Monday, December 22, 2003

Adam & Eve were Persian!

Ten miles from the sprawling Iranian industrial city of Tabriz, to the northwest of Tehran, says British archaeologist David Rohl, he has found the site of the Biblical garden . . . "As you descend a narrow mountain path, you see a beautiful alpine valley, just like the Bible describes it, with terraced orchards on its slopes, crowded with every kind of fruit-laden tree," says Rohl, a scholar of University College, London, who has just returned from his third trip to the area, where mud brick villages flourish today.
“The Biblical word gan (as in Gan Eden) means `walled garden,’ ” Rohl continues, "and the valley is indeed walled in by towering mountains." The highest of these is Mt. Sahand, a snow-capped extinct volcano that Rohl identifies as the Prophet Ezekiel’s Mountain of God, where the Lord resides among `red-hot coals’ (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Cascading down the once-fiery mountain, precisely echoing Ezekiel, is a small river, the Adji Chay (the name of which also translates in local dialect as ‘walled garden’). The locals still hold the mountain sacred, Rohl says, and attribute magical powers to the river’s water.
What made Rohl look in this location in the first place? One factor was that he read about it in ancient Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets held by the Museum of the Orient in Istanbul. The other factor was the work of the late, little-known British scholar Reginald Walker. The ancient tablets described a 5,000 year-old route to Eden. He has been researching the location since the late 1980’s through academic documents.
In April 1997 Rohl did something very remarkable to prove his point. He set out from the Iranian town of Ahwaz, near the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, with only his jeep driver for company. According to the article:

They traveled north toward Kurdistan through what Rohl calls `lawless’ terrain, trusting to luck to avoid the various guerrilla factions active in the region. Rohl followed a route, documented in the Sumerian cuneiform epic `Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta,’ supposedly taken 5,000 years earlier by an emissary of the Sumerian priest-king of Uruk. The emissary had been dispatched to Aratta, on the plain of `Edin’ – known to Sumerians as a land of happiness and plenty – to obtain gold and lapis lazuli to decorate a temple that Enmerkar was building in Uruk. The cuneiform epic describes the dutiful emissary’s three-month trek on foot via seven passes through the Zagros Mountains, to the foothills of Mt. Sahand – the southern edge of Rohl’s Eden – and his successful procurement of the required valuable.
Rohl believes . . . the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians all knew of an earthly paradise that had once lain beyond what they called the Seven Heavens. For them, Eden was still very much an earthly place. Only later Judeo-Christian tradition bestowed heavenly status on it.


The Garden described in the Bible places the headwaters of four rivers in it: the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Gihon, and the Pishon. Obviously, the Tigris and Euphrates are well-known rivers, but the other two have been real problems in the past. Rohl has identified them as the Araxes and Uizhun, which puts the headwaters of all four rivers in his Eden. Interestingly, the Uizhun, Rohl's equivalent to the Pishon which the Bibles identifies with gold, is known locally as the Golden River, and meanders between ancient gold mines and lodes of lapis lazuli.
Making his case even stronger, Rohl says that he has found the "Land of Nod" which the Bible describes as "East of Eden." Nod was Cain's place of exile after the murder of his brother Abel. Today the area is called "Noqdi."
But it doesn't end there because a few kilometers south of Rohl's Nod, at the head of a mountain pass, lies the sleepy town of Helabad. Formerly it was known as "Kheruabad," which means "settlement of the Kheru people." He believes that this could be a permutation of the Hebrew word keruvim that is translated as "Cherubs." These people were a tribe of fearsome warriors whose token was an eagle or falcon.
And if this isn't enough to get your attention yet, he has also found what he believes to be the biblical "Land of Cush." No, it's not located down in Egypt as scholars have declared for centuries. It's just north of the Adji Chay river valley and over the Kusheh Daugh - the Mountain of Kush. One of the four rivers described above winds through it.
Modern scholars have argued that the Genesis stories were just myths and should be looked upon in an allegorical sense. Rohl's discovery is now essentially seeking to push back the start of history all the way to the beginning of the Book of Genesis. Since the Bible scrupulously documents the specifics of the garden's location and its surroundings, says Rohl, why shouldn't we take those descriptions at face value? "I consider the Bible a historical document just like the writings of Herodotus or a text of Rameses II," says Rohl. "It's ridiculous to throw it in the dustbin just because it's a religious text. If so strong a tradition evolves out of the past, it is likely to have a genuine geographical setting."
Dr. Rohl was to return to Iran in the spring, but this time he is taking TV crews from the Discovery Channel and BBC. He plans to also start digging there at that time. His new book - Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation - provides a detail account of his discovery.

Maps of this Area:
http://www.ramsdale.org/eden3.jpg
http://www.ramsdale.org/eden1.jpg
http://www.ramsdale.org/eden2.jpg

Pictures of Mount Sahand:
http://www.cst.uwaterloo.ca/~garousi/images/sahand.jpg

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