Garden of Eden–Found! Again!

It’s not every day that serious archaeologists make the Yahoo! news. Usually they get scooped by flashier pretenders, like those who claim to have found Noah’s Ark. So I was excited to read that a legitimate British scientist named Jeffrey Rose had a headline-worthy theory: “Veiled beneath the Persian Gulf, a once-fertile landmass may have supported some of the earliest humans outside Africa some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago, a new review of research suggests.”  That’s right: somewhere below southern Iraq, the traditional site of the Bible’s Garden of Eden, people may have lived a long, long, time ago. What’s that siren-like noise in your ear? Your Eden-seeking alarm is going off? Well, mine too.  Exotic as it may sound, this theory is eerily similar to one espoused by archaeologist Juris Zarins in the pages of Smithsonian magazine in the late 1980s, one that I explore in the last chapter of my book on Eden-seeking.  What did Professor Zarins think of this interloper? I contacted Zarins, hoping for a fight, and was both relieved and disappointed to find that he was one of the experts called upon to respond to Rose’s original article, in the December issue of Current Archaeology. Ah, academia: so much more collegial than the dog-eat-dog battle I was trying to set up.  Zarins calls Rose’s work “a fine synthesis” of stuff he already knew, and urges Rose not to treat the ancient Sumerian literature from that part of the world as merely anecdotal.

“Middle Holocene Gulf archaeology and the origins of the
enigmatic Sumerians must center on the excavations under-
taken at Eridu, the town in which the Sumerians originated
and created civilization. Eridu is situated on a typical large
northeast Arabian lake of the type cited above and on the
western edge of the Wadi Batin delta entering the South Mes-
opotamian trough. This lake was undoubtedly the Sumerian
“waters of the deep,” or abzu (Green 1975). Excavations in
the middle twentieth century provided a very long ‘Ubaid
sequence of domestic and religious architecture beginning by
ca. 5500/5000 BC (Safar, Mustafa, and Lloyd 1981).”
Those enigmatic Sumerians are the ones who gave us so much of the original material for the Old Testament, which is why their origins have at least a passing connection to the ongoing search for the Garden of Eden.  In his response to his commenters, Jeffrey Rose is gracious, and recognizes his work’s connection to a myth that is the Siamese twin to the Garden of Eden story, the story of the Great Flood:
“In regard to the place of the Near Eastern deluge myth
in this discussion, I agree with Bailey insofar that it should
be relegated to anecdotal. However, I do not think we should
dismiss its relevance outright. While it is not valid to start
with the premise that the ubiquitous flood story might be
rooted in an actual event, it is scientifically permissible to
switch the question around and ask whether marine incursion
into the Gulf basin impacted the development of local folk-
lores, particularly given that the population living along
the northern coast became fully literate within three millennia of
the final inundation. During the last phase of postglacial
flooding, the shoreline was ingressing at a pace of multiple
kilometers per generation; therefore, it is reasonable to sup-
pose this would have left an impression on incipient sedentary
communities (trying to) settle along the rapidly advancing
shoreline. Epigraphic evidence suggests this was indeed the
case, with the oldest flood accounts impressed on Ur III clay
tablets from Lower Mesopotamia, followed by a virtually un-
broken chain of transmission through Akkadian, Babylonian,
Hebrew, and Qur’anic iterations. In the words of Douglas
Adams, “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we
have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small
aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands” (Adams 1987.)
We have a theory of origins, we have a theory of the destruction of those origins, together we have a story of Eden.

4 Responses to Garden of Eden–Found! Again!

  1. Evening Gentlemen,

    I’ll be brief and to the point. The Garden of Eden is a place that has been found but not by the atheist Juris Zarins or the other gentleman who claims are also misleading. I wrote a booklet way back in 1991 called “Eden: Garden of God Discovered” and any truth seeker can receive a copy for the asking. Because we have knowledge doesn’t make that knowledge wise…nor truthful. My basis for truth is the Bible. That will draw much rabble, but I found the Garden in the exact spot as it was in the beginning where GOD planted His Holy Eden…a place so awesome in splendor, the one True GOD of the World did not allow evil or sin to set up shop.

    How many real truth seekers do you have in your employ? The Bible, God’s Word, is Truth, and it explains to the truth seeker the exact location of the Garden of Eden. No atheist will ever be given God’s truth because it must be received by faith…atheists are faithless and without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:1-4)

    If your people are interested, contact me at (702) 378-7000 at our ministry.

    In Search of Wisdom,

    Pastor Rick Hall

  2. Brad says:

    Juris Zarins’ theory is flawed in the simplest and most profound way…

    Genesis 2:10 (NIV)
    A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from where it separated into four headwaters.

    Genesis 2:10 (KJV)
    And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

    Let’s look at a few points.
    1. Eden and the garden are separate – Scripture clearly states that the river flows from Eden, and in order to water said unnamed garden it would then have run through it.
    2. Eden was the source of the water – if the garden were at the head of the gulf, the source of the river would have to be beneath the gulf.
    3. Rivers can’t change directions – this presents a new problem. If the garden were infact at the head of the gulf, and the source was where the gulf is now, how then did the rivers change direction. If the garden were where Juris Zarins claims it to have been, the rivers would then run into the garden. Scripture states that the original ‘unnamed’ river flowed to the garden, and thereafter it separated into the four headwaters. This would then mean that the rivers would be flowing away from the gulf. But we all know that the Tigris and Euphrates flow into the gulf.
    4. Names get reused – We must always keep in mind that throughout history names have been reused. SO there is always the possibility that the rivers currently named Tigris and Euphrates may well not be the same rivers, since the geography of the region may have been greatly altered by the flood of Noah.

    I will close this article now, as I feel I have sufficiently made my point.

  3. elishebabb says:

    Just because other civilizations wrote similar histories doesn’t mean those events didn’t happen. If such big things happened ..of course everyone knew about them.

  4. Dan Sullivan says:

    I am looking for a history of the belief that the Garden of Eden story, particularly the fall from grace, is a metaphor for the discovery of agriculture.

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