The Turning of the Tides


Great stories share in common a surprising but nevertheless inevitable conclusion.

Long before its shores were lined with minarets and mansions, the Bosporus Strait in present-day Istanbul, Turkey, was little more than a narrow spillway through which fresh water from the ancient inland Black Sea flowed south into the Aegean Sea and on to the Mediterranean. Then, about 7,600 years ago, rising sea levels worldwide brought about a cataclysmic reversal – a natural disaster of biblical proportions.

Photo © Bobby Pangle

Suddenly, seawater cascaded in the opposite direction, north through the Bosporus Strait and into the Black Sea, with a force two hundred times stronger than that of Niagara Falls. The thunderous roar could be heard for sixty miles away. The waters rose rapidly, as fast as six inches per day, flooding shorelines for thousands of miles. The flood forced farmers to relocate, spreading advanced agricultural techniques westward into what is now central Europe. The rising waters created a nautical corridor stretching from Asia to the Atlantic Ocean, which is today, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.

The story of this great flood is preserved in the mythology of almost every culture, including the Book of Genesis. 

I am reminded of the words of Sir Charles Leonard Wooley: “We need not try to make history out of legend, but we ought to assume that beneath much that is artificial or incredible there lurks something of fact.”


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