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In Search of Noah's Flood (How to Make a Mess o' Potamia)


Doug1066
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I am putting this thread on "Noah's Flood" here because it has more to do with climate than it does with Noah.

For Hart:  The missing observations on the Palermo Stone make it impossible to determine outlier status of the observations using a normal distribution.  There are a number of flood distribution models that might fit the data, but I can't fit one until I obtain the data.  Once this is done, outlier status of each observation can be determined.

Data: The Palermo Stone covers the period 3000BC (4950YBP) to 2480BC (4430YBP), 520 years.  The stone provides a record of flood heights at Thebes.  There are 63 observations of the height of Nile floods, or 12.1% of the years involved. The basis of these observations appears to be ground level in front of the Temple of Karnak.  I have found a copy of Breasted's English translation of the Palermo Stone and am awaiting a response from ILL.  The Palermo Stone has the oldest historical climate record (Nile flood heights) in existence.  To go back beyond 3000BC requires proxies, such as sediment cores and tree rings.  The Near East was coming out of a wet period when the floods recorded on the Palermo Stone occurred.  "Noah's Flood" was likely the last really large flood from that period.  But there were other floods before that that may have been larger.  I will try to sort those out using sediment records.  Besides the Palermo Stone, there are two flood-level marks on the Great Temple at Karnak.  These are well above the levels indicated on the Palermo Stone.  Whether they indicate an actual flood remains to be determined.  In any case, if they're authentic, the top of the temple remained above water.

Accounts of a large flood preserved in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh will have to be regarded as myths and legends.  Even if the occurrence of a large flood can be confirmed, there is no way to know what people said and did.  Also, no way to know if the flood we find is the one referred to in the legends.  There are tar (bitumin) seeps in the Tigris-Euphrates valley.  If we're interested in finding where "Noah" built his ark, it would have to be near one of these.  The "boat" formation at Durupinar was probably what gave rise to the original legend of the Ark.  Claims of finding iron fittings at the site forget that this was the Bronze Age.

Wooley, the famed archeologist who excavated ruins in the Fertile Crescent, may have stumbled on deposits from a large flood.  The flood we're interested in left deposits that are now 3 to 5 meters below the surface and 3 to 4 meters thick in most places.  Wooley's flood layer was up to 17 meters thick in one place and non-existent in another.  I will have to read his writings to figure out if this is the flood we're interested in.

Sediment cores:  there are sediment cores available from Lake Van in Turkey, the Dead Sea and the Fayum Depression (On Google Earth, the Fayum Depression is the green spot west of the Nile.).  I am still searching and hope to find ones for the Sea of Galilee, Lake Chad and maybe some others.  The Fayum Depression is a closed desert basin separated from the Nile by a low divide.  During dry periods the river does not get high enough to overflow the divide, but during wet periods floods can overtop the divide, filling the basin and creating unconformities in the strata.   As flood waters pass over inundated land, they pick up salt from the soil, the bigger the flood, the more salt.  As water in the basin evaporates, salt from the water becomes more concentrated and is trapped in the sediments.  This salt affects the sediment's electrical resistance making it possible to determine the size of the flood from the electrical resistance of the mud it left behind.  Age of the different strata can be determined using 14C and by comparing with marker layers, such as the ash from Thera, Lacher See or other volcanoes whose eruption dates are known.

The Dead Sea is well-known for its varves (alternating dark and light bands in the sediment).  These can be measured to tell how much sediment was washing into the sea and the years that that occurred.

I have searched the tree ring library for Ethiopia (source of the Nile).  There are only four chronologies and none of them go back far enough.  I will search neighboring countries as time allows.  There is an inverse relationship between weather/climate in the Near East and weather in North America.  Thus, drought in North America should match up to flooding in Mesopotamia.  "Noah's Flood" did not cover the entire world.

I am inviting anyone who wants to contribute to the effort to comment.

Doug

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Posted (edited)

I spent a good part of yesterday looking for useable chronologies.  There aren't very many that go back that far.

The Hohenheim Oak-Pine Chronology goes back 12,470 years, all the way through the Holocene into the Ice Age, about half way through the Younger Dryas Cold Period.  It would be the perfect choice, but is restricted by some squirrely European copyright laws.  It seems that the landowners where the 5000 or so trunks were found retain copyright ownership of the data.  It can't be released without permission from each one of them.  Frustrating to know the data exists but you can't use it.

White Mountain 1 and the Methuselah Walk chronologies are available from NCDC for free.  White Mountain 1 goes back 7104 years to about 5135 BC, about 2329 years beyond the 2800BC flood.  It covers most of the Holocene.  I already have a copy that is ready to use.  Methuselah Walk goes back 8837 years, covering 6827BC to 2010AD.

