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

4.2 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


David Brown

The Washington Post

A fascinating lesson in geology, oceanography, archaeology, and inductive reasoning.

Amanda Heller

The Boston Globe

A complex but thoroughly plausible solution to this intriguing mystery in a narrative of surprisingly dramatic intensity.

Philip Morrison and Phylis Morrison

Scientific American

As engaging as it is important...exciting...full of surprises, rivalries, and partnerships.

Richard Ellis

The New York Times Book Review

An interesting and provocative story...Ryan and Pitman have thoroughly researched every aspect of this intricately woven story. They are articulate, enthusiastic, and dedicated.

From the Back Cover

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684859203
  • ASIN: B001O9CEB4
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,404,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Edelman TOP 500 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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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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Format: Paperback
This book is an absolute gem: a highly readable scientific detective story. During the last ice age, the fall in global sea levels cut the Black Sea off from the Mediterranean. With evaporation exceeding inflows, the level of the lake fell by perhaps as much as 500 feet. Fed by glacial melt water, overtime the Black Sea became a fresh water lake. Then some 7,500 years ago as global sea levels rose following the end of the ice age, the Mediterranean again breached the Bosporus Strait, and salt water poured into the fresh water lake, killing all life and raising the sea level to its current mark. The bulk of the flooding took place in a matter of weeks. If this were the whole story, it would be interesting enough, but Ryan and Pitman push it further. They argue that 7,500 years ago Neolithic farming communities that spoke the proto Indo-European language inhabited the Black Sea region. The rapid flood triggered mass migrations of early Indo-European farmers out of the region and gave birth to the flood myths found not only in the Bible, but also in many other cultures where flood myths pre-date the Old Testament version such as the Gilgamesh epic. If Ryan and Pitman are correct, the Black Sea may turn out to be the long sort for homeland of the Indo-European language
The first part of this story is now well-verified scientific fact. The second part is much more speculative, but it is speculation that is consistent not only with the flood mythology, but also significant archeological, linguistic, and genetic evidence. Ryan and Pitman do a wonderful job of documenting the mass of evidence is a manner that is engaging and accessible to the lay reader.
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