An ancient flood some say could be the origin of the story of Noah's Ark may have helped the spread of agriculture in Europe 8,300 years ago by scattering the continent's earliest farmers, researchers said today.
Using radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence, a British team showed the collapse of the North American ice sheet, which raised global sea levels by as much as 1.4 metres, displaced tens of thousands of people in southeastern Europe who carried farming skills to their new homes.
The researchers said in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews their study provides direct evidence linking the flood that breached a ridge keeping the Mediterranean apart from the Black Sea to the rise of farming in Europe.
"The flooding of the Black Sea was not well dated but we got it down to about 50 years," said Chris Turney, a geologist at the University of Exeter, who led the study. "As soon as the flooding is done, farming goes crazy across Europe."
The researchers created reconstructions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea shoreline before and after the rise in sea levels. They estimated the flood covered some 73,000 square kilometres over a 34-year period, causing mass displacement of people. ( Gulf )