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Scientist Investigates Noah's Flood

Eve Conant writes in Newsweek that underwater explorer Robert Ballard is investigating the legend of Noah's ark. Many historians think the worldwide flood legends originated about 7,500 years ago at the end of the ice age, when the Aegean Sea flowed into the Black Sea with incredible force, raising the water level of the Black Sea six inches a day.

Ballard, who discover the location of the sunken Titanic in 1985, has designed a remote-controlled submarine named Hercules, which can search for signs of ancient flood human civilization deep beneath the Black Sea.

The Black Sea was a crossroads for many of the world's most ancient cultures, who all traded with one another, which is why the flood legend may have become almost universal. It also has oxygen-poor water, which preserves ships and other artifacts. Ballard says, "I am convinced that there is more history in the Black Sea than in all of the museums of the world combined."

In 1999, Ballard searched the area for signs of an ancient freshwater lake by looking for rocks that had been washed smooth by waves. He found the rocks he was looking for, along with fossilized shells of freshwater mussels that went extinct 7,000 years ago, around the time of the Flood. When a U.S. expert examined them, "he told me, 'Bob, these shells shouldn't be there,'" says Ballard. "Bingo."

Ballard couldn't find evidence of any human settlement, so he returned in 2000 to look for areas that would have been dry land before the Flood. His submersible sent back images of manmade wooden beams, ceramic shards and stone tools. However, radiocarbon dating showed they were too recent to be pre-flood artifacts. But he also found quarried stones arranged in a rectangle that's similar to the foundations of Neolithic dwellings found elsewhere in the region. "Mother Nature does not make square stones," says Ballard. "Humans make them."

Not everyone agrees that the Black Sea is the site of the Great Flood. Marine geologist Ali Aksu published evidence that 7,500 years ago the Black Sea was already full, no there was no flood. He says, "The Noah's Flood idea is a very sexy one, but it's wrong."

There's a lot to be learned from old legends, if you take them seriously.

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