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In the book of Genesis, God despairs of human corruption and decides to flood the Earth, instructing Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family and a pair of each animal species. The famous biblical tale could have actually happened – researchers suggest. They claimed that during a warming period in the cycle of the Earth’s temperature around 5600BC, melting glaciers caused an onrush of seawater from the Mediterranean. This cascaded through Turkey’s Straits of Bosporus – dry land at the time – to the Black Sea, transforming it from a freshwater lake into a vast saltwater inlet.
In 1997, drawing on archaeological and anthropological evidence, Colombia University geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman claimed that “ten cubic miles of water poured through each day”, and that the deluge continued for at least 300 days.
More than 60,000 square miles of land were flooded, and the lake’s level rose by hundreds of feet after merging with the Mediterranean, triggering mass animal migrations across Europe.
The researchers, whose findings have been backed up by carbon dating and sonar imaging, claimed that the story of Noah’s flood had its origin in this cataclysmic event.
However, Jun Abrajano, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer, published research in 2002 claiming to disprove the theory.
He said: “For the Noah’s Ark Hypothesis to be correct, one has to speculate that there was no flowing of water between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea before the speculated great deluge.
“We have found this to be incorrect.”
Archaeologists have long sought to explore the bible’s most famous stories – and a group of evangelical christians were convinced that they had found the remains of Noah’s Ark.
They explored the Mount Ararat region of Turkey and said they were convinced they had found the remains of the famous biblical vessel.
Turkish and Chinese explorers from a group called Noah’s Ark Ministries International said: “It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it.”
The team also claimed to have found in 2007 and 2008 seven large wooden compartments buried at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, near the peak of Mount Ararat.
They returned to the site with a film crew in October 2009. They added: “The structure is partitioned into different spaces.
“We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts.”
However, given that explorers regularly claim to have found Noah’s Ark – various experts expressed scepticism.
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Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist specialising in the Middle East at Stony Brook University in New York State, said: “I don’t know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn’t find it.”
Biologist and director of the Center for Origins Research, Tom Wood also said he doubted the find.
Mr Wood, also a creationist, referred to radiocarbon dating and concluded that the wood found isn’t old enough.
He said that “if you accept a young chronology for the Earth … then radiocarbon dating has to be reinterpreted” because the method often yields dates much older than 6,000 years.
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