Two Columbia University marine geologists, inviting incredulity, came
forward in 1996 with astonishing evidence suggesting that a catastrophic
flood of the Black Sea 7,600 years ago could have played a pivotal role in
the spread of early farming into Europe and much of Asia. The deluge also
may have cast such a long shadow over succeeding cultures that it inspired
the flood account in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and, in turn, the
story of Noah in the Book of Genesis.