What happened to the Garden of Eden? This question has plagued many to go searching for the location of the fabled garden, and as such people have nominated places as crazy as Mars and Missouri as its source, while many scholars believe it never existed at all. Certain descriptions in Genesis leave only a few locations that fit the given criteria: the Armenian Highlands of Eastern Turkey (around where Noah might have landed after the flood), Northeast Africa (the ancestral home of man where Moses supposedly parted the Red Sea), and Jerusalem, even though the Bible describes Eden as east of Jerusalem.
But that leaves us still asking the question: where exactly does the Bible say the Garden of Eden is? Though no single place seems to fit all of the rules, biblical, mythological, and archeological evidence points to Southern Iraq. So, was the Garden of Eden in Iraq? It's not that farfetched, really. With the recent discovery of ancient settlements from before 6,000 BCE, scholars are gathering evidence to show that Eden was a real place that played an important role in forming advanced civilization throughout the Fertile Crescent.
Two Competing Neolithic Gangs Occupied The Persian Gulf Oasis At The Same Time
An anthropological way to look at the The Garden of Eden story is as a tale of tension between two groups who clashed in the area of the Persian Gulf Oasis sometime between 6000 and 5000 BCE. The first group were the nomadic hunter-gatherers, Adam and Eve types, who were heirs to God's natural bounty. The hunter-gatherers moved in and out of the gulf region depending on weather conditions which determined available food. The second group, the Ubaidians, were more technologically advanced so they could stay in one place and form large settlements.
The problem for the hunter-gatherers is that with increased populations from agriculture, foraging for food got more difficult. After starving for a while, some of the hunter-gatherers defected to the Ubaidian group, took up farming, and almost disappeared except for one thing: their stories of a simpler, more innocent time stayed with the combined group. These same stories were passed down until they were recorded on tablets by the clever Sumerians. Perhaps the appeal of the hunter-gatherers' stories was their innocence; the lost days when man lived a life of ease in a lush garden of the gods which provided him with everything he needed.
Utnapishtim's Story Of Building An Ark to Escape The Flood Predates Noah's by 700 Years
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero comes across an old man, Utnapishtim, who tells Gilgamesh a story of how the god Ea instructed him to build an enormous boat to save himself, his family, and "the seed of all living things." Utnapishtim does as Ea instructs and the gods create rains that last for several days causing a great flood. When the rains subside, Utnapishtim's boat lands on a mountain and he sets loose first a dove, then a swallow, and finally a raven, which all find dry land. This story certainly predates any knowledge or records we have of Noah's ark as set down in Hebrew culture.
The Biblical Flood Probably Happened - And Destroyed Eden In The Process
Between 18,000 and about 6000 years ago, as the Ice Age wound to an end, most of the ice melted off of Canada and Scandinavia. This caused the sea level to rise all over the world and there's evidence at the Bosphorus that 8,000 years ago, a massive deluge of water poured into the Black Sea in a short period of time. In a similar way, the Persian Gulf Basin - which at that time was little more than a large river fed by the Tigris and Euphrates - swelled with water that spilled in from the ocean, destroying the freshwater paradise of the Persian Gulf Oasis and ultimately connecting it to the Gulf of Oman. By the time floodwaters stabilized, the end of the Persian Gulf lay much farther north, putting the ancient city of Ur at the new shoreline.
There Are Similarities Between Genesis's Adam And The First Man In Sumerian Mythology
In Sumerian legend, the first man was created out of clay and blood as a servant for the gods because they were tired of working the land and wanted someone to do it for them. Man is portrayed in Sumerian art as working in their gardens in a state of nakedness like Adam.
In the tale of Adapa and the South Wind, the first man, Adapa, is taken to the place of the gods when he breaks the South Wind's arm when it overturns his boat on the Persian Gulf. While there, it's discovered that Adapa has knowledge of the secret workings of heaven and earth, good and evil, right and wrong. Because he already has this higher knowledge, the gods offer him food that would make mankind immortal. But the jealous god Enki tricks Adapa into not eating the "the food of death," cheating mankind of immortality. This sounds awfully similar to the classic tale of the serpent and the apple.