The Deluge or Noah’s Flood are the commonly used terms when referring to the biblical flood of Genesis. It might perhaps be more accurate to use the plural, as there is evidence of several large-scale catastrophic inundations within the human memory. The Noachian deluge has been the subject of continuous debate: was it real or pure fantasy, was it local, regional or global and is the Ark to be found on Mt. Ararat.
Reginald Fessenden controversially noted in his The Deluged Civilization of the Caucasus Isthmus  that “the traditions were collected, tabulated and compared. This developed the fact that there were only five traditions of an inundation of more than local character.”
1. The Greek tradition; of Deucalion; the Aegean, 100 to 250 miles southwest of the Black Sea.
2. The Egyptian-Phoenician; of Atlantis and the Greeks; the western and northeastern shores of the Black Sea.
3. The Cimmerian; of the Crimea; the north shore of the Black Sea.
4. The Hebrew-Babylonian; of Noah and Atra-Hasis; the southeast shore of the Black Sea.
5. The Phrygian; of Noe; the south shore of the Black Sea.
The Flood of Noah is an echo of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, which in turn has a resonance with the deluge story of Manu in Indian mythology. If all three relate to the same event it would be of great interest to discover if there was a shared origin.
Noah is the hero of the Deluge story in Genesis. He was also an accomplished shipbuilder and viticulturist. According to some he was also an Atlantean! Cosmas Indicopleustes a 6th century AD theologian and geographer from Alexandria wrote of Atlantis as a large island in the western ocean. He also added a twist to the tale by recording an ancient tradition that Noah had resided on Atlantis! More recently, Frank Joseph [108.85] has endorsed this daft idea.
Interestingly, so many of the deluge stories include a scenario where the ’hero’ is warned of the impending doom. To me, this would make sense that where a landbridge was threatened by gradually rising waters on one side, simple observation would have provided adequate time to warn those at risk on the other side.
Another identification, by Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., is that Noah is Nereus in Greek mythology and widely depicted in Greek art(c). Confusingly, it has also been suggested(a) that Enoch, usually accepted as the grandfather of Noah, were the same person.
According to Plato, Atlantis was destroyed by the gods as a punishment for their wickedness, while the same reason is given in the Bible for the obliteration of Noah’s people. Coincidentally, both Atlantis and Noah’s homeland, which was probably located in Mesopotamia, were destroyed by water leading to the not unreasonable suggestion that the two stories are related.
While the biblical account of the Deluge does not stand up to detailed scrutiny(j), the global ubiquity of Flood stories is seldom adequately explained. Some possibilities that occur to me are related to the ending of the last Ice Age, which had watery consequences around the world. While the rising sea level took place in fits and starts, there were more dramatic events during this period such as the huge meltwater lake discharges and Heinrich Events that occurred across North America and Eurasia. The effect in the southern hemisphere was less spectacular. Survivors would have been forced to migrate in all directions, bringing their account of these floods with them. Another explanation, but in my view, a more likely cause of global floods would have been a close encounter with a large extraterrestrial body, an idea promoted by various researchers such as Emilio Spedicato.
Apart from the story of the actual flood, global or otherwise, the detailed biblical account of the building of the Ark along with the gathering of the animals and the voyage itself does not hold water (sorry)(y). Some decades ago, Roger A. Moore offered a forensic study of the account, which, is still impressive(x).
In March 2019, a paper by Roger M. Pearlman put forward another radical idea, namely, that Göbekli Tepe had been founded by Noah (Noach) and his sons(u).
A more light-hearted look at the story of Noah is also worth a read(n).
Every aspect of Noah’s Deluge story in the Bible has been a source of controversy for centuries. From the nature and cause of the Flood itself, as well as the building of the Ark and its final resting place and of course the date of the event.
Some years ago, Pastor Bertrand L. Comparet (1901-1983), a staunch racist(w), denied that the Flood of Noah had been a global event(v).
2018 began with matters hitting rock-bottom when an English language newspaper offered the following headline(l) “Turkish academic claims Prophet Noah used a cell phone to call his son before the flood.” Unsurprisingly, Jason Colavito has covered this story with an interesting blog(m).
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods that occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean(ah) since the Atlantean war, namely, those of Ogyges, Deucalion and Dardanus. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a landbridge cannot explain this succession of inundations but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, which was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper [750.183] to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that conventional wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However, he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
Stephen Oppenheimer mentions  three sudden ice melts, 14,000, 11,500 and 8,000 years ago that would have had a global effect. It should be considered that the second date is close to Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Similarly, Gérard Gertoux places the Deluge circa 3200 BC in a lengthy paper(z), in which he also controversially touches on subjects such as radiocarbon dating, the age of the patriarchs, the Ice Ages, evolution and more.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(bi) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers, who date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the desiccated Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated to around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
On a more controversial level, Donald Patten and Samuel Windsor presented evidence  for a series of close encounters between Mars and the Earth during the 1st millennium BC. David Rohl, the Egyptologist, dates Noah’s Flood to 3114 BC  and links it with the climatic consequences of a major catastrophe in the Aleutian Islands.
Alexander and Edith Tollman linked the Noachian Deluge with the consequences of a cometary impact in 7552 BC. On the other hand, G.F. Dodwell the Australian astronomer, after studying ancient gnomons, concluded that it was a worldwide catastrophe in 2345 BC that altered the Earth’s tilt, leading to the Deluge. This is comparable with the 1696 claim by William Whiston that the earth had an encounter with a comet in 2346 BC, which caused the Flood of Noah. Emilio Spedicato advocates 3161 BC as the date of the biblical Deluge(ac), which has also been endorsed by Stuart L. Harris(ad).
