Friday, July 5, 2013

The Persian Gulf Valley, Epic of Gilgamesh, The Flood

Persian Gulf: The Garden of Eden and the Noah's Flood

The last glacial period occurred from approximately 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. During this period the maximum extent of glaciation was approximately 22,000 years ago (Last Glacial Maximum). Local ice fields and small ice sheets capped the mountains in the Caucasus, Turkey and Iran. During the last glacial period, the sea level dropped by at least 120 meter below today’s ocean level.

The Persian Gulf has an average depth of 50 meters and a maximum depth of 90 meters. The Persian Gulf stretches 989 kilometers from the present boundaries for Iran and Iraq to the Gulf of Oman.  At the narrowest width, Strait of Hormuz, it is about 56 kilometers wide.  Thus, at the maximum glaciers period, the entire Persian Gulf was above the Indian Ocean sea level.  It was a dry shallow valley with several small lakes at the lowest valley floors.  These lakes received the waters of Arvand Rud, the river formed by Kārun, Euphrates and the Tigris. The following two pictures (a, b) show the hydro-physiography of Persian Gulf region during 18,000 and 12,000 years ago. About 12000 years ago, the body of water within the Persian Gulf valley and the Gulf of Oman had abridged the land barrier and had made contact. The extent of the lake closest to the Strait of Hormuz has increased into the shallow adjacent land (Figure b).

Figures a and b: Persian Gulf Valley about 18,000 and 12,000 years ago.

The glacial retreat about 11,000 years ago had a profound effect on landscapes in many areas that were covered by ice at the Last Glacial Maximum. As the glaciers melted, the ocean level slowly increased.  In addition, the increase flow of water from Karun by melting of ice on Zagros Mountain, increase flow of Tigris and Euphrates rivers into the Persian Gulf valley, the size of the local shallow lakes increase within the Persian Gulf valley. The combined see level change and the expansion of the lakes broke the soil dame at Hormuz causing intrusion of the ocean water into the Persian Gulf valley. The Persian Gulf level steadily rose along with the ocean level (Figures b, c and d) reaching to the today’s level by about 6000 years ago (Figure d).

Figures c and d: Persian Gulf Valley about 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

 Epic of Gilgamesh has counterparts in the book of Genesis, notably in the stories of the Garden of Eden and Noah's Flood. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five independent Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for Gilgamesh), king of Uruk. [They date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BC).

Garden of Eden: Eden is from an Aramaic word meaning "fruitful, well-watered. The Bible mentions four rivers flowing into Eden/Paradise, two of these are Karun (Kuhrang) and Pasitigris is to be identified with Pishon. The other two are Euphrates and the Tigris.

Elam and The Flood: The Persian Gulf valley had a thriving population.  The valley may have supported early humans for over 100,000 years. Were these the people the ancestors of Elamite (‎)?
The general knowledge about Elam can be summarized by "Elam civilization centered in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran. The location of this civilization was the lowlands of what are now Khuzestan, Elam Province, and a small part of southern modern Iraq."  This civilization is recognized as the oldest in Iran and was largely contemporary with its neighbor, Sumerian civilization, and the oldest in the world, which began around 3400 BC. Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the ancient near east.
Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist and researcher with the University of Birmingham in Current Anthropology (2010) wrote: "Perhaps it is no coincidence that the founding of such remarkably well developed communities along the shoreline corresponds with the flooding of the Persian Gulf basin around 8,000 years ago," Rose said. "These new colonists may have come from the heart of the Gulf, displaced by rising water levels that plunged the once fertile landscape beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean." 

This Persian Gulf river valley was a major passage way through Yemen and Oman for the migration out of Africa to Asia and Europe. Were Neanderthals the earliest migratory people through this valley?  The first humans with proto-Neanderthal are suggested to have existed in Europe as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago. 
It has been suggested that the Modern humans, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa up to 200,000 years ago and reached the Near East around 125,000 years ago. From the Near East, these populations spread east to South Asia by 50,000 years ago and on to Australia by 40,000 years ago, when for the first time H. sapiens reached territory never reached by H. erectus. H. sapiens reached Europe around 43,000 years ago, eventually replacing the Neanderthal population. East Asia was reached by 30,000 years ago.
Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of anatomically modern humans, probably through interbreeding between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago with the population of anatomically modern humans who had recently migrated from Africa. According to the study, by the time that population began dispersing across Eurasia, Neanderthals genes constituted as much as 1–4% of its genome.  The revolution in mapping human genome along with investigation within the Persian Gulf valley will provide a more accurate picture of our migratory parents as more data will be accumulated during next decade. 

Note: the pictures included in this document were included in Kurt Lambeck “Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University. Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia, 1995”