Water, the most valuable, and yet vital substance known to mankind. Without it, our bodies would malfunction, and we would eventually all die. This majestic substance has a character that is found in no other place on earth. However water can cause catastrophic events to occur, one of them being a flood. A Great Flood. The flood that inundated the Black Sea in about 5600 BC. Much say the flood never occurred, others say it has. The Great Flood as described in Noah's Ark, and in the Epic of Gilgamesh has caused much controversy but it seems as though the Great Flood did in fact take place around 5600 BC. Ryan and Pitman have found evidence that maybe the Great Flood did in fact take place. However as usual there is always controversy over events of this nature.
Over the years Pitman and Ryan Noticed that bits and pieces of evidence supporting their theory began to arise, but nothing conclusive. In 1993 Shimkus invited the duo on a two-week cruise. The deal was that for part of the trip Ryan and Pitman would help the Shimkus team with its work collecting and analysing sediment for traces of fallout from Chernobyl. In return the Russians had to help Ryan and Pitman. One of the two crucial pieces of equipment was the "CHIRP." This was a 2 metre long, torpedo-shaped echolocating sensor. This was vital in providing Ryan and Pitman with substantial evidence to back up their theory. CHIRP would allow the scientists to see a vertical profile of the sediments "like a slice through large multilayered chocolate cake."(Mestel-26) They found that the sediments were spread thinly over the shallow inshore waters, but were piled up where the seafloor plunged, much like deposits at a great river delta. This was "just what you would expect if silt was being washed into the sea by a river and was slopping off the shelf into deeper water. To the scientists satisfaction, there were also sure signs that the delta-like deposits had been eroded through exposure to wind and streams, just as they would have expected to find on the shoreline of a partly dried-out Black-Sea basin."(Mestel-26) This clearly shows that the deposits must have been above water due to the fact that it was clearly shown that the deposits had been eroded through exposure to the wind and streams. These two factors can only occur above water. Secondly the CHIRP also found samples that provided evidence that there was a smooth, uniform sheet of sediment above the deeper layers. Pitman described that "it was as if you opened all the doors and windows of your house and went away for a few months, and came back and found dust over everything."(Mestel-27) This uniform layer of sediment above the deeper layers of dust settling on furniture is a type of pattern that is a characteristic of a rapid rise in sea level. Usually when a sea level rises it deposits successive wedges of sediment that build up gradually extending further and further towards land. However the only to explain what Pitman and Ryan saw " is a very rapid rise in sea level where it comes up in a matter of days."(Mestel-27)
Mentioned before was the fact that there were two important pieces of equipment that were vital in the process of gathering evidence in the Black Sea. One was the CHIRP, and the other was a hollow metal pipe. They would drive the pipe into the floor of the Black Sea, close the top off and then draw up long columns of mud by the means of suction. The reason for this method was that Pitman and Ryan could samples through time. The deeper the sediment, the older the sediment. They could also look at the creatures in each of the sediments. Dense mud was the deepest sample obtained by the scientists. It was almost like clay. It is known that exposed mud dries out, allowing the tiny particles to tightly pack together, forming clay. What's interesting is that the scientists found occasional cracks in the mud. This suggests that the mud must have been exposed to air and sunlight because we know that exposed mud dries and cracks. Another interesting find was that of roots of land plants. Land plants need sunlight to grow and survive, they also belong on land (hence the name landplant) and not in water. So this find shows that this plant at one time had to be exposed to air and sunlight at some point in time. The scientists then sampled the layer directly above the layer of thick mud. They discovered a "thick layer of broken shells from long dead snails-freshwater snails."(Mestel-27) Pitman and Ryan noticed that the shells were bashed and broken, the shells also lived in the lake. They noticed that the shells "pilled up in deposits at times when the water was lower and shallow rivers flowed swiftly over the land carrying away the finer silts."(Mestel-27) It was noticeable that in fact the shells were bleached. That suggested the area that was sampled must have been exposed to sunlight at some point in time. Right above this layer a very different type of snail was found-a saltwater Mediterranean species. Ryan and Pitman noticed that occupied the topmost layer of CHIRP's profile of the sea floor-"the layer that was made by a rapid rise in water levels."(Mestel-27) However unlike the freshwater snails, these snails are not bashed or battered, "suggesting that they were never buffeted hither and thither by streams but were always safely below the waves. This perfectly fits the scientists great flood scenario to a tee."(Mestel-27)
Lastly the scientists linked the event to the biblical myth of Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh. They claim that "there is good reason to suppose that people were living along the edges of the Black Sea basin."(Mestel-27) The land would have been fertile, and freshwater would be more available than in any other place. The fact that when the flood finally came and people fled northwards, it may have been possible that the flood did in fact contribute to the spreading of Agriculture across certain regions. Another factor that must be noted is that "the flood would have made a serious impression on anyone who witnessed it."(Mestel-27) Pitman says, "the story could have become a legend, part of their cultural history."(Mestel-27) This is something that would eventually be inscribed in clay.
The Great Flood of 5600 BC was a very controversial subject, however there has been substantial proof provided to in fact say that yes The Great Flood of 5600 BC did in fact inundate the Black Sea. Linking this event to Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh seem to be good theories due to the fact that evidence has been found and established by two scientists Pitman and Ryan. However Pitman says "it's not the kind of thing that can ever be proven."(Mestel-27)
Gugliotta, Guy. "The Noah's flood salvage job". Toronto Star
Rose, Mark. "Neolithic Noah" ARCHAEOLOGY
Mestel, Rosie "Noah's Flood" New Scientist
4 October 1997