Alice C. Linsley
Abraham lived at a time when the Sahara and Mesopotamia were drying out after the Holocene Wet Period which began about 12,000 years ago. Lakes filled basins throughout the region and the larger lakes reached levels sometimes 330 feet higher than their present levels. Around these bodies of water were spongy marshlands which provided channels for navigation for smaller boats. One such dugout, made of black mahogany, was discovered in 1987 in the region of Bor-nu at a depth of 16 feet under clays and sands whose alternating sequence indicated deposition in standing and flowing water. The dugout is 8000 years old. By comparison, Egypt's oldest boat is only about 5000 years old.
Historian and Africanist Roland Oliver has described the Green Sahara as follows:
"[In] the highlands of the central Sahara beyond the Libyan desert,... in the great massifs of the Tibesti and the Hoggar, the mountaintops, today bare rock, were covered at this period with forests of oak and walnut, lime, alder and elm. The lower slopes, together with those of the supporting bastions — the Tassili and the Acacus to the north, Ennedi and Air to the south — carried olive, juniper and Aleppo pine. In the valleys, perennially flowing rivers teemed with fish and were bordered by seed-bearing grasslands."
|Petroglyphs of boats found in the Eastern Central Desert of Egypt and Sudan|
They date to between 4300 and 2900 BC.
The Sahara saw considerable flooding during the Holocene Wet Period and some believe that this was the time of Noah’s flood. According to local tradition Noah lived in the region of Lake Chad. In fact, this is the only place of the surface of the Earth that claims to be his homeland: Bor-No, meaning “Land of Noah.”
In the time of Noah (about 7,500 years ago), Lake Chad was 130 feet deeper than it is today and covered an area of about 135,000 square miles (350,000 sq km). The footprint of ancient Mega-Chad has been confirmed by satellite photography. The Nile waters swelled from increased rainfall and cut a deeper and wider floodplain, extending well into Sudan to the west. The area attracted merchants from southern Africa who moved their cargo along the rivers and paid tariffs to the chiefs who controlled the river junctions. When the climate began to change and the waters receded, those in power found it more difficult to control larger territories. Afro-Asiatic kingdom builders such as Nimrod, who depended on the large water systems to control their territories, were faced with shrinking territories.
These Afro-Asiatic rulers appear to have been related by blood and intermarriage. The dominion of these ruling houses extended from Nigeria to India. This “Afro-Asiatic Dominion” is referred to in Genesis 11:1 where we are told that all the “world spoke one language.” They charged tariffs for commerce conducted on the parts of the rivers that they controlled and their priests maintained shrines at sacred sites along the rivers. We see this pattern of swollen river systems in the Niger-Benue in Nigeria, the Tigris-Euphrates in Mesopotamia, and the Indus-Sarawati Rivers in India. Some Nile shrines disappeared with the flooding in more recent centuries, but there is ample evidence of their existence, just as there is evidence of the existence of shrines, temples and urban centers under what is now the Bay of Bengal.
From these centers the Nilo-Saharan rulers conducted trade with distant territories. At Hierakonpolis (Nekhen) rulers acquired exotic goods and animals from central Africa and Afghanistan 4000 years ago. At Tomb 100 there are two boats painted on the walls.
Related reading: Boat Petroglyphs in Egypt's Central Eastern Desert; Genesis and Climate Change; The Saharan Antecedents of Pharaonic Egypt; Sudan is Archaeologically Rich