The story of Noah and the great flood so permeates our culture that generations of geologists have devoted their lives to looking for evidence of a prehistoric flood. But it was not until the 1990’s that geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman gathered clues pointing to an actual ancient flood in the Middle East about 7,200 years ago. Though not worldwide, this cataclysmic event occurred at what would have been a center of human activity at that time. In their 1998 book, Noah’s Flood, Ryan and Pitman present evidence that the Black Sea was once a much smaller, land-locked freshwater lake, surrounded by broad, fertile plains. Neolithic peoples were drawn to these Eden-like shores, establishing simple farms, while also supplementing their diets with the lake’s abundant fish and shellfish. Around 7,200 years ago, global climate was still warming following the last Ice Age, causing the seas to rise. Once sea levels rose beyond a critical point, the Mediterranean Sea overflowed, deluging the Black Sea basin with salty water and flooding all the land around the once-shallow lake. People living on those plains at the time would have witnessed what must have seemed like the wrath of an angry god. As the waters rose about six inches per day, human settlements for more than a hundred miles around would have been washed away or flooded within a year. Traumatized refugees from this natural disaster must have told their story to shocked listeners everywhere they went. This is most likely the origin of the flood story so many of us still tell our children today.