The scriptures (Genesis 6–9) describes a worldwide flood (the Noachian Flood) covering also the greatest mountains of the earth and also the building of a huge boat (a rectangular box-like craft) the transported animals, at least two the a sort of every land pets on the earth. The Qur"an (Suras 11 and 71) has almost a duplicate story v a comparable huge watercraft that transported animals and also a global flood. In enhancement two older story exist in old Babylonian epics that define a large flood. One is the epic of Gilgamesh, describing a overwhelming on the Euphrates river (Academy of ancient Texts nd). The other is the epos of Atrahasis, which has a substantial flood on the Tigris river (Byers nd).

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In the epic of Gilgamesh, is warned that a god plans to destroy all humanity and is told to develop a delivery to conserve himself, his family, friends, and cattle. In the epos of Atrahasis, a lack chief made it through with his family by floating in a watercraft down to the Persian Gulf. After the overwhelming subsided, the chief gained out on dry land and also erected an altar and sacrificed come a water god so the such a flood would certainly not take place again (Anonymous nd-a). Noah likewise built an altar when he gained off the Ark and offered sacrifices (Genesis 8:20). Due to the fact that these story all define an ancient huge flood in Mesopotamia, the is exceptionally likely the a large flood could have occurred. However, the following question is: "Did the Noachian flood cover the totality earth?"

Scientific Evidence against a Whole-Earth Flood

The holy bible says the the rains that developed the Noachian flood lasted because that 40 job (Genesis 7:17), the the waters prevailed on the planet for 150 days (Genesis 7:24), and after this 150 job the waters progressively receded native the earth so that by the seventh month and also the seventeenth day, Noah"s Ark pertained to rest ~ above the hills of Ararat (Genesis 8:4). A year plus two months and also twenty-seven days later the planet was dry sufficient so the Noah,his family, and the load of pets could disembark indigenous the Ark (Genesis 8:14).

Because this flood to be intended through God to ruin all meat on earth (Genesis 6:13) and because sedimentary rocks on every continents save fossils that supposedly represent the "destroyed meat of all life," it could be assumed that the bible story, explicate a wholeearth flood, to be true. However, interlayered with these fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks on all continents space layers that evaporite absent salt (sodium chloride), gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate), anhydrite (calcium sulfate), and also various potash and magnesium salts, i m sorry are connected with red beds (shales) include fossilized dirt cracks (Schreiber and also others 2007).

Many of this mineral compounds and also red bed have merged thicknesses on different continents of much more than one kilometre (~3,281 feet) (Collins 2006). The red beds space red since they save on computer red hematite (iron oxide) which developed from magnetite grains that were oxidized while the muds to be exposed come oxygen in open air. The mud cracks can type only under drying conditions that reason the mud to shrink and kind polygonal cracks. The evaporite mineral compounds in the layers are deposited in the exactly chemical bespeak predicted by the solubility of each type of ion in these compounds and also whose raising concentrations throughout the evaporation the water would reason them come precipitate in a predictable depositional sequence as the water volume decreased. Such evaporite deposits would certainly be meant to occur where a naval sea was when present and also to disappear when the sea became fully dry. Therefore, one might expect this evaporites come be in ~ the optimal of the supposed Noachian overwhelming deposits when the water supposedly receded and the soil dried out, however certainly no in various levels in in between older and younger fossiliferous "Flood deposits".

We check out in the holy bible that there is just one time in i beg your pardon the flood waters are stated to recede and leave the planet dry. That is, no multiple an international climatic problems are described in which flooding, then drying to a dry earth, much more flooding, more drying to a dried earth, in repeated cycles that take place over and also over again in the Flood year. On the basis, it is logical that all the kinds of evaporite deposits and also red beds in plenty of different levels in the an alleged Noachian flood deposits could kind only in neighborhood climates through desert drying-conditions and also could not perhaps have developed all at the very same time — a time when a flood covered the whole planet for much more than one year (Collins 2006). On that basis, the Noachian overwhelming story cannot define a whole-earth flood, however it could only stand for a large regional flood.