When Ryan & Pitman(ae) published their 1997 theory that around 5600 BC, the Black Sea had been flooded by water from the Aegean breaching the Bosporus, it did not take long before it was speculated that the event was reflected in the story of Noah’s Deluge. With little delay, strong objections to the idea were raised by many others(af).
T.R.Holme has an interesting article(ax) on the flooding of the Black Sea and the migration from the region that resulted. He also links that event with the work of the late Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994).
Nick Thom, an engineering lecturer at Nottingham University has written The Great Flood  which gives an overview of many Flood myths, but more importantly, he identifies the emptying of glacial Lake Agassiz around 6250 BC as the mechanism which caused a tilting of the Earth, which in turn generated a global deluge remembered by the survivors in myth and later recorded in scriptures. This is also fully outlined in a lengthy entitled, A Re-interpretation of the 8.2ky BP Event(ag). Also relevant to our subject is his claim that the flow of water was from the Black Sea into the Aegean rather than the other way around!
Jeffrey Goodman, the controversial author of Psychic Archeology , maintains that “Noah’s Flood was, in reality, a tsunami caused by a comet” and supports this contention with a retranslation of Genesis 7:11 (ar).
Kirk Kirchev in a recent (April 2018) two-part article(bb) “offers a unifying scientific hypothesis that connects diverse ancient flood myths with mainstream scientific fact.” and concluded that “If my calculations and assumptions are correct, an object of around 900 km in diameter passing the earth at an altitude of less than 1000 kilometres (621.37 miles) (of average, rocky density) would be large and heavy enough to create a strong localized tidal uplift in the oceans beneath its flight path (approximately 50 times the current tidal amplitude). That is large enough to destroy most of humankind, and a large portion of the fauna, but small enough to not cause a major extinction event or to disturb earth’s orbital path and rotation.”
Immanuel Velikovsky’s controversial cosmological ideas suggest that our Earth had at one point been a satellite of Saturn! In his unpublished book, In the Beginning (bk), he proposed that “The conflict between the larger planets resulted in long-stretched filaments ejected by a disturbed Saturn to cross the Earth’s orbit. The hydrogen of the planet combined with the oxygen of the terrestrial atmosphere in electrical discharges and turned into water” and so generated the Deluge!
In 1993, Alexander Tollman and his wife Edith published, Und die Sintflut gab es doch. Vom Mythos zur historischen Wahrheit, “which claimed that Noah’s flood was the consequence of a bolide impact about 9500 years ago, and supported the claim through geology (impact craters, iridium, shatter cones, stress lamination of minerals, radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, a peak of acid in the Greenland ice) and legends and folk traditions.”(bj) Christian O’Brien has endorsed the Tollmans’ ideas(bl).
Aloys Eiling (1952- ) a German researcher has offered a variation on the close encounter theory, suggesting that the Deluge was one of the consequences of the capture of our Moon that took place when our planet was already populated – somewhere between 40,000 and 13,000 BC. He notes(bn) that “the capture of the Moon caused worse than a flood; it changed the geography of the world. Earth’s surface was devastated, millions died, and life in total was brought to the brink of extinction. In the collective memory of mankind, the event indelibly remained in the myths about a Deluge.”
Nevertheless, there is one rather disturbing element to be found alongside some of the flood myths, namely that the deluge event was concurrent with the sun seemingly standing still and in some cases, it is recorded that the Moon also appeared to stop(o)(av)! One explanation on offer is that it is a reference to an eclipse(aw). This might be acceptable if it was compatible with other myths from different parts of the world, which does not appear to be the case. Furthermore, it does not explain the association of the stopping of the sun with the global deluge. A very close encounter between the Earth and another large celestial body might.
As I see it, we are left with the two popular explanations for the global flood myths, either a close encounter with an extraterrestrial body that created a megatsunami that was on such a scale that it swept around the globe, perhaps many times before dissipating or the melting of the Ice Age glaciers produced the cyclical bursting of ice-dams and landbridges and the inundation of vast areas of low-lying land. I’m inclined to believe that the balance of probabilities favours the latter explanation, although I find it difficult to accept that gradual deglaciation would or could have generated floods that ‘covered mountains’ (Gen. vii.19)!
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes and/or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(bh) that around 6000 BC, a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
>GLOBAL or LOCAL
The scientific case against a global deluge is presented in a paper by Lorence G. Collins.(bt)<
An interesting overview of traditional as well as modern thinking regarding the possible historical reality behind the Deluge of Genesis is presented(ai) by Robert Squillace on the New York University website.
On January 1st 2010 it was revealed(b) that a 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet which, unlike the biblical record, describes an ark made of reeds, 70 metres in width and round in shape(aj)(ak). This would have been recorded a thousand years before the Genesis story was written down. Understandably, this has caused the knickers of some fundamentalist Christians to become seriously twisted! The discovery has now been expanded on by a cuneiform specialist at the British Museum, Irving Finkel, in The Ark before Noah . Jason Colavito offers an interesting review of the book(d).
Even more radical is the result of a high-tech study of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which suggest that Noah’s Ark was pyramidal in shape(al)! Commenting on this report, Jason Colavito has pointed out that the concept of a pyramid-shaped ark is not new(am).
