Pre-Flood relics on the bottom of the Black Sea?
14 September 2000
Robert Ballard, discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic, has captured the headlines again this year with his findings 300 feet under the surface of the Black Sea. In a telephone interview from his ship, 12 miles off the northern coast of Turkey west of Sinop, Ballard reported that his remotely-operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) had found evidence for human settlement. He reports finding well-preserved artefacts including carved wooden beams, wooden branches and stone tools. He also said he located a collapsed structure “clearly built by humans” in a former river valley beneath the sea.
This exciting discovery provides concrete evidence that people once lived in that now inundated region. It contrasts with last year’s expedition when, due to choppy waves and strong currents, the ROVs were unable to record anything on the sea floor.
Whatever prompted Ballard to search for evidence of human settlement 300 feet under the sea? It started with geologists Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York who suggested that, toward the end of the Ice Age, the Black Sea suddenly rose some 300 feet.
What is remarkable about these reports is the unabashed enthusiasm for linking this Black Sea flood with the Flood of the Bible. The trend started with Pitman and Ryan’s book “Noah’s Flood: The new scientific discoveries about the event that changed history” and has continued with ongoing references to “Noah’s Flood”, a “great flood”, “the biblical Flood”, “the Bible story of Noah”, “biblical Noah”, and the like. This is surprising considering geologists, explorers, researchers and the media are normally very sceptical of the Bible, and disparage creationists who accept literally the Genesis record of Noah’s worldwide Flood. Has there been a sudden change of heart?
Is it Noah’s Flood?
For all the talk, these people still don’t take the Bible seriously. The flood they describe is definitely not the worldwide watery judgment of the Bible. This website has already addressed the fallacious claim that Noah’s Flood was really a local flood in the Black Sea area—see Proof of Noah’s Flood at the Black Sea? More detail can be found in my article, “The Black Sea flood: definitely not the Flood of Noah”, TJ [now Journal of Creation] 14(1):40–44, 2000.
The Bible says that Noah’s Flood was global, but the Black Sea flood was only local. The Bible says the Flood covered the highest mountains, but the Black Sea flood only rose by a few hundred feet. It didn’t even cover the mountains in the local area. The Bible says that Noah built an Ark, but the Black Sea flood needed no such vessel. The water came up so slowly that the residents would have walked to higher land. The Bible says that everyone outside the Ark drowned, but the Black Sea flood simply displaced the residents. The Bible says that only the animals and birds on the Ark survived, but not so with the local Black Sea flood. The Bible says there was forty days of rain, but the Black Sea flood had no rain. The Bible says that the Flood ended when the waters went down and land was dry. But the waters of the Black Sea flood have not gone down yet. The list could go on. There is absolutely no resemblance whatever between the Black Sea flood and the biblical Flood of Noah.
These people know that the Black Sea flood does not fit with the Bible. So how do they justify their claim? Simple. They say the Bible got it wrong. They do not read the Bible as an accurate historical document of a global Flood. Their link with Noah’s Flood is totally arbitrary. They need a flood, so presto, pluck Noah’s Flood out of the air. It is a good flood to pick, because it creates a lot of interest. By saying that Noah’s Flood was a local flood, do they think they can dismiss the implications of the real global Flood described in the Bible, viz. that God judges human sin?
Even their claim that the Black Sea flood is the basis for flood legends does not make sense. Almost every culture on Earth includes an ancient flood story. Details vary, but the basic plot is the same. The classic example is the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, but there are flood stories among the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and even the Irish. Although a long stretch of the imagination, it may be possible to envisage these legends originating from the Black Sea flood some 7,000 years ago. But what about the flood legends of the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines? The latter supposedly entered Australia 40,000 years ago, some 30,000 years before the Black Sea flood. Was there a good news service in “Neolithic” times that carried the stories “down under”? The explanation cannot even account for the flood legends. It makes more sense that all the legends are corrupted memories of the true, worldwide Flood of Noah, as recorded in the Bible.
What really happened?
If we accept that the Black Sea flooded towards the end of the Ice Age, we can link it with biblical chronology and the true history of the world. There is a good case for the Ice Age being post-Flood. Ussher’s Bible-based chronology places the Flood of Noah at 2348 BC, and creationist research suggests that the Ice Age took 500 years after the Flood to reach its maximum and a further 200 years to melt back. (Remember these are estimates only.) Thus, the Black Sea flood occurred after most of the continental ice sheets had melted, thereby raising ocean levels and allowing the Mediterranean to spill into the Black Sea some 700 years after the Flood.
So, with the Flood at 2348 BC, the Ice Age peak would have been around 1850 BC and the melt back completed by 1650 BC at which time the Black Sea area flooded. The discrepancy between this and the published date of 5600 BC (7,600 years ago) for the Black Sea flood is because the date of the Black Sea flood is based on 14C analyses. The problem is that the 14C dates have not been corrected for the increase in the atmospheric ratio of 14C/12C following the Flood. The sudden burial of masses of vegetation changed the balance in the carbon reservoirs on the earth, and equilibrium is still being approached. Properly corrected 14C dates would agree with the biblical date. Thus, the Black Sea flood is one of many post-Flood catastrophes that have occurred around the world (e.g., Siberian mammoths, Iceland’s mega-flood).
It is clear from the geological investigations that there is a good case for a sudden drowning of the Black Sea Shelf thousands of years ago. The weight of evidence is compelling, even more so now with Ballard’s reports of definite signs of human habitation beneath the water.
But the link with Noah’s Flood is wrong—nothing but wild, unsubstantiated speculation. Not one of the characteristics of the Black Sea flood matches the tell-tale signature of the Flood described in the Bible. The assertion that the biblical record is just a corrupted version of flood legends derived from their Black Sea flood is both wrong and arrogant. That doesn’t even explain how flood legends arose, especially those in places like America and Australia. On the contrary, the flood legends are corrupted recollections of the one-and-only worldwide Flood, the true account of which is faithfully recorded in the Bible.
Rather than Noah’s Flood, the Black Sea evidence points to a local, post-Flood catastrophe at the end of the Ice Age around 1650 BC.