Damien F. Mackey
If the devastating Noachic Flood, as described in Genesis 6-9, really occurred, then it must have left its watery traces over far-flung places.
Dr. John Osgood, a master at pointing out early biblical eras in the archaeological record, appears to have well identified some of these traces.
Not only did the great Flood about which we read in the Book of Genesis – and which was recently made the subject of a highly controversial movie – really occur, but evidence of it is still archaeologically discernible. Not Russell Crowe’s version of course.
But the real Flood.
Moreover, a written record of the Flood was provided by those who had actually experienced it, namely Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
On this, see my:
Genesis Flood Narrative An Eyewitness Account
Shem would go on, after the Flood, to become a most lauded and significant character:
Hebrews 7:1-3 Expansion of Melchizedek King of Salem
Now, what has Dr. Osgood come up with this time?
A Watery Tale
Dr. John Osgood, a ‘Creationist’, has therefore espoused a global model for the biblical Flood, with a consequent radical tabula rasa effect – likely no previous artefacts remaining:
A better model – Bibilical chronology of the stone age
In order to arrive at a terminus for the so-called stone age against the biblical narrative a number of new details must be taken into consideration. Firstly, there should be the fact that the biblical chronology inserts a catastrophic world-wide flood of momentous proportions that was so devastating that it is unlikely that any artifacts of the world before that flood would be likely to be found on the surface of the earth today. They would be buried deep within the rock strata of the earth. Therefore, the assumption must be made that all the surface artifacts of civilization with which the archaeologist deals must relate to mankind’s history after the great Flood of Noah which has been dated by this writer to be circ. 2,300 B.C.3 This allows us a starting point at 2,300 B.C. The end of the stone age has been accordingly determined in the preceding article (‘The Times of Abraham’, this volume) at approximately 1,870 B.C. during the early days of Abraham’s life in Palestine. The reader is warmly referred to the discussion in that paper.
I have had reason seriously to question this extreme kind of model in a two-part series:
Just How ‘Global’ Was The Great Flood? (Genesis 6-9). Part One.
Osgood’s revision of the Stone Ages is also extremely radical, but it is, in my opinion, far closer to the mark than is the text book version of the Stone Age progression. Someone needed to start bringing some common sense to bear on the matter, and Osgood is the one who has stepped up to do just that. That does not mean that his model is the perfect one. Modifications will no doubt be necessary.
Anyway, his new outlook has emboldened him to continue on with this confident statement:
So we are left with the period from 2,300 B.C. through to 1,870 B.C. for the period of mankind’s history that the evolutionist would call the stone age. This is obviously significantly shorter than that proposed by those who hold the former evolutionary chronology. Such a reduction in time seemingly defies the imagination. However, the writer wishes to demonstrate in this paper that all that is known of these earlier ages of man can in fact be satisfactorily interpreted within that framework of time.
Here, though, I am more interested in Dr. Osgood’s evidence for the Flood, rather than the degree to which he believes the Stone Ages ought to be trimmed down. And I am quite happy to let him do the teaching here. Osgood continues:
A wet middle east and heavy strata build-up
The biblical model implies that there would have been much more water left over in land basins as a result of the great Flood than would necessarily be present today, and so we would look for evidence of large lake-like accumulations in such possible basin areas. The biblical model certainly does not insist on any particular weather conditions immediately after the Flood, but wet conditions would certainly be logical in God’s planning for the habitation of the post-Flood earth, and would be logical in terms of the necessary rapid build-up of plant and animal life again after the Flood. As a result of the Flood, there would have been much salt left on the land, so wet conditions would have caused a washing off of some of this salt from the land and a faster ability of non-salt-loving plants to grow adequately, allowing for quick afforestation, an abundance of plant life, and hence a multiplication of animal life after the great Flood. Wet conditions would have increased the breakdown of mud-brick buildings, increasing therefore the build-up of strata in tells during the early days in the Middle East and causing more rapid build-up in caves, particularly in dolomite and limestone caves.
There is strong evidence for a very wet climate in the Middle East and for left-over basins of water over many areas of the Middle East in the early days which the biblical model would allow to be called post-Flood, but which the evolutionary model would call the stone age.
