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The story of Noah's ark and its associated flood continues to be retold to children and studied by theologians, alike. While some dismiss it as a mere fable, others believe wholeheartedly that the event literally unfolded, with a massive down-pouring of water ravaging the earth at God's command. Among those who believe that Noah's flood was a very real historical occurrence is Robert Ballard, one of the world's most famed archaeologists.
Ballard, known for finding the Titanic, is now searching for evidence of one of history's most talked-about events. Unlike other investigators who have their minds set on finding the actual ship, Ballard and his team have gone to Turkey to search for clues and evidence that corroborates the notion that a flood wiped away civilization thousands of years ago.
The investigation is taking place in the Black Sea off of the coast of Turkey, as Ballard is searching for the ancient civilization that was permanently covered by water, ABC News reports.
"We went in there to look for the flood," Ballard explained in an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed... The land that went under stayed under."
Following theories that a flood did, indeed, occur in the Black Sea region, Ballard became determined to investigate. According to ABC, his team found an ancient shoreline 400 feet below the surface, proving to the archeologist that the massive flood unfolded as documented in the Bible. The research team decided to carbon date the shells that were found on that shoreline, estimating a timeframe during which the event unfolded.
According to Ballard, he believes the flood occurred around 5,000 B.C. -- a time at which point some experts believe Noah's flood may have occurred. The story of the flood has purportedly been passed on from generation to generation, inevitably making its way into the Bible. ABC News explains:
Some of the details of the Noah story seem mythical, so many biblical scholars believe the story of Noah and the Ark was inspired by the legendary flood stories of nearby Mesopotamia, in particular "The Epic of Gilgamesh." These ancient narratives were already being passed down from one generation to the next, centuries before Noah appeared in the Bible.
"It probably was a bad day. At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under," Ballard explained.
Life-seize replica's of penguins are seen outside a full scale replica of Noah s Ark which has opened its doors in Doredrecth, Netherlands, Monday Dec. 10, 2012, after receiving permission to host up to 3,000 visitors per day. Stormy weather could do nothing to dampen the good mood of its creator, Dutchman Johan Huibers: in fact, the rain was appropriate. For those who don t know or remember the Biblical story, God ordered Noah to build a boat massive enough to save animals and humanity while God destroyed the rest of the earth in an enormous flood. Credit: AP
Unlike others who believe that Noah's actual ark will be found, the archeologist thinks otherwise. Regardless of the fact that he doesn't expect to find an actual vessel, Ballard believes that his research could lead to discoveries about a people whose land was ravaged 7,000 years ago. Next summer, he will return to Turkey to continue his research (read more about this fascinating story here).
"It's foolish to think you will ever find a ship," he said of the ark. "But can you find people who were living? Can you find their villages that are underwater now? And the answer is yes."
The discussion about the ark's historical merits comes as Johan Huibers has opened a life-size replica of the vessel for public viewing in the Netherlands.