8,000-year-old take on Noah's Ark
First Nations had a similar legend about Lake Agassiz and the rising waters around central Canada, so similar to Greeks and Turks legends about the Black sea's earthen dam separating the mediterranean breaking way and the resulting catastrophy . Perhaps the building of Noahs Ark wasn't so far fetched after all.
A British scientist has found evidence linking the catastrophic collapse of a glacial ice dam in Canada more than 8,000 years ago and the rapid spread of agriculture across Europe around the same time.
The dramatic discharge of freshwater from prehistoric Lake Agassiz -- which covered much of Central Canada at the end of the last ice age -- has long been blamed for altering global climate patterns and raising sea levels around the world by at least a metre in a matter of months.
The deluged shorelines caused by the colossal Canadian gusher have even been associated with the "great flood" myths common to many ancient cultures -- including the biblical story of Noah's Ark.
Now, University of Exeter geologist Chris Turney believes he has traced the sudden proliferation of farming across neolithic Europe to an exodus of coastal people moving inland to escape the results of the Agassiz flood.
"It still blows my mind to think that a release of water from Canada could set off a cascade of changes all the way across in Europe," Turney told CanWest News Service. "It just goes to show how people and the environment are intimately linked."
The existence of a supersized Lake Agassiz has been known since the late 1800s. Formed some 12,000 years ago from the meltwater of retreating glaciers at the end of the last full ice age, the lake was encircled by beaches still visible today as sandy ridges throughout Central and Western Canada.
Initially centred around the present Ontario-Manitoba border, Lake Agassiz formed, at its greatest extent, a 1.5-million-square-kilometre freshwater basin -- an area larger than the combined areas of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
University of Manitoba geologist Jim Teller's reconstruction of the lake's dying throes has kick-started a worldwide wave of research into what was undoubtedly one of the most awesome natural events in Canadian prehistory.
With the lake at the greatest width and depth ever in its 4,000-year lifespan, the glacier that had dammed Agassiz's northern shore broke somewhere along ice-bound Hudson Bay. A huge torrent gushed into the ocean, draining a volume of fresh water equal to about 15 Lake Superiors in a few months.
Some of this country's earliest aboriginal occupants may have even witnessed the epic occurrence since the peopling of Canada roughly coincides with the retreat of the glaciers.
Teller has also theorized Agassiz's , cataclysmic burst caused such a surge of seawater around the world it may have given rise to Noah's Ark saga and other ancient accounts of massive floods.
Among the effects, scientists believe, was the breaching of an earthen barrier between the Mediterranean and Black seas in southeast Europe and extensive flooding of the Black Sea shoreline.
Turney tracked the sudden spread of European farming about 8,000 years ago by mapping the locations and dates of the earliest known agricultural settlements discovered by archeologists.
What the data shows, he says, is a clear sequence of flooding, migration and resettlement of farmers across Europe after the Lake Agassiz deluge.