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5.0 von 5 Sternen Reads like the great mystery it is...
This book addresses one of the oldest mysteries in the world, the "flood" story from the Bible. Some people view the Bible quite literally, while others see the writings as metaphore or allegory. As a social scientist and former church school teacher, I have come to believe Bible stories have a mythical quality (in the sociological sense -- designed to...
Veröffentlicht am 13. Mai 2000 von Dianne Foster

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Sensationalism instead of science
William Ryan and Walter Pitman are senior scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. "Pitman is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and both authors have received the Shepard Medal for exemplary research in marine biology." However, this book is not about marine biology, but history and mythology. The main problem...
Veröffentlicht am 22. November 1999 von John W. Hoopes


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3.0 von 5 Sternen Sensationalism instead of science, 22. November 1999
Von 
John W. Hoopes "Archaeologist" (Lawrence, KS USA) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
William Ryan and Walter Pitman are senior scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. "Pitman is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and both authors have received the Shepard Medal for exemplary research in marine biology." However, this book is not about marine biology, but history and mythology. The main problem with this book is that the authors are clearly in over their heads.
The title makes it clear that these geologists--who are otherwise quite reasonable scientists--are seeking to "prove" their pet theory. This, together with the fact that these earth scientists are attempting to address questions of history, mythology, and archaeology that are well beyond their areas of particular expertise, makes their science especially suspect.
My principal problem with the book is that , but they never address the fundamental issue of how any useful information about a specific historical event can be transmitted orally across twenty five centuries in the context of small, politically decentralized Neolithic societies. If the Black Sea flood is the one recalled in Genesis, this means that the memory of this event was preserved for 2500 years before the appearance of any writing system and then another 2000 years before it was written down in Genesis.
The probability that any story could last this long among human populations seems to me extremely small. Think about the oral transmission of information about the Trojan War, which probably occurred (in some form) in the 13th century BC and evolved into the story as recounted by Homer over a period of four centuries. Or the story of the Exodus, which mostly likely occurred (in some form) in the late 13th century BC but wasn't recorded in the Biblical account until the 10th century BC. Both of these stories were conserved in the context of semi-literate cultures that are likely to have had formal specialists in "remembering" and the composition of epic poems and sagas. Any story of a "flood" that occurred 7500 years ago would have had to be conserved for SIX TIMES as long as the Iliad or TEN TIMES as long as Exodus in the context of much simpler societies that had NO written records at all! For how many generations can an oral tradition be conserved among non-literate peoples? The author's failure to address this key problem makes Ryan, Pitman, and now explorer Robert Ballard's identification of "Noah's Flood" a major interpretive leap that smacks of pseudoscience.
As an archaeologist, I've learned to be extremely skeptical about the claims of non-archaeologists about the human aspects of the ancient world. Another distinguished marine biologist who went off the deep end was Barry Fell, an expert on invertebrates at Harvard who abandoned all reason in his pursuit of "epigraphic" evidence for the presence of Celts, Phoenicians, Iberians, and other Old World explorers in the Americas. He treated as authentic dozens of objects that were widely recognized as fakes and hoaxes and promoted the worst kind of pseudoscience and pseudohistory. However, his popular book Saga America was identified as one of the best history books of 1976 and his writings have spun off a wide circle of disciples who continue to identify spurious runestones in Oklahoma and ancient naval academies in Arizona! Serious archaeologists consider Fell and his followers' claims as nonsensical as those of Creationists.
I suspect the Genesis Flood theory will not hold up well to criticism. The story of the Black Sea's dramatic rising and the possibility of well-preserved, submerged Neolithic settlements is exciting enough without the investigators resorting to sensationalistic interpretations.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Good story; very weak illustrations., 12. Juli 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Naoh's Flood offers a well written personal account of how a group of oceanographers stumbled upon 'that kernal of truth' that underlies the biblical flood myth. The book's strength is its readability. For those readers who desire more critical presentations, you would do better to go to the scientific literature. I found the book very disappointing in several respects: 1) the quoted remarks, thirty years after the fact, seems a bit of a stretch; 2) the illustrations carry almost no information. The crude sketches could easily been replaced by cross section maps of the inlets to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.Bathymetry maps of the Black Sea would have also been nice; 3) There should have been much more discussion of the event leading to the desertification of the Mediterranean during the Miocene. Although published elsewhere (most of this story is), this is a story that is even more compelling. 4) There is absolutely no reason why this book should cost 25 dollars in hardback. The lack of color photographs should have made this book no more than 15 dollars.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating story, somewhat marred by whiz-bang tone, 6. Juli 2000
Von 
Peter A. Kimball (Chicago) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
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This book presents and supports a startling but fascinating thesis in three parts:
The oceanographic part: that a remarkable natural event took place some 7,500 years ago, when the waters of the Mediterranean spilled over a natural dam and poured into the Black Sea basin, at that time containing a fresh-water lake which had evaporated to some 300 ft. below sea level.