Regional evidence for the Noachian and comparable Floods

Two rivers, the Euphrates and also Tigris flow through Mesopotamia, i beg your pardon is currently the nation of Iraq (Figure 1). Over there are numerous layers in exposed rocks close to these 2 rivers in southeastern Mesopotamia (Iraq) the are most likely flood deposits. Many are around a foot (0.3 m) thick, yet one is as much as 3 meter thick (MacDonald 1988). Overwhelming debris from this same thick deposit along the Euphrates River near the old Sumerian city the Shuruppak about 200 kilometres southeast of Baghdad has been date by the C14 method, giving an er of 2900 BCE (Best nd). Flood deposits 2.4 meter feet special are also reported by macdonald (1988) as far northeast together the old Babylonian city of Kish (120 kilometres south the Baghdad). At any rate, the countless flood-deposit layers display that flooding in southeastern Mesopotamia was not unexplained in old times.

Figure 1. Map the Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Similar large local floods are usual throughout background around the world. Because that example, monsoon storms in Bangladesh typically produce much rain end the country and in the Himalaya Mountains, which climb in the northern component of the nation (Anonymous nd-b). Runoff the water native the rain and melting snow throughout such storms create good floods in 4 rivers that converge to the Wang River, which climate drains into a substantial delta in the just of Bengal (Anonymous nd-b). Thousands of human being have to be drowned in this delta an ar by plenty of such floods throughout the critical century. Practically every culture through history has a overwhelming story to tell, as would the people in Bangladesh, yet in each of this times and places, the floods would have been local and also not worldwide.

Many creationists have actually pointed the end that the holy bible indicates the God promised no to reason another large flood to occur and, therefore, there cannot be any kind of floods the are comparable to the Noachian overwhelming (Genesis 9:13–15). Therefore, the geological record should present at least one distinct flood event that is various from all the huge regional floods for which over there is geological evidence.

Why to be the Local huge Flood Possible?

Storms that occur in Mesopotamia normally come from the Mediterranean Sea, cross the hills in Syria, Turkey, and also western Iran, move southeasterly end Mesopotamia come the Persian Gulf, and also then departure in the Gulf the Oman. The Euphrates and also Tigris Rivers the would transport water from these storms leave higher land in northern Mesopotamia and enter a almost flat area around 130 km north of Baghdad. In this 130-km interval the gradients of these rivers room small, through the key dropping about 3 m per km along the course of the rivers. Both the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers close to Baghdad have elevations of around 30 m over sea level, and also at the city of together Samawah (280 km south that Baghdad), the Euphrates River has an elevation of 9 m (a autumn in elevation of 21 m) (NOAA nd). A comparable 21-meter drop occurs along the Tigris River. On the basis, the gradients of the two rivers in this intervals space 0.075 m every km. In the extr 360 kilometres to the Persian Gulf (sea level) the gradients room only around 0.025 m every km. Therefore, in both southeastern and main Mesopotamia the gradients room so low the the rivers barely flow downhill, and also frequent flooding could be common.

A huge river has actually natural levees. During a big storm, water rushing down the channel carries plentiful sedimentary debris. If the water in the channel overflows its financial institutions onto the nearby flood plain, the velocity immediately slows since of friction through the flat land, and the water at reduced speed cannot bring its whole load of sediment. More heavier coarser particles space deposited abruptly on tops of the banks adjacent to the flow while finer silts and clay particles are transported onto the overwhelming plain. As soon as such overflowing floods are repeated year ~ year, the coarser sediments deposited surrounding to the river develop up herbal levees on both political parties of the channel. Herbal levees follow me the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers rise up come 4 come 5 meters over the river channels, and the surface of these dams slope gently far from the rivers for 5 to 8 kilometres toward lower, adjacent, nearly-flat flood levels that room up to 105 km large (Tactical Pilotage graph TPC G-4C, H-6A, and H-6B). The people living in Mesopotamia in biblical times would have had actually their towns on the herbal levees since the flood plains would have actually been swampy.

What Happened during the Flood?

The watershed for the Euphrates and also Tigris Rivers on i beg your pardon the flood can have occurred extends for more than 1600 kilometres from the Persian Gulf v Mesopotamia into Syria and Turkey and also laterally for about 1000 kilometres from eastern Saudi Arabia come southwestern Iran — one area of an ext than 1.6 million square kilometers. On that basis, if numerous rain fell, not only in the hills of Syria and Turkey, but likewise in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the tributary streams native these countries would all contribute their quantities of water come the flood plains of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Map reflecting elevation contours approximately the Euphrates and also Tigris Rivers that prolong NW-SE through Mesopotamia.

