Although it seemed hopeless to try to find a site for the 'garden,' I thought it worthwhile to study the territory on the outskirts of Mesopotamia, since by about 4000 BC the area itself was becoming rather crowded for setting up a new agricultural community. Further east, Iran has today about 8% arable land and a negligible percentage of permanent crop land. Only 2% is irrigated. Further south, Saudi Arabia has today 1% arable land, a negligible percentage of permanent crops, and negligible irrigated land. To the west of Mesopotamia is Syria. It has 28% arable land, only 3% permanent crops, only 3% irrigated, 46% meadows and pasture. Syria then is a possibility, but we need four rivers, which Syria lacks. The Euphrates passes through Syria from north to south, but it seems to be the only river shown on a map except for a small apparently solitary river in the south west. And west of Syria is the Mediterranean sea. That leaves the north, which makes sense because as the ice age retreated, humans, flora and fauna expanded in a northward direction.

The Bosporus is a narrow water channel which divides the Aegean sea in the west from the Black sea to the north and east. Not far north and west of the Bosporus I found a city named Edirne. More than that, the river Maritza passes through Edirne, and at about that site two tributaries join the river, creating three rivers at Edirne and one leaving it, a total of four at Edirne. This was the only place I found that could arguably be said to have four rivers:

Edirne is northwest of Istanbul near the border with Bulgaria and Greece.

Here's another map of the area:

On this map which shows the Hebros (Maritza) more clearly, Edirne is where the Hebros meets two other rivers and turns due south.

Then I thought, if this has any relationship to the 'Eden' story, and Cain was driven away from the suzerainty of the Immortal who founded the 'garden,' where would Cain go? I surmised he would probably walk beside the river going downstream. Somewhere downstream he would have acquired a wife and founded a city he called Enoch, or perhaps Enos, as there seems to be only one line of descent. I had previously checked with a professor of Assyriology to be sure there was no such place name in Mesopotamia, and he assured me there was not. So I followed on a map the course of the Maritza (or Maritsa) down to the Aegean sea, only about 90 miles. And there was the city of Enez, formerly Ainos (you can see Ainos marked on the river map above). This was a remarkable coincidence. The next step was to find out whether the area was fertile enough and sufficiently lacking in population in about 4000 BC to be suitable for starting a new agricultural community.

Edirne now has a population of about 115,000. Today the Jewish population in Turkey is about 2% but in Edirne it's about 15%. A French tour guide shows a map of Edirne with about a quarter section of the city marked off as Israelite. These are presumably descendants of the Hebrews, who descended from Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. Edirne is the commercial centre for a farm region where grain, fruits, wine grapes, roses, opium, and tobacco are grown, and cattle and sheep are raised. It has several bridges over water, including a long one with 6 spans. It's the junction of the rivers Tunca and Maritza (Turkish, Meric) It's 7 km from the border with Greece and 18 km from the border with Bulgaria. It was named Edirne by a Sultan in 1412 AD, who made it his effective capital for the Ottoman Empire. In my edition (English translation) of the Koran, chapter 18, we have this phrase:

...for them (are prepared) gardens of eternal abode º, which shall be watered by rivers...

º Footnote: literally of Eden

The world of Islam was far more cultured than that of Europe in the 1400s AD. We should also remember that the original Sumerian word 'edin' came from Mesopotamia. The more northern Hittites and Hurrians were all part of the Mesopotamian area and related to its culture with the Sumerians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians. They fought one another, traded together, and intermarried from time to time. So I conclude the Sultan who chose the name Edirne for his conquered city might well have recognized its similarity to the Eden of the Biblical story.

Edirne had been captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murad 1 in 1361. Previously it had been rebuilt by the Roman emperor Hadrian in c 125 AD who renamed it Hadrianopolis, later to become Adrianople. In about 350 BC the Macedonians took control of it and called it Oresteia. Earlier it had been an area inhabited by Thracian tribes and called Uskudama.

Alcaeus called the Hebrus (Maritza) which flows about 300 miles from source to the sea 'the most beautiful of rivers.' 'It is increased by many tributaries: the Tonzus, Artiscus, and Agrianes, which is joined by the Contadesdus augmented by the Tearus, so much admired by Darius for the purity of its water' (quoted by Herodotus iv, 89, 92). The Hebrus in ancient Greek times was even called the Holy