The first archaeological part: that the Black Sea basin at the time was home to an early Indo-European culture, later than the Catal Huyuk culture, and that the catastrophic flood dispersed an Indo-European diaspora to the four winds.
The second archaeological part: accounts of this event gave rise to the Mesopotamian flood accounts such as that in Gilgamesh, and ultimately to the story of Noah in the Book of Genesis.
The authors make a case for all this which is convincing at least on the surface. Their own background is geologic/oceanographic, and probably by consequence the first part is the most convincing. (Or it may just be because a submerged beach is easier to find than a drowned culture.) Well, if indeed there is a submerged canyon cut in bedrock at the northeastern end of the Bosporus, leading INTO the Black Sea, then at some time a lot of water must have flowed in that direction; and if there are salt-water shells overlying a layer of fresh-water shells, and radiocarbon shows the lower shells to be 7500 years old; then their case seems pretty strong.
The archaeological stuff is presented in a considerably more disjointed way; there is a long discussion of the Tocharians, a Caucasian people who lived in central Asia until the Takla Makan dried up, who were interesting enough people, I suppose, but the discussion does nothing much for their argument. Still, once you have granted that there was a huge flood in the Black Sea basin as recently as 7500 years ago, then there's nothing very improbable about supposing that it displaced Neolithic people, or that it has something to do with the later flood stories that popped up in the general vicinity. Or so it seems to me anyway.
It is hard to spoil a story like this, but the authors, unfortunately, almost manage it. Somehow they hit on a very bad idea about how to tell this story. They concluded that the raw science was not exciting enough, so they had to jazz it up by telling it as a series of anecdotes about scientists, making them all seem like Indiana Jones. It's as if it's written for an audience with the education of college graduates and the sensibility of high school boys. The book is illustrated with charcoal drawings of these Exciting Adventures. Thus, the first picture in the book is "Henry Creswicke Rawlinson falling down the face of the Behistun rock." I personally would rather have a nice photograph of the Behistun rock. Later on, we are given a breathless account of how Jiri Kukla got into the Eighth Congress of the International Association for Quarternary Research without paying. I don't mind the anecdote, but it's irritating to have these anecdotes frame the whole account.
In accord with the general plan of being exciting, we are given dramatic reconstructions (stories) of witnesses and survivors of the flood, and of "Nur-Aya, the renowned scribe and storyteller", telling a version of the Flood Story in Assyria. These would work better if the tone of the rest of the work were more neutral.
This stylistic flaw leads to a more serious flaw. By turning the whole thing into a whole series of Amazing Stories, the authors never allow themselves time to step back and look at the response to their theses in the field as a whole. As I say, the evidence they present is convincing to ME. But then who am I? I'm no expert on oceanography or archaeology. It's easy to spin a yarn that will fool me. What I want to know is whether these theses are convincing to other people in the fields. Is there acceptance? Are there objections or reservations? What's the next place to look for supporting evidence? Instead, the reader may be left with the nagging worry: is this accepted science, or is this a crackpot scenario, or a mixture of the two?
However, while I am bugged by these problems, I am not as bugged as some; I think the theses is exciting enough, and the science convincing enough, that the book is still well worth reading anyway.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Reads like the great mystery it is..., 13. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This book addresses one of the oldest mysteries in the world, the "flood" story from the Bible. Some people view the Bible quite literally, while others see the writings as metaphore or allegory. As a social scientist and former church school teacher, I have come to believe Bible stories have a mythical quality (in the sociological sense -- designed to instill a code of behavior and promote the cohesion of a people), but also have a basis in fact, however altered by time.
