Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dating Noah's Flood

I don't think I'm alone in wondering, when was Noah's flood? Although we can't answer this with precision, it is worth noting that some of the Bible's descriptions of Noah's culture correspond nicely to between 4000 to 3000 B.C.

One of those clues that intrigues me personally is the ancient practice of wine-making. The biblical text describes Noah as a vineyard farmer and wine-maker (Gen. 9:20). Recently, another wine-making site was discovered, one which corresponds to this time period. It dates to about 4000 B.C. This is the oldest complete wine-making facility ever discovered. Basically, archaeologists can reconstruct the process from start to finish all in this one location.

Ironically, it's in Turkey, near the mountains of Ararat. (Sound familiar?)
Now, I think it's a stretch to say that archaeologists have discovered Noah's winery (although that's a great headline for selling newspapers). In fact, it seems quite likely that the level of technology at this particular site is so well developed that it must have been preceded by older, less developed technology. What we don't know is how far back that goes. We have other evidence that points to wine-making going back to around 7,000 B.C.

What we can say is that the time and place are broadly consistent with the biblical description and as such offer interesting corroborating evidence.

Here is a link to a popular news piece about this discovery: "Chemical analysis confirms discovery of oldest wine-making equipment ever found"

Here is a link to the technical paper: Hans Barnard, et al., "Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern highlands," Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 38, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 977-984.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems hard to me to date the flood any earlier than 11,000 yrs ago, when the iceage ended. This is the last time that Eden would have been exposed. It was where the Persian Gulf is and where four rivers came together to make one river. Gen. 5:29 seems to indicate that Noah's family lived in the land of Eden (the ground that was cursed with thorns, etc.). Noah was a farmer, but so were Adam (Gen. 2:15) and Cain (Gen. 4:2-3). Likewise, people have been living all over Turkey, Europe, etc. for about 40,000 yrs., but the Tower of Babel (where humans are scattered for the first time) comes after the flood. Therefore the flood can not being younger than 40,000 yrs.