RE: Genealogical Gaps?

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Mon Feb 27 2006 - 21:01:34 EST

Hi David, you wrote:
I'm curious for Dick's, Glenn's, and others' perspectives here: In
following all this back-and-forth about the nature of Noah's flood, and
having read some of the materials on the ASA website and elsewhere
related to the debate, it seems that there's a significant amount of
disagreement about whether any of the archeological evidence concerning
local Mesopotamian floods can correlate to Noah's flood. Have there
been recent excavations that shed any light on this, or is the debate
mostly about older excavations ( e.g. Wooley)? How extensive, current
and reliable is the archeological data? Is it reasonable to say that
some time in the past ~100,000 years, or better in the past ~5,000
years, there could have been a major localized flood for which we as yet
have no good archeological evidence, or is that just wishful
There has been no recent excavation that I know of. This is what I
wrote in my book:
In the summer of 1929, toward the end of their season, Woolley's native
digging crews made one last probe, a little deeper than the last
plundered grave, to see what was in store for the following year. They
found more pieces of artifacts, much to their pleasure, beneath the
foundations of the lowest tomb.
Encouraged by these finds, Woolley next wanted to know how far down they
had to go before the treasure trove would end. Shafts were sunk
carefully. Sand and debris were brought up for close examination.
Woolley had dated the lowest tomb to 2800 BC. Now, inch by inch and
bucket by bucket he was traveling back in time.
Clay tablets started appearing among the loose debris. The inscriptions
bore characters deemed to be even older than his previous finds. He had
reached 3000 BC by his reckoning, and with appetites whetted afresh,
still there was more to come. Shafts were sent down deeper still.
At last the floor was reached, the journey had ended, they stood at the
bottom, or so they thought. Then Woolley noticed the soil had changed
from sand to clay. Upon close examination, Woolley determined that the
clay had once been dissolved. What was water-laid clay doing in the
middle of a desert beneath these tombs?
His first thoughts were that the clay layer must have been set down when
the Euphrates river overflowed its banks sometime long before
civilization had begun. Yet, the elevation seemed too high for that.
His next step was to measure the depth of the layer of clay. To his
amazement, nearly 10 feet of clay was discovered before reaching another
level of civilization beneath the clay layer.
Once again artifacts were brought to the surface for scrutiny. Another
discovery was made; the bits and pieces of pottery were uneven, a sign
that they were made by human hands alone, unaided by the potter's wheel.
These painted potsherds were from a civilization even more primitive
than the ones he had already uncovered, and later were identified as
Woolley reasoned that two dissimilar civilizations separated by 10 feet
of water-laid clay could mean only one thing. An ecstatic Woolley
reached a conclusion and sent a telegram that electrified the world of
1929, though to a lesser degree than did the stock market crash of that
same year. "We have found the Flood," announced an ebullient Woolley.
Elated by his find, Woolley encouraged excavators at other sites to look
for flood layers. Sure enough, flood layers or more cautiously "sterile
stratum" of various thicknesses were found. At last, thought Woolley,
archeology had established firm evidence for what had long been a
controversial Bible story - the great flood. But that euphoric feeling
was not to last.
Dating archeological digs in the absence of deposits of volcanic ash
lacks the kind of precision archaeologists prefer, but nevertheless, the
thick flood stratum Woolley found at Ur was placed at the early fourth
millennium, about 3800 BC. Notwithstanding, a higher flood level also
was uncovered dated to about 2700 BC, but it had been discounted as too
little and too late.
Langdon and Watelin excavated Kish in 1928-29. They dated the bottom
layer which amounted to about one foot in thickness to 3300 BC. This
seemed to lend support to Woolley's claim, even though the dates were
500 years apart. The thickest layer at Kish was at a higher level,
however, and assigned a similar date to the thinner layer found at Ur.
Mallowan, who excavated the more northern city of Ninevah, uncovered
several strata of mud and riverine sand totaling six feet in depth.
Diplomatically, he called this not a flood, but a "pluvial interval,"
and placed it at the fourth millennium, similarly dated to Woolley's
layer. But then, flood deposits at Kish, Shuruppak, Uruk, and Lagash
were considered and a consensus put all of these layers at nearly a
thousand years later than Woolley's renowned find, averaging around 2900
This prompted a debate turning on who had uncovered the biblical flood -
the most important flood in human history - and it left Woolley in a bit
of a quandary. After all, he had wasted a lot of time and energy if his
trumpeted flood deposit was from the wrong flood.
As it turned out, the flood layer Woolley thought was from Noah's flood
was dated far too early in relation to the other sites, while the higher
layer he had discounted, that was dated closer to the flood layers from
the other sites, seemed puny by comparison. Ironically, the lower,
earlier, and thicker layer Woolley thought was from the flood resulted
apparently from merely a flood. And conversely, the higher, later, and
thinner layer he thought was from only a flood, may have been left by
the flood. Such is the life of an archaeologist who goes public a
smidgen too early.
~Dick Fischer~ Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History <>
Received on Mon Feb 27 21:01:47 2006

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