There is an unexpectedly large number of books written over the last century on the subject of Noah’s Ark that is listed on a specialist website(e). One such offering, resurrected by Jason Colavito(f), provides some comic relief with the claim in 1922 by C. E. Getsinger, who wrote that Noah’s Ark was the Great Pyramid!(g) Even earlier, John Taylor (1781-1864) claimed  that Noah had built the Great Pyramid! Nevertheless, a recently deciphered fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls has suggested that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid!(h)(i)
Barry Warmkessel also entered the fray with the suggestion that aliens had been involved in the design and construction of the Ark(r)! Nevertheless, that idea certainly competes with the suggestion of Xavier Séguin that the ‘Ark’ of Noah had been an Earth satellite(aa)!
Even more radical is the claim by Hebrew scholar Richard Seary that the Ark never actually existed, but that conventionally accepted understanding of the Genesis text is the result of some incorrect translations(aq). One example is that there is no such material as gopher-wood and that the word ‘gofer’ means lava!
A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark was due to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Holland in the summer of 2016(an). It was built over four years by a carpenter, Johan Huibers, completing it in 2012. It is 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 tons and is said to hold more than 5,000 people at any one time. However, there is no provision for live animals! The replica was sold to Aad Peters, a Dutch artist, who in 2019 brought it to Ipswich in Britain. Unfortunately, it has been impounded by the authorities there as it lacks the appropriate paperwork to permit it to leave. There are also serious concerns regarding its seaworthiness and is also clocking up port fees of £500 a day(ao)(ap).
UBIQUITY OF FLOOD MYTHS
Flood myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
The competing concepts of global deluge versus local inundations are discussed in a brief paper(bc) from L. James Gibson, who concluded that “these local floods do not explain important features of the biblical flood.”
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(bd) in Scientific American has full details.
These ancient flood stories are to be found to contain content with a remarkable similarity of detail. It is worth pointing out that none of these legends ever recount the ‘hero’ of their particular tale returning to his former home. One simple explanation for this might be that the original homelands no longer existed. This would not normally be the case if the floods in question were tidal, storm-driven or even giant tsunamis. However, if the inundations were the result of rising sea levels, resulting from the melting of Ice Age glaciers, we could expect two principal effects. The first would have been the gradual submergence of all low-lying flood plains that are now identified as continental shelves. Two of the best known of these would be the Sunda Shelf (Sundaland) and the area stretching from the west coast of mainland Europe across the North Sea encompassing the British Isles and into the Atlantic beyond Ireland. The second effect would have been the dramatic inundation of valleys and basins protected by low landbridges or dams. Again, we have examples, some debatable, such as the Baltic, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and perhaps the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Japan.
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(be). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(bf). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(bg).
Despite the existence of these huge collections of worldwide flood myths(ay) there appears to be one glaring omission, from all such databases, namely a contribution from Egypt where, inexplicably, there is no such deluge tradition apart from the predictable annual flooding of the Nile. However, there is the Egyptian story of Hathor/Sekhmet(az)(ba) who flooded the land with blood, which some may interpret as a mythological code for water!
The flooding of all these worldwide locations would have occurred quite slowly over an extended period following the last Ice Age, possibly providing the basis for the widespread existence of these flood myths. However, it could not explain the biblical claim that the flood covered mountains.
Dhani Irwanto, author of Atlantis: The Lost City in the Java Sea , offers a number of interesting articles on his website including an extensive overview of the ubiquity of Deluge stories, concluding with the following comment “Thus, Noah and the waters of the great Flood are not only recalled in the ancient traditions of all nations, but their names have also become incorporated in many and varied ways into the very languages of his descendants. The trails are tenuous and often almost obliterated so that some of the inferred connections are speculative and possibly mistaken, but the correlations are too numerous to be only coincidental, thus adding yet one more evidence for the historicity of the Great Flood.(bs)“
Many Atlantologists have sought to link the Deluge with the inundation of Atlantis. Egerton Sykes was a keen supporter of the idea. Joseph S. Ellul has interpreted the biblical story to support the idea of a landbridge at Gibraltar, which eventually collapsed when the waters of the Atlantic rose after the last Ice Age. Ellul maintains that Genesis 7:11 ‘All the springs of the Great Deep broke through’ is a reference to the percolation of the Atlantic waters, through the Gibraltar dam, that eventually led to its collapse as the sea level rose or was shattered by seismic or tectonic movements. I find it hard to accept this, because the pressure that is exerted by the Atlantic, would have rapidly changed any such seepage into a major breach and the subsequent collapse of the dam. Gerhard F. Hasel, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology offers a more conventional interpretation of “the fountains of the great deep” in a paper with the same name(ab).
Nevertheless, 2017 finished with renewed interest in Noah’s Ark being generated by media reports(k) of statements emanating from The Geoscience Research Institute, which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which claims that a 2010 expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey, carbon-dated timbers found there to 4,800 years ago.
A sceptical 2019 article has looked critically at many aspects of the story of the Ark, including the most commonly offered Turkish site as the resting place of the Ark – “One of the most famous supposedly-Noah’s-ark sites is the admittedly very boat-looking Durupinar site in the Mount Tendurek area in Turkey. According to Atlas Obscura, the site was exposed in the late 1940s after a series of earthquakes and storms.”(an)
The late David Allen Deal was another investigator to propose the Ararat region as the landing place of the Ark, with Mt. Judi as the specific location(o). A more recent article supports his ideas(p). The precise location of the biblical Ararat is a matter of continuing and intense debate(q).
The UK’s Daily Mail added that talking after the initial claims in 2010, Mike Pitt, a British archaeologist, said the evangelical explorers had yet to produce compelling evidence. He said: ‘If there had been a flood capable of lifting a huge ship 2.5 miles [4km] up the side of a mountain 4,800 years ago, I think there would be substantial geological evidence for this flood around the world. And there isn’t.’
