Many efforts have been made to establish the historicity of the Flood or Noaichian deluge (Gen. 5-8) by archaeological means. The Flood account has probably been one of the most assailed of all biblical narratives. Though many critics continue to relegate the story to the realm of myth, this is more a result of their refusal to accept the possibility of divine intervention in history than of lack of evidence. Thick layers of silt and clay have been found in numerous Babylonian excavations were unquestionably deposited by flood waters.
In some cases, these layers of sediment-with the ruins of earlier cities buried beneath them-correspond to the time of the Flood as demanded by biblical chronology. Many authorities thus consider them to be aqueous deposits laid down by Noah's Flood in the 24th century B.C. Critics on the other hand, claim "coincidence." At other sites, critics are quick to point out, sediment layers have been found dating from time periods other than the 24th century. And at some sites there is a total absence of flood deposits at levels where they should be found were the biblical account is true. What these critics fail to recognize is the simple fact that local variations in terrain would have naturally left differing types and degrees of Flood evidence or no evidence at all from one site to another. In addition, localized flooding (of the Euphrates River, for example) at other times in history amply accounts for the sediment found at other levels.
Perhaps even more telling than the study of flood deposits is the testimony of history as reconstructed for the 24th century B.C. Terms and phrases such as anarchy, destruction, dark ages, breaks in continuity and major population reductions keep cropping up for this time period-the time of the biblical deluge! The time between the Egyptian Old Kingdom and the rise of the Middle Kingdom is one such example, as is the period before the Akkadian Dynasty in southern Mesopotamia(sumer). The period between the Early Bronze culture in Palestine bespeaks the same type of interruption. "Civilization suffers an eclipse, history becomes misty and indefinite literacy almost disappears," summarizes archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon. What clearer evidence could we require for the cataclysmic disruption the Bible describes?
Furthermore, we should note that ancient Flood stories are found in widespread areas of the globe-including America, Britain, India, China, Tibet, Kashmir, Polynesia, Greece and Australia. Almost all races have a tradition of a major catastrophe very similar to the Genesis account! The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh an ancient flood story on a series of clay tablets from the library of King Ashurbanipal of Nineveh is one of the best known. Since all races descended from the sons of Noah, it should come as no surprise that they handed the same story to their children.
Moreover, In the days of Noah, the Bible says, a great flood covered earth's highest mountains and destroyed all human life that was outside the huge ark that Noah built (Gen. 7:1-24) Many have scoffed at this account. Yet seashells are found on high mountains. And further evidence that a flood of immense proportions occurred in the not-too-distant past is the great number of fossils and carcasses deposited in icy, mucky dumps. The Saturday Evening Post noted: "Many of these animals were perfectly fresh, whole and undamaged, and still either standing or at least kneeling upright.... Here is a really shocking-to our previous way of thinking-picture.
Vast herds of enormous, well fed beasts not specifically designed for the extreme cold, placidly feeding in sunny pastures.... Suddenly they were all killed without any visible sign of violence and before they could so much as swallow a last mouthful of food, and then were quick-frozen so rapidly that every cell of their bodies is perfectly preserved. This fits in with what happened in the great Flood. The Bible describes it in these words: "All the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened." The downpour "overwhelmed the earth," being accompanied no doubt by freezing winds in the polar regions. (Gen. 1-8; 7:11, 19) There, the temperature change would be the most rapid and drastic. Various forms of life were thus engulfed and preserved in frozen muck. One such may have been the mammoth that was uncovered by excavators in Siberia and that is seen in the accompanying illustration. Vegetation was still in its mouth and stomach, and its flesh was even edible when thawed out.
How The Flood Was Found
The late Prof. Palmer Hall Langdon of the Institute of Metals, London, upon his return from extensive work in Mesopotamia in 1929, described his findings of a great "flood deposit" at a considerable depth, and of the layers below it, which contain relics of the civilization which thrived there before the event. We quote from this article which then appeared in the London Times:
"Below this Flood layer was another, thirteen feet in thickness. In the lower part of the stratum were found the remains of brick buildings, which had been abandoned and silted up for many feet.... in which were brick tombs.... This layer thus represented two periods-the earlier, when buildings were erected near its base; the later, when, after these buildings had been silted up, these shafts were sunk into it for the great tombs. in this layer [below the flood layer] were found a number of objects of copper, silver and gold, stone bowls, and a quantity of painted pottery."