Archeologists have discovered evidence that many events depicted in the Bible do indeed have a basis in reality. Historians and linguists have shown written text reflects the writers' beliefs and interpretation of events, as well as the constraints of language. For example, it seems the city walls fell as a result of the 'Battle of Jerico' but they may have been demolished when the city was sacked. Those who told the story (likely scribes and priests, not soldiers) saw the hand of God at work and reflected this in their depiction of the events.
Many have searched for the remains of Noah's Ark, but the flood story has always seemed one of the most tenuous and least likely of Bible events to have left a material record. Evidence of past floods and shifting land masses, that might have formed a basis for the Bible story, reflect events that happened before humans were around to act as witnesses.
William Ryan and Walter Pitman tell the story of how they inductively arrived at their hypothesis, and then assembled a great deal of evidence to support it -- that a very big flood occurred in the area of the Black Sea about 7,5000 years ago (within the memory of humankind) and this flood may be the basis for the Noah story.
This book reads like a mystery novel. The main characters are the scientists themselves, first rate detectives taking note of odd coincidences, and then actively searching for answers.
I have stood on the southern coast of Spain near Tarifa and looked across at the mountains of Northern Africa -- so close you feel you could touch them. I can see how the pounding waves of the Atlantic eventually eroded the rock formations, and the cold waters rushed through into the Mediterranean Basin. It doesn't take much imagination to see the same thing could have happened where the Bosporus connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean -- especially if the ice caps had melted and raised the sea level.
A great deal of information not presented in this book supports the theory these scientists put forth. Undoubtedly, they will go on to assemble new material and hopefully write a second book.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Adds Vital Understandings To Indo-European Cultures, 1. Januar 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
For a long time now, linguistics has recognized that languages throughout a broad region of the world, from India through Western Europe, all shared a common root language. What was missing was a decent explanation for how this commonality came about.
Ryan & Pitman begin decades ago with a friend's suggestion that there might be an actual cataclysmic event behind the story of Noah's flood. No event known at that time seemed to fit the known facts. The first two-thirds of this book relates their story of how decades of seabed research by numerous scientists from several nations leads to the inescapable conclusion of just the right sort of cataclysmic flood of the Black Sea occurring about 7,500 years ago.
In the final third of this book, Ryan & Pitman collect the work of a diverse group of scientists far outside of their own areas of specialization. Taken together, the body of work summarized by Ryan & Pitman provides a convincing first theory of how the population dispersal caused by this flood could have led to the broad distribution of various common cultural elements, like the Indo-European language group, styles of pottery, methods of farming, and so forth.
Ryan & Pitman clearly indicate that this last third of their book is collected from the works of other scientists. Accordingly, it is totally unfair to criticize this part of their book as either "outside of their areas of expertise" or even "totally lacking in any scientific foundation." The scientists whose work is presented in this last third of this book are all well-respected experts in their own specialties. If further support is required for the theories presented in this part, an inquiring mind should look to the works of those clearly-identified scientists whose works are summarized by Ryan & Pitman.
In future times, anybody wondering just how we got to be who we are today will be forced to take into account the Great Black Sea Flood. It clearly had an incalculable effect on the development of nankind.
Ryan & Pitman are to be commended for their discovery and their overview of its probable impact. I'm sure future scientists will find Black Sea flood-related research to be a fertile ground for seeking even more insights as to exactly who we are and how we got to be here.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Authors Veered off Course, 30. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
If only the authors of Noah's Flood had stuck to science, their area of expertise, and not veered off course into a quagmire of vague and unconvincing theories on population movements, the roots of modern agriculture, etymology and oral history, this might have been a superb book. Instead, the real promise of the first half of Noah's Flood is undermined by a string of weak arguments and infuriating and unnecessary repetition later on.
The chapters that build the case for a sudden flooding of the Black Sea in 5,600 B.C. are fascinating. Ryan and Pitman excel at synthesizing the history of biblical archaelogy with geology in gripping paragraphs that recreate the excitement of the early digs in Mesopotamia as well as their own experiences drilling the Mediterranean and Black Sea floors in search of flood records.
Their attempt to link the solid base of geological evidence they build early on with passages from the Bible and other ancient texts is poorly executed and vain. Just proving the existence of a Black Sea flood and exploring the potential consequences of such as catastrophe would have been enough. Unfortunately, the authors go the extra mile and craft a total history of the event predicated on the shaky hypothesis that it formed the basis for the creation tales in Genesis and the Gilgamesh epic.