In his 2020 book, Apocalypse , Dr Sean Welsh agreed that Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mt. Ararat, but took everyone by surprise by claiming that it was not Ararat in Turkey but Ararat mountain on Crimea’s Kerch Peninsula! Welsh does not explain where Shinar was in relation to his Ararat. Conventional wisdom locates it in southern Mesopotamia, placing them around 2,500 km apart.
Angelo Palego was an Italian researcher who has spent 35 years seeking Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat (Mount Agiri) on the Turkish-Iranian border(bq). Unfortunately, in 2021 he fell ill while in Turkey and died on August 15th, aged 86, and in accordance with his wishes was buried on the slopes of Mt. Ararat(bp).
However, a more valuable offering was a paper(ab) delivered in 2008 to the Sixth International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA by Anne Habermehl. She finished her contribution, Review of the Search for Noah’s Ark, with the following conclusions;
“(1) It would appear that the Ark cannot have landed on Mount Ararat, because scientists have shown that this mountain did not exist until some time after the Flood had ended. (Also, the area that Mount Ararat occupies was probably not yet included in Urartu at that time.)
(2) In light of historical and geographical considerations, Mount Cudi near Cizre, Turkey, is the most likely place where the Ark landed.
(3) It seems doubtful that anyone has actually seen the Ark anywhere in modern times. The alleged sightings all seem to evaporate on careful examination.
(4) It is unlikely that very much of the Ark exists today; it is probable that over the millennia it has decayed, and various scavengers have taken most of it away.
(5) Because of 14C dating problems, it may not be possible to prove that any given samples are or are not the right age to have come from the Ark.
(6) More archaeological work needs to be done if we are ever to reasonably prove the Ark’s landing spot anywhere.
(7) It is probable that no matter what is found in any location, there are those who will remain unconvinced.
(8) Interest in finding the Ark is unabated, and the Ark search will go on.
At the end of the day, we have to face the reality that it may be difficult, or even impossible, ever to prove where the Ark landed. This author would have liked to end on an optimistic note for the soon recovery of a largely intact, proven Ark, but this seems unlikely; and this paper therefore ends, in the words of T. S. Eliot (1925): “Not with a bang but a whimper.”
In 2021, author S.H. Scholar in a short book entitled Heavenly Flood  modestly claimed to have “uncovered history’s greatest secret – the influence of ancient astrology on the development of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood Tale.” John McHugh has also offered a comparable zodiacal link with the biblical Deluge story in The Celestial Code of Scripture  which has been critiqued by Gary D. Thompson(bm).
Eugenio Ralbadisole who advocates India as the home of Atlantis also locates the landing place of Noah’s Ark in the same region. Based on texts in the Vedas where “we read that a man after a catastrophic flood arrived with his ship full of animals in a village called Naubandhana. A location with similar names can be found near “Barda Hills” in Gujarat.” (bo)
(g) The Thomson Review, Thomson, Illinois, July 19th, 1922 – p.3,
(r) Archive 3514
(aq) Fortean Times, April 2014, p.55
* See Atlantis Vol.6, Nos.1,2&3, May, July & September 1953
The Patriarchs referred to in Genesis and their seemingly exaggerated longevity have been a source of continuous debate ever since biblical criticism developed in the 18th century. Cornelius de Pauw referred to the apparently exaggerated life spans of the biblical patriarchs explaining that it was widespread in the Middle East and further afield to name a dynasty or family after its founder and attribute the total years of its reign to that founder. [1756.258]
Emilio Spedicato in a paper(f) entitled Large Numbers in Asian Chronology Decrypted includes some radical ideas on how to resolve the mystery of the ages of the patriarchs recorded in the Bible.
A paper(a) by an unnamed and apparently deceased author was published by Duane L. Christensen. It approaches the ages of the patriarchs from a numerological standpoint with some curious conclusions. I’m wary of all such occult claims but will leave it to readers to decide.
Another paper by Dean Talboys, entitled Methuselah Debunked(b)(c)(d) offers a convoluted explanation for the ages based on Babylonian astronomy/astrology.
>Philip Coppens has also touched on a possible astronomical explanation for the patriarchal numbers(g).<
(e) https://www.academia.edu/17026643/Noah_and_the_Deluge_Chronological_Historical_and_Archaeological_Evidence (around one-third of the page down)
Gunung Padang is a megalithic site on the Indonesian island of Java, which was first surveyed in 1914 by the Dutch colonial authorities and published as Rapporten van de Oudheidkundige Dienst (Report of the Department of Antiquities). A post-war Australian investigation concluded that the site was much older than previously believed. Now, with presidential support, local archaeologists are carrying out an extensive investigation of the site.
The site has recently been claimed as part of Atlantis. Evidence that the site contains hidden chambers prompted Graham Hancock to speculate whether it “Could it be the fabled “Hall of Records” of Atlantis?”(k).
A few years ago the late Arysio dos Santos was the leading proponent of Sundaland, which included Indonesia, being Atlantis. Then Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (DHN) an Indonesian geologist has made a similar claim in his Kindle ebook, Plato Never Lied: Atlantis Is in Indonesia. In it, Gunung Padang plays an important role. Mount Padang has also been claimed as the world’s oldest pyramid!>Although I do not support the idea of an Indonesian Atlantis, I am forced to admit that a far more interesting case for it has been made by Dhani Irwanto.
