A blend of archaeological fact and anthropological speculation by Australian historian Wilson.
The flood as described in Genesis would have brought the world sea level up 6,000 feet, and establishing it as a real event would entail, as Wilson concedes, a “complete revision of all the basic understandings underpinning modern-day geology.” Wilson is not proposing anything so drastic. Rather, he wants to connect a set of flood myths that occurred among ancient peoples in the swathe of land between Greece and India with the recent discovery that the present composition and size of the Black Sea can be dated to 5600 b.c., when the land barrier between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea crumbled. If it fell in one blow, the resulting flood would have caused the fresh-water Black Sea to rise for two years, flooding about 60,000 square miles. Both the extent and speed of the flood would have been catastrophic for humans living around the water. Wilson describes the fascinating underwater explorations of submarine archaeologist Robert Ballard, who has found signs of human habitation seventy kilometers out from the present Black Sea shoreline. Who were they? Wilson believes they are congruent with the goddess-worshipping inhabitants of an Anatolian site, Çatal Hüyük. That site dates from before 6000 b.c. and shows its people to have been sophisticated agriculturalists and weavers. Wilson speculates that when the site was abandoned around, probably because of a climate change, the inhabitants emigrated to the shores of the Black Sea, then a fresh-water lake. Escaping the flood, these people seeded civilization around the Mediterranean, spreading flood myths. Wilson backs up his idea with some dubious sources, such as Robert Graves’s The White Goddess (1948). More troubling, though, is Wilson’s construing of myth solely in terms of “collective memory,” an anthropologically naïve move.
A bold revision of ancient history that is well worth reading, even if its conclusions sometimes overshoot the evidence.