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Researchers Discover Geological Evidence Proving China's Great Flood

Aug 08, 2016 11:50 PM EDT
Yellow River
A new study found evidence that the collapse of an earthquake-induced dam caused the great flood of Yellow River.
(Photo : China Photos/Getty Images)

A team of international experts in different fields, including anthropology, geology, seismology and archaeology has discovered geological evidence pointing out the possible occurrence of China's "great flood," suggesting that the famed Emperor Yu and his Xia Dynasty might be real.

The story of Yu has been believed to be the beginning of Chinese civilization sometime between 2200 B.C.E. and 2000 B.C.E. According to the legend, a legendary hero named Yu tamed the great flooding of the Yellow River, gaining the divine mandate to establish the Xia dynasty. However, researchers have found no convincing evidence proving the existence of Xia dynasty.

Now, a new paper published in the journal Science provides geological evidence proving the occurrence of the great flood and also presents surprising correlation that may prove the existence of Xia dynasty.

For the study, the researchers developed a scenario based on evidence from ancient texts, sedimentary deposits, earthquake-triggered landslides, and skeletons in collapsed cave dwellings.

According to a report from Science Mag, the researchers speculate that an ancient earthquake could induced a landslide creating a dam 200 meters high that choked off the Yellow River for six to nine months. When the clogged water finally overtopped the dam, it quickly washed away the rubble, resulting to the release of huge amount of water to flooding the vicinity of Yellow River.

To put a date on the alleged great flood, the researchers used carbon dating in human remains found buried in the Neolithic settlement called Lajia. The researchers believe that the earthquake that caused the formation of the dam in Yellow River is also responsible for the destruction of the cave dwellings that buried Lajia people.

Their findings suggest that the great flood may have occurred in 1900 B.C.E., which coincidentally is the time when Chinese society was transitioning from Neolithic to the Bronze Age. Additionally, the date also correlates with the Erlitou culture. Erlitou culture is argued to be the manifestation of the elusive Xia dynasty.

The researchers noted that more evidences and further studies are needed to strengthen the persuasiveness of their findings, especially evidence for a great flood along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River.

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