Tornetrask goes back 7400 years, covering the period 5407BC to 1997AD.  There is a six-year discrepancy between the White Mountain/Methuselah Walk and Tornetrask at the 2800BC point.  This may require some reconciling.

The Irish Oak Chronology almost reaches far enough back, falling short by about 50 years, still that may allow identification of some of the more-recent floods on the Palermo Stone.  

There are some other chronologies I haven't checked out yet, but I think we have good coverage of about half of the Holocene.

 

Only about 5% of Nile floods produced damage.  The Palermo Stone lists 12.1% of floods occurring from 3000BC to 2480BC.  Assuming that the stone lists the most-important floods, only about 26 of those listed would be damaging.  I will try to identify those in the tree ring record.

Doug

Edited by Doug1066
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I found a set of plates showing the Palermo Stone and three fragments - eight plates (2 sides each).  But they're all in hieroglyphics which I can't read.  This evening I found some instructions on how to read the numbers and where on the stone the water heights are listed.  The definition of an Egyptologist is someone who knows how to read hieroglyphics, so I guess I'm about to become an Egyptologist.  Still one problem, though:  the Egyptians didn't number the years; they named them.  So unless I can find an English translation, I'm going to have to learn how to read the names of the years, too, then determine which name goes with which year number.  So I'm still a ways from getting the dataset, but I'm a lot closer than I was yesterday.

Also learned that the PS does not exactly conform to the stated years and that some doubt exists as to the beginning and ending years, so the time covered and the precise percentage of coverage may not be exactly right.

I see why Hart didn't want to do his homework.

Doug

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45 minutes ago, Doug1066 said:

I found a set of plates showing the Palermo Stone and three fragments - eight plates (2 sides each).  But they're all in hieroglyphics which I can't read.  This evening I found some instructions on how to read the numbers and where on the stone the water heights are listed.  The definition of an Egyptologist is someone who knows how to read hieroglyphics, so I guess I'm about to become an Egyptologist.  Still one problem, though:  the Egyptians didn't number the years; they named them.  So unless I can find an English translation, I'm going to have to learn how to read the names of the years, too, then determine which name goes with which year number.  So I'm still a ways from getting the dataset, but I'm a lot closer than I was yesterday.

Also learned that the PS does not exactly conform to the stated years and that some doubt exists as to the beginning and ending years, so the time covered and the precise percentage of coverage may not be exactly right.

I see why Hart didn't want to do his homework.

Doug

Here is an article that may interest you concerning a flood in the appropriate time frame you describing.

 Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/the-mystery-of-the-black-sea-floods-solved-2157-7617-1000489-104841.html

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10 hours ago, Manwon Lender said:

Here is an article that may interest you concerning a flood in the appropriate time frame you describing.

 Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/the-mystery-of-the-black-sea-floods-solved-2157-7617-1000489-104841.html

Thanks.

I'm starting to think the Nile high water mark on the Palermo Stone might not be Noah's Flood.  But it's going to take some doing to get Noah's Flood back to 9500 years.

Doug

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5 hours ago, Doug1066 said:

Thanks.

I'm starting to think the Nile high water mark on the Palermo Stone might not be Noah's Flood.  But it's going to take some doing to get Noah's Flood back to 9500 years.

Doug

As I have time I will continue to see what I can find and add it to your thread.

Be well my friend!:tu:

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23 hours ago, Manwon Lender said:

Here is an article that may interest you concerning a flood in the appropriate time frame you describing.

 Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/the-mystery-of-the-black-sea-floods-solved-2157-7617-1000489-104841.html

Thinking now is that the infilling of the Black Sea took place about 8400YBP.  That would make it contemporaneous with the 8470YBP ("8200YBP Cold Period").  There is no consensus whether the infilling was gradual or catastrophic, but there is the 60-meter-deep Bosporus Channel which appears to be a sub-aerial feature and attests to a fair amount of energy in the in-coming current.  Infilling occurred in at least two episodes.  Flow would have been slow enough that water levels in the Black Sea would have risen slowly, perhaps not even being noticed by lakeside inhabitants.

That's as far as I've come so far.  The status of this flood as "Noah's Flood" depends on the lack of a better candidate in Mesopotamia and we know there was one because of extensive flood deposits there.

Doug

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2 hours ago, Doug1066 said:

Thinking now is that the infilling of the Black Sea took place about 8400YBP.  That would make it contemporaneous with the 8470YBP ("8200YBP Cold Period").  There is no consensus whether the infilling was gradual or catastrophic, but there is the 60-meter-deep Bosporus Channel which appears to be a sub-aerial feature and attests to a fair amount of energy in the in-coming current.  Infilling occurred in at least two episodes.  Flow would have been slow enough that water levels in the Black Sea would have risen slowly, perhaps not even being noticed by lakeside inhabitants.