Palestine in those early days showed evidence of great areas of water, particularly filling in the north of the Huleh Basin:
‘It is currently accepted that during the period of Acheulean occupation of the north-eastern tip of Upper Galilee, a large lake filled the entire Huleh Basin while the mountains were covered by oak forests incorporating several northern elements. such as Fagus. The surroundings were rich in various animals, including a number of large species. The Acheulean site was apparently located close to the ancient lake, in the vicinity of streams descending from the Hermon (Stekelis and Gilead, 1966; Nir and Bar-Yosef, 1976; Horowitz 1975-1977).’9
Also in south-central Sinai:
‘Strikingly thick accumulations of sediments occur in Wadi Feiran and its tributaries in south central Sinai (Fig. 1). Over the past three decades these have been the subject of discussion with reference to their origin (fluvial verses lacustrine) and their climatological and chronological significance. In this note we describe an in situ Upper Paleolithic site, the first known from south central Sinai, which places these deposits in a firmer chronological context of about 30,000 to 35,000 B.P. and lends support to previous climatological interpretations of a former wetter climate.’’10:185
‘Nevertheless, the widespread occurrence of Upper Paleolithic sites throughout the central Negev and down to the very arid southern Sinai would suggest a regionally wet climate, which enabled the Upper Paleolithic people to exploit an area which today is hyper-arid.’10:189
Furthermore, in east Jordan:
‘Briefly, the stratification in the north, west, and south trenches reflects the existence of a Pleistocene pluvial lake that shrank until a widespread marsh formed during the Early Neolithic.’11:28
‘During the Late Acheulian period of the Late Pleistocene, the scene around Ain el-Assad was quite different: an immense lake, roughly five times the size of the present Dead Sea (Rollefson 1982; Garrard and Price 1977) stretched to the northern, eastern, and southern horizons. Once again, animals would have been attracted to the lakeshore, yielding opportunities for Neanderthal hunters to fulfill their needs.’11:33,34
Similarly, Alison Betts has suggested that in the Black Desert just close to the same area in eastern Jordan there was once lush growth and a large population of animals:
‘As far as hunting is concerned, the desert once supported large herds of game, particularly gazelle, and evidence for the wholesale exploitation of these herds is demonstrated by the complex chains of desert ‘kites’ lying across what were once probably migration routes.’12
Next he turns to Egypt:
In Egypt also, wet conditions prevailed:
‘Naqada I and II are very remote times, and it is now known that conditions in Egypt were then completely different from what they are today. At Armant, for instance, south of Luxor, large trees had been growing sparsely all over the low desert at a height of 20 or more feet above the present cultivation level and, therefore, probably about 40 feet above in pre-Dynastic times. The workmen told Mr. Myers that trees like this were to be found in every part of the Nile Valley. Some of these trees at any rate were earlier than either the Late or the Middle pre-Dynastic periods, for graves of these dates had been cut through their roots. Again, a small Wadi had been silted up and trees had been growing in it. This was all on the low desert, and similar wet conditions are found to have prevailed on the high.’13
The testimony seems uniform that in those early days, by whatever scheme they may be dated, conditions were wetter and large areas of water-filled geographical basins, a picture that is thoroughly consistent with the biblical model.
Such conditions, he thinks, account for the widespread use of the hand-axe:
Wet conditions and afforestation may well be one of the explanations for the earliest type of culture found in many parts of the Middle East and Europe, that is the Acheulian, the most characteristic tool of which was the hand-axe. The need to clear land, to chop trees, and to build shelter from wet conditions, as well as to shape tools such as spears for hunting in that early survival culture, may well explain the ubiquity of the Acheulian hand-axe, a fairly basic tool. But then, the conditions also were very basic, and survival was the name of the game.
The most ancient sites of Jericho and Çatal Hüyük evidence of multiple rebuilding:
The wet conditions may also explain the very large number of stone-age, particularly Neolithic strata, in such places as Mersin, Catal Huyuk and Jericho, where the main building materials were sun-dried mud bricks. In north-eastern Iraq the Jarmo expedition found that the average expectation for a ‘casually built house with some dried mud bricks and mud finished roof’ was only 15 years.14 In much wetter conditions of earlier days the life of a building may well have been considerably shorter, even half that time, making rapid build up of strata with rebuilding of levels in tells a very highly likely proposition.
Even the layers at the Carmel Caves, Osgood suggests, may be explainable according to a Flood scenario:
Furthermore, the deep layers found in some of the caves, such as the Carmel Caves, which are dolomite, may well be explained by the wetter conditions which would give rise to the more rapid breakdown of rock from the roof. Such cave-ins, which were evident in some of the Carmel Caves, along with the increased trampling in of soil, dirt and mud as the people came home from hunting, would have led to a rapid build-up of strata in such caves. It is impossible at this point in time to give an accurate assessment of the time taken for the build-up of these strata. Long periods of time that have artificially been assigned to them simply cannot be sustained on any present evidence. For these reasons, the biblical model stands as a reasonably good scientific model on which to test the evidence.
In summary Osgood writes:
The Model: A Preliminary Hypothesis
From the dispersion of Babel into the virgin forested lands of Palestine came the families of Canaan – Genesis 10:15-19. The initial number of families is unknown, but they are represented culturally by the Palestinian Acheulean artifacts.
Their culture was consciously adapted to their new environment of heavily forested country and wet climate with large lakes in land basins, much of the water being left-over from the great Flood. The wet climate would have produced heavy sedimentation of the open land and friable conditions in many caves, which nonetheless were good protection from the climate.
From the Acheulian background two different developments came – the Mousterian and Aurignacian of Palestine. At Carmel the Mousterian shelters suffered collapse, possibly from earthquake,15:176 ending Mousterian habitation in them. Geographically at least, the Aurignacian appears to have given rise to Kebaran culture.