Last night I watched National Geographic Channel's Diving into Noah's Flood, a program in which archaeologist Jeff Rose explored underwater sites in the Persian Gulf to see whether rising sea levels contributed to Near Eastern flood myths, including the Sumerian flood story from Gilgamesh and, of course, its derivative, Noah's flood.
I'm not sure what to think of the show. On the one hand, it had some interesting information about underwater archaeology in the Middle East, an area whose archaeology is not widely known in the U.S. On the other hand, the discussion of the myth and history of the Sumerians was rather superficial, and the program spent much more time on beefcake shots of a shirtless Rose than it did on the Sumerian flood myth he was attempting to elucidate. Rose also seemed unnervingly amazed that computers could be used to draw pictures of prehistoric landscapes.
Overall, my verdict is that Diving into Noah's Flood was a solid half-hour documentary stretched into a somewhat lazy hour, saved mostly by gorgeous HD photography of the sandy scenery.
I can't in good conscience give a bad review to any show that has the courage to admit that Noah's flood isn't the literal truth and that it is dependent on the earlier Babylonian and Sumerian flood myths. After all, we live in a world where Joel Klenck proclaims his discovery of Noah's Ark every three days, and creationists insist they've found geologic "evidence" of Noah's Flood in Washington State, all blissfully unaware or uncaring that Noah's flood was a mythic plagiarism of a flood story told a two thousand years or more before the Hebrew version was written.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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