In his review of Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods, Jason Colavito refers to “Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, the Indonesian geologist who declared the site of Gunung Padang on Sumatra to be ten or twenty thousand years old, and thus making Indonesia the cradle of civilization. Natawidjaja is a true believer in fringe history and suspects that Plato was speaking of Gunung Padang when writing of Atlantis. His opinions are noteworthy only because the previous government of Indonesia gave him the money and resources to excavate the site in search of proof of Indonesian primacy in history before the current government shut down the investigation for becoming an international laughingstock. Like Semir Osmanogich in Bosnia, Natawidjaja sees artificial layers of construction in the deepest layers of what his colleagues in Indonesia and archaeologists around the world believe to be a natural hill crowned with later ruins.” (n).<
Nevertheless, a recent (May 2017) assault on Natawidjaja’s theories in an open letter(i) from Rebecca Bradley has laid bare the weaknesses in his claims.
DHN in an address to the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in 2018, said that radiocarbon dating suggests the top layer of the site could be up to 3,500 old years old, the second layer somewhere around 8,000 years old, and the third layer anywhere in the vicinity of 9,500 to 28,000 years old(j).
One report that I thought rather interesting was that “aside from its age, is that during coring it was found that much of the buried structure was reinforced with a type of cement. This bonding agent, which has been used as a mortar and sort of glue in certain parts of the site, consists of 45% iron ore, 41% silica and 14% clay. It’s said that this mixture provides for a very strong and durable mortar base, and is surprising evidence of the level of sophistication of the building technique.”(l)
Andrew Collins has now added an article(h). to his website that examines the preliminary claim that the lower levels at the site could be 12,000 years older than Gobekli Tepe. If confirmed, it will undoubtedly require some rewriting of history books. Do not lose sight of the fact that radiocarbon dating has limitations, being accurate for up to around 6,000 years with increasing unreliability up to perhaps 50,000 BC after which it is generally useless.
We now (Nov. ’14) have a report(e) that some type of ‘electrical device’ has been discovered at the site ‘made out of gold and copper and seems to resemble a primitive electrical capacitor.’ Until further information is available this claim must be treated with caution.
There are, however, dissenting voices as reported by journalist, Michael Bachelard(g), such as vulcanologist Sutikno Bronto, who says “Gunung Padang is simply the neck of a nearby volcano, not an ancient pyramid. Danny Hilman is not a vulcanologist. I am.” As for the carbon-dated cement between the stones, on which Hilman relies for his claims about the age of the site, Sutikno believes it is simply the byproduct of a natural weathering process, ”not man-made”. Other sceptics are even tougher. One archaeologist, who does not wish to be named since the President took such an interest, says the presidential taskforce is deluding itself. ”In the Pawon cave in Padalarang [about 45 kilometres from Gunung Padang], we found some human bones and tools made of bones about 9500 years ago, or about 7000 BCE. So, if at 7000 BCE our technology was only producing tools of bones, how can people from 20,000 BCE obtain the technology to build a pyramid?” the archaeologist asks.
Hendrik J. Bruins is a Dutch professor of geology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. In April 2007 he appeared on a BBC Timewatch documentary entitled The Wave that Destroyed Atlantis. In it he supported the new old idea that Atlantis was Crete and had been destroyed by a megatsunami generated by the eruption of Thera. Costas Synolakis, a tsunami expert from the University of Southern California, on the same programme pointed out that apart from tsunami damage to ports and shipping, ash falls would have resulted in crop failure and general social collapse. Neither Bruins or Synolakis attempted to match the full Atlantis text with the Minoan location.
>In 2010, Bruins commenting on new developments in the radiocarbon dating of Pharaonic Egypt conceded that “major problems exist here in relation to the Santorini eruption between archaeological dating, radiocarbon dating and association between archaeological strata in the field and Egyptian Historical Chronology.”(a)
Dating Techniques have improved in leaps and bounds since the 19thcentury when Charles Lyell first gave stratigraphy widespread publicity as a means of dating archaeological finds, if only relatively. Nicolas Steno had laid the foundations of this discipline two centuries earlier(j).
In very simple terms, generally, it means that as you dig, older objects will be found under younger ones. For over a century this was one of the few dating methods available to archaeologists, but unfortunately, it could not offer specific dates.
Another early dating method was ‘typology’(d), defined as the classification of artefacts according to their physical characteristics.
This approach can be traced back to the 16th century when John Leland (1503-1552) began classifying bricks according to size and shape(I).
Arguably the best known uses of the method relate to Stone Age implements and later to pottery. Relating to Atlantis studies, we find that Jürgen Spanuth applied typology to the weaponry and dress of the Sea Peoples as portrayed at Medinet Habu to support his theory that they came from Northern Europe.
Absolute dating began with the introduction of radiometric dating methods beginning with radiocarbon dating developed by Willard Libby in 1949. Around the same time, dendrochronology was being refined as a dating method with a margin of error less than that of radiometry, which requires expensive equipment and potentially has a greater risk of contamination. This was followed by thermoluminescence (1957) for dating pottery and more recently optical thermoluminescence (1994) has been developed, enabling the dating of building stone.
Dating objects between 50,000 and 100,000 years old has been difficult as most methods have questionable reliability for this period. However, in 2004 a new method, known as quartz hydration dating was developed at UC Irvine(f).
All the above methods have varying margins of error that are continually being reduced and no doubt will improve further. These enhancements together with new exciting dating methods that can be expected to emerge, will undoubtedly have a profound influence on our understanding of prehistory. Consider how improvements in DNA analysis have enabled the solving of crimes years after cases had gone ‘cold’.
