Perished nations: Prophet Nuh(AS) and the great flood(Part 4/5)

The Location of the Flood (Archeological findings)

The Mesopotamian Plains have been suggested as the location of the Flood. In this region lived the oldest civilisations known to history. Besides, being between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, geographically this region is a suitable setting for a great deluge. One of the contributory factors to the effect of the flood is most probably that these two rivers overflowed their beds and overwhelmed the region.

The second reason why this region is regarded as the location for the Flood is historical. In the records of many civilisations of the region many documents are to be found referring to a flood that took place in the same period. Having witnessed the destruction of Nuh’s (as) people, these civilisations must have felt the need to record how this disaster came about and what it resulted in. It is known that most of the legends about the flood are of Mesopotamian origin. More important to us are the archaeological finds. These show that a big deluge did indeed once befall this region.

This flood caused civilisation to be suspended for a period. In the excavations, apparent traces of such an enormous disaster have been unearthed.

The excavations made in the Mesopotamian region disclose that many times in history, this region suffered from various disasters as a result of deluges and the overflow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. For instance around the second millennium BC, at the time of Ibbi-sin, ruler of the large nation of Ur situated to the south of Mesopotamia, a year is marked as "coming after a Flood that annihilated the borders between the heavens and the earth"1. Around 1700 BC, at the time of the Babylonian Hammurabi, a year is marked as being that in which occurred the incident of "the ruining of the city of Eshnunna with a deluge".

In the tenth century BC, at the time of the ruler Nabu-mukin-apal, a deluge occurred in the city of Babylon.2 After ‘Isa (Jesus) (as), in the seventh, eighth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries, important deluges took place in the region. In the twentieth century, the same happened in 1925, 1930 and 1954.3 It is clear that the region has always been subject to the disaster of flooding and, as indicated in the Qur’an, it is very likely that a massive flood could have destroyed an entire people.

It is striking that today we run into traces of most of the communities which are said in the Qur’an to have been destroyed. Archaeological evidence yields the fact that the more suddenly a community disappears, the more likely it is that we will come across some of its remnants.

In the case of a civilisation suddenly disappearing, which can happen as a result of a natural disaster, sudden emigration or war, the traces of this civilisation can often be preserved much better. Houses in which people lived and tools they once used in daily life are buried under the earth in a short time. Thus these are preserved for quite long periods untouched by human hand and they yield important evidence of the past when brought to light.

This is how a great deal of evidence for the Flood has been uncovered in our day. Thought to have occurred around the third millennium BC, the Flood put an end to a whole civilisation in a matter of moments, and later resulted in a brand new civilisation being established in its place. Thus the apparent evidence for the Flood has been preserved for thousands of years so that we may take warning.

Many excavations have been made in the investigation of the Flood which covered the Mesopotamian plains. In excavations made in the region, in four main cities there are traces of what must have been a particularly large flood. These cities were the important cities of Mesopotamia: Ur, Erech, Kish and Shuruppak.

The excavations made in these cities reveal that all four of these were subjected to a flood around the third millennium BC.

First let us take a look at the excavations made in the city of Ur.

The oldest remains of a civilisation unearthed in the excavations made in the city of Ur, which has been re-named "Tell al Muqqayar" in our day, date back as far as 7000 BC. As one of the sites which has been home to one of the earliest civilisations, the city of Ur has been a region of settlements in which many cultures succeeded each other.

Archaeological findings from the city of Ur show that here civilization was interrupted after an enormous flood, and that then new civilisations later emerged. R.H. Hall from the British Museum made the first excavations here. Leonard Woolley, who took it upon himself to carry on with excavations after Hall, also upervised an excavation organised collectively by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania. Excavations conducted by Woolley, which had a huge effect world-wide, lasted from 1922 to 1934.

Sir Woolley’s excavations took place in the middle of the desert between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. The first founders of the city of Ur were a people who had come from North Mesopotamia and called themselves "Ubaidian". Excavations originally began to gather information on these people. Woolley’s excavations are described by the German archaeologist Werner Keller:

"The graves of the kings of Ur" - so Woolley, in the exuberance of his delight at discovering them, had dubbed the tombs of Sumerian nobles whose truly regal splendour had been exposed when the spades of the archaeologists attacked a fifty-foot mound south of the temple and found a long row of superimposed graves. The stone vaults were veritable treasure chests, for they were filled with all the costly goblets, wonderfully shaped jugs and vases, bronze tableware, mother of pearl mosaics, lapis lazuli, and silver surrounded these bodies which had mouldered into dust. Harps and lyres rested against the walls. "Almost at once" he wrote later in his diary,"discoveries were made which confirmed our suspicions. Directly under the floor of one of the tombs of the kings we found in a layer of charred wood ash numerous clay tablets, which were covered with characters of a much older type than the inscriptions on the graves. Judging by the nature of the writing, the tablets could be assigned to about 3000 BC. They were therefore two or three centuries earlier than the tombs".

The shafts went deeper and deeper. New strata, with fragments of jars, pots, and bowls, kept appearing. The experts noticed that the pottery remained surprisingly enough unchanged. It looked exactly like that which had been found in the graves of the kings. Therefore, it seemed that for centuries the Sumerian civilisation had undergone no radical change. They must, according to the conclusion, have reached a high level of development astonishingly early.

When after several days some of Woolley’s workmen called out to him, "We are on ground level", he let himself down onto the floor of the shaft to satisfy himself. Woolley’s first thought was "This is it at last". It was sand, pure sand of a kind that could only have been deposited by water.

They decided to dig on and make the shaft deeper. Deeper and deeper went the spades into the ground: three feet, six feet - still pure mud. Suddenly, at ten feet, the layer of mud stopped as abruptly as it had started. Under this clay deposit of almost ten feet thick, they had struck fresh evidence of human habitation. The appearance and quality of the pottery had noticeably altered. Here, they were handmade. Metal remains were nowhere to be found. The primitive implement that did emerge was made of hewn flint. It must belong to the Stone Age!

The Flood - that was the only possible explanation of this great clay deposits.

According to archaeological finds, Nuh’s (as) Flood took place on the Mesopotamian plains. The plains had a different shape then. In the above diagram, the current borders of the plains are denoted with a red cut line. The large section lying behind the red line is known to have been a part of the sea at that time.

Max Mallowan related the thoughts of Leonard Woolley, who said that such a huge mass of alluvium formed in a single time slice could only be the result of a huge flood disaster. Woolley also described the flood layer that separated the Sumerian city of Ur from the city of Al-Ubaid whose inhabitants used painted pottery, as the remains of the Flood.

continued in next post