Saturday, December 7, 2013

Noah's Flood: Where and When?

Alice C. Linsley

Noah was a Nilo-Saharan ruler at a time when the Sahara was wet. According to Dr Kevin White, “Over the last 10,000 years, there have been two distinct humid phases, separated by an interval of highly variable but generally drying conditions between roughly 8,000 and 7,000 years ago. Another drying trend took place after about 5,000 years ago, leading to today’s parched environment.”

Noah lived during the period of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, a time of great cultural and technological achievement. This places Noah and his sons in relatively recent history, not at the dawn of human existence.

The flood of Noah occurred in the region of Lake Chad in the Gurian Wet Period, also called the “Aqualithic.” The latter term was coined by British archaeologist John Sutton (Journal of Africa History 1974; Antiquity 1977). This 500 years of wetness occurred during the late Holocene.

Lake Chad is a great depression or basis which in the Nilo-Saharan is Tchad. The etymology of the word is very interesting. It is linguistically related to the Luo word chaddhoreh, meaning a wound or bruise. In Isaiah 1:6 the King James Version translates the Hebrew chabbarah as "bruises", but it also means wound or depression where something has been cut out. The Luo verb chaddho means to cut out, to pluck out, or to bruise the skin. A wound of this type is called chaddhoreh in Luo. So the name Chad describes the cut out basin which filled with water and became Mega Chad in the Holocene.

The Proto-Saharans were river peoples who shared many common beliefs, customs and symbols. Their civilization was at its peak between 10,000 and 4000 BC when the Sahara was wet. The major water systems connected the Nile and Central Africa. The historian Roland Oliver describes 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, Ennediand 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."

The black mahogany Dufuna dugout was found in the Sudan buried 16 feet under clays and sands whose alternating sequence showed evidence of deposition in standing and flowing water. The dugout is 8000 years old. By comparison, Egypt's oldest boat is only about 5000 years old. Peter Breunig (University of Frankfurt) has written this description of the Dufuna boat:

“The bow and stern are both carefully worked to points, giving the boat a notably more elegant form”, compared to “the dugout made of conifer wood from Pesse in the Netherlands, whose blunt ends and thick sides seem crude”. Judging by stylistic sophistication, Breunig reasons that, “It is highly probable that the Dufuna boat does not represent the beginning of a tradition, but had already undergone a long development, and that the origins of water transport in Africa lie even further back in time.”

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.

Noah's Contemporaries

Other rulers controlled territories adjoining Noah's territory. These were the "mighty men of old." In Genesis 6:9-11, Noah is described as God's favored ruler on earth; "an upright man among his contemporaries." Some of the rulers known to have lived around the time of Noah include: Hor-Sanakht, SekhemkhtDjoser, and Khasekhemwy.

Relief fragment of Sanakht in the pose of smiting an enemy.

Nilo-Saharan rulers were known to keep exotic animals. The oldest known zoological collection was discovered during excavations at Nekhen in Sudan in 2009. This royal menagerie dates to 3500 BC and included hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons and wildcats. The story of Noah preserving a collection of animals is based on historical reality.

Nekhen is the oldest know site of devotion to Horus, the son of Ra. This was the dominant religion of the Nilo-Saharan peoples. The Proto-Saharans venerated cattle and left engravings of bulls and oxen with solar disc between their horns. They imagined that the Y of the horns was a cradle for the sun, and they regarded the sun as the Creator's emblem.

Hathor-Meri, the virgin mother of Horus, is shown with the sun cradled between the horns (image right). It was believed that she conceived by the overshadowing of the sun. The Y indicated divine appointment That is why many Biblical figures have names with the initial Y: Yaqtan (Joktan), Yishbak (son of Abraham by Keturah), Yitzak (Issac); Yishmael (Ishmael), Yetro (Jethro), Yosef (Joseph), and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

Hathor-Meri was also the patroness of South Arabian metal workers as shown by discoveries at Timna. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timnah by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University.

Saharan peoples before Noah

Evidence of pre-Noah populations in the wet Sahara include the discovery of cemetery dating to about 5,000 years before Noah. Paul Sereno unearthed 10,000 year old skeletons at Gobero in Niger. These were buried on the edge of a paleolake on the northwestern rim of the Chad Basin. The Gobero site is the earliest known cemetery in the Sahara and the skeletons found there indicated that some were at least 6 feet tall. Perhaps these are the Anakim, the giants of old, who dispersed out of Africa.

