on a 40-foot rise and at the mouth of a river, would be anything but an ancient, well-situated home. They don't understand how the debris floated in and settled around the site, especially considering that there was no other similar pile of underwater matter for miles around.

Mr. Ballard ponders this in his office at the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Conn., where a 4-foot-long amphora from the 1st century B.C. is encased under the glass table where he sits.

"We found the [ancient] shore. And we did find a hill. And we found a thing on top of the hill. Did we just not pick up the right thing?"
http://washingtontimes.com/culture/20041019-103111-2577r.htm
 

brianellwood

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Interesting, if inconclusive. Thanks for the update.
There are so many flood legends, some even closer to home with the Breton isle of Ys, cornish Lyonesse and the flood in the Mabinogion, though I imagine these were much more recent.
 

pintquaff

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What ever happened with that expidition to find the ark???
 

pintquaff

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Satalites took some pictures of what appears to be a long shape in the snow on the side of Mt Ararat. These are what is prompting the search there, evidence of something odd up there.
 

stu neville

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PintQuaff said:
What ever happened with that expidition to find the ark???
Which one? There's been a fair few - we've got threads about it here, and here, and here, and here.

Should merge them all really...



Mind you, someone else would prob complain about it...
 

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An ancient flood defence which failed.

About 7000 years ago, seas were rising all over the world. Ice age glaciers were melting, and the ocean crept up shorelines and toward people’s homes on every inhabited continent.

Now, archaeologists have discovered the earliest known defense against those rising seas: a 7000-year-old sea wall built to protect a farming village from worsening storm surges and encroaching saltwater from the Mediterranean Sea. Ultimately, however, the wall failed. It now lies drowned off the coast of Israel, along with the rest of the village it was meant to protect.

“All the different kinds of responses we see toward sea level rise 7000, 8000, 9000 years ago—we’re still seeing all those same responses today,” says Amy Gusick, an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum in Los Angles, California, who studies this period around California’s Channel Islands. They, too, are stopgaps, she notes. “It’s a lesson for us.”

Many drowned ancient villages lie off the northern coast of Israel, which was dotted with farming settlements at the time, says Ehud Galili, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa in Israel. Often they are blanketed by about 1 meter of sand, which helps preserve the ruins but also hides them, until a storm briefly sweeps them clean. “If you are in the right place at the right time, you can see the exposed features,” which look like dark patches in the water, Galili says.

He and his team first discovered the sea wall in 2012, in a submerged settlement called Tel Hreiz that extends as far as 90 meters offshore in up to 4 meters of water. After a winter storm, they raced out with scuba gear to document as much of the village and wall as they could in the 2 days the area was free of sand. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/7000-year-old-wall-was-earliest-known-defense-against-rising-seas-it-failed
 
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