Re: CCNet 28 September 1999 (fwd)

David Campbell (
Tue, 28 Sep 1999 14:38:41 -0400

A couple of statements seemed rather odd; probably in part due to the
editorial process through the popular media.

>This area of inert darkness is known as an abyss that is anoxic,
>meaning that the trapped water could not circulate and has lost its
>oxygen, according to an account in yesterday's Washington Post. "Such
>conditions exist nowhere else in the world," Dr Ballard told the

I do not know of any modern anoxic basins nearly as large as the Black Sea, but
similar conditions exist at smaller scales whenever deeper water is
isolated from circulation.

>The explorers are
>convinced that there may be many ships on the bottom because the
>Black Sea served as a commercial waterway from Ancient Greece to
>Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. But the waters were known to
>be hazardous, according to Roman historians.

Anyone going from Greece to Byzantium who ends up in the Black Sea is lost,
and the Ottoman Empire was founded around 1300, a bit late to trade with
ancient Greece. Ancient Greece traded with areas around the Black Sea that
later became part of the Byzantine and then Ottoman Empires, so the basic
idea of finding shipwrecks is highly plausible.

>Scientists and archaeologists will rejoice at this news. This one
>catastrophe might explain why stories of mankind meeting a watery end
>permeate so many cultures. As well as the Book of Genesis, there is the
>Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the Indian legend of Manu being warned by
>a fish of approaching floods, and the Eskimo tale of how the ocean rose
>to cover the "whole land".

I do not know how easily word would spread from the Mideast to Siberia and
Alaska, but hearing about a big flood elsewhere does not seem like a good
way to generate stories about the whole land being covered among Native
Americans. It seems rather late to have much impact on Eskimos, etc.

Obviously, the comparisons to the account in Genesis are taking specific
interpretations of the account not necessarily warranted by the evidence.
The idea of what is "scientific" also leaves much to be desired.

>Man's progress now allows him to separate fact from fiction.

How do the circulations of tabloids compare with those of scientific
journals? How many email rumors have you received? I suppose this could
be considered failing to avail oneself of the ability, but I strongly doubt
that people are smarter now than they used to be. This also seems rather
simplistic; fiction can be used to convey fact in various ways, or facts
may be used to produce fiction.

David C.