Gobero skeleton (G3B8) measures 6 feet 6 inches
Photo (c) Mike Hettwer, courtesy Project Exploration

According to Sereno, these earlier Holocene people left when it became arid, but the area was repopulated by a taller people around 4600 B.C. when humid conditions returned. Flooding occurred on and off over a long period. Wet conditions prevailed from 7700-6200 (phase 2). Sereno states, "The darkened bone color of all human skeletons in phase 2 burials is indicative of sustained inundation." (Read about Sereno's work here.) Another wet period corresponds to the time that Noah would have lived in the region of Lake Chad, between 3000 and 2500 B.C.

At the time of the Gobero populations, humans were dispersed globally, and during the time of Noah these populations were not destroyed. Consider the following population estimates by urban center between 3000 and 2000 BC:

Memphis, Egypt - 32,000 inhabitants

Lagash, Iraq - 60,000 inhabitants

Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan - 40,000 inhabitants

Mari, Syria - 50,000 inhabitants

Baodun settlements, China - Baodun is the largest settlement, covering an area of about 373 miles. There is no evidence of destruction by flooding though all six Baodun settlements straddled the Min River in central Sichuan province. The Min is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River.

The evidence does not support the interpretation that all the peoples of the earth were destroyed in a catastrophic global flood and that the earth was repopulated by Noah’s descendants.

Related reading: Water Systems Connected Nile and Central AfricaHow Big Was Noah's Flood?Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans; Noah's Homeland in Historical Perspective; Why Cows Were Sacred in the Ancient World; The Mighty Men of Old; When the Sahara Was Wet; A Tent For the SunAs in the days of NoahWas Noah Mesopotamian or Proto-Saharan?Noah's HomelandNoah's Flood: Where and When?


DDeden said...

Perhaps the Ark was a coracle:

I didn't know flannel was like felt, from wool of mountain sheep...

wikiup/wigwam(AmerInd)...similar to coracle/qupha/kuphos/cup//wi-(g/k)(i)(u/w)(p/f)a(m)/..(gopherwood:Bible), kophar(Heb)

Only a few changes in coracle construction have occurred in the course of 2,000 years, and these have varied regionally. One involved the use of sawed laths, as in Ironbridge, instead of split ash or willow branches in the lattice framework, and also ash lath in the making of the gunwale, instead of plaited hazel or willow. The hide covering was replaced by flannel, made waterproof by tarring or pitching. This substitution probably took place around the time flannel began being made from the wool of mountain sheep, which became an important local cottage industry in the late 16th century. Flannel continued in use until the 1870s, when a rough cotton calico replaced it. Although these new coverings needed to be coated, the weight of the boat was reduced to about half of its former 60 to 70 pounds. The common dimensions of the coracle remained the same as when they were made of hide and determined by the size of a single ox.

Read more:

Alice Linsley said...

Ark was likely made of reeds, a building material that would have been abundant in the region of Lake Chad during the Gurian Wet Period. The word translated "ark" in Genesis 6:14 is found only one other place in the Bible: in the story of Moses' mother putting him in a reed basket (Exodus 2:3). The Schocken Bible reads: "Make yourself an Ark of gofer wood, with reeds make the Ark...", Vol. I, p. 35.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Forgive the ignorant question, but how do we establish the approximate time Noah lived?

Alice Linsley said...

That's a really good question! The dating is calculated based on the best available information concerning one of Noah's great grandsons, Nimrod. Nimrod was Sargon and we have extra-biblical documents that help us to place him in time.

Here is more on calculating the dates of the Genesis kings:

Anonymous said...

Alice, are there any maps available that show the outlines of the proto-lake Chad and other lakes in the former Sahara region? I found none in the sources you gave. Maps are always helpful in visualizing past ages!

Rdr. James

Alice Linsley said...

You will find maps of the troughs and lakes here:

DDeden said...

Is it not more parsimonious that the story of Noah's Ark is derived from Babylonian flood accounts 3,700 yrs old (and biblically followed by the Tower of Babel) than that it was unrelated and took place in North Central Africa?

Eldro said...

Alice...firstly I love Just Genesis, one of my favorite web pages ever...I am wondering if you know and/or have any thoughts about the word in Genesis 6:2 translated variously as "sons" of Elo-him' and also as "angels"...some people think angels were extraterrestrial but I am wondering the Hebrew etymology and whether it refers to a specific ethnotype, in the way Angel in German means "white person"

Alice Linsley said...


Sons of God are the deified rulers who make up the divine council. They are also sometimes called angelic beings, as in the book of Revelation were they also wear priestly garb. In Revelation, these are the priests who await the Messiah' coronation. As to ethnicity, I would say they are Horites and likely have a reddish skin tone. See these articles:

I hope this is helpful. Thanks for following Just Genesis!

Alice Linsley said...

