Last year I wrote about the 'Mega Floods' of prehistory and how scientists in America had discovered that the affects of the melting Ice Cap from the last extreme had a profound effect on the landscape that can easily be seen today.
Today I want to look at what happened on main land Europe at the same time, particularly in the Black and Caspian Sea areas
At the end of the Ice Age Europe look quite different than today.
The ice cap covered most of Northern Europe and as a consequence the land mass increased as the sea levels dropped accordingly. As the ice cap started to melt about 17,000 years ago the sea level started to rise for the ice water had created huge water channels into the sea - but not all the water went into the sea a majority stayed on the land.
To understand the extent of this influence and the consequences of this ice melt, we are going to look at what happened to the Black and Caspian Seas which would have been some 500 to 1000 miles away from the edge of the ice cap. A theory proposed by Andrey Tchepalyga of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Global warming beginning from about 16,000 BP caused the melting of the Scandinavia Ice Sheet, resulting in massive river discharge that flowed into the Caspian Sea, raising it to as much as 50 metres (160 ft) above normal present-day levels. The rise was extremely rapid and the Caspian basin could not contain all the floodwater, which flowed from the northwest coastline of the Caspian Sea, through the Kuma-Manych Depression and Kerch Strait, over the current eastern coastline of the Sea of Azov into the ancient Black Sea basin.
By the end of the Pleistocene this would have raised the level of the Black Sea by some 60 to 70 metres (200 to 230 ft) 20 metres (66 ft) below its present-day level, and flooding large areas that were formerly available for settlement or hunting. Tchepalyga suggests this may have formed the basis for legends of the great Deluge.
So according to Andrey the mass of the ice cap was so great that it caused flooding (by raising water levels) of the Black Sea some 500 miles away by 60 to 70 metres and the Caspian Sea some 1000 miles away by a mere 50 metres and as shown on this map, it has still not returned to the same levels prior to the ice melting some 17,000 years later.
YET IN BRITAIN... both archaeologist and geologists has not recognised that this same affect that flooded both America and South Eastern Europe had no affect on the landscape that was covered by the same ice sheet of was just a few miles away - such as Stonehenge.
As this map clearly shows - if the Black and Caspian Sea flooded, Britain MUST have flooded, and the 'Dry River Valleys' as shown in my book The Stonehenge Enigma, ran with fresh clear water, not for just a few years, but for many thousands of years. In particular, when prehistoric man was building his stone structures on the shorelines of these enlarged rivers.
Details of the research from an article from Geoarchaeology
Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Valentina Yanko-Hombach has always wanted to understand the ancient history of the great basin that borders her homeland. The Black Sea, which stands as an important trading and commercial center for the surrounding countries, holds clues deep in its sediments about the people who once lived along its shores.
For the past 30 years, the geologist and micropaleontologist has been working to reconstruct the region's sea level, drawing on research from other former-Soviet and Eastern Bloc scientists. Language and political barriers have largely prevented these scientists' data from entering the mainstream global scientific debate.
A prevailing Western idea about a past ancient flood in the region, first presented in 1997 by Walter Pitman and Bill Ryan both of Columbia University, suggests that salty Mediterranean water abruptly flooded the freshwater Black Sea about 7,200 years ago; the researchers link the event to the biblical story of Noah's flood. But Yanko-Hombach is weaving together a different story for the basin — not one of a single sharp cataclysmic inundation but instead of natural cyclicity. The ups and downs of the sea could have mirrored the changes in culture for a variety of societies.
She and colleagues have studied thousands of kilometers of high-resolution seismic profiles and thousands of sediment cores during large-scale geological surveys of the Black Sea shelf. Yanko-Hombach's own work hones in on foraminifera — shells of bottom-dwelling microorganisms that reflect past water chemistry. She can match specific species, for example, to the salinity signatures from various bodies of water; some love saltwater, others abhor salt.
Yanko-Hombach's analyses suggest that the region has experienced many floods of various magnitudes over the past 800,000 years. She has found a first wave of recolonization by Mediterranean immigrants among foraminifera species in Black Sea sediments as early as 9,500 years before present. Strontium isotope ratios in mollusk shells, however, as measured by Candace Major and Steve Goldstein in Ryan's research group, are now revealing the sudden switching on of a strong marine signal at 8,400 years before present. Thus, Yanko-Hombach's data suggest an earlier and less dramatic sea-level change. The evidence shows, Yanko-Hombach says, that "Noah's flood legend has nothing to do with the Black Sea."
