Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Great Flood Happened - In China

Evidence of the exceptional outburst flood in the upper valley of the Yellow River.
(A) Distributions of OFS, DLS, and landslide dam. Light purple and dark green shaded areas indicate purple-brown mudrock and greenschist, respectively. Line AB across the Lajia site shows the location of the reconstructed cross section in fig. S6C.
(B) The vertical distribution of the OFS, landslide dam, DLS, Lajia site and reconstructed lake levels relative to the longitudinal profile of the present Yellow River.
DLS are classified into lacustrine sediments (LS) and fan delta deposits (FD).
Outburst flood at 1920 BCE supports historicity of China’s Great Flood and the Xia dynasty - Science

One of the many problems faced by Bible literalists is the singular lack of evidence for any of it, especially the much-cherished early creation myths found in Genesis. This means that those who try to cling at all costs to this primitive superstition have to perform all manner of frankly idiotic mental gymnastics to either explain away the lack of evidence or try to force-fit other geological evidence into their mythology.

One traditional attempt is to claim that many/most/all other cultures have a flood myth in their history. No matter how little these, where there are in fact any, match the biblical flood myth, they will always be waved around as proof of the historical accuracy of the Bible, as though not actually equating to the biblical myth in time, location, scope or detail actually mattered. There is the story of a flood at some point, therefore this is the biblical flood - case closed!

One such flood story, for example, is the Chinese Great Flood story which is traditionally believed to have been the start of the Xia dynasty; the first such dynasty in Chinese history and the beginning of Confucian system of government. It matters not to a bible literalist that this was never presented as anything approaching a global flood, or that only a small handful of people survived on a boat and repopulated China from somewhere in the Middle East. In fact, even the Chinese doubted that this was ever more than a myth written by the winners in some political struggle for power.

But, in a paper published in Science a few days ago, a team of Chinese archaeologists believe they have found evidence that the basic essential of the Great Flood story may be based on a real event, albeit one which occurred several centuries after the traditional date.

China’s historiographical traditions tell of the successful control of a Great Flood leading to the establishment of the Xia dynasty and the beginning of civilization. However, the historicity of the flood and Xia remain controversial. Here, we reconstruct an earthquake-induced landslide dam outburst flood on the Yellow River about 1920 BCE that ranks as one of the largest freshwater floods of the Holocene and could account for the Great Flood. This would place the beginning of Xia at ~1900 BCE, several centuries later than traditionally thought. This date coincides with the major transition from the Neolithic to Bronze Age in the Yellow River valley and supports hypotheses that the primary state-level society of the Erlitou culture is an archaeological manifestation of the Xia dynasty.

Q. Wu, Z. Zhao, L. Liu, D. E. Granger, H. Wang, D. J. Cohen, X. Wu, M. Ye, O. Bar-Yosef, B. Lu, J. Zhang, P. Zhang, D. Yuan, W. Qi, L. Cai, S. Bai.
Outburst flood at 1920 BCE supports historicity of China's Great Flood and the Xia dynasty.
Science, 2016
; 353 (6299): 579 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0842

Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Reprinted with permission under licence #3923690176539

The traditional Chinese story, which is as much a part of Chinese traditional history as the Noah myth is to Western tradition, is that this Great Flood was eventually tamed and controlled by the Emperor Yu who ordered the dredging of the Yellow River and so brought stability to the area in what was to be the central area of Chinese civilisation, separating it from the wild peripheral areas. This earned Yu the divine right to become Emperor and establish the first dynasty.

The date of the flood circa 1920 B.C... roughly marks the beginning of the Bronze Age in China. A major transition occurred then, with the appearance of the first bronze ritual vessels and weapons, as well as walled settlements on a scale not seen in the Neolithic. These are the hallmarks of state-level societies in China, which come to appear across the landscape of the Yellow River valley.

Co-author David Cohen,
Assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.
National Taiwan University.
The archaeological evidence presented in the paper is that there was indeed such a flood and it was caused by a chain of events. Firstly an earthquake caused a landslide which formed a natural dam in the Yellow river upstream of the Jishi Gorge. This led to a massive lake to form behind it backing up into the Xunhua Basin, the weight of which eventually caused the dam to give way. This led to a catastrophic flood in the lower Yellow River flood plain in the order of 500 times larger than would be expected of heavy rainfall. The estimated flow through the broken dam and the Jishi Gorge was 300,000 to 500,000 cubic metres of water per second!

Using carbon dating of the bones of children killed in the original earthquake and of the youngest charcoal found in the flood runoff sediment, the team have dated the flood to 1920 BCE. The date of the beginning of the Xia dynasty is between 2070 and 2200 BCE. The date of this flood closely coincides with the beginning of the Bronze Age in China.

So, yet another of the famous 'proofs' of the biblical flood so beloved of creationist propagandists turns out to be anything but. This flood was local and has been shown to be local. What it does show however is what the remains of a massive, catastrophic flood looks like. Of course the biblical flood should have left just this evidence globally. Guess what! It isn't there, and nor is anything remotely like it.

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