01 February 1999
miles from the sprawling Iranian industrial city of Tabriz, to the northwest
of Teheran, 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.
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.
order to make the journey to this most remote location, one must travel from
western Iran, north through the Zagros Mountains of Iranian Kurdistan, down Mt.
Sahand, and into the fertile Adji Chay valley.
You quickly discover just how remote this location is when you try to
find it on modern maps. The Jerusalem
Report article gives a number of geographical locations.
However, I did not find a single map that contained them all.
I ended up with about five or six maps, each containing one or two of the
places I was trying to find.
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
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:
traveled north toward Kurdistan through what Rohl calls `lawless’ terrain,
trusting to luck to avoid the various guerilla 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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
Rohl is returning to Iran this 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. It
is not available yet in the USA. If
you don't want to wait for it to be published here and would like order a copy
today, go to
The Jerusalem Report "Paradise Found"