DDedan, Noah was a Nilo-Saharan ruler. The script of Nimrod's kingdom in Mesopotamia was Akkadian cuneiform and it has close affinity to the Nilo-Saharan phonemes. This should not suprize us since Nimrod was the son of Kush (Gen. 10).

DDeden said...

Massive Mega-Lake Nile

DDeden said...

Glad you found the Mega-lake Nile link of interest. I think perhaps the basin developed long before, due to a marine incursion from the refilling of the Mediterranean after the MSC 6ma (the Medit. dried out, the Nile dug deep channel, the Medit. refilled, Nile slowed and dumped sediment from Ethiopian Highlands on deep channel producing today's shallow Nile). (Russian engineers of the Aswan dam & Lake Nasser found deep marine sediment underneath the normal Nile benthic substrate)

I think the Pre-dynasty Egyptians were a mix of locals (Chad-Egypt road nomad herders, farmers) with Black Sea flood refugees, fusing a new management system & faith synthesis, overlaying the original, similar action took place all around the greater Medit.-Black-Red-Caspian-India areas.

gophar = reed? gufa(Iraq) uses wicker, not reed, I think

DDeden said...

There is the almost homophonic sound of Suph (Hebrew?) reed/red and Gufa(Iraq coracle, also called qupha)...if that is a typical pattern (Hebrew S = Iraq G/Q) that would strengthen the claim that reeds were used, but I recall reading that "gopher" is not a Hebrew word.

Possibility - Nimrud statues in Anatolia link to Nimrod in some way.

Nimrod claimed to have been put in an ark (coracle/basket) as an infant.

DDeden said...

Ancient Greek accounts reported that 'Ethiopians' lived along the south rim of the Black Sea to Georgia (Kush/Cush?), some areas there are considered to be subtropical rainforest. I think both Anubis (jackal-headed) and Horus (falcon-headed) symbolized in Egypt derived from Black Sea/Anatolian/Zoroasterian/Parsee methods of corpse disposal (put in trees or on hill tops, but in Egypt/Babylon changed symbolically 'across the waters of death' reflecting the "global" flood experience).

AlDahir said...

Noah's flood took place in Yemen where there is still a twice yearly six week monsoon (40 days and night of rain). I pieced together the Noah (Nuh in Arabic) saga in the Quran and in the Bible. The Quran accounts of Biblical principles is based on the tribal lore of the Jewish tribes in Arabia. Yemen is also the home of the caravan tribes which brought these stories north during the incense trade. Here is my research on the subject. The research is a bit lengthy,so it will take a few posts to get it all in.

AlDahir said...

Wadd, Suwa and Nasr are also found in the Arabian Peninsula. Wadd is the Minaean moon god associated with the god, Ya, with fertility and with snakes. His name is recorded in the Negev inscription which reads: “Wdd flta, ilyt, aby, Yah” or Wadd, seducer, buttock, my father, Yah. Suwa is an Arabian sun god and Nasr is also an Arabian god, whose form was the eagle. So, the names of the gods that the Prophet Nuh’s people were worshiping were all from the Arabian peninsula.

The Quran provides further clues to Nuh’s location in Sura 31:43-44:

“The son replied: ‘I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water. Nuh said: ‘This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy!’ And the waves came between them, and the son was among those who were drowned.”

Then the word went forth: ‘O earth swallow up your water, and O sky withhold (your rain).’ And the water abated and the matter was ended. The boat rested on Al Judi and the word went forth: ‘Away with those who do wrong.”

Thus, the region of Arabia connected with Nuh was mountainous with copious amounts of rain. It was a place known as Al Judi from the Arabic word ‘jada/juda’, which meant the generous and from which was derived the word ‘jaud’, which meant heavy rains (The Dictionary of Modern Arabic, p 146).

AlDahir said...

Yemen was a mountainous country, which experienced a twice-yearly six-week monsoon, which provided Neolithic Yemen with forested mountains and a very fertile landscape. During the Hellenistic Era, Yemen was still lush; so lush that Yemen was known to the Greeks as Eudaimon Arabia and to the Romans as Arabia Felix, both epithets which mean ’fortunate Arabia’. Considering the arid climate of the Arabian Peninsula to the north of Yemen, it was no wonder that this area was Al Judi, the generous, the bountiful in rain.

To this day, the natives of Yemen connect their country to the Prophet Nuh. Sanaa, Yemen’s capitol city’s full name is Medinatul Sam ibn Nuh or the City of Shem son of Noah. Although archaeological evidence in Yemen is sparse, excavations have confirmed settlements from as early as the Neolithic. The earliest evidence of ship building is located in Kuwait, where was found the remains of a boat that dates to 5,500BCE.

