IBRI Research Report #44 (1996)


Daniel E. Wonderly
4064 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Oakland, MD 21550

Copyright © 1996 by Daniel E. Wonderly. All rights reserved.


Although the author is in agreement with the doctrinal statement of IBRI, it does not follow that all of the viewpoints espoused in this paper represent official positions of IBRI. Since one of the purposes of the IBRI report series is to serve as a preprint forum, it is possible that the author has revised some aspects of this work since it was first written. 

ISBN 0-944788-44-0



Many Bible students in the modern creationism movement have become entangled in contradictory ideas regarding the length of time that mankind lived on earth between the Flood and the call of Abraham (usually dated about 1950 BC). Even among those conservative evangelicals who accept the evidence for an old earth, some have needlessly attempted to visualize too small a time-span between these two events. This creates an apparent contradiction between Bible doctrine and accurately dated archaeological remains from human cultures at least as old as 20,000 BC.

Since we know that the Bible is divinely inspired, we must expect that the findings of carefully conducted scientific research both archaeological and geological will agree with whatever is definitely taught in the Bible. Even before the revival of ``Flood geology'' doctrine in the 1960's, most conservative Bible scholars were agreed that at least several thousand years of human civilization must be recognized between the Flood and Abraham or else we would have to assume that the Flood was not a great enough event to have obliterated pre-Flood towns and other remains of human activity.

This latter possibility is not really acceptable. If the Flood was as great a force of destruction as pictured in the Bible, then practically no trace of human civilization from before it would have been left. Remember that (1) the raging waters deeply covered every place where humans lived (Gen 7:11-12, 18-24), and (2) the magnitude of the destructive flood waters was such in the entire area of human population that special provision had to be made to preserve even the hardiest land animals and birds (Gen 7:14-16, 21-23). The famous eight-foot layer of silt which Sir Leonard Woolley discovered at the ancient site of Ur cannot be regarded as deposited by the great Flood of Noah's time. Rather this is the result of a much later local flood in the Euphrates valley, as more recent Bible dictionaries and commentaries explain.

On careful reflection, we will suggest that the largest part of the history of mankind so far comes between the Flood and Abraham, and that nearly all of the remains of pre-Flood civilizations were buried or demolished beyond recognition. This is necessary to allow time for the dispersion of mankind to Europe, China, East Asia, Africa, North America and South America, where the ancient remains of such people have been found by archaeologists.

Sometimes we are told that the genealogy recorded in Gen 11:10-29 leaves no room for such large amounts of time. However, careful studies made by conservative Bible scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries show us that the genealogy of Genesis 11 is only a summary of the major family lines between the Flood and Abraham. Since the archaeological discovery of early Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, even some of the most conservative scholars have realized that more time must have elapsed between the Flood and Abraham than a casual reading of Genesis 11 would lead one to expect. This longer time-span is supported not only by external evidence from archaeology, but also by certain evidence from within the Bible, as we shall explain below.

Actually, this should not be a surprise to us, since Genesis gives no hint that the human race had migrated to other continents before the Flood. If they had, the fact that God provided an ark at only one location on earth would raise serious problems. For instance, did Noah travel to South America to warn people of the coming Flood? And were the animals from distant lands brought into the ark?


Consider the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel and the judgment which God brought upon the human race at that time. The importance and magnitude of this event are frequently overlooked. First of all, this was a definite and far-reaching judgment from God, resulting in the breakup and dispersion of the entire human race as it then existed (Gen 11:5-9). Second, this breakup of the human population was presumably the greatest setback to human culture and technology from the Flood to the present. As the Biblical text says, the people's language was confused, they were broken up into small groups, and were scattered to wander to various parts of the earth. Being a judgment from God, this probably meant that those who were especially skilled in metallurgy, ceramics, agriculture, etc., were scattered in different directions and their skills lost in the scramble merely to survive in the wilderness. God arranged this judgment so that there could be no unified, highly-organized rebellion against Him for a long time to come.

Thus the human race lost most of its valuable skills and was thrown back into an ``Old Stone Age'' (Paleolithic) type of culture, with no way to recover rapidly from it. Even the transportation of usable seeds for the major crops was not achieved by the refugees or at least not by many of them. After all, the types of crops which they could grow in Mesopotamia could not have been grown in many parts of Africa, Europe, East Asia, or North America. So the people had to live by gathering wild food. Not until much later thousands of years after Babel did they develop food crops from the wild varieties in the various parts of the world where they lived. This long development from food-gathering stone-age cultures has been verified by archaeological research in several parts of the world. It required a very extended and involved period of effort by each population group which achieved it, whether in Europe, South America, or elsewhere.


In Europe, careful archaeological studies of settlement sites reveal that the transition from a nomadic hunting and food-gathering lifestyle to the more settled life of permanent dwellings, cultivated fields and domesticated animals was first achieved in the region that is now Greece by about 6000 BC. This is somewhat later than the earliest farming at some known sites in Asia and Egypt. Excavations at many occupational sites in the middle European regions from the Danube to the Rhine and in Northern Italy show that the same transition occurred here between about 4500 and 4000 BC.[1] Several reliable dating methods were used to obtain these results, and excellent agreement was obtained between similar sites. But remember that there were peoples living as hunters and gatherers in Europe long before this.

Another indication that at least several thousand years elapsed between the Babel dispersion and Abraham comes from the documented development of writing (reducing a spoken language to symbolic marks) seen in the many clay tablets and stone inscriptions from this period. Surely such a project was an immense and long-extended task for scattered peoples of ``confused tongues'' who had never seen writing or analyzed their speech before. It is apparent that most languages had not been reduced to writing even by the time of Abraham (about 2000 BC) and that some have not even to this day. Yet there are many examples of clearly written, decipherable inscriptions in the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian languages which archaeologists have discovered preserved to modern times.

The earliest known written language was developed by the Sumerian civilization in southern Mesopotamia. These people arrived in the area about 4500 BC, built small villages which developed into cities, and were absorbed by invading Semites about 1750 BC. The first known Sumerian writing is from about 3100 BC or perhaps slightly earlier. The language was not Semitic like that of Abraham's family line. It was initially written in a pictographic style, but soon the wedge-shaped cuneiform writing was developed. Archaeologists have collected many thousands of Sumerian-language clay tablets from between 3100 BC and Abraham's time. By 2800 BC the cuneiform type of writing was well developed, with at least 500 different symbols to represent the various syllables. This type of writing was appropriated by the Semitic Akkadian peoples, who dominated Mesopotamia from about 2400 to 2200 BC, and is usually called ``Babylonian cuneiform.''[2]

In Egypt, the so-called hieroglyphic writing was developed early in the 3rd millennium BC. By 2600 BC an extensive literature written in this script had already been produced. Archaeologists have collected great numbers of Egyptian inscriptions and literary tablets from the mid-3rd millennium BC, the age of the great pyramid builders.

By 1000 years before Abraham, it is evident that the long process of reducing spoken language to writing had been achieved by a few groups of people. This is one line of evidence that thousands probably many thousands of years were required for the human race to recover from the divine judgment at Babel and to develop a level of civilization such as existed in Mesopotamia at the time of Abraham.


So far we have spoken only of people-groups with a fairly high level of culture. We have said nothing of Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) peoples except to point out that the confusion of languages at Babel evidently produced scattered groups with only Stone-Age skills and community organization. In succeeding pages we will look at some of these groups on various continents, apparently struggling units of survivors from the dispersion at Babel.

As mentioned earlier, there seems to be no way to regard the Paleolithic peoples as belonging to the pre-Flood period. Given what the Bible says of the character and purpose of the Flood, practically no sign of pre-Flood life and activity would remain. For instance, if mankind had been living on all the major continents, then the Flood would have had to subject all these continents to such destructive forces that no part of the land surface could have been a haven for human escape. Thus all occupational sites where people were living would have been disrupted and scattered beyond all recognition. Archaeologists would find no campsites, no hunting or animal- slaughter sites, etc., where such ancient people had been. Any sites which might possibly have escaped such disruption (e.g., caves) would at least be marked by large quantities of flood sediments washed in, since God had decreed that all would die. This is not, in fact, what archaeologists find. This, coupled with the fact that the first five chapters of Genesis give no hint that mankind achieved wide dispersion before the Flood, leaves us with the alternative that all archaeological finds date from after the Flood and presumably after the dispersion from Babel.

We should be very skeptical of all hypotheses which place the Paleolithic or later people-groups in the period between Adam and the Flood (or even before Adam!). Such hypotheses have been formed without considering the existing data both Biblical and extrabiblical which bear upon them. To maintain such views, the proponents often reject the Biblical teaching that the Flood destroyed all the human race but Noah's family. To reject this part of Genesis is to reject God's entire point and purpose in sending the Flood. There is reason to believe that the Flood did not affect all continents equally, but this is not a license to assume that its effects were restricted to the area of Mesopotamia (see appendix for further discussion).

In case anyone should become confused by the Biblical reference to working with ``brass and iron'' in the pre-Flood period (Gen 4:22) and wish to identify this with the Middle Eastern bronze or iron ages, we suggest the following. This was a very early and localized activity which has nothing to do with the later well-known and accurately dated bronze and iron ages. It could well be that one of Noah's sons learned metal-working techniques so that this skill survived the Flood, but it seems impossible that such knowledge survived the Babel dispersion. Persons with metal- working skills would have been dispersed just like the rest, but to be useful such skills would have to be joined to carefully built equipment and the proper natural ores. For example, to make iron, one must have iron ore, limestone and a highly efficient furnace using a forced air flow to obtain the requisite high temperatures. Thus, the relearning of metallurgy was an exceedingly slow process in the period between Babel and Abraham.[3]

Paleo-Indian Peoples of North America

Archaeologists have known for several decades that the Paleo-Indians lived in various parts of North and South America for at least a few thousand years before the earliest known village- farming communities of Europe. This is very significant since the skeletons show that they were of the Mongoloid race like the ``Indians'' which Columbus and later European explorers found here. The Mongoloid race is found in central and eastern Asia, apparently having originated there from some of Noah's descendants who had migrated to that area. But this distinct racial type was totally unknown in Europe, the Near East, and Africa until small numbers of such people emigrated back westward. In fact, the Mongoloid racial type is absent from all of the early archaeological sites in Europe, the Near East and Africa.

These facts of distribution, plus the great unlikelihood of early Paleolithic peoples crossing the Atlantic, force us to the conclusion that the Mongoloid people who reached the Americas came from eastern Asia. The only likely form for this migration would be for them to cross the Bering Strait into Alaska, and then make their way gradually down the western coast of North America. Several kinds of geologic and oceanographic data indicate times of low sea level in the past when a ``land bridge'' across the strait existed.

Our concern here is not so much to discuss the manner of migration of these early Mongoloid people from Asia as to note that they were well established and widespread in the Americas by 10,000 BC (or 12,000 BP, before present). Much archaeological research has been done on the dwelling sites of these early Paleo-Indians, and there are thus many research reports describing these sites.

Back in the 1970's there was considerable excitement among archaeologists and historians over the discovery of some human bones and tools at a few sites near the Pacific coast in northern Canada. These were thought to date back to 30,000 BP or even 50,000 BP. Some archaeologists cautiously accepted these early dates, and popular magazines such as National Geographic encouraged their readers to do so.

However, further analyses of the sites where the bones and tools were found revealed that most of these had been moved from their original positions by landslides or other natural processes. Also since the original dating had been based on simple carbon-14 techniques (which are not ideal for bones), they were redated by accelerator mass spectrometry. These further tests quickly convinced nearly all archaeologists that the original dates were much too early.[4] Lasca et al. (1990) make it clear that practically no one accepts the early dates any longer; practically all well- verified dates for Paleo-Indian remains are less than 20,000 BP. However, they cite and describe many sites in both western and central North America where excellent dating processes have yielded dates older than 11,000 BP for Paleo-Indian remains.

In western Pennsylvania, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter (an open-sided cave) has provided artifacts and other remains from Paleo-Indians with dates older than 12,000 BP, including some very carefully collected samples even back to about 19,000 BP. Archaeological research at Meadowcroft has been extensive and thorough, continuing for the past 18 years. The archaeologists in charge, J. M. Adovasio and R. C. Carlisle, openly state in their publications that they did not expect to find human remains older than 12,000 BP, but the evidence has been so strong they had to accept it. They give a detailed explanation of the systematic procedures used to examine the eleven levels at Meadowcroft.[5] These levels are the major strata in the floor of the rock shelter, each of which contains artifacts or other indications of human activity. From these discoveries it is clear that the Paleo-Indians and the later Indians who succeeded them occupied the shelter with considerable regularity from the earliest stratum (no. II b in the system used by the archaeologists) on up to the uppermost level which contained materials which were dated AD 1775, ñ 50 years. Occasional major rockfalls from the overhanging sandstone cliff buried the tools, household goods and firepits of the people in residence.

Since charcoal from partially burned wood is one of the most reliable types of material for carbon-14 dating, it is fortunate that buried firepits (which had been used by the Indians for heating, cooking, etc.) were found in nearly every stratum. The carbon in charcoal is elemental, extremely stable, and therefore does not dissolve or become chemically altered even during many millennia of burial. By contrast, the carbon in bones and many other materials is chemically combined with different elements, which sometimes makes dating difficult. So carefully collected charcoal samples from the firepits and hearths were sent to reliable radiation-dating laboratories to get dates for the various levels in the Meadowcroft shelter.[6]

These samples yielded dates which were consistently older in relation to increasing depth in the series of strata which were excavated. However, in order to guard against any possible influence of human opinion in the testing laboratories to which the charcoal samples were submitted, they were submitted ``blind,'' without information as to the level from which they came. In such research the archaeologists realize that it is extremely important to achieve as much accuracy as possible. In this case the reasons for seeking accuracy were manyfold. Two major reasons were (1) the leading archaeologists themselves were suspicious of the older dates (from 14,000 BP to 19,000 BP) as was mentioned above, and (2) other scientists in the fields of archaeology and anthropology were watching very carefully and were suggesting that wrong dates were perhaps being obtained because of contamination of the charcoal. The supervising archaeologists, Adovasio and Carlisle, give a description both of their precautions and of the questions and criticisms which were raised by other scientists.[7]

At this point I must digress briefly regarding contamination of samples, and to assure the readers of this paper that carbon-14 dating of good samples such as well-preserved charcoal has proven to be very reliable. This has been especially true since better methods of eliminating contaminants were developed, during the 1970's and early 1980's. Most of the strong criticisms of radiometric dating which young-earth creationists have kept repeating have no application to carbon-14 dating when that process is carefully carried out as it now is, in many well-equipped laboratories. If the reader has doubts about the success and accuracy of C-14 dating, he should take time to read articles in archaeological works written since 1975, regarding the close agreements between C-14 dating and other dating methods (by pottery-type and other cultural products of specifically known age).

Contamination which will alter the dating results for a charcoal sample can occur by a slow process of addition of older or younger carbon into the pores of the charcoal as it lies in water- soaked soil. For example, water carrying large amounts of organic compounds from decaying plant material in the soil, into the pores of the charcoal, will result in too young a date provided, of course, that the decaying plant grew at some time later than did the tree from which the charcoal was produced. (I am not here taking time to explain why this is, as many readers will already know; and those who do not can easily find an explanation of the principles of C-14 dating in practically any science encyclopedia which has been published since 1955.)

How then could charcoal be contaminated in such a way as to test older than it really is? Here again, some foreign matter would have to be deposited in the pores of the charcoal. In this case the foreign matter would have to consist of, or at least contain, an appreciable weight of carbon from plant growth which occurred much earlier than the growth of the tree from which the charcoal was produced. In some cases the foreign matter may be organic compounds dissolved in the water of the soil from ancient peat in the ground. If this is the case, it is really no problem, because the testing laboratories now routinely treat both wood and charcoal samples with strong acids and subject them to many washings to remove the foreign plant materials, whether they might be either young or old compounds. (Neither the carbon of the charcoal nor the main compounds in wood cellulose and lignin are changed by the acid, so the acid does not interfere with dating the actual wood or charcoal.)

However in the case of the samples from the Meadowcroft rock shelter, critics asked if perhaps particulate carbon from ancient coal beds one-half mile from the shelter might have been deposited in the pores of the charcoal in sufficient quantity to make up an appreciable percentage of the carbon in the sample and thus give too old a reading. (All known bituminous and anthracite coal samples are totally inactive with respect to C-14 radiation, because of their great age.) On p. 713 of Science, 12 February 1988, Adovasio and Carlisle explain the thorough investigations they made regarding this, and how nearly impossible it would have been for any appreciable amount of minute particles of coal to have been carried to the archaeological site and forced into the pores of the charcoal. (Evidently all their critics were satisfied, once they understood the natural conditions existing in the locality of the site, and the principles involved.) Besides this, Adovasio and Carlisle explain that every one of their older charcoal samples had been carefully examined for coal particles with both optical and electron microscopes, in three different laboratories, with results being negative.

It is possible that some of the readers of this paper will have heard of claims by some young- earth creationists, which were widely publicized in the 1970's, that ``all coal can be dated by C- 14 dating.'' Actually these creationists did not have the equipment to make such tests themselves, but based this false claim on a few tests which had been made on some coal which had been contaminated by the entrance of carbon-containing chemicals from recently grown plants into the coal. (That was before the laboratories learned to remove such chemicals from the samples, as mentioned above.) Even though this error in making a dating test on some coal was an isolated case, many extreme creationists circulated the report of it for at least a decade before checking on all the later tests that were made. Now that it has been so thoroughly proven that the carbon of at least practically all bituminous and anthracite coals gives off absolutely no detectable radiation, I think I am correct in saying that young-earth creationists are remaining silent on this subject. (There is of course no way to explain this lack of radiation from the carbon except to recognize that it is so old that its C-14 radiation long ago became infinitesimal. Since the half-life of carbon- 14 is only about 5,580 years, by the time even 100,000 years have passed the radiation emitted is very weak.)[8]

Other Paleo-Indian and Archaic Indian Sites
in the Americas

It is hoped that the above details given concerning the research at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania will convey a good degree of understanding of the great amount of care which is taken in classifying and dating the artifacts and other remains found at early occupational sites. Thus, we will only briefly state the results of research at some of the other main sites or areas in North and South America, hoping that the reader will understand that systematic and careful research was carried out at those sites, and that all of the dates given are conservative in nature. It is gratifying that such conservatism is now being exhibited in most of the professional publications regarding archaeological research in the Americas, as in the publications we have already cited. One factor causing this conservatism is that, for the ages involved in the Americas from a few hundred years, back to perhaps 20,000 years carbon-14 dating, as now perfected, is extremely reliable. Thus, the researchers know that they must follow this dating method and not fall to the temptation to indulge in irresponsible speculations such as the anthropologists working in Africa have done regarding the dating of ancient man. (Carbon-14 dating is not very useful for dates earlier than approximately 50,000 years BP, and the anthropologists working with the older remains of human life in Africa have been very careless in their use of potassium-argon dating, as I have explained in an earlier paper on the supposed fossil evidence for human evolution.)[39]

Many hundreds of campsites and other types of occupational sites of early Indians in North America have been systematically studied during the past 50 years. A considerable number of these sites belonged to Paleo-Indians who lived in the period between 10,000 and 13,000 BP in what are now the western and south-central parts of Canada, and the western and central parts of the United States.[9] Some of the sites which are in this age-range were first recognized and identified in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. These sites yielded many specimens of two distinct types of spear points which were used in hunting the large game animals of the Western Plains region. These two types of spear points known as the Clovis and Folsom types have also been found in campsites and game ``kill sites'' of the Paleo-Indians in many other parts of the western and central United States and in south central Canada.

With regard to dating, it is significant that the Folsom Paleo-Indian artifacts and other remains in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado were well-known by 1940, several years before the discovery of carbon-14 dating. Most of the archaeologists who had worked on these sites had, by the early 1940's, come to agree that the Folsom Paleo-Indians had occupied the older of these sites between 10,000 and 20,000 BP. The archaeologists had made these age estimates mainly on the basis of glacial dating and by the fact that several of the mammals which were killed by these people were kinds which have been long extinct from North America. These included a kind of camel, the giant sloth, an extinct musk ox, and true mammoths.[10] It is of course significant that recent carbon-14 dates for early Folsom sites turned out to agree rather well with the pre-C-14 dating methods. This is undoubtedly because a very large amount of research on the glacial periods of North America was done during the first half of this century, and a fairly reliable chronological table of glacial events back to perhaps 50,000 years ago had been worked out. Archaeologists were then able to use their knowledge of the location of the southern borders of the areas which were still covered by glaciers to estimate where Paleo-Indians would be living and hunting the large mammals.

Glaciologists have successfully used a large number of observed characteristics of the glaciated terrain of Europe and North America to determine the approximate times and rates at which the ice masses moved southward during the last of the glacial periods (called the Wisconsin period for North America, and the Wrm for Europe). For example, a basic starting point for establishing a chronology of the last great glaciation was to identify the southernmost boundaries of glacial advance on the continent. Any observant person who has lived for a considerable time in northern Indiana or northern Ohio has noticed the great contrast between the near-surface soil, gravel, and rocks of the area which was covered by the Wisconsin glaciation, and the surface material of the area south of the glacial boundary. So, establishing the approximate southern boundary of glacial advance is not difficult. With this information in hand, the glaciologists have used observational data from the area which was covered by the ice, and also some remaining effects of the meltwater in the areas south of the glacial boundaries, to estimate the lengths of time involved in the advance of the ice masses across what is now Canada and the time involved in the melting and final disappearance of the glaciers.

One of the very useful remaining effects of the meltwater from the Wisconsin-Wrm glaciation is the set of sequences of thin varves of clay which were laid down by the meltwater in lakes year- after-year in some areas. Because the flow of this meltwater greatly increased during each summer, a thicker layer (varve) of clay was deposited in the summer than in winter. Thus each pair of layers obviously represents one year of time. In Sweden, geologic history has been traced back to approximately 18,000 BP by this means.[11]

Another useful time-indicating factor comes from a close examination of the forests which established themselves after the ice receded. Tree rings, of course, are a great aid in such a study, and by examining virgin forests which were found near the southern boundary of glaciation with those found at various points farther north, a good estimate of the rate of recession of the glaciers could be made.

In studying the question of where Paleo-Indians were living at certain times in relation to the final receding glaciers in Manitoba, Canada, glaciologists were able to determine where the shoreline was located in successive centuries around the great Lake Agassiz. This lake was formed earlier by the glaciers, and then was shrinking down to practically nothing after the glaciers were gone. In the chronological study it was found that Lake Agassiz was still near to being its full size at the time when the Clovis Paleo-Indian culture was thriving somewhat farther south, at approximately 11,500 BP. Evidence was found for the presence of a few Clovis Paleo- Indians in parts of Manitoba at that early date, but the climate there was still rather severe for human occupation.[12]

Archaeological research in South America has yielded a great amount of information regarding prehistoric Indian peoples on that continent. There is definite archaeological evidence from several sites, that some of the prehistoric Mongoloids (``Indians'') were established in South America by 14,000 to 15,000 BP. Careful and detailed cave excavations in the Ayacucho Basin, in the highlands of Peru, have yielded dates at least as old as 17,000 BP for the lowest humanly occupied level in the main cave. Also, excavations in southern Chile and in Fell's Cave and Palli Aike on the Strait of Magellan, in the extreme south, have yielded dates of human occupation at 11,000 BP.[13]

The early dates for human occupation in South America are somewhat surprising, as the earliest dates found in archaeological excavations on that continent are very similar to those which we have cited above for North America. How could the early hunting populations advance and establish themselves that far south at the same time that North America was being occupied? The primary answer seems to be that the Mongoloid people who had crossed over from Asia lived for at least a few millennia along the western coast of what is now Canada, slowly building up a population that was eventually able to make a comparatively rapid expansion to the south. The exact dates and specific occupational sites of these early people have proven very difficult to determine. In the literature of North American archaeological research there is a considerable amount of explanation of the difficulties which have prevented such discoveries. One factor is of course the instability and local tectonic movements of the areas where the ground is deeply frozen each winter and then only partially thaws during the short summers. But it is usually agreed that the greatest hindrance to our locating the campsites from the first few thousand years of human occupation of North America is that at the time when the Mongoloid people crossed the Bering Strait and began to settle in the coastlands, the sea level was at least 300 feet lower than it is now.[14]

Because of this lower sea level, a great amount of what is now submerged continental shelf was then exposed and habitable. Since the same relatively warm ocean current which moves from the coast of southeast Asia to Alaska was present then, as now, the western coast of the continent was by far the most habitable area for people to live. The coastlands were usually the best place to live, not only because of the food and relatively warm air which were supplied by the ocean, but also because the immense glaciers which then covered nearly all of what is now Canada served as an insuperable barrier to people's moving very far inland. (The period of time from approximately 20,000 to 15,000 BP was the height of the great Late Wisconsin-Wurm glaciation of North America and Europe, so most of the water which had been withdrawn from the oceans -- lowering the sea level -- was now ``stacked up'' on the continents as ice.)

So the archaeologists now have no opportunity to locate campsites, bones, or other artifacts of the early settlers along the coast, because the remains of their fragile existence were scattered and obliterated by ocean waves and currents when the sea level became higher. However, it is very evident that the human population did thrive sufficiently to enable the people to eventually make successful migrations to the south. This is known from the geographic pattern of occupational sites including many ``kill sites'' where herds of large animals were driven into swamps or over cliffs and slaughtered. These occupational sites extend southward through what is now the western part of the United States, and then to the east, circumventing the large glaciers which still covered the north-central part of the US until approximately 12,000 BP.[15]

Thus there is no problem in understanding how some of the Pre-Paleoindians who were in the western part of what is now the US migrated southward, finally reaching the South American continent (by approximately 17,000 BP or earlier) instead of moving into the eastern part of the North American continent, as some groups of Pre-Paleoindians were doing. The early dates of human occupation in eastern North America and in South America make it practically necessary to conclude that the Mongoloid people entered North America at least as early as 20,000 BP and gradually built up a population on the western coast of Canada in the first few millennia of their occupation of the continent. (It must be remembered that ancient peoples did not possess the necessary equipment, knowledge, and economic means for rapidly advancing into unknown territory; but they could expand gradually in a given direction if the climate and wild game supply were favorable.)

Lasca and Donahue refer to the ``recent and thorough review of Pleistocene archaeology . . . by R. C. Morlan (1986),'' and state that he concluded that the Mongoloid people evidently made their crossing of the Bering Strait into North America by 25,000 BP.[16] Even if we do not see fit to accept that early a date, there seems to be no way to place it later than 20,000 BP, in the light of the early occupational site dates known in eastern North America and South America. Practically all conservative archaeologists who specialize in archaeology of the Americas recognize dates in the vicinity of 20,000 BP, or slightly earlier, as very logical for the crossing of Asian peoples into North America. This is partly because the lowest sea level ``stand'' of the Late Wisconsin glaciation period was at approximately 18,000 BP.[17] Practically all geologists and oceanographers recognize that from several thousand years before this lowest sea-level stand, to about 11,000 BP, the ocean level was low enough to allow dry-land crossings from Asia to North America at the Bering Strait. Since more than one-half of North America was covered by glaciers during most of that period, the climate was cold. Nevertheless, because of the benefit of the warm, northerly ocean current mentioned above, the people could find a moderate climate as long as they did not move far inland.


In the above somewhat lengthy review of the early human occupation of the Americas, we have seen that those peoples undoubtedly migrated from eastern Asia into western North America at least as early as 20,000 BP (18,000 BC). This approximate date is of course earlier than the dates we cited for early civilizations and village-farming communities in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and southern Europe. In those cases we were dealing with rather late stages of human cooperative living which were developed long after the chaotic dispersion of the human race by the judgment at Babel.

We have not, and will not, take time to review the development of human life in central and eastern Asia following the dispersion from Babel. There is archaeological evidence for early human populations in those areas, and for the eventual formation of village-farming communities there. During that time there was also development of the physical traits which form the distinctive Mongoloid type. However, the research which has been done on these developments in central and eastern Asia is less complete than that which was done on the peoples who travelled westward to what is now Europe, after the dispersion at Babel. (The Communist control of most of Asia for the past several decades has greatly hindered research and accurate publications regarding archaeology.) Therefore, we will here merely refer to the fundamental evidence that the judgment at Babel was the beginning point for the ``scattering'' of the human race both eastward and westward. Our purpose of demonstrating that the human race had a very long ``pre- history'' between the judgment at Babel and the time of Abraham will be served sufficiently by (a) the above description of early peoples who crossed from eastern Asia into western North America -- after having made the slow expansion across the Asian continent, and (b) the citing of early peoples who populated various parts of Europe before the village-farming stage of human societal organization was achieved.

The two groups of early European hunting-gathering people about whom we have the most archaeological data are the Cro-Magnon and Neandertal[18] peoples. There has been much misunderstanding regarding these two groups. The American public often tends to think of them as stages in the evolution of the human race, but this is an absolutely false idea. The Cro-Magnon people have always been regarded by scientists as fully human, with elaborate artistic abilities, religion, and other exclusively human features. On the other hand, there was a long-term misunderstanding regarding the physical and other features of the Neandertal peoples.

The anthropologists and historians of the first part of this century were over-anxious to illustrate what they believed was a development of mankind from ape-like mammals. Also they mistakenly assumed that certain ``ape-like'' physical features, such as the supraorbital brow ridges in Neandertal skulls, should be taken as indicating a ``primitive'' type of body. However, by the early 1960's a great deal of evidence against this view had accumulated by means of careful scientific research on body characteristics by anthropologists. (Even in the 1940's the Anthropology Department at Wheaton College was teaching that the Neandertal people were descendants of Adam and Eve, and not an inferior race.) So, in the 1960's, many anthropologists of America, and other scientists in closely related fields, openly recognized that Neandertal Man was fully human, and most likely had completely normal human intelligence. (By this time practically all the supposed ``primitive features'' seen in the Neandertal skeletons had been found and studied among the different races and subraces of normal human beings living today.) So, it is a serious error for Christians to refuse to recognize the Neandertal people as a part of the human race which descended from Adam and Eve. (It is important that we not contradict the biblical teaching of the unity of the human race. Any assumption that the Neandertals or similar ``cave men'' were from a postulated pre-Adamic race, or that they were descended from ape-like creatures and thus not human, is theologically unacceptable as well as scientifically inconsistent.)


Because the great majority of paleoanthropologists firmly believe that all present-day human races have been derived from non-human, ape-like primates, it has been easy for a considerable number of them to believe that Neandertal man was not fully human. It is true that the older idea of denying the Neandertals the recognition of belonging to the species Homo sapiens has been almost entirely discarded by modern scholars. But some anthropologists and archaeologists still think that Neandertal man did not have a genuine capacity for rational thought, and therefore lived mostly by instincts, as do the apes.

Nevertheless it is highly significant that a sizable group of modern paleo-anthropologists have, within the past decade, taken this problem in hand by research and publication of evidences that the Neandertal people carried on many activities which required intelligent, rational thought. This research and publishing activity has put the less-than-human school of thought on the defensive. It is also a great help to those of us who accept the biblical account of the origin of the races, following the judgment and dispersion at the Tower of Babel, and the unity of ``the human race.'' (Biblical scholars still need the singular term ``human race,'' even though we recognize several physically distinctive races within the scope of the general term.)

Neandertals of Southern Europe

A good example of modern research on the activities and abilities of Neandertal man is the extensive work of Steven L. Kuhn and his wife Mary C. Stiner, both of whom are professors of anthropology and archaeology in the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. Kuhn and Stiner seem to accept a full evolutionary origin for the human races, but they have shown by their archaeological research and analyses that the Neandertals who occupied several well-known caves on the southwest coast of Italy for many thousands of years carried on extensive subsistence activities which required true rational thought.

Kuhn and Stiner carried on extensive research on the Neandertal occupational layers in these coastal caves for several years with special concentration on artifacts which reveal characteristics of Neandertal life, activities, and cultural achievements. The subject of Kuhn's Ph.D. dissertation was entirely along those lines.[19] Most of the content of this dissertation is now available in a published, technical monograph.[20] Chapter 4 (pp. 81-123) gives a rather thorough explanation of the types of stone tools (made mainly from pieces of flint) which were left in the cave deposits of the Italian peninsula by the people of the Neandertal race, as was evidenced by the types of human skeletal remains associated with the artifacts in the successive layers which were excavated. The entire assemblage of tools found at these Neandertal levels was positively identified as consisting of types and styles belonging to the Middle Paleolithic, Mousterian culture. Multiple modern dating procedures were used. These resulted in excellent agreement with the range of Neandertal dates found at other sites in Europe.

Several types of dating methods were used by Kuhn, Stiner, and others in the caves of the Italian peninsula. Most of the Middle Paleolithic strata, in which the Neandertal skeletal remains and artifacts were found, are too old for effective use of even the newer C-14 dating equipment. So the electron-spin-resonance method (ESR) is the primary dating technique used for research in these caves during the past decade. It is a radiometric technique which can be used on fossilized teeth of mammals that were used as food by the Neandertals living in the caves. Uranium from the soil surrounding the buried teeth is slowly absorbed by the tooth enamel and dentine, causing the tooth substances to increase in radioactivity with the passing of time. There are limitations in the accuracy of this method, but by making the ESR test on a large number of teeth from different sites, and in the corresponding strata in different caves, a general idea of the age of these strata can be obtained. Also, the dates obtained have been carefully compared with dates from other methods, such as dating by fossil pollen obtained from drilling cores removed from the same strata in the same geographic area as the caves.[21]

The dates of the different phases of the last great glacial period (called ``Wrm'' in Europe and ``Wisconsin'' in North America) have been carefully studied ever since the late 1800's, being compared with tree-ring chronology, sediment varves, and ancient human occupational sites in Europe. So, much is known regarding the phases of the Wrm glaciation, their chronology, and how the glacial advances limited northward occupation by the Neandertal people. Information from these earlier glacial chronologies has of course been helpful to the archaeologists in the Italian peninsula and other parts of Europe. The resulting combination of the earlier work with recent dating techniques yielded a moderately firm time period of from approximately 40,000 BP to 100,000 BP for Neandertal man in the caves investigated by Kuhn and Stiner. (The older dates were obtained for the lower strata in the caves.)[22]

It is also significant that the tool types found with or near the Neandertal skeletal remains at the Italian peninsula sites match well with those of the Mousterian types found in the Near East. This increases our confidence in the dating results because the procedures used in the Near East include some cross checking methods which were not used in the Italian peninsula, but nevertheless yielded dates which satisfactorily match the dates of the latter area.[23]

The tools found in the Italian peninsula caves were mostly sharp-edged cutting types, including spear points, made by careful flaking off of the sides of the original core of flint. This process of removing flakes in such a way as to produce effective cutting edges demands a high degree of skill, which not only required rational, logical thought for inventing the process, but also for applying the procedures to each flint rock which was being prepared. One of the main problems in this process is that the conchoidal fractures which result from striking or pressuring the edges of the rock are not very predictable. Thus each time the craftsman is surprised by an unusual fracture, he has to decide what kind of impact to apply next in order to keep the edge straight -- or to curve it, if a curved or pointed tool is being produced.

Another intellectually challenging phase of the tool-making ``industry'' in this Mediterranean cave locality was that it was necessary for the Neandertals to go inland for approximately 50 to 60 km to find pieces of flint or other forms of chert which were large enough to make some kinds of their important tools.[24] The indications are that they made the necessary trips occasionally to select and bring back these pieces of stone. Obviously the process of selecting the better grade of rock, which would result in good tools of the type they needed, required rational thought based on previous trial and error experience. Furthermore, Kuhn and Stiner found that a high percentage of the larger tools made from pieces of flint brought back from the inland sources of supply showed that their edges had been resharpened by careful removal of additional small flakes after the tool had become dull, and that this resharpening process was sometimes done repeatedly, until the piece of flint either became too small or broke in such a way that it had to be discarded. This careful conservation of the original flint ``cores'' obtained by the difficult trips inland seems to have been important because of the inhospitable ice age climate and the difficulties of surviving the dangers of travel over rocky terrain with little or no protection for the feet of the traveler.

Another incontrovertible evidence for rational thought among the European Neandertals, as well as the Neandertals of the Near East, is the extensive use of fire. Brian Hayden gives a considerable amount of detail regarding several Mousterian cave hearths and prepared rock platforms on which fires were maintained -- as indicated by the fire-blackened character of the rocks, and the accumulations of ashes -- in western Europe.[25] A common error of many authors who try to evaluate the activities of prehistoric races is to ignore the high degree of forethought, planning, improvisation, and other uses of rational thought which was required for starting and maintaining a fire in cold, wet climates. Evidently the only way to start a fire in western Europe, where Neandertals lived, was with the use of sparks from pieces of flint, directed onto pulverized, exceedingly dry, combustible material. The difficulty of providing oneself with such dry material in damp caves during long periods of subarctic climate is difficult for modern people to imagine. This plus the further drawback of not having a steel or iron striker with which to strike the piece of flint being used would leave even most highly intelligent people of today helpless in the production of fire. Furthermore, securing a constant supply of reasonably dry wood with which to maintain the fire continuously was undoubtedly a serious challenge during most of the year. Since stone axes were insufficient for cutting and splitting standing dead trees (which provide dry wood), these Middle Paleolithic people evidently had to depend mainly on fallen dead branches which they could pick up in the forests when the snow was not deep.

So, the fact that the Neandertals were successful in starting and maintaining fires for periods of time sufficient for roasting meat and providing heat for special winter needs should remove any doubts concerning their fully human rational thought. This is even more true when we realize the absolute necessity for these people to plan for sufficient food and fuel provisions for the long periods when they were confined due to the severe ice age winters.

Any readers who wish to obtain additional strong evidences for true human rationality among the Neandertals of western Europe and the Near East should read the Hayden research report from which I have taken the above information on Mousterian hearths in western Europe.[26] This report deals with many aspects of Neandertal life, and is thoroughly documented, including the citing of a good number of recent research reports from French archaeologists and other scholars concerning western European Neandertals.

It is true that we do not have an extensive amount of archaeological evidence for aesthetic appreciations in Neandertal culture, but we do have some definite examples which are impressive.[27] We should also recognize that there are specific reasons for a scarcity of artifacts exhibiting aesthetic appreciations among the Neandertal people. One is the low frequency of archaeological finds, compared with the many productive Cro-Magnon sites. (This low frequency is due to the evident small population of the Neandertal race, the very severe ice age climate during the Mousterian period requiring frequent migration of the people in order to survive and the fact that the Neandertal artifacts have been subjected to many thousands of years more of deteriorative forces than were the Cro-Magnon artifacts.)[28]

In considering the subject of the human capacities of the Neandertal race and similar early races, we who accept the biblical teaching that Adam and Eve, as a single human pair, were the parents of the whole human race (Gen 3:20) must guard against accepting non-biblical views. Most of the archaeologists who have provided us with the many evidences for true rational thought in the Neandertal race do not accept the biblical view of the divine creation of the human race. Therefore they have no special reason to believe that all members of the species Homo sapiens are different in kind from the lower primates. But those of us who believe in the unity of the human race should conscientiously attempt to recognize the ``image-of-God'' characteristics (Gen 1:26- 27) wherever they are present. Surely all true evangelicals recognize that all rational-thought abilities such as forethought which enables planning for the future, cause-effect relationships, self determination, and the capacities for aesthetic appreciations are a part of the ``image-of-God'' characteristics with which God endowed the human race, and that they are exclusive to the human race.[29]

European Neandertals Compared with Those of the Near East

There is currently a considerable amount of discussion among paleoanthropologists regarding the possible differences between the Neandertals of Europe and those of the Near East. Within the last decade several very productive archaeological field research projects have been carried out in the area bordering on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea (a geographic district which is called ``the Levant''). Perhaps the most important of these explored sites are found in the country of Israel. One of the sites is the Qafzeh (or Kafzeh) rock shelter, near Nazareth, from which eleven fossilized Neandertal-type, human skeletons were recovered.[30] The main excavations and research were supervised by Dr. Ofer Bar-Yosef, of the Dept. of Anthropology in Harvard University. The dates of the artifact-containing layers at the Qafzeh site have been established as being from approximately 80,000 to 120,000 BP, by the thermoluminescence and electron-spin- resonance methods of dating.[31]

Some of the other important caves or rock shelters in the Galilee-Mount Carmel area, which yielded Neandertal-type human fossils and artifacts from their Mousterian culture, are those designated as Kebara, Amud, and Skhul.[32]

The Neandertal-type has also been found in the deeper layers of the floor of the large, well- known Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq. Archaeological research there has yielded the partial skeletons of seven adults and two infants of the Neandertal race.[33] Two of the adult skeletons and one infant skeleton were very complete. The dates of these skeletons are similar to those of the Neandertals found in the Qafzeh rock shelter in Israel, mentioned above, and some archaeologists believe they were closely related to the ones found in Israel.

Most cultural anthropologists, by studying the artifacts found at the Neandertal sites named above, see evidence that the cultural achievements of the Neandertals of the Near East were significantly more elaborate than those of the European Neandertals. But, since no anatomical differences which would necessarily affect the degree of mental capacity between the two groups are known, we can not assume that the scarcity of artifacts at the European sites indicates a lower intelligence of the European Neandertals.[34] The greater cultural progress is likely due primarily to the fact that the climate of the lower latitudes in the Near East during the long Wrm ice age (approximately 70,000 BP to 10,000 BP) was less severe than it was in most of Europe. The milder climate and the more readily accessible Mediterranean Sea made it possible for the people to stay longer in one place, without having to frequently migrate for food and shelter, as was necessary in most of Europe.

Most secular-minded anthropologists promote the idea that at least the Neandertal people of the Near East originated from migrations of earlier Homo sapiens from northeast Africa. But this view is very difficult to reconcile with the Genesis account of the origin of the races as stemming from the judgment at the Tower of Babel, and even the paleoanthropologists admit that they have little or no ``hard data'' to demonstrate the supposed migrations from Africa. In my opinion, evangelical Christians should have no trouble in accepting the idea that the three great groups of early mankind which are currently being the most discussed by scholars African Homo sapiens, the Neandertal and similar types in the Near East, and the Neandertals of Europe each had its original source in the dispersal from the Tower of Babel area (Gen 11:1-9). Since we have the benefit of the divinely inspired Bible, we have no obligation to accept the evolutionary ``out-of- Africa hypothesis'' of the origin of all the peoples of Europe and western Asia.

Because descriptions of the Neandertal people, and the later Cro-Magnon people, are so readily available even in small-town libraries I am herein giving only a few basic points of information about them. Anyone who desires further information on the archaeological sites where the artifacts and skeletal remains of these peoples have been found can find such in reliable, recent encyclopedias (such as the Britannica Macropedia, or in books on prehistoric peoples if such books are from the mid-1970's or since. The Subject Guide to Books in Print found in practically all libraries is useful for locating the books which are the most available. For example the 1995-96 volumes give author, title and publication information for a few hundred books under the headings ``Man, prehistoric,'' ``Paleo-Indians,'' and ``Prehistory.''

Some Basic Facts about the Cro-Magnon People

As mentioned above, the Cro-Magnon cave-dwellers have been recognized as fully human by scientists ever since the first discovery of their caves in France, with artistic paintings, religious symbols, and other indications of human thought. These people lived during the Upper Paleolithic (or Late Stone) Age, and apparently lived mainly in the southern parts of Europe, because the northern parts were still practically unhabitable due to the ice cover of the Late Wrm glaciation.

There was some overlap of the Cro-Magnon culture with the Neandertal, but little is known regarding the interrelations or conflicts between the two groups.[35] The dates commonly given for era of the Cro-Magnon people are approximately 35,000 to 10,000 BP. This puts the early Cro- Magnons in the Aurignacian period of the Upper Paleolithic Age; however, some very recent authors suggest that they lived mainly in the Perigordian period, which immediately followed the Aurignacian.[36] Most anthropologists believe that Cro-Magnon man was an immediate ancestor of some of the modern European peoples, since the physical features were practically the same as those of modern Europeans, and since the Cro-Magnon people continued to live in France during the Magdalenian period, until approximately 10,000 BP.

It was during this Magdalenian period (about 15,000 to 10,000 BP) that the famous Cro-Magnon animal paintings were produced in the caves of southern France. The population of Cro-Magnon people was relatively dense in some of the southwestern parts of France. The district enclosed within a radius of five kilometers of the small town of Les Eyzies, southeast of Perigueux, includes several well-known caves and shelters where Cro-Magnon artifacts, including cave paintings, engraved animals, and sculptured animals are found.[37]


In the preceding pages we have seen there is abundant archaeologically verified evidence for the existence of human populations living in both North and South America from approximately 19,000 years BP down to the time when Columbus and other explorers from Europe encountered some of them. All these populations were of the basic Mongoloid racial type, so we have to assume that they traveled to North America from eastern Asia. This arrival in North America, of people belonging to the Mongoloid race of course indicates that a well-established population of this distinct race had developed in central and eastern Asia prior to the time of their migration eastward into what is now North America. Archaeological research on the details of how the Mongoloid race developed has been very meager, largely because the countries in which the long process of this racial development evidently took place have been practically inaccessible to scientists, due to the stringent political conditions.

Archaeological research on the peoples who settled in the Near East and Europe has been very successful, just as was the research in North and South America. Neandertal human populations which lived long before the Paleo-Indians of the Americas have been discovered in Iraq, Israel, and Europe.[38] The Neandertal race should not be regarded as sub-human, nor should we think of them as having some other origin than from the Noahic population which was dispersed by the judgment of God at the Tower of Babel. The same is true of the Cro-Magnon people who lived in Europe from approximately 35,000 to 10,000 BP.

Some of the peoples who lived in south-central Europe and the Near East in the period between 6,000 BC and the time of Abraham were the early settlers of the areas that are now Greece, northern Italy, and the Rhine and Danube Valleys of Europe; the early Egyptians; and the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia. These peoples are described from archaeological excavation of the towns and other organized settlements which they built. Thus, these were civilizations with food-growing practices and usually a written language which made possible at least simple record keeping and the conducting of other civil affairs.

The dating procedures used for establishing the dates of all of the peoples we have considered in this paper have been very carefully carried out, and were definitely conservative, as has been explained in the main descriptions above (especially under ``Paleo-Indian Peoples of North America'' and the first part of the next section ``Other Paleo-Indian and Archaic Indian Sites...''). We do not consider the dating in hundreds of thousands or millions of years for human beings by anthropologists to be valid.[39] Any work which deals with supposedly human races which are dated at hundreds of thousands of years BP are either not using correct dates, or the Primate fossils they describe are mere varieties of apes which lived long before the creation of man. We need also to be wary of religious works which speculate on the existence of a ``pre-Adamic'' race of human beings. The Bible gives absolutely no support for such; and any attempts to teach the existence of such a race meet with many theological and biblical problems.


Now, how are we to deal with the genealogy in Genesis 11:10-26, which so many Christians have supposed is a ``time-tight'' package? We accept the Bible as fully inspired by divine guidance to the writers, so we cannot read this genealogy as leaving room for long periods of human history unless legitimate principles of biblical interpretation allow it.

During the past two centuries, many very conservative Bible scholars who have taught that the Bible is fully inspired have made careful studies of this problem. One of the best-known of these studies is the article ``Primeval Chronology'' by William Henry Green, first published in Bibliotheca Sacra (vol 47 [1890], 285-303), but currently most accessible in Appendix II of Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth, by Robert C. Newman and Herman J. Eckelmann (IVP, 1977; reprinted by Baker, 1981 and by IBRI, 1989 and 1991).

The basic explanation of the manner in which extended periods of time are included in the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-26 is that the list of patriarchs given in these verses was never intended to include all the steps in Abraham's family line, and that the numbers of years of age given are not really arranged in a ``time-tight'' succession.

Even though a superficial reading of Genesis 11:10-26 gives one the impression that all of the individual generations in Abraham's ancestry are given, further study shows that they are not. In the article cited above, Green points out that nearly all the genealogies in the Bible concentrate on the most outstanding or best-remembered patriarchs and omit some often many others in the chain of descent. We know from the genealogy given in the Book of Luke (3:35-36) that the patriarch Cainan was in the line of descent between Arphaxad and Shelah who are included in Genesis 11:10-14, even though the Genesis passage says nothing about Cainan. This illustrates the fact that the author, Moses, was not attempting to give a complete list in Genesis 11. At first sight it appears that Moses was giving the age of each father at the birth of his son in such a way that the reader can calculate the complete span of time covered by the entire genealogy. But this is not the case, and one must note that Moses himself made no attempt to total the number of years -- as he did farther along in the Pentateuch, for a later span of time (Exodus 12:40).

So, the listing of ages for the most famous patriarchs authenticates the fact that these men were truly in Abraham's ancestral line. But in biblical genealogies the expression ``the son of'' a certain, named father does not necessarily mean ``a first generation son of.'' Therefore, we should be at perfect liberty to understand, for example, Gen 11:16-17, as follows: ``And Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot the family line which ended in [that famous patriarch whom the Hebrews remember as] Peleg; and Eber lived after he begot the family line of Peleg, four hundred and thirty years....'' So there may have been many generations between Eber and Peleg especially since this period in the genealogy saw the reduction of the human life span from the usual 400+ years to about one-half that age (v. 16-19), with no indication of this drastic reduction being sudden.

There have been many Bible students who have admitted there is good evidence for some gaps in the Genesis 11 genealogy, but some of these feel that such gaps must be relatively brief. The idea that there might have been tens of thousands of years unmentioned between the judgment at Babel and the birth of Abraham seems unacceptable to them. They sometimes ask why God would allow such large gaps in this genealogy, but only small gaps in other biblical genealogies. We suggest a logical and (we think) biblical reply, as follows:

Near the beginning of this paper, we described the unique features of the judgment at Babel and its far-reaching effects on the human race. The first part of Genesis 11 shows that this judgment was such that it would have more long-term effects on the groups of migrating people than any other event in history. The mandatory break-up of society at Babel included features which would require very long periods for a recovery to organized human settlements.

Another factor to recognize in thinking about this long time-period is that mankind was then in total rebellion against God, so that God ``put mankind on the shelf'' for a long judgment period. We have every reason to believe that during this long period mankind was completely out of fellowship with God and that none were calling on Him. Conservative evangelicals have long maintained that God ``gave mankind over to uncleanness . . .'' (Rom 1:26ff) for a long period of time until finally, in His wonderful grace and election, God reached down and chose Abraham to be the father of a nation that would leave the path of rebellion and serve God -- finally resulting in the coming of the Messiah in that line. If so, what possible reason could there have been for God's giving us an inspired record of individual human families in the long period of rebellion between Babel and Abraham? Remember that the Old Testament is primarily a record of God's dealings with mankind for the purpose of fulfilling the promise of Gen 3:15. Thus it appears that He wisely left at least 50,000 years of gaps -- or possibly only one large gap -- in the genealogy rather than fill up many pages of the biblical record with names of men who refused to recognize their Creator as they wandered about on the earth.

A further indication that the genealogy of Genesis 11 is only a brief summary of family lines is that even a simple comparison of the different biblical genealogies shows that they are not all written in the same style or by the same set of rules. Thus we should not interpret all these genealogies as though they were written according to a single pattern.

Most of the principles just discussed are further explained in Green's article mentioned above, in various conservative Bible encyclopedias and commentaries, in the article ``Genealogy'' in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (3 vols, Inter-Varsity and Tyndale, 1980), and in Archaeology and Bible History by Joseph P. Free (Van Kampen, 1950; reprinted Scripture Press, 1962), in chapter 2, ``Creation,'' subsection ``Possibilities of Gaps in Biblical Genealogies.'' It is significant that some of the leaders of young-earth creationism admit that the archaeological evidence makes it necessary to recognize gaps in the Genesis 11 genealogy.

A brief but very helpful statement explaining why large amounts of time are recognized as existing in the Genesis 11 genealogy was written for the 1967 revision of the Scofield Reference Bible, and is found as an extended note at Gen 11:10. The revision committee which authorized this note was composed of eight thoroughly conservative Bible scholars and teachers, including Dr. William Culbertson, president of Moody Bible Institute; Dr. John Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. Alva McClain, founder of Grace Theological Seminary. The full committee is listed on the title page, and all were staunch defenders of the inerrancy and full inspiration of Scripture. The note says:

The Hebrew word rendered ``begat'' does not mean became the father of but became an ancestor of; and the Biblical word ``son,'' though often indicating an immediate child, may also be the equivalent of our English word ``descendant.'' Thus Mt 1:1 calls Jesus Christ ``the son of David, the son of Abraham.'' See also Mt 22:42. The genealogy in Mt 1:8 says that Jehoram begat Uzziah, thus omitting three links: Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, all being kings of Judah whose names would have been known to every Jew. Also compare Ezra 7:3 with 1 Chr 6:7-11. In view of all these facts we see that Gen 11:10 means that, when Shem was 100 years old, his wife bore a child who was either Arphaxad or an ancestor of Arphaxad. Many links in the chain of ancestry may have been left unmentioned.

The examples given in the above note show that it is both incorrect and presumptuous for any of us in the modern English-speaking world to assume that we can determine the exact meaning of ancient Hebrew genealogies merely by reading them in the same way as we read modern genealogies of families who have lived in the past few centuries. We have to face the fact that the Hebrews used the terms ``father,'' ``son,'' and ``begat'' more broadly than we do. Similarly, it is helpful to be aware of the wide variations and non-precise use of terms describing family relationships which missionaries have observed among people groups in other countries. To assume that all peoples of the world are as scientific and systematic in their speech as educated Americans and Europeans is an error.

The Scofield note quoted above should help us see that belief in a long period between the Flood and Abraham does not involve any rejection of the validity and accuracy of the Holy Scriptures. It is not necessary for Christians to put themselves in a position opposing archaeological discoveries of ancient people groups living in Europe, Asia and the Americas.


There are several evidences that the Biblical flood was widespread on the earth rather than being very localized. Most important is the fact that Genesis 6-8 indicates the Flood was a major physical disturbance on the earth, and that it extended to all places where the human race had migrated. Here are some of the statements in these chapters which make it necessary for us to recognize the great proportions of the Flood (quotations from the American Standard Version of 1901): Gen 7:11 states that ``all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.'' This seems to make it clear that, in addition to rain falling, the oceans provided water for flooding. Perhaps earthquakes on the ocean floor caused great waves to wash up on the land, or perhaps even uncommonly large waterspouts brought water to the land. Gen 8:4-5 tell us that the ark was floating continuously for six months (cp 7:11), and that the water was still so high that no appreciable land surface could be seen until about seven and one-half months. And 8:6-10 gives further confirmation of the long period required for the water to run off. Remember that the falling of rain lasted only forty days (7:12).

These facts, as recorded in the Bible, lead us to conclude that the Flood was truly a major physical disturbance on the earth. We are not saying that the Flood covered mountains any higher than perhaps 2,000 feet. There were no mountains that high in the area where conservative Bible scholars agree pre-diluvian man lived. Notice that even after the Flood, when the Tower of Babel was being built, the idea of dispersing beyond Mesopotamia was not something man had contemplated (Gen 11:1-9). Thus, even though Gen 7:19 says that ``all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered,'' we do not need to take this as applying to areas of the earth which are completely beyond the region God had designated for the habitation of early man. We will note below why such terms as ``all'' and ``under the whole heaven'' can legitimately be regarded as spoken from the standpoint of local observers in the flood area.

But the fact that distant, high mountain ranges and distant continents may not have been covered with water should not lead us to believe that the Flood had no appreciable effect upon the remote continents. Any earth-disturbance which caused all the conditions described in Genesis 7-8, over an area so extensive that an ark was necessary to save the animals of that region, must certainly have been great enough to affect at least the shores and lowlands of all the continents of the earth.

Belief in a Biblical flood such as we have just described allows us to give due reverence to the Biblical language we find in Genesis 6-8 and still to avoid the contradictions and immense scientific problems which are so common in ``Flood geology'' books. For example, (1) the problem of how there could have been enough water to actually submerge all the highest mountains of the world at once, or (alternatively) why there are great amounts of evidence that most of the mountains of the world are far older than would be the case if they were formed after the Flood. (2) The animal distribution on earth today is very similar to that in the fossil record, so that the kangaroos and other marsupials of Australia were there before and after the Flood, but nowhere else. Nothing short of supernatural transportation before and after the Flood would produce this effect without leaving traces of their presence elsewhere.

A further question which might perplex some readers is the altitude of modern Mount Ararat (about 17,000 ft). If it was covered, wouldn't we have the same problem as in (1) of the preceding paragraph, with the amount of water needed? It is unlikely that this is what Gen 8:4 is speaking of when it refers to ``the mountains of Ararat.'' By consulting a good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia one can easily learn that Ararat was a large region at a long distance from where Moses was when he wrote Genesis. The precise boundaries of Ararat at the time of writing Genesis are not known just as we do not know the exact location of the Garden of Eden, even though Gen 2:10-14 gives specific names of rivers and districts by which its location could have been identified originally. There is thus no way to know even the approximate location of the place where the Ark came to rest, and no reason to think that Mt Ararat in Turkey was submerged by the Flood.

Below I include two short sections from a chapter entitled ``The Flood'' in a manuscript written in 1990 by Phillip Eichman, a conservative Christian professor at the University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, Ohio. These two sections are included here to show that the wording of the Biblical account of the Flood in Genesis 6-8 does not declare that the flood waters completely covered all the continents of the earth. In my estimation the explanations given here are acceptable, though I do not feel we should use the term ``local flood,'' as C. M. Woods does below. Eichman himself agrees with me that the size and force of the Biblical Flood were so great that it must have affected all continents to some extent. Dr. Eichman's comments and reference numbers come from pages 7 and 9 of his chapter ``The Flood'' and are used with his kind permission:

This Hebrew word [erets, earth as in Gen 7:21] may also be translated in other ways. Young's Analytical Concordance lists the references for erets as follows:
      ``country'' 140 times
      ``ground'' 96 times
      ``earth'' 677 times
      ``land'' 1458 times
Custance (5) has stated that of the 677 times that the word was rendered ``earth,'' about 100 of these could be translated as ``land.'' Also there are other more specific Hebrew words to denote the earth. The word, tebel, for example, meaning ``earth'' or ``world'' is typically used in regard to the entire earth (see Psalms 24:1).

Based upon these language considerations some scholars have concluded that erets might also be translated as ``land'' in the passages regarding the flood. The flood then, could be seen as localized rather than universal. That is, the flood would have been limited to the geographical region known to mankind at that time.

Another question which has been raised in regard to the language of Genesis is the use of hyperbole (figures of speech which are exaggerated for emphasis). There are numerous examples of the use of hyperbole in the Bible.(6) The phrase ``under the whole heaven'' for example, may be considered as a hyperbole. This in no way should be seen as a negative or skeptical view of Scripture. Much of the Bible was written in figurative language and our understanding of these passages may be increased if we look at them as figurative rather than literal. In this case, the phrase ``under the whole heaven'' is interpreted as meaning all of the world that was known by persons at that time. [Eichman then quotes the following commentary from C. M. Woods in support of a limited, yet extensive Flood.]

A local flood seems favored by the extra-Biblical evidence, but it does appear at first glance that the more natural meaning of the text favors a universal flood. An interesting speculation calls attention to the fullness and exactness of the description of the flood here given and relies on this fact to suggest that the flood record is based on an eyewitness account, perhaps a log book of Noah. If this be true, such statements as ``all the high mountains'' (19) may be understood to mean all those within the view of the observer. At any rate, ``under the whole heaven'' (19) might mean no more than ``under the whole horizon.'' Further, it is true that such words as ``all'' and ``every'' are sometimes used in the Old Testament in a limited sense, strange as this sounds to the modern reader. See, for example, Gen 41:57, Deut 2:25 and 1 Kings 10:24. Again the word ``earth'' may also mean ``land'' or ``the inhabited earth.'' Thus, the local flood hypothesis seems to be a valid alternative. [This entire paragraph is a quotation from The Living Way Commentary on the Old Testament by C. M. Woods (Shreveport, LA: Lambert Book House, 1972), vol. 1, p. 20.]


  1. These and the 6000 BC date for Greece are from Clark, G., 1977, World Prehistory: Cambridge U. Press, pp 116-130.
  2. The information in this paragraph is taken from the articles ``Sumerians'' and ``Writing'' in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1980: Inter-Varsity Press, 3 vols, 1728 pp. The origin and use of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is briefly treated in the articles ``Egypt,'' pp 415-430, and ``Writing,'' pp 1657-1671, in the same work.
  3. For an outline of the several divisions of the Bronze Age (3150 to 1200 BC) and the Iron Age (somewhat before 1500 to 330 BC), see The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1980, pp 94- 95. Detailed information on the archaeological discoveries which have given us so much information on the development of the Bronze Age and Iron Age can be obtained by looking under those names in books on ancient history and archaeology, and in reliable encyclopedias.
  4. A brief but very clear review of the unreliability of the dating of these sites in western Canada is given in Archaeological Geology of North America by N. P. Lasca and J. Donahue, eds., 1990: Geological Society of America, pp 76-77, 110. This book is extensively documented from primary sources. Some other reliable, conservative sources of dates for early man in the Americas are: Fagan, B. M., 1989, People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory: Scott, Foresman and Co., pp 199-203; Melzer, David J., 1993, Search for the First Americans: Smithsonian Books, pp 66-73 and 76-81; and Taylor, R. E., et al, 1985, ``Major Revisions in the Pleistocene Age Assignments for North American Human Skeletons by C-14 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry'': American Antiquity, vol 50, no 1, pp 136-140. The latter three sources in this endnote give summary accounts of the disappointments and frustrations which made it necessary to abandon all of the extremely early dates (30,000 B.P. and older) which were proposed between 1975 and 1982 for early man in the Americas. Most of the errors which caused this confusion were due to the misuse of a then-new method of dating based on the testing of amino acids which were extracted from ancient bones. R. E. Taylor and his associates made a thorough investigation of this method (which is known as amino acid racemization) in the early 1980's. Their work demonstrated that the method is not at all reliable for the dating of organic fractions taken from fossil bones. This discovery by Taylor and several other qualified researchers was soon widely publicized, resulting in a drastic downward revision of the amino acid racemization dates for bones which had been published up to that time.



    It was fortunate that the accelerator mass spectrometric carbon-14 dating method had been sufficiently perfected by that time, making possible more accurate testing of the age of bones than had ever before been achieved. So the accelerator mass spectrometric method has now become standard. However, it is regrettable that a considerable number of authors of semipopular archaeology and anthropology articles and books published during the mid and late 1980's were still unaware of the gross inaccuracy of the amino acid dates. So their works still contain some of the sensationally early dates for human beings in the Americas.

  6. Adovasio, J. M. and Carlisle, R. C., 1984, ``An Indian Hunters' Camp for Twenty Thousand Years'': Scientific American, vol 250, no 5 (May), pp 130-136.
  7. Lasca and Donahue (1990), cited above, have a table on pp 238-239 which lists more than 40 of these well-preserved samples, with the dates obtained, plus the dates of a few additional samples which were found buried with human artifacts, but not from actual firepits or hearths.
  8. Adovasio and Carlisle (1984), pp 132-134; and Science, vol 239, 12 Feb 1988, pp 713- 714.
  9. Some young-earth creationists have postulated that there was a large difference in the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere after the Flood than before. Yet even if we could find evidence for this hypothesis, it would not appreciably affect the dating of archaeological sites in the Americas. This is because we are dealing with people groups which lived long after the Flood. No known human occupational sites in the Americas show any evidence of the Biblical Flood, and neither creationists nor any other observers have been able to locate any definite geologic evidence of the Flood at an appreciable distance inland on these continents.
  10. Lasca and Donahue (1990), pp 51-53.
  11. Kroeber, A. L., 1948, Anthropology: Harcourt, Brace & Co., pp 676-680.
  12. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Geological Sciences: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1978, p 842.
  13. Lasca and Donahue (1990), pp 51-53.
  14. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991, vol 26, p 29 of the article ``Pre-Columbian Civilizations''; and Atlas of Ancient Archaeology, by J. Hawkes, ed., 1974: McGraw-Hill, pp 254-256.
  15. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 1982, vol 6, pp 267-268 in the article ``Glacial Epoch.''
  16. Lasca and Donahue (1990), pp 53, 90.
  17. Ibid., pp 111, 399.
  18. Ibid., p 455.
  19. The name of the Neandertal race is often spelled ``Neanderthal,'' including the ``h'' because it is present in the original scientific name Homo neanderthalensis. However, in the German, from which the name originated, the ``h'' is not pronounced. Thus most modern scholars write the common name without the ``h,'' in agreement with its German pronunciation. From Kroeber (1948), p 94.
  20. Kuhn, Steven L., 1990, Diversity within Uniformity: Tool Manufacture and Use in the ``Pontinian'' Mousterian of Latium (Italy). PhD dissertation, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms.
  21. Kuhn, 1995, Mousterian Lithic Technology: An Ecological Perspective: Princeton University Press. Compare Stiner, Mary C. and S. L. Kuhn, 1992, ``Subsistence, Technology, and Adaptive Variation in Middle Paleolithic Italy'': American Anthropologist, vol 94, no 2, pp 306-339 (pp 316-317 and 322-325 on lithic technology).
  22. Kuhn, 1995, pp 41-42 and 70-72; and Stiner and Kuhn, 1992, pp 309-310.
  23. Stiner and Kuhn, 1992, cited above, pp 309-310 and Fig 2 and Table 2.
  24. I personally do not insist on the oldest dates listed by Stiner and Kuhn, or by the other paleoanthropologists listed below, but it seems that in view of the many kinds of evidence for Neandertal dates in the 100,000 BP range, the date for the creation of Adam and Eve could have been several thousand years before that.
  25. Kuhn, S. L., 1992, ``On Planning and Curated Technologies in the Middle Paleolithic'': Journal of Anthropological Research, vol 48, no 3, pp 185-214 (pp 195-196 on flint sources).
  26. Hayden, Brian, 1993, ``The Cultural Capacities of Neandertals: A Review and Re- evaluation'': Journal of Human Evolution, vol 24 [no number or month given in the paper], pp 113-146 (pp 133-136 on hearths and the use of fire).
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid., pp 114, 123-124, 136-138. (On p 114, Hayden gives special credit to P. Mellars for publishing ``a vast array of pertinent data'' which give evidence for true human ``conceptual abilities'' in the Neandertal race. Hayden then cites the following as one of the key articles by Mellars, 1989, ``Major Issues in the Emergence of Modern Humans'': Current Anthropology, vol 30, no 3, pp 349-385.)
  29. Ibid., p 136.
  30. We should take precautions not to confuse rational forethought with the genetically programmed instinctive ability which some mammals, birds, and insects have for storing winter food, building nests, etc. The differences can be illustrated by the fact that the forethought of human beings is consciously purposeful, and this kind of forethought includes the ability to make alternate plans. For example, a tribe of people can store food for a long winter, or decide on the alternate plan of moving to the seacoast where food will be available all winter. But that kind of thinking is foreign to all non-human living things.
  31. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1988, vol 6, pp 679-680.
  32. Bar-Yosef, O., 1992, ``The Role of Western Asia in Modern Human Origins'': Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, vol 337, pp 193-200 (p 194 for dates and dating methods). Compare Bar-Yosef, 1989, ``Geochronology of the Levantine Middle Paleolithic,'' pp 589-610 in The Human Revolution, P. Mellars and C. B. Stringer, eds.: University of Edinburgh Press.
  33. Bar-Yosef, 1992, pp 193-196.
  34. Trinkaus, E., 1983, The Shanidar Neandertals: Academic Press, 528 pages.
  35. Fred H. Smith, who is primarily a physical anthropologist, has some very helpful information regarding the slight physical differences between the European and Near East Neandertals, on pp 223-225 of his paper, 1991, ``The Neandertals: Evolutionary Dead Ends or Ancestors of Modern People?'': Journal of Anthropological Research, vol 47, no 2, pp 219-238. In considering these slight physical differences, the following principle from Kuhn (1995), p 9, is important: ``...modern human societies are astonishingly variable, yet no researcher today would argue that this reflects biological differences or fundamental inequities in the capacities of different populations.''
  36. Goldsby, R. A., 1971, Race and Races: Macmillan Co., p 75.
  37. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991, vol 18, pp 838-840.
  38. A brief description of several of these caves and shelters and the Cro-Magnon artwork in them is found in Hawkes (1974), pp 47, 50, 51.
  39. The majority of Neandertal occupational sites in Europe have yielded dates between about 35,000 BP and 55,000 BP, Clark (1977), pp 34-35. Extensive research has been done on the dates of these sites, comparing C-14 results with glacial dating, and in nearly all cases these two methods agree. As stated above, very good skeletal remains of the Neandertal type have been found in Israel. Some of these are dated between 45,000 and 60,000 BP, and others at approximately 92,000 BP. The dating methods used were conservative and appear to have been reliable. Remains of Neandertal more recent than about 30,000 BP have not been found. Many anthropologists believe that the Neandertals were absorbed into later European groups such as the Cro-Magnons.
  40. Some of our reasons for rejecting these dates are given in the paper ``A Consideration of What is Often Called `The Fossil Evidence for Human Evolution,' '' by D. E. Wonderly, 1988 (unpublished).



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