by William & Walter Pitman Ryan ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1999
In a rare marriage of science and myth, two geologists draw on their worldwide oceanographic expeditions in search of evidence of the biblical flood. The authors first trace attempts to establish the historicity of the flood back to the work of archaeologists and scientists in the 1820s and '30s. Then, looking at the physical evidence, according to Ryan and Pitman (both geology professors at Columbia University), indicates that the cataclysm actually occurred 7,600 years ago; it consisted of the Mediterranean rising in Marmara and crashing through the natural dam of the Bosporus, raising the Black Sea 280 feet in 12 months. The archaeological evidence, according to the authors, is that the resulting dispersion of the populace led to the spread of farming skills, languages, and cultures to new settlements in southern Europe, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Asia. The archaeological record is supported by DNA studies that reveal genetic connections between modern peoples of these regions and remains found around the flood region. But Ryan and Pitman don't draw only on science, they study as well the flood stories of various cultures, from Sumer to India, contending that they remain remarkably similar despite local coloring and storytellers' embellishments. These tales tell of the destruction of the world as it was then known, but they universally also offer hope of salvation, regeneration, and divine forgiveness. The authors offer clear explanations of the scientific techniques involved in gathering evidence of the flood, and couch it in a historical narrative that preserves for readers the sense of discovery and wonder experienced by scientists through the 19th and 20th centuries (somewhat oddly, in keeping with this narrative, they relate their own research in the third person). An impressive marshalling of geophysical and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the truth behind an ancient myth.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998
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