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Mysteries of the Deep
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The Truth Behind Noah's Flood

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Messages in Bottles

During these voyages, Ballard and his colleagues uncovered still other artifacts that reveal much about other chapters of human history.

"We didn't see anything that was similar to this," recalls Foley. "This really looked special."

Among these finds were four shipwrecks, almost perfectly preserved in the cold, oxygen-less waters at the bottom of the Black Sea, where timbers would be safe from decomposing bacteria and wood-boring worms. Expedition member and nautical archeologist Cheryl Ward recalls her first impressions of one of the wrecks.

"There was no rope anywhere on the ship, which to me was an indication that this was probably much older than a couple of hundred years," says Ward. "Looking at the way that the ship itself was laid out, I started to think that this probably was about the same age as the other three shipwrecks that had been found, probably around 1500 years old."

Photo of  wood-boring worms

The contents of these amphorae - centuries-old containers for transporting wine, olive oil and other special liquids - could reveal much about the shipwrecks.

While 1500 years old is far from Biblical, little is known about shipbuilding in the Black Sea during this period. Ward wants to know which traditions these ships' builders were heir to- local standards or older Greek ones passed down through generations. Moreover, the ships' cargo could reveal much about the people who sailed them. Were these ships full of goods to be traded, were they passenger ferries, or warships?

"We'd be able to find all kinds of intimate details of the daily life of the people who were operating this little vessel," says Ward.

In addition to learning more about the ancients, Ward also appreciates what these shipwrecks have to teach us about ourselves.

"We'd be able to find all kinds of intimate details of the daily life of the people who were operating this little vessel," says Ward.

"One of the things that modern people like to do is to think they're more sophisticated than people in the past," she says. "But every time we excavate a ship, what is proven is that the people who lived thousands of years ago were solving the same kind of problems and were just as clever as we are."

The Black Sea and its cold, oxygen-poor depths preserved evidence unlikely to have survived seven millennia anywhere else. The faithful need no proof of Noah's Flood, and conclusive proof of a flood is not evidence of God to the non-religious. Though Ballard's expeditions have yet to prove that Neolithic people witnessed the flooding of the Black Sea Basin 7,500 years ago, the shipwrecks, the tools, garbage and other artifacts have much to tell us about human history. Religious or not, we are all awed by the lives our ancient ancestors might have lived.
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4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Photo: National Geographic Society

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