More cautionary offerings(a)(c) came from the catastrophist website, thunderbolts.info., in which events involving influences outside our planet might affect the assumptions upon which some of our radiometrics are based. Since these events are not frequent occurrences we do not, as yet, have enough data to develop more reliable calibration charts.
In May 2012, in the journal Nature, Ewen Callaway has an article(b) that further highlights potential weaknesses that may be encountered with radiocarbon dating.
The fascinating CAIS website offers a good overview(e) of the range of sophisticated dating techniques available today. We can reasonably expect it to expand.
A July 2015 article(g) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. has highlighted a new threat that the burning of fossil fuels has introduced into the reliability of radiocarbon dating.
“As carbon-14 decays over time the fraction will decrease so that’s how we use it for dating,” the paper’s author Dr Heather Graven told BBC News.
“But we can also change this ratio of radioactive carbon to total carbon, if we are adding non-radioactive carbon and that’s what’s happening with fossil fuels, we get this dilution effect.”
“At current rates of emissions increase”, according to the research, “a new piece of clothing in 2050 would have the same carbon date as a robe worn by William the Conqueror 1,000 years earlier.”
The latest dating method, proposed by Michael Dee and Benjamin Pope(h) combines dendrochronology with radiocarbon dating and is designed to identify specific years based on spikes in the carbon14 found in specific growth rings, caused by energy discharges during solar storms. Dee and Pope have called this new science ‘astrochronology’ and anticipate that its application will tie down the so-called ‘floating chronologies’ of ancient Egypt and elsewhere.
Emmet John Sweeney is a Scottish historian, who graduated from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He has followed the lead of Immanuel Velikovsky and produced several books arguing for a radical revision of the generally accepted chronologies of the early civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean.
He controversially claims that “all the civilisations on both sides of the Atlantic arose more or less simultaneously, sometime between 1100 and 1200 BC” [700.202].
In Empire Of Thebes, Or, Ages In Chaos Revisited  Sweeney returns to the work of Velikovsky and “seeks to complete the work which he commenced, identifying the problems Velikovsky could not solve, and bringing forward a great body of evidence not even mentioned by Velikovsky which supports his identification of Hatshepsut with the Queen of Sheba. Velikovsky was rejected by the academic establishment because of a number of contradictions in the chronology he outlined. Sweeney shows that despite some gaps and incompletions, his (Velikovsky’s) books were brilliant works of scholarship with much to recommend them. For decades now various scholars have attempted to solve the enigma. Yet the answer was stunningly simple and in front of us all the time. Empire of Thebes provides the solution and finally allows the possibility of a complete and satisfactory reconstruction of ancient history. This work calls for a much more radical shortening of ancient chronology and asserts that Velikovsky ran into a dead end because he placed too much reliance on the Bible as a chronological measuring rod.”
>Velikovsky’s (and Sweeney’s) identification of the Queen of Sheba with Hatshepsut was recently endorsed in a paper by Ken Griffith and Darrell K. White (f).<
He further claims that the Egyptian pyramids were constructed around 800 BC(d) and that Atlantis was destroyed around the same period! This date is significant as it coincides with an event that led to devastation in Southern Germany and the Alps involving huge inundations and tilting of lake shorelines which could only be brought about by a very powerful seismic upheaval(b).
“His claim that the Great Pyramid was constructed around 850 BC, rather than 2550 BC, is viewed as unfounded sensationalism. Sweeney’s claims that the pyramid-builders would have needed steel tools to cut granite, basalt and diorite, is said to have been disproved by the researches of Denys A. Stocks, who shows (Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology, 2003) that granite, for example, can be worked by pounding it with a harder stone, such as basalt. Sweeney however has pointed out that while large granite surfaces can be ground down in this way, Pyramid Age sculptors must have been in possession of steel tools, since the carving of basalt and diorite portrait statues, which display details of eyes, nose, ears, etc, can only have been executed using very sharp and fine cutting-tools.”(e)
He has also tackled the Arthurian legend, regarding which he considers Stonehenge to have been Arthur’s ‘round table’. The blurb for his 2001 book Arthur and Stonehenge goes further stating that “As for Arthur himself, he was the primitive bear-god “Artos”, the Celtic version of Hercules. Originally portrayed with a bearskin over his head and shoulders and carrying a great oaken club, he became the prototype of the Greek Hercules when Hellenic traders, braving the wild waters of the Atlantic in search of tin, heard his story from the Britons.”
Sweeney has now ventured beyond his comfort zone and devoted his talents to the Atlantis question. He argues for the existence of a large island in the Atlantic, whose remnants today are the Azores. He sees this island as a stepping-stone to the Americas, which is necessary to explain the evidence of transatlantic contacts in the very distant past. He also takes the opportunity to highlight weaknesses in radiocarbon dating (p218).
The Washington Times, which is owned by the ‘Moonies’, gave his book a favourable review(a)! The reviewer, Martin Sieff, a native of Belfast and Velikovskian catastrophist, is accused by Jason Colavito of using his critique to promote Sweeney more as a catastrophist rather than as an atlantologist and does so without revealing Sieff’s catastrophist background.
A more critical review of Sweeney’s work can also be found elsewhere on the Internet(c).
(b) H. Gams and R. Nordhagen, Mitteil. der Geograph. Ges. in Munchen, XVI, H. 2 (1923), pp. 13-348. R. Sernander, ‘Klimaverschlechterung, Postglaciale’ in Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte, VII (1926); O. Paret, Das Neue Bild der Vorgeschuchte (1948), p.44.