A further disappointment is the editing in the latter chapters. Here the reader gets bogged down by the repetition of earlier references to glacial history and mind-numbing facts like how fast the Black Sea rose during the flood.
Noah's Flood also could have benefitted from a fuller explanation of the complicated geology it delves into, complete with better charts and drawings, as well as footnotes at the bottom of the page. With the notes at the back, one is often left wondering how on earth Ryan and Pitman came to some of their bizarre conclusions.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen What has happened to editing these days?, 31. Januar 2000
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
As a lover of languages, history, natural science, and arguments for grand cases often held in skepticism, I began this book with eager anticipation. But in the end, I found it choppy and downright dull. Why do we need to know about an episode of decipherment which preceded, but did not directly concern, illuminating the flood story? If we have bought the book to learn about evidence for Noah's Flood, why take up paragraph after paragraph with travelogue descriptions of seamanship and conditions on the research boats, when this sort of thing usually only communicates with people who've been there and done it (whether or not the sea was calm, the stars were visible, etc. means nothing to me reading in my living room and knowing little navigation outside of a car, though maybe that's just me). Why the virtual text-block repetitions here and there throughout the book? Why the sketchy illustrations of events and individuals, rather than photos, as if the book were being written in 1945?
The sad thing is that the authors do have a great story to tell. All they needed was a careful editor to shape it for them, bringing out what is of interest to the layman and trimming the academic's natural tendency (which I, as an academic, am hardly immune to) to forget just how abstruse a lot of even the meat-and-potatoes aspects of their work are to the uninitiated. But this wasn't done. I am surprised so many of the other reviewers didn't feel the way I did, but I seriously doubt that my sentiment is unusual -- you buy the book because the title and cover art are enticing and the "industry" reviews were so good, but I can't help wondering how many people have actually made it through it.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Noah's Fluff, 5. Juli 2000
Von 
This book was disappointing. It did provide some scientific evidence for Noah's flood. But that information was encased in a great deal of unnecessary details on how that information was acquired. It's a lot of slow reading to glean a few facts regarding the evidence that the Black Sea was a fresh water lake until it was inundated by sea water several thousand years ago.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Worth Reading, With A Grain of, uh, Salt, 14. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event that Changed History (Gebundene Ausgabe)
While the authors' attempts to connect the Black Sea flood of 7500 BP with the Biblical flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh were completely misguided, the book is worth reading just to get a glimpse of their research into this catastrophic event. While not the only such event in human times, even in that region, this research has already increased awareness of the role of sudden, unique events in the history and prehistory of our world.
On the other hand, the origin of agriculture is at least 14,000 years BP, long before this flood. Mary Settegast's "Plato Prehistorian" is an excellent survey work for those interested in "Noah's Flood" or prehistory in general, as well as being the best half-book written on the subject of Plato's tale of Atlantis. The town of Catal Huyuk predates this flood, but as Settegast writes, this very old town sprang up as if from nothing, indicating that its founders came from elsewhere. That origin place is probably now under water. The melting glaciers forced the human inhabitants of the world's coastlines to higher ground, such that the sites with the roots of stone-age culture are now drowned.
This is not a book that explains the Biblical flood, and contrary to the slapdash treatment given that particular flood story in this book and elsewhere, its source doesn't lie in a Sumerian epic. There are literally hundreds of flood stories, and while all have certain common elements, each is unique.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen To much peripheral, personal material, 20. April 2000
"Noah's Flood" contains fascinating narratives on several astonishing, geologically confirmed flood events that have actually happened in Earth's history. This is what I found interesting in this book. But the book contains much more material than just that, a lot of it rather tedious, for me at least. It is as if the scientists who actually performed a lot of the basic research took their diaries and rewrote them in book form. After a while, all the personal detail bored me and I found myself skimming for the meat. There is an interesting argument explaining how stories with grains of historical truth in them can be transmitted by pre-literate cultures over periods of thousands of years, remembering highly impressive and disruptive events that happened to their ancestors. This argument is central to the thesis of the book, which is that massive geological floods into the Black Sea basin are the source of all the flood mythologies in the various religions that sprung up around this area, including the Sumerian religion and Judaism. After reading the book, I was left with the impression that this conclusion is plausible, but that the case really wasn't proved. To me, the most interesting parts of the book were the dramatic descriptions of what these massive flood events must have looked like to the terrified observers: waterfalls 200 times the volume of Niagra (I forget the actual number: it was huge).
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