Edited by Valentina Yanko-Hombach, Allan S. Gilbert, Nicolae Panin and Pavel M. Dolukhanov (The Netherlands: Springer, 2007), xxvii + 971 pp., 246 figs., $259 (hardcover)
Sagas about natural events that have had an enormous impact on human cultural heritage are common in many societies. Noah’s flood is surely one such saga.
The events described in these sagas are often so incredible that they are considered concoctions of a remote past, told by parents to their children for countless generations, like fairy tales.
The truth is different, at least in some cases. What happened in the past—and here I speak of thousands of years—often leaves traces. Recent developments in the natural sciences, supported by new analytical technologies, now allow us, in some cases, to “read” these traces. Although the interpretation is often difficult and rarely unambiguous, it becomes clear every now and then that there must be a truth in many of the ancient sagas.