Dendrochronology is the science of dating the age of timber by comparing the sequence of its tree-ring width variations with that of timbers of a known date, ideally belonging to the same species and from the same location. As with any science it is not without its difficulties(c), but is generally considered to be more accurate than radiocarbon dating, which is frequently calibrated using dendrochronology. Fully anchored chronologies now exist for river oaks in parts of Germany dating back over 10,000 years and a similar chronology extending back 6500 years exists for the bristlecone pine of California’s White Mountains. A new project(b) involving the Kauri trees of New Zealand has commenced, which should give an accurate climate record for the past 30,000 years. Some of these trees are dated to 130,000 years ago.
Professor Mike Baillie, one of the leading dendrochronologists in Europe, has written about ‘dendro’ evidence of cometary impacts. One such impact has been suggested by a number of commentators, as the possible cause of the demise of Atlantis.
While the science of dendrochronology is perfectly sound there can a need for fine tuning to take account of unexpected factors like the nibbling of tree trunks by animals such as sheep. Recent studies in Norway(d) over a nine year period provided data enabling appropriate calibration to be achieved.
In 2014, Gunnar Heinsohn, a German chronology revisionist, questioned the value of dendrochronology, which was followed by a rebuttal from Mike Baillie(e). This debate continues, with many specific details far from resolved (f).
Professor Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, of the University of Tennessee, has a most informative website(a) on dendrochronology,>which along with a 2020 paper from Nate Loper brings the subject more up to date(g).
An International Conference on Dendrochronology and Climate was held in Amsterdam in February 2022 that was aimed at bringing together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Dendrochronology and Climate. It also provided a premier platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns, as well as practical challenges, encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Dendrochronology and Climate.<
For the sake of balance, I have included a link to a creationist website debunking dendrochronology.(h)
(c) See Archive 3046
Radiocarbon Dating was developed by a team led by Willard F. Libby (1908-1980) just after World War II and won him a Nobel Prize for the work. However, in his acceptance speech, Libby generously acknowledged the contribution made by the earlier work of Serge Korff (1906-1989).
Radiocarbon Dating is based on the fact that when organisms die the amount of Carbon-14 in the remains decay at a fixed rate. Although initially hailed as a definitive dating method for organic remains, it soon became obvious that it was not quite as reliable a tool as initially thought, although still widely used.
Originally a Carbon-14 half-life of 5568±30 years was used and is known as the Libby half-life. Later this was revised to 5730±40 years and is known as the Cambridge half-life. The initial theory was based on the assumption that Carbon-14 was being produced at a constant rate. However, this constancy has been questioned, as it can vary as a result of changes in the earth’s magnetic field. The intervention of man in the form of atomic bomb tests briefly doubled the amount of Carbon-14 produced(I). Local events can also have a dramatic effect on measurements; for example, the Tunguska explosion left the soil there so enriched with Carbon-14 that it gives a date in the future (1)! Emilio Spedicato has also pointed out that Carbon-14 can be created in the atmosphere by any cometary or asteroidal impact and so alter the assumed constant ratio of C12 to C14.
Immanuel Velikovsky offered the following valuable observation(j) “as the method was refined, it started to show rather regular anomalies. First, it was noticed that, when radiocarbon dated, wood grown in the 20th century appears more ancient than wood grown in the 19th century. Suess explained the phenomenon by the fact that the increased industrial use of fossil carbon in coal and in oil changed the ratio between the dead carbon C12 and the C14 (radiocarbon) in the atmosphere and therefore also in the biosphere. In centuries to come a body of a man or animal who lived and died in the 20th century would appear paradoxically of greater age since death than the body of a man or animal of the 19th century, and if the process of industrial use of fossil, therefore dead, carbon continues to increase, as it is expected will be the case, the paradox will continue into the forthcoming centuries.”
Graham Phillips mentions that ‘recent evidence suggests that that the level of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere may have decreased permanently around 3,500 years ago due to changes in the earth’s magnetic field.’ This has resulted in dates around that period being up to 500 years out. Calibration figures are now available to take account of some of these deviations based on data from dendrochronology, ice and sediment cores and coral samples. Further refinements are not to be ruled out.
These weaknesses in radiocarbon dating have been seized upon by some fundamentalist Christian groups determined to justify their ‘young earth’ beliefs(d). However, attacks on the basic concepts underlying radiocarbon dating have been refuted by its supporters(e).
In 774/5 AD an increase of 1.2% of Carbon14 was detected through tree ring studies(c). This is thought to be the result of an external event such as a supernova or solar flare. Since many other episodes of a lesser or greater intensity have probably occurred, a growing shadow is being cast over the reliability of radiocarbon dating that may only be dissipated by further studies. Further complex recalibration is not to be ruled out, as it is highly unlikely that this eighth-century event was the only such occurrence.
A recent report(h) has drawn attention to the danger of using fossil fuels, as it pumps a type of carbon into the atmosphere that confuses the dating technique. Scientists say that by 2050, new clothes could have the same radiocarbon date as items 1,000 years old!
Radiocarbon dating is only useful up to a maximum of around 50,000 years. In February 2010, researchers at Queens University Belfast announced a new calibration curve that extends back over the 50 millennia. The production of this calibration curve is the result of 30 years of research into the variations in atmospheric Carbon 14 caused by solar activity, the earth’s magnetic field and the oceans. Other radiometric dating methods are now available to deal with dates beyond this limit.
2010 also saw another important refinement of radiocarbon dating with the development of a ‘non-destructive carbon dating’ method which will enable the dating of very delicate, rare or highly valuable artefacts, without having to destroy any samples from them, as is required at present(a).