Ryan and Pitman's hypothesis was based on incomplete data, she says. The Black Sea has many areas of regional washout, where sediments of certain ages are absent and can give the impression of a flood event. Eastern scientists, however, have long been sampling areas closer to the seashore.
Jim Teller of the University of Manitoba says that where researchers sample can result in significantly different conclusions about changes the fossils underwent. "Researchers get a limited number of dates, and there's a lot of difference in the extrapolation process over intervals without dates," he says.
But Ryan speculates that the discrepancy with the Russian and Ukrainian measurements may lie in the dating method itself. The ages Yanko-Hombach uses are primarily derived from methods of carbon-14 dating. This technique required large samples, he says, which may have introduced mixed organic materials and skewed the results to older apparent ages.
"Her timing of the saltwater intrusion is more than a thousand years before any similar salinity signal in cores calibrated with the new accelerator mass spectrometer instruments," Ryan says. "So it is difficult for me to see how so many salt-tolerant species of clear Mediterranean genesis could colonize the Black Sea 9,500 years ago and yet not show up in the strontium isotopic signal."
Yanko-Hombach's data are "both wonderful and problematic," Ryan says, pointing out that her "marvelously detailed record of the foraminifera species abundances" still indicates the occurrence of an abrupt change in fauna in some cores, just like what he sees in the bottom-dwelling mollusks. "A flood from the Mediterranean could produce this change, but the real issue is whether a flood is the required causative event or if something of less magnitude and more gradual could produce the changes we both observe," he says.
Currently, Yanko-Hombach and Ryan are working together to apply modern dating methods to single specimens in an old Ukrainian core sample. Ryan says that his research has involved frequent correspondence with Eastern scientists. Yanko-Hombach's work, he says, is a valuable service to the community in creating new opportunities for collaborative study.
"I am trying to bring together people to develop scientific dialogue," Yanko-Hombach says. She has already presented her research widely, including at a NATO workshop last October in Bucharest, Romania, and the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting last November in Seattle, where she co-chaired a session about the Black Sea.
To further break down barriers of the past, she has proposed a 4.5 million Euro proposal to the European Union that involves archaeologists, anthropologists and geologists from 11 countries, including Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and those bordering the Black Sea basin (excluding Georgia). The project would continue her quest to link climate to changes in coastal migration and culture in the region.
In the meantime, archaeologists continue their own quest to link their findings to flood events. Archaeological evidence from a site called Kamennaya Balka in Rostov, Russia, for example, supports a large flooding event 16,000 and 14,000 years before present, Yanko-Hombach says. She and Andrey Tchepalyga of the Institute of Geography in Moscow say that melting glaciers and thawing permafrost caused the Caspian Sea to increase its surface level by about 80 meters, swelling to half again its present size, and to spill multiple times into the Black Sea during the 2,000-year period.
Nataly Leonova at Moscow State University suggests that such flooding may have been responsible for local changes in culture about 16,000 years ago. Before that time, Leonova says that archaeological artifacts in and around the Crimea indicate a clear relationship to Caucasus cultures. And then that connection suddenly stopped: The area was perhaps covered by water, cutting off communication.
All the floods likely caused some change in culture, Yanko-Hombach says. Flooding can happen in many places in the world as a result of climate change, and thousands of years ago, "local people would have considered this as 'Noah's flood,'" she says.
"These were magical kinds of things, so anything truly larger compared to your experiences and what your ancestors had told you about would be worth writing down," says Teller, who also co-chaired the GSA session. He has published work in 2000 suggesting that Noah's flood occurred in the Persian Gulf, where archaeologists found the Epic of Gilgamesh — clay tablets that include a story of a great flood. Still, Teller says that linking any flood event to Noah's flood is nearly impossible at this time "unless something is discovered that nails down the whole concept of Noah's flood — which is just a few verses in the Bible."
Lisa M. Pinsker
(by Robert John Langdon)