The Prophet Nuh would have lived in the late Neolithic, well within the time that ship building was known. During the late Neolithic, the mountains of Yemen were well forested with juniper trees (Juniperus Procera) and could have easily supplied the materials to construct a ship. Yemen was also in the path of tsunamis originating in the Makran subduction zone. A very heavy monsoon, the wadis filling with flood waters from the swollen mountain streams and giant tsunami waves like mountains (Quran 11:42) crashing on the coast would have caused a catastrophic flood, which would have drowned the population and floated Nuh’s ship. Because the flood took place in Yemen, the water drained rather quickly into the Gulf of Aden and Nuh and his family would have re-landed on Al Judi’s coast, the land that was generous and bountiful in rain.

AlDair said...

Nuh’s descendants seem to have migrated into what is now Oman, where they came into contact with the people who became their inheritors, who were the Aad of Iram known as Aram to the Hebrews. The Aad of Iram and the Thamud were ancient tribal confederations that experienced at least two catastrophes; one circa the time of Musa (Q 40:31) and the other around 300 CE. The original tribal confederations, known as Aad I (Q 53:51) and Thamud I, reconstituted after the first destruction, but were again destroyed much later. Before the final destruction, they became known respectively as Ad II and Thamud II.

Iram was an ancient territory mentioned in the tablets of Ebla in northwestern Syria. Ebla held a large and literate Canaanite community, which traded with Iram and so recorded Iram in its list of trading partners. The city of Ebla is dated to at least 2300 BCE. The Iramean town of Ubar is currently being excavated from underneath tons of sand. Remains of Syrian pottery dating to the second millennium BCE have been retrieved, so the pottery finds at Ubar confirm Iram’s trade with the Canaanites of Syria. The Aad of Iram I & II survived from at least 2300 BCE to circa 300 CE when their fortress at Ubar collapsed and was buried in the sand. This catastrophe is mentioned in the Quran 89:6-7 and 69:6-7:

“Do you not see how your Lord dealt with the Aad of Iram, with the lofty pillars the like of which were not produced in all the land?”

AlDahir said...

The ‘lofty pillars’ may refer to the standing stones, labeled ‘Al Rajajeel’ (meaning the men) near the town of Sakaka in the Jawf region of the Arabian Peninsula. These standing stones are believed to be more than 6000 years old. The stones, between 6 and 10 feet high, are aligned to the sunrise and sunset, and have Thamudic inscriptions, which were added millennium after they were constructed. Approximately 6000 years ago, during the Chalcolithic or Copper Age, the people of Al Jawf erected 54 groups of these pillars. Their significance is disputed, but there is a strong indication that they were markers on a trade route as Al Jawf was a significant rest stop on the trade route from Yemen to Mesopotamia. One trade route, the oldest in recorded history, ran from Yemen and parallel to the Red Sea coast through Madina, Al Ula and Mada’in Saleh. It turned northeast toward Al Jawf and then north toward Damascus and Turkey. The conclusion is that the Aad had from the Copper Age, settled this region in the Arabian Peninsula, and that their territory, Iram, stretched from southern coast of Arabia to the Jawf region. They were indeed, a very powerful tribal federation before Allah (swt) destroyed them (Q: 69:6-7):

“And the Aad, they were destroyed by a furious wind exceedingly violent. He made it rage against them seven nights and eight days in succession so that you could see the people lying overthrown as if they had been roots of hollow palm trees tumbled down.”

AlDahir said...

The Aad were obviously once a very powerful tribal confederation that controlled a considerable part of the incense trade from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula through the Levant and into Egypt. Their trade routes were gradually taken over by the tribal confederations of Qataban and Saba. Much later, their northern trade routes came under the control of the tribal federation of Thamud II whose main cities included Petra in Jordan and Al Hijr in Saudi Arabia. The Thamud II federation included the Nabataean Arabs, who were associated with the marvelous rock carved structures at Petra and Al Hijr. The Thamud II were associated with the town of AlHijr where they were known to the Quraish of Mecca as Thamud. Thamud II, who were destroyed in an earthquake at Petra in 363CE, yielded their trade routes to the Quraish of Mecca, the city in southwest Arabia founded by Ibrahim and his son Ismail.

Alice Linsley said...

Noah was a Nilo-Saharan ruler and likely ruled in the region of Borno/Bornu (Land of Noah) near Lake Chad.

Thamudic scripts are much older than Islam.

Petra is in Edom, the land of the red people, like Esau and David. The rulers there were Horites, according to Genesis 36.

Your information about Al-Rajajeel is fascinating!