Those who study human history tend to envision a largely unbroken arc leading from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt (with perhaps a quick glance at the culture of the Indus valley) through the Greek and Roman cultures… culminating in the ‘glories’ of European civilisation. This is what any high school textbook on ‘World History’ will tell you.
In the generally ‘accepted’ version, around 5,000-6,000 years ago, people started building large stone and brick structures, from the circular ‘henges’ of the British Isles to the great pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Writing soon followed, according to this account, and thus – ‘history’ began.
But is it true?
The last Ice Age ended around 12,000 years ago or ca. 10,000 BCE. By this time modern humans were well established as nomadic hunter-gatherers throughout the ‘Old World’ and were beginning to populate the ‘New World’ as well…
► Göbekli Tepe, Nevalı Çori and Çatal Hüyük:
The earliest signs of ‘settling down’ that we’ve found so far occur in ancient Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). The apparent birthplace of the ‘Neolithic Revolution’ (ie: farming), the ideas radiated at the speed of wheat across the ‘known world’. People became attached to the land they farmed. ‘Civilisation’, with all the good and bad that implies, was only a logical step or two away.
The ‘venuses’ who had ruled the Paleolithic were slowly supplanted by the angry warrior gods of the Neolithic… including the one who eventually became the vengeful ‘Yaweh’ of Torah.
► Noah’s Flood, Gilgamesh and the Black Sea:
As the ice began to melt, sea level began inexorably to rise, cutting off the British Isles from mainland Europe, and drowning the Bering ‘land bridge’ between northeast Asia and North America. Sea kevel has risen more than 120 meters since the last glacial maximum ~21,000 years ago:
Then, around 5600 BCE [7600 BP], according to a persuasive (IMHO) hypothesis put forward by William Ryan and Walter Pitman (see references), the rising Mediterranean Sea overtopped a sill at the Bosporus (or ‘Bosphorus’), causing a cataclysmic flood and inundation of the populated lowlands to the north. A large glacial (freshwater) lake was drowned to become the Black Sea.
The Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh may very well describe this world-shaking event which in turn showed up in the Genesis stories as the Flood of Noah. Many direct quotations from Gilgamesh in the biblical account lend credence to this likely pedigree of the story.
But it should be remembered that these flood stories would have relied on oral transmission for some 3,000 years before the invention of writing! On the other hand, they were told by wandering ‘poets’ who typically rendered tales such as this in metric verse as ‘songs’ – often to musical accompaniment… which tends to ‘freeze’ verses in place, making them remarkably resistant to change. The epic tales of ‘Homer’ (whoever he was) came down to us the same way.
Did Gilgamesh describe a real-life catastrophic Flood? We can never know for sure, but circumstantial evidence supports the idea. Any event of the magnitude of a Black Sea flood would surely have remained emblazoned on the minds of anyone who witnessed it (and survived) to pass it down the many generations.
A late but direct consequence of The Ice.