That's as far as I've come so far.  The status of this flood as "Noah's Flood" depends on the lack of a better candidate in Mesopotamia and we know there was one because of extensive flood deposits there.

Doug

Yes it is when the Black Sea flooded and according to what I was reading it was catastrophic apparently over less than two years there was a change in depth of approximately 600 meters, so that is one hell of a flow rate. In fact in the previous paper I supplied it talked 1bout this. However, I will keep looking as time permits, please keep me updated with what you find.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Manwon Lender said:

Yes it is when the Black Sea flooded and according to what I was reading it was catastrophic apparently over less than two years there was a change in depth of approximately 600 meters, so that is one hell of a flow rate. In fact in the previous paper I supplied it talked 1bout this. However, I will keep looking as time permits, please keep me updated with what you find.

That's a pretty sizable canyon.  So I'm starting to lean toward a catastrophic flooding.

I am going to a professional meeting on ranch management today.  Won't be near a computer.

Doug

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12 hours ago, Doug1066 said:

I am going to a professional meeting on ranch management today.  Won't be near a computer.

I'm back.  We toured the Cross Timbers Ranch (5000 acres) and the Robinson Ranch (7000 acres).  Saw some impressive guard dogs.  When we got too close, the dogs moved a herd of goats away from us without being told.  They're Great Pyrenees dogs - big ones.  I'd hate to tangle with one.  Also saw grazing and burning plans in action for running cows, sheep and goats on the same land.  Got to catch up on the news with some old friends.

Anyway, back to work.

Doug

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21 hours ago, Manwon Lender said:

Yes it is when the Black Sea flooded and according to what I was reading it was catastrophic apparently over less than two years there was a change in depth of approximately 600 meters, so that is one hell of a flow rate. In fact in the previous paper I supplied it talked 1bout this. However, I will keep looking as time permits, please keep me updated with what you find.

I'm wondering:  that canyon is 60 meters deep and 1.5 km wide.  There is additional water above the canyon walls.  By my estimate, a surface ship draws about 10 meters of water and a submarine takes about 20.  Could a US submarine sneak into the Red Sea while submerged?  Might one already be there?  Should Russia be worried?

Doug

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3 hours ago, Doug1066 said:

I'm wondering:  that canyon is 60 meters deep and 1.5 km wide.  There is additional water above the canyon walls.  By my estimate, a surface ship draws about 10 meters of water and a submarine takes about 20.  Could a US submarine sneak into the Red Sea while submerged?  Might one already be there?  Should Russia be worried?

Doug

That’s a very good question, however I am not certain if one could or not!:mellow:

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The Sumerian king lists are neatly divided into "before the flood" and "after the flood" groups.  There are two versions of each, differing by one king.  The Bible also has two versions of the pre-flood patriarchs.  And they differ by one person.  The Bible repeats the mistake of the Sumerian king lists!

The pre-flood culture in the T-E valley is known as the al Ubaid culture.  I haven't figured out whether the flood ended this culture, or if it survived into post-flood times.  Either way we can look for a Great Flood about 3800 BC.

The Persian Gulf reached its maximum transgression about 6000 BC.  After that, it began to retreat to its modern position near Basra.  The age of Ubaid sites decreases as one moves southward, suggesting that new sites were being created on old sea floor.  The context of the Great Flood is that it occurred during this retreat of the Persian Gulf and might have contributed to it by infilling with mud.

 

Sadd el-Kafara, the Egyptian earth-fill dam that was washed out in ancient times, is too young to have been destroyed in the Great Flood.

Evidence of a Great Flood in Egypt would perhaps point to a cause.

Doug

 

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The Faiyum Depression was filled to brimming during the Pleistocene.  It dropped below brimming for about a thousand years following 10,000BP.  Then it rose to brimming again about 8500 to 7000BP.  A paleosol developed on the exposed lake bed.  This was followed by another high stand about 6500 to 5100 BP.  During brimming periods there would be no way to identify floods as they wouldn't significantly affect water levels.  Our proposed mega-flood should have occurred about 6750BP during a narrow window when the depression could have recorded a massive flood.

There is some doubt as to whether this flood occurred in Egypt at all.

Doug

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There is a long list of ice age and early Holocene megafloods that affected the Caspian, Black Sea, upper T-E and White Nile.  These look like they're going to complicate the search for an almost-historical megaflood dating to about 5000BP.

Doug

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Checked the White Mountain 2 Chronology for anything unusual around 4800 BC.  Nothing very convincing.  I'll have to wait on Tornetrask until I finish setting it up.

