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Ancient tsunami devastated Mediterranean
November 30, 2006 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Ancient tsunami devastated Mediterranean possible root of flood myths and current major religious belief.
posted by Kickstart70 (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Has anyone seen my comma?
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:32 PM on November 30, 2006


Unless I'm missing something, that story mentions nothing about being a "possible root of flood myths and current major religious belief". Also, I don't know what that picture is supposed to be.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2006


Oh that religion part is just Kick's editorializing.
posted by The Deej at 3:48 PM on November 30, 2006


Flood myths are found the world over. While the linked article is interesting, the most likely explanation for the ubiquity of the flood myth is that human society (clans, tribes, etc.) tend to form around bodies of water, and bodies of water tend to do unpredictable things.

Or, you know, God did it.
posted by lekvar at 4:06 PM on November 30, 2006


Or what about this one?

It's certainly plausible to suggest that major events like this shaped the legends of religious texts.
posted by twistedonion at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2006


Interesting, but if we are going to talk tsunamis, let's talk mega-tsunamis. When and if Cumbre Vieja decides to fall into the ocean, it could be bad. Like the East coast underwater bad.
posted by quin at 4:10 PM on November 30, 2006


Current. Heh.
posted by pompomtom at 4:12 PM on November 30, 2006


Way to feed plans to Osama, quin.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on November 30, 2006


no no no no no no no no no . . . i'm sorry what are we talking about again?
posted by nola at 4:32 PM on November 30, 2006


IM IN UR CREATION MITH FLOODIN YUR aw fuck it.
posted by interrobang at 5:10 PM on November 30, 2006


Omg, myths? About cataclysmic events? Everywhere?

zOMG!11

Editorializing or no, it's still pretty nifty. My first thought was Atlantis though, but hey, that's a destruction by something-while-in-the-water sort of myth, eh?
posted by taursir at 5:20 PM on November 30, 2006


I still like the notion that a sudden rise in the Black Sea as a result of a sudden breach from the Mediterranean through the Bhosporus strait, resulting a precipitous rise of some 17 meters, could have been passed down as the legend we know as Noah's Flood.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:31 PM on November 30, 2006


I was trying to think of the specifics of that, Devils Rancher. I think I saw a show on that once.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:42 PM on November 30, 2006


Interesting, but if we are going to talk tsunamis, let's talk mega-tsunamis.

Not to be a dick, but I thought the article *was* about mega-tsunamis?
posted by absalom at 5:43 PM on November 30, 2006


It is an interesting topic that deserved more than one MSNBC story link.
posted by y2karl at 5:57 PM on November 30, 2006


Wasn't there a theory that the Deluge is an ancestral memory of the glaciers receding?
posted by Iridic at 5:59 PM on November 30, 2006


absalom : Not to be a dick, but I thought the article *was* about mega-tsunamis?

Your right, a 10 story wave definitely fits the bill, but I always figured that a mega-tsunami would be something that was capable of crossing the ocean. More close reading of the wiki indicates this is not the case. Still, the idea that something like this could happen again with Cumbre Vieja is spooky.
posted by quin at 6:01 PM on November 30, 2006


Myths are reputed to have a basis in fact and actual occurrence. People are good at telling stories, but they change over time. It's entirely reasonable to posit that since people tend to live near water, and sometimes there are huge, overwhelming, unexpected floods, that the Deluge myth is an amplification of ancient destructive floods.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:04 PM on November 30, 2006


Isn't part of the problem though with theorizing about a single event that caused "the" flood (because there are so many flood myths) that clusters of flood myths precede one another?

I'm thinking in particular of the Ancient Near Eastern flood myths. If I understand the basic idea of the clustering, later cultures basically adopted an earlier culture's myth -- meaning that the idea originated with one culture in a sort of localized area -- so there's no reason to think that the great flood was anything more than the Tigris and/or Euphrates breaking their banks.
posted by illovich at 6:34 PM on November 30, 2006


Sure it's reasonable that the Deluge myth is an amplification of a real flood. What other option (excluding the fundamentalist one) is there? Someone, without ever seeing a flood, just imagined one and the idea caught on?

What strikes me as unreasonable is to jump to the conclusion that an ancient tsunami is the basis for a story about a forty-day rainfall that covered the earth for a year. Wouldn't an actual extended rain be a much more likely origin?

Interesting article, but it could have stood on its own without the editorializing in the post.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:35 PM on November 30, 2006


When and if Cumbre Vieja decides to fall into the ocean, it could be bad. Like the East coast underwater bad.

So, in other words, good?
posted by keswick at 7:05 PM on November 30, 2006


I left MOPS because a couple of the mentors believed the Indonesian Tsunami was god's will. The people were not listening to him.

Never went back after that crazy talk.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:55 PM on November 30, 2006


And of course, this is forgetting the problem that the Biblical flood myth came out of modern-day Iraq and Iran.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:43 PM on November 30, 2006


KJS: More places than that.
posted by blacklite at 8:55 PM on November 30, 2006


Weird. I visit the page and I see up on top "Breaking News: Strong earthquake hits Indonesia’s Sumatra island, U.S.G.S. reports" and at the bottom of the page "55 dead as typhoon hits Phillipines."
posted by weston at 9:37 PM on November 30, 2006


re:myth's and stuff... there's some speculation that the red sea parting as a natural phenomenon.

huh - after tooling around the site that spawned my first link; I wonder what more 'fundamental' chuches think about the views that that site puts forth...
posted by porpoise at 10:00 PM on November 30, 2006


no, wait, I take that last part back because I'm drunk - the whole systematic and logical analyses of the bible threw me off for a bit.
posted by porpoise at 10:03 PM on November 30, 2006


I'm amazed that 10-story buildings existed 8,000 years ago.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:16 PM on November 30, 2006


Velikovsky.
posted by semmi at 10:54 PM on November 30, 2006


Flood stories were very widespread, but not very important, in many parts of the world. With missionization, a naive belief that these stories referred to the biblical flood meant that such stoties were more likely to be noticed, approved of, written down, not stamped out, etc. The widespread global occurrence of flood myths probably owes more to this selective pressure than that floods were widely important in mythology prior to Christian missionaries arriving.

having said that, some flood myths do have a basis in real events, along rivers as well as along the ocean. Some events would be tsunamis, but more often I would bet it would be global eustatic sea level change or sudden tectonic movements that are at the root of the stories. I can think of at least two oral historical accounts around here (BC) where tsunamis are clearly described, another series where post-glacial isostatic-eustatic change is described, and three where floods caused by landslides into major rivers feature in the accounts. That is, in all cases, there is a documented geological event that is being memorialized in oral tradition.

Regarding the neolithic village with the fish: wouldn't a tsunami tend to disturb this neat pile? And if not, then would people be that scared away? Sounds like a reach to me.
posted by Rumple at 11:04 PM on November 30, 2006


I wonder whether "devastating tsunami taller than a 10-story building that spread across the entire Mediterranean Sea, slamming into the shores of three continents" causes a real flood or mythical flood.
posted by CodeBaloo at 12:07 AM on December 1, 2006


blacklite: Which is why I specified the flood myth described in the Bible. Much of the text of Genesis may have been compiled during or shortly after the exile. The story of Noah is remarkably similar to other Mesopotamian texts, and the Bible cites Mesopotamia as the original birthplace of the lineage of Abraham, and the headwaters of Euphrates as the resting place of the Ark.

Certainly there are many other flood myths out there, the question is whether it is possible to document a relation between them?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:37 AM on December 1, 2006


Does anyone else have problems with this statement? "The mountain of rubble crashed into the water at more than 200 mph. It pummeled the sea bed, transformed thick layers of soft marine sediment into jelly and triggered an underwater mudslide that flowed for hundreds of miles."

Over two hundred miles per hour? Even with a freefall that would be hard to believe. The eruption would not be propelling the avalanche downwards and friction would be slowing it up. Looking at other sites, it says avalanches can go over 100 miles per hour, I couldn't find over 120 mph.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:58 AM on December 1, 2006


When the Indonesian tsunami hit two years ago, I specifically remember watching the horrific footage and thinking of how people without the scientific means to explain what was happening might have ultimately explained it.

And the answer, of course, was God - is God.

I've no doubt that the story of Noah's flood derived from an actual event. I've also no doubt there is a scientific explanation of how that event occurred.
posted by kgasmart at 7:54 AM on December 1, 2006


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