Before such a flood, Ryan and colleagues said the flooded regions may have been rife with agricultural settlements. His research supports the notion that the flood submerged some 62,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers), driving out farmers in droves, thereby supercharging the agricultural development of Europe, to the west.
However, Giosan's new study, which appears in the January issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, indicates a less catastrophic influx, submerging only about 1,240 square miles (2,000 square kilometers).
That's because, according to the new study, the Black Sea's pre-flood water levels were significantly higher than Ryan's study suggested. As a result, there may have been much less water cascading through the Bosporus and onto the exposed continental shelf surrounding the Black Sea.
The ages of the shell fossils detailed in Giosan's report hint that the pre-flood sea surface was only 95 feet (30 meters) lower than it is today. Columbia's Ryan, by contrast, suggests the Black Sea's rise has been at least 150 feet (50 meters) since reconnecting with the Mediterranean some 9,400 years ago.
Nail in Noah's-Flood Coffin?
Giosan's analysis points to a reconnection that was "quite mild," said Mark Siddall, an oceanographer at the University of Bristol in the U.K. who was not involved with the study.
"It looks like the connection may have involved an overspill from the Sea of Marmara of just a few meters," Siddall added.
Tony Brown, a paleo-environmentalist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., said he fully supports Giosan and colleagues' new findings.
"This seems to be a further nail in the coffin of the Ryan hypothesis," Brown said.
"I hope this will counter some recent catastrophist and misguided accounts of the spread of farming across Europe by what is likely a mythical flood."
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