Normally, in lesser storms many water runoff would have come mostly from the mountains in Syria and also Turkey and not likewise from Saudi Arabia and Iran. During the flood, upstream where water very first accumulates, the depth that water top top the flood plains may be barely end the top of the herbal levees, but downstream the water "piles up" due to the fact that it does no flow an extremely fast downhill on a practically flat surface. Therefore, downstream water depths could reach 32 m or an ext above the top of the levees.

This rise in depth would certainly be intensified wherein the two flood plains with a width of 275 km in the north section would certainly be squeezed right into a 220-km width in the lower part of the drainage mechanism where the two rivers join. The involvement of the two rivers would also increase the volume the the water in the flood plains, thereby raising the depth. At any kind of rate, all greater land on the herbal levees where the people in the towns were current would be totally submerged. Thus, it would be feasible for a flood to have occurred in center Mesopotamia, perhaps about 2900 BCE, as evidenced by the scientifically dated flood deposits.

Remnant evidence of the Flood

When the huge storm end that resulted in the flood, over there would have actually been vast lakes, and also it might have taken months to drain the water in these lakes into the gulf — which might easily define why the Noachian Flood take it so lengthy to recede (as lot as one year, follow to Genesis 8:14). Evidence for this bad drainage can be viewed in the contemporary lakes in the overwhelming plains. Lake Hawr al Hammar is 32 km broad and much more than 80 kilometres long, lies on the flood level of the Euphrates river west of Basra, and also several other huge lakes are on overwhelming plains adjacent to the Tigris flow (for example, Hawr as Sa"diya and Hawr together Saniyalt). The poor drainage would be caused by the fact that the water extending the flood plains would have no channel with which come flow, would not flow uphill over the sloping herbal levees to re-enter the river channels, and also the slopes the the bottoms of the lakes would have actually been almost flat through gradients toward the gulf that 0.025 to 0.075 meters every kilometer.

Effects of the Curvature the the Earth

Because of the curvature that the earth, the horizon drops from whereby the viewer is standing. However, the fall is proportional come the square the the distance between the viewer and things on the horizon (Young nd). From this relationships, it can be checked out that a tribal cook (or Noah) was standing on the deck that a big boat (Ark), possibly 7.8 meters over the water,would not be able to see the tops of any hills together high as 15 m indigenous as tiny as 24 kilometres away across flood plains covered through water due to the fact that the curvature the the earth avoids it (See the attachment for instances of calculations). Many hills in this region that are as much as 15 m high are much more than 95 kilometres away from the river levees. Therefore, the survivors of the Flood could see only water in every directions when they to be floating down the Tigris River and over the flood plains. Plenty of of this hills would likewise be partially covered v water which would make your tops project less over the water level, and therefore, the curvature that the planet would do them disappear native the heat of vision in also a much shorter distance 보다 24 km.

Northeast and also southwest that the nearly flat surface that contains the two rivers, the topography rises to an ext than 455 m in Saudi Arabia and in Iran. Calculations present that elevations the 455 m high cannot be seen beyond 86 km away, and also these locations are more than 160 km from the Euphrates or Tigris Rivers. Therefore, nobody of the high nation in Saudi Arabia or Iran would certainly be visible to a tribal chief (or Noah). On that basis, the "whole world" would certainly definitely appear to be extended with water throughout the Flood, and also that to be the "whole world" because that the human being in this part of southeastern Mesopotamia at the time.


If the 3.4-meter–thick great of flood deposits in southeastern Mesopotamia (MacDonald 1988) to represent a substantial flood of ancient times, and also if the is the remnants the the one defined in the early Babylonian epics, then the writer of this epics were likely survivors who resided in a village on herbal levees on the reduced parts of either the Euphrates or Tigris Rivers wherein the flood waters covered their village, natural levees, and adjacent flood plains for distances of 160 come 320 kilometers so that no land might be seen, and their "whole world" would have actually been under water.


I wish to thank Kevin Collins, Fred Tonsing, Eugene Fritsche, Warren Hunt, Jarvis Streeter, Steve Peralta, and also Barbara Collins for advantageous comments that significantly improved the manuscript.

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In the published version, "Gilgamesh" erroneously appears in the second paragraph; the is changed by the exactly "Utnapishtim" here.