 

Woolley found an 11-foot deep flood layer at Ur.  When he dug other test pits the following season, one came up with no flood layer and two or three others had thin layers (c. 10 inches) or the layer had been mixed with adjoining layers.  There is no flood layer at all at Eridu (seven miles away) and multiple layers at Kish.  Shurupak has a flood layer.  The earliest version of the Sumerian king list does not have a pre-flood set of kings.  Starting to sound like we're dealing with some strictly-local floods.  All three Kish floods are much later than the Ur flood by 600-700 years.  The Shurupak flood may be contemporaneous with the first Kish flood.  There are many other excavations in Mesopotamia, but none have reported flood layers. 

Eridu is on a slight rise.  Could be that a local flood just never got that high.

So, even the Mesopotamian Flood isn't looking too healthy just now.

Doug

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A flood layer at a depth of 3-4 meters has been reported in numerous places in Mesopotamia.  It ranges from 0.2-3.5m thick, but is not resent everywhere.

I'm having trouble supporting a Mesopotamian flood.  That Black Sea flood is looking better all the time.

Doug

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1 hour ago, Doug1066 said:

A flood layer at a depth of 3-4 meters has been reported in numerous places in Mesopotamia.  It ranges from 0.2-3.5m thick, but is not resent everywhere.

I'm having trouble supporting a Mesopotamian flood.  That Black Sea flood is looking better all the time.

Doug

Te Jews came from Egypt.  I get the impression they relied on Egyptian records before the rise of written Hebrew, about 900 BC.  So maybe I should be looking for a Nile flood around 3000 BC, or earlier

Doug

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Posted (edited)

The temple at Karnak was begun about 4000BC.  If those two marks near the top indicate a real flood, we're looking for one (or two) between 4000 and 3000 BC.  Hieroglyphics began about 3400BC, so there probably aren't any written records of such a flood.  We'll have to use proxies.

During the reign of Semerket (c. 2920) a disaster befell Egypt.  The records don't say what the disaster was, but that date is getting mighty close to the high water mark on the Palermo Stone.  Could the disaster have been a major flood?

Doug

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Posted (edited)

The 4.1m flood (I found a caption that listed the height as 4.1m, rather than 4.3m.) shown on the Palermo Stone could be the disaster that befell Semerket.  I am finding no flood evidence around 2800BC, so a reading of 2920BC from the chart works until I can find an English translation of the Palermo Stone, or learn enough hieroglyphics to read it myself.  The tree ring evidence from the White Mountains is suggestive of a disturbance in weather patterns in 2806BC, but does not positively indicate flooding.

I found two strat columns for Holocene deposits of the Nile.  One shows a west-east transect through Karnack.  Karnack/Thebes sits in the middle of a graben that the Nile followed in its new course (New since the Miocene).  It is too general to determine flood history, but it gives a cross-section of the valley that could be used to determine flood volumes.  The second strat column is a west-east transect through Saqara.  The chart shows a major flood in the early Holocene, farther back than we're looking for and probably bigger.  There was also a mid-Holocene flood that might be the same as the one on the Palermo Stone.

So I'm back to thinking that the Palermo Stone flood is the one we're looking for.  But how did it come to be associated with Mesopotamia?  Am I missing a Mesopotamian flood?

One other problem:  just because a flood left a lot of mud does not mean it was a big flood.  AND, a big flood might not leave a lot of evidence behind.

Doug

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I think I found Noah's Flood, or at least one big enough and nasty enough to qualify.

The Fayum Depression was filled about 4100BC by a truly monstrous flood.  It would have forced people to leave their homes.  It would also have flooded out most of the Nile valley.  And it's just close enough to recorded history that a communal memory of it could still exist by the time writing was invented.

If this isn't Noah's Flood, it's a strong contender.  Now to see if I can find records of it in Mesopotamia.

Doug

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So where are we now?

The Black Sea infilling c. 8400BC

The 2920BC flood on the Palermo Stone.

The 4100BC Nile Flood that filled the Fayum Depression.

Two or three Nile super-floods between about 10000BC and 4100BC.

Between six and a dozen super-floods during the "Wild Nile" phase, 12500BC to 10000BC.

So we have about 19 or 20 candidates and we haven't started seriously searching for Mesopotamian floods yet.

Doug

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There is a flood layer under the T-E valley that dates to c. 4800BC.  It lies between the stone age Ubaidian culture and the later Chalcolithic cultre.  Strangely an almost-identical layer underlies the Faiyum Depression, again between these same two cultures.  I'm wondering:  did somebody screw up the dating and is this the same as the 4100BC flood on the Nile.  The Nile seems to be better-dated.

Doug

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New problem:  I have a source that says there's a flood layer under Eridu and another that says there isn't.  Time to check sources.

Doug 

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The no-flood-layer-at-Eridu wins, at least for now.  Also have to reject the 4800BC date for a major flood in Mesopotamia.  Still might have been one about 4100BC, but weak evidence.  Also need to check Indus Valley, Greek Isles, Rhone and Rhein valleys for evidence of flooding about 4100 BC.

Doug

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