Evidence Proves China's Great Flood Story

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August 6, 2016

For years, it has been but a story; now, geologists have evidence of its truth. The Great Flood of China really happened, researchers say.

The Emperor Yu, founder of the Xia dynasty, is known for being able to tame the flood by directing his people to dredge the land enough to get the water to back into its channels.

The traditional date of the flood, if it was assumed to be historical, had been 2200 B.C. Many scholars had thought that the flood story was invented, in order to provide an opportunity for Yu to justify his actions in uniting the disparate peoples and asserting his rule over them, creating the first Chinese dynasty. Now, however, evidence suggests that the flood did indeed happen, a few hundred years later than first believed.

The geologists examined the remains of a dam along the Yellow River and found evidence of a giant rise in water levels, dozens of yards above what is now the river level. Trapped in the flood were many people. Testing of some of the bones showed that they dated to 1920 B.C.

The bones were found in the rubble of an earthquake. The theory, according to the geologists who wrote the report, is that the earthquake caused a landslide, which created a natural dam, and then water eventually burst through the dam and created a flood, which sent more than 4 trillions of water cascading down a place now known as the Jishi Gorge, into what is now the Guanting Basin. The result was drownings and floodings and whole villages wiped off the map, with famine plaguing the survivors.

After examining the evidence, scientists concluded that the floodwater would have totaled more than 10 million cubic feet a second, about the same as the largest flood measured on the Amazon River, the world's largest river.

The report, from a team of scientists led by Peking University's Qinglong Wu, appears in the journal Science.

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