How vividly this reminds us of the statement concerning Tubal-cain that he was "an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." (Gen 4:22) Of Jubal the Bible states, "he was the father of all such handle the harp and organ." (Gen. 4:21) These brief bits of information indicate that the people of the day, only a few short years after man's fall into sin and death, were indeed intelligent and civilized. And now the spade and pick of the archaeologist confirm this.
Evidences of a high degree of civilization in ancient times are further confirmed by the findings of the 1923 expedition of Sir Charles Leonard Wooley in excavating the ruins of the ancient city of Ur. Sumerian temples, workshops, law courts, and beautiful dwellings were discovered. He also discovered " the graves of the kings of Ur." These stone vaults were nothing short of priceless treasure chests, for they were filled with the glamorous and costly things which were to be found in Ur at that time.
There were golden drinking cups, exquisitely shaped jugs and vases. There was bronze tableware, and musical instruments. it is said that even the tomb of Tutankhamen was no richer in its contents. These treasures were not the products of a half-men, half-ape sort of creature. They reveal again that man had been created perfect, possessing a high intelligence; that he sinned and was condemned to die, and that through the millennia since, his retrogression has continued. Thus Paul's statement in Corinthians 15:21, "As in Adam all die," is confirmed.
Woolley had his men continue to dig, even below the graves of the kings. In his diary he wrote concerning this further effort: "Almost at once discoveries were made which confirmed our suspicions [that the tombs were not located on virgin soil]. Directly under the floor of one of the tombs of the kings we found a layer of charred wood ash numerous clay tablets, which were covered with characters of a much older type than the inscriptions on the graves. Judging by the nature of the writing the tablets could be assigned to be about 3,000 B.C. They were therefore two or three centuries earlier than the tombs."
So woolley intructed his men to continue their digging. As they went deeper and deeper, new strata, with fragments of jars, pots, and bowls, kept appearing. However, the pottery remained the same. It was exactly like that which was found in the graves of the kings. The experts gathered from this that Sumerian civilization had remained essentially the same for a long time. Their high level of civilization was reached at a very early date indeed.
Finally, as the men continued to dig, some of them reported to Woolley that they had found ground level-the virgin soil. Woolley made a personal inspection and found, as he thought, that the report of his men was correct. But as he prodded the ground himself just to make sure , he received a great surprise. He discovered that it was not the nature of the gound common to the area, but sand-pure sand, of a kind that could only have been deposited by water.
How could there be mud in a place like this, he thought. At first he concluded that it must be the accumulated silt of the river Euphrates at a time when it flowed near the ancient city of Ur, for it is believed that this river did at one time flow very close to this ancient and famous city. But upon further reflection he ruled out this possibility, one reason being that the level of sand deposit was much too high to permit of this explanation of its being there. Woolley said, "I saw that we were much too high up. It was most unlikely that the island on which the first settlement was built stood up so far out of marsh."
No, the mud could not be river deposit. Woolley could not find an explanation, nor could his associates, so he decided to have his men dig down into this mud deposit. Deeper and deeper they sank their spades, with nothing but pure mud showing up. When they reached a depth of nearly ten feet the layer of mud ended as suddenly as it begun.
Naturally the diggers supposed that now at last they had reached the real virgin soil, but instead, what they found was rubble, ancient rubbish, and potsherds. What did this mean? Simply that below the mud deposit of nearly ten feet they had discovered evidence of human habitation. There was pottery there, not like the pottery found above the mud deposit, which gave evidence of having been turned on a potter's wheel, but handmade pottery.
Woolley, without doubt then reached the proper conclusion that was confirmed by prof. Langdon, that the mud deposit had been laid by the biblical Flood. This was a find that warranted publicity, and the day that Woolley reached his conclusion he flashed the information back to his home base, "we have found the flood." Here again, and in this remarkable manner, the truth of the Bible had been attested, as the archaeologists dug deeper and deeper into one of the cities of ancient Mesopotamia.