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Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History Paperback – Bargain Price, January 25, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 25, 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0684859203
  • ASIN: B001O9CEB4
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,153,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Archeologists have long sought to prove that the great flood described in Genesis and in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh was a historic event. Columbia University geologists Ryan and Pitman weigh in with a highly conjectural theory that seems as good as any other, if no better. Around 5600 B.C., they maintain, Noah's flood occurred when rising Mediterranean waters roared through the narrow Bosporus Strait, transforming the Black Sea, then a freshwater lake, into a bloated saltwater body. Taking a cue from Australian prehistorian Gordon Childe, who posited that Europe's first farmers came from Asia, the authors contend that the Black Sea at the time of the alleged flood was a fertile oasis, a cultural magnet where diverse peoples?farmers, animal breeders, artisans?exchanged techniques and possibly genes. They point to the sudden appearance in Europe, shortly after 5600 B.C., of "outsider" tribes, advanced farmers who, the theory goes, were fleeing the flooded Black Sea region. Other flood refugees, in this scenario, migrated to Russia's steppes, Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Middle East, preserving memory of the catastrophe in mythic and oral traditions later enshrined on clay tablets and ultimately in the Bible. Ryan and Pitman base their theory partly on radiocarbon dating of marine sediments that they collected in 1993 during a Black Sea expedition and partly on Ice Age climatic patterns, modern linguists' quest for a proto-Indo-European mother tongue and genetic studies of population migrations over the millennia. Their complicated detective tale is intriguing, but much more solid evidence would be required to convince skeptics. Illustrated with drawings by Anastasia Sotiropoulos and maps by William Haxby. Agent, Roger Jellinek.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book reads like a mystery novel.
Dianne Foster
There were, of course, many accounts of a great flood, including the story in the epic of Gilgamesh, some of whose elements are confirmed by Ryan and Pitman's work.
Richard B. Schwartz
This was a response to another's review which I completely disagreed with who claimed this book was sensationalist!
Signa W. Pendegraft

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Archeology is not one of my major interests, yet I found this book both fascinating and compelling; Pitman has created a compelling narrative, combining historical, archeological and scientific discoveries. The story begins with the discovery and translation in the early 19th century of the ancient Persian histories and legends. One of these- the legend of Gilgamesh, an ancient Persian king- stunned the Western world with its tale of a great flood that closely paralled the Biblical flood told of in Genesis.
The second piece of the puzzle came from geological research in the 1960s and 70s. This was the stunning discovery that the Mediterranean was once a desert that had been turned into a sea in one cataclysmic event. This in turn suggested that there may well have been other such events during the time of human habitation, including one massive flooding that was the basis of all the flood stories found in all the cultures of Europe and Asia.
Starting from that discovery, the authors explore the geological, historical and linguistic data in search of the event or events that became the basis for all flood legends of the Mideast, and explore the possibility that it was just such a flood that motivated a great exodus of people that eventually populated areas as far away as Western Europe and China.
The authors have been deeply involved in this research from the beginning, with one (Ryan) having been aboard the Glomar Challanger in the 1970s when the evidence of the great Mediterranean deluge was discovered. They do an excellent job not only of explaining the scientific data, but of sharing the real excitement of discovery that they have felt. Highly recommended for students of geology, archeology, ancient history, classics and biblical studies, as well as the casual educated reader looking for an excellent tale of scientific and historical discovery.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on April 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Imagine standing on a the crest of a long hill. To one side is a broad, deep valley, a lake glistening in the morning sun. On the other side is the sea, the wind whipping the surf against the hill. One large wave sweeps up the beach into a cleft. Seawater pushes over the top, cascading into the valley, 150 metres below. Following waves enlarge the opening - within hours there's a steady flow of seawater. In days, the cascade is a deafening roar and the distant lake is rising 15 cm per day. People are fleeing as villages and fields are swept away or drowned forever. It's an event you will recount to your grandchildren.

This is the scenario postulated by Ryan and Pitman that transpired less than seven thousand years ago. The Ice Age, they remind us, tied up immense amonts of sea water, dropping coastlines and leaving lowlands isolated. The cold, dry air spilling off the glaciers swept over a freshwater lake northeast of the Mediterranean Sea. The lake evaporated faster than the rivers feeding it could replace. Ultimately, the lake's surface was far below sea level, but the sea was restrained by a land barrier. Once breached, the salty ocean water poured through what is now the Bosphorus to flood the lake's basin. At its height, the flow must have been ten times that of Niagra Falls and gushed through the break at over 70 kph. Evacuation of settlements scattered populations in many directions. The Tigris-Euphrates valley provided one major refuge. There, people settled and the story of the great flooding would have been paramount in their legends.

The revelation of how a flood myth became so important in the arid lands of Mesopotamia and Palestine was slow in exposure. The authors narrate the explorations of early researchers in these areas.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nils Young on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Near the end of their chronicle of the discovery of the catastrophic Black Sea flood, authors Pitman & Ryan quote another researcher's wonder at the power of the oral tradition. The quote, from Albert Lord's analysis of the Trojan War epic, speaks to Pitman's and Ryan's research and their part in the oral tradition.
In truth, the story of the Black Sea covers more than plate tectonics, glaciation, human evolution or ten cubic miles of water flowing through a narrow channel in less than a day over seven thousand years ago. The neat trick with this book is that the authors have managed to include all that and more.
There are really two stories here. One is about the evolution of the human species from the Pleistocene to the present day, told in scientific language with scientific explanations for the actions & discoveries of the story's scientific participants. The other story is an epic tale of crafty researchers, cooperating scientists, story-tellers, myths and legends, told in skillfully written & documented prose that sweeps the reader along in the current of human successes, failures & terrors.
Beginning with Rawlinson's work in 1835 on a monument in Persia, Pitman & Ryan weave the reader through a fabric of time that is, as Lord is quoted saying, a past "of various times . . . assembled into the present performance." Using this motif, the authors introduce themselves only as two participants in a story of discovery, narrated by a fictive bard who is present only in the words. However the authors' parts in the discovery of the Black Sea flood event deserves respect. Meanwhile they have written a book that shows the respect they have for all who have been part of the story. Most importantly, they also have not forgotten the story itself.
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