One strong dissenting voice was that of the archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, former Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities who said “Carbon-14 dating has a margin of error of 100 years. In order to date Egyptian dynasties, we need to have specific dates; you cannot use carbon dating,” Hawass explained further to Al-Masry Al-Youm(s), that “this technique shouldn’t be used at all in making changes to the chronology of the ancient Egypt, not even as a helpful addition.” Incidentally, in April 2015, a temperamental Hawass walked out of a debate with Graham Hancock over the inclusion of an image of Robert Bauval in Hancock’s presentation(g).
Emmet Sweeney tells a disturbing story of how some establishments have treated inconvenient C14 results, recounting[700.221] “the fate of samples from the tomb of Tutankhamun subjected by the British Museum to radiocarbon testing. The samples, consisting of fibers of a reed mat and a palm kernel, produced dates of 844BC and 899BC respectively. These were broadly in line with the date for Tutankhamun predicted by Velikovsky, but roughly 500 years too recent for textbook chronology. Despite assurances given to Velikovsky that the results would be published, they never saw the light of day.” [758.xvi]
>One can be forgiven for cynically interpreting Sweeney’s abandonment of radiocarbon dating as an absolute necessity, otherwise, all of Sweeney’s radical ancient chronology revisions collapse. Undoubtedly, all dating methods have their problems and radiocarbon dating is no exception. However, it makes better sense to address the problems, rather than discard the method entirely. I think it foolish to ignore entirely the body of work developed in connection with radiocarbon dating over the past three-quarters of a century.
Nevertheless, Sweeney makes the valid point that radiocarbon dating is based on the questionable assumption that the proportion of carbon14 in the atmosphere has always been constant, but does not offer any details regarding the extent of any such variations. While Sweeney may have his reasons for wanting to undermine the value of radiocarbon dating, as also do creationists. So in defence of radiocarbon dating a 2022 paper by David H. Bailey noted that “radiocarbon dates, determined by well-established procedures and calculations, are compared directly with dates determined by the other methods, thus permitting the radiocarbon dates to be accurately calibrated with distinct and independent dating techniques.”(x)<
In Forgotten Civilization and his earlier Pyramid Quest, Robert Schoch has drawn attention to some difficulties that have arisen with radiocarbon dating and the implications for Egyptology. A warning about future difficulties with the reliability of radiocarbon dating has been issued by Heather Graven, a climate-physics researcher at Imperial College London. She has found that the rate of fossil-fuel emissions is skewing the carbon ratios used to determine an object’s age. She estimates that by 2050 atmospheric carbon dioxide will make new organic material appear to be 1,000 years old(2). Graham Hancock has also expressed reservations regarding the use of radiocarbon dating, urging both caution and open-mindedness(m).
Hancock’s son, Sean, has written a couple of papers on the subject of radiocarbon dating, one concerning the subject generally(u), the other, regarding its application at Tiwanaku(v). He concluded the former with the comment that “radiocarbon dating is useful as a complement to other data; this is when it is strong. Until the day comes that every variable can be controlled and every error eliminated radiocarbon dates will never have the final word on archaeological sites.” Concerning Tiwanaku, he is equally critical noting that “The question we have to ask is whether or not these radiocarbon dates are archaeologically representative? I believe the answer to that question is no. What is called for is a more thorough excavation programme at Tiahuanaco that would once and for all close this case.”
An even more jaundiced view of current dating difficulties is expressed(l) by Jonathan Gray.
One of these, namely, the potassium/argon method has been claimed by writers such as Richard Milton to have its inherent problems and must be treated with caution. It appears that although dating methods have advanced greatly further improvements can be expected.
The latest refinement of radiocarbon dating techniques has shortened the time taken from six days to two and additionally, now allows on-site testing(f).
The Malagabay website(n) posted a series of blogs through April 2017 under the heading of ‘Deranged Dating’ highlighting weaknesses in radiocarbon dating!
There is now a valuable list of papers(o), with links, devoted to the many problems that have gradually emerged concerning radiocarbon dating. This is just part of the ‘A New Chronology’ website(p).
June 2018 saw a report issued from Cornell University that highlighted some inaccuracies that have been found in dates relating to the southern Levant region, which includes parts of Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Archaeologist Sturt Manning and his colleagues “have revealed variations in the radiocarbon cycle at certain periods, affecting frequently cited standards used in archaeological and historical research.” (q)(t)
Currently, standard calibration curves assume that at any given time radiocarbon levels are similar and stable everywhere across each hemisphere. It seems therefore that the calibration of radiocarbon dates will have to take account of regional factors in future. In March 2020 a further study(r) from Cornell confirmed the value of regional calibration, which can now be applied to contentious issues such as the date of Tutankhamun’s death and the eruption of Thera (Santorini).
In September 2021 a paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science claimed to have solved the problem of current radiocarbon analysis typically used to reconstruct past human demographic changes relies on a method “easily skewed by radiocarbon calibration curves and measurement uncertainty.” Lead author Michael Holton Price claims that he has developed a new statistical method for summarising sets of radiocarbon dates. Price developed an approach to estimating prehistoric populations that use Bayesian reasoning and a flexible probability model that allows researchers to overcome the problem of ‘equifinality’, where a single carbon14 value can correspond to a different date. “This paper is just the first step. Next, through ‘data fusion’, the team will add ancient DNA and other data to radiocarbon dates for even more reliable demographic reconstructions.” (w)
(1) New Scientist (7/9/02, p.14)
(2) Fortean Times (FT340) May 2016, p.16