Civilizations Lost to the Sea

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Everyone loves to hear stories about lost civilizations like the island of Atlantis, which sank under the ocean. It sounds fictional, yet archaeologists regularly find real civilizations whose existence was previously unknown and whose origins are a mystery.

The remains of these early civilizations are buried not only under the sands of time but also under the sea. How can this be? The Bible helps provide the answer.

Human beings had advanced skills from the very beginning. Along with what we read about their skills in metalworking and agriculture before the flood, Noah’s family had immense shipbuilding skills. Noah’s descendants desired to apply their skills in another way—to “make a name for themselves” by building a great city and a tower at Babel.

When God judged them by confusing their languages, the families scattered all over the earth, taking their skills with them. So we shouldn’t be surprised to find buried evidence of huge stone structures, tools, and ancient buildings.

Why then are some artifacts underwater? It can be due to several factors. Coastlines can change due to underlying sediments giving way, earthquakes, erosion and deposition, storms, and changes in water levels. For example, the melting ice at the end of the Ice Age would have raised the ocean level, flooding the low-lying coastal regions where humans had settled. Regardless of the causes, their remains are a testament to the skills of the people who spread over the earth after Babel.

Bouldnor Cliff, England

Between England and the Isle of Wight is a submerged cliff, where in 1999 divers noticed a lobster tossing flint pieces out of its burrow. Upon closer inspection, they found the remains of an ancient village, 36 feet (11 m) underwater. Along with stone tools, archaeologists found piles of cut timber, fragments from boat construction, and fibers from the earliest known string.

Stone Monolith in the Sicilian Strait

On a sunken island 37 miles (60 km) off the coast of Sicily, a 39-foot (12 m) stone beam was discovered in 2015. Weighing approximately 15 tons, the beam was broken into two pieces and had three holes cut at regular distances. Archaeologists are not sure about the original function, but it could have served as some sort of signpost to guide ships safely to the island.

Neolithic Village off Israel’s Coast

In 1984, researchers discovered an ancient 10-acre “Stone Age” village, including a stone circle, half a mile (1 km) off Israel’s coast. Atlit Yam, as it is called, is one of the largest undersea villages. It includes stores of grain, a well, bone fishhooks, piles of fish, and well-preserved human skeletons in their graves. The villagers built a brick wall, too, apparently to protect themselves from floods.

Ancient Building under the Black Sea

Popular interest in undersea archaeology was sparked in 2000 when National Geographic sent adventurer Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, on a dive under the Black Sea. He reported finding a building with “carved wooden beams, wooden branches, and stone tools collapsed among the mud matrix of the structure.” Many archaeologists claimed this as evidence that a great flood filled the Black Sea thousands of years ago, inspiring many regional flood legends.

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September–October 2018

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