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Was Noah's Flood a symbol for real people who were driven from a real homeland by a real flood? In an extraordinary geological detective story, two of the world's greatest earth scientists travel to the Black Sea to reveal evidence of a mighty torrent that poured through the Bosphorus with the power of over four hundred Niagara Falls. Did this catastrophic event, only 7,500 years ago, become the stuff of ancient storytelling and the origin of the Biblical Flood?
Oceanographer Bill Ryan was part of the team that revealed how the Mediterranean was formed 5 million years ago, when rising oceans burst through the straits of Gibraltar. Fellow American Bill Pitman helped found the new science of plate tectonics. But it was British associate John Dewey (now Professor of Earth Sciences at Oxford) who first put up the ingenious idea that a similar cataclysmic flood could have accounted for the Biblical legend. In late 1991, Ryan and Pitman decided to begin their search. Five years later they were ready to announce their findings to the world.
Both experts now believe that the Flood was a real event that took place in the Black Sea region in 5600 BC. An impressive horde of evidence allows them to demonstrate that the Black Sea fell over 100 meters below the level of the world's oceans due to freezing in Northern Europe and Asia. As the Earth warmed, the oceans rose again, smashing relentlessly through the Bosphorous Straits with immense force and creating a legend that has survived until now. Filmed on location in Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia and the United States, this film follows the story of the discovery through the eyes and experiences of Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman.
Noah's Flood swings from disappointment to despair, and then to euphoria, as Ryan and Pitman pursue their dramatic, but initially elusive, idea. They sift new geological evidence from the Turkish navy, drill into the bed of the Black Sea alongside a team of Russian scientists (already engaged in tracking fallout from Chernobyl), and patiently gather data from the world's leading experts in climate and tree ring data. Finally they are ready to test their finding on their colleagues at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. But the story does not end there. For if Ryan and Pitman are right, and scientific evidence matches the stuff of ancient storytelling, the implications are far reaching for our understanding of Neolithic civilization in both Europe and Asia.
Producer Richard Curson Smith
Series Editor John Lynch
A Third Eye Production in association with BBC Worldwide.