QINGHAI PROVINCE, China – A new report suggests that China’s Great Flood legend is based on a real event, leading others to ponder if similar flood legends around the world are rooted in real history.
In an article published last week in the journal “Science,” a team of 16 researchers examine a prominent Chinese flood story. According to the legend, which is described in several ancient Chinese texts, a devastating flood destroyed China’s Yellow River region some four thousand years ago.
Since the 1920s, many scholars have doubted the historicity of the Chinese flood legend and dismissed it as mere myth. Others, however, have searched for evidence of it, and—according to this recent report in “Science”—may finally be vindicated.
“Here, we present geological evidence for a catastrophic flood in the early second millennium BCE and suggest that it may be the basis of the Great Flood,” the researchers wrote.
The article, titled “Outburst flood at 1920 BCE supports historicity of China’s Great Flood and the Xia dynasty,” documents evidence of “an extreme natural disaster” that occurred along the Yellow River.
“The evidence found in our investigations along the Yellow River in Qinghai Province includes remains of a landslide dam, dammed lake sediments upstream, and outburst flood sediments downstream that allow us to reconstruct the size of the lake and flood,” the researchers wrote.
Widespread flood sediments have been discovered in Jishi Gorge and Guanting Basin, both of which straddle the Yellow River. The sediments are 65 feet deep in some places and include boulders nearly 7 feet in diameter—apparent evidence of a catastrophic flood. Other features, including mudrock and water deposits, are also telltale evidence of an enormous flood, the researchers explain.
In addition to geological evidence, manmade ruins evidently dating back to the flood have been discovered. These include collapsed cave dwellings, pottery sherds, and other cultural materials that were ravaged by flood waters. Using radiocarbon dating methods, the scientists believe the event occurred around 1920 B.C.—a date that is compatible with previous reckonings.
“The discovery and reconstruction here of the massive outburst flood originating in Jishi Gorge provide scientific support that the ancient Chinese textual accounts of the Great Flood may well be rooted in a historic natural event,” the scientists stated.
These recent revelations regarding China’s Great Flood account are causing scientists to reconsider the validity of other flood legends around the world. David Montgomery, a professor of Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, says he is “impressed with how the geography of seemingly curious details in many local myths was consistent with geological processes that cause disastrous floods in different regions.”
“Great floods and other natural disasters were long seen as the work of angry deities or supernatural entities or powers,” Montgomery wrote in an article published last week on TheConversation.com. “But now that we are learning that some stories once viewed as folklore and myth may be rooted in real events, scientists are paying a little more attention to the storytellers of old.”
Dr. Monty White, a chemist who has written extensively on topics pertaining to science and the Bible, believes the world’s different flood legends ultimately point to the catastrophic worldwide flood described in the Bible.
“If only eight people—Noah’s family—survived the Flood, we would expect there to be historical evidence of a worldwide flood,” White wrote in an Answers in Genesis article. “If you think about it, the evidence would be historical records in the nations of the world, and this is what we have. … Stories of the Flood—distorted though they may be—exist in practically all nations, from ancient Babylon onward. This evidence must not be lightly dismissed. If there never was a worldwide Flood, then why are there so many stories about it?”