A National Geographic special next month offers some educated guesses:
Scholars of ancient writings from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) point to texts written thousands of years before the bible that describe a flood and say that the bible story comes from those stories.
Others like archaeologist Jeff Rose say these pre-biblical stories have merit because the destructive forces of water in a once tropical region in Iraq, considered by some to have been the Garden of Eden, might have inspired the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the great flood. Dr. Rose believes that a massive flood once swallowed a landmass as big as Great Britain, created the Persian Gulf and sent tribes of Neolithic people into constant retreat from the ever-rising waters.
The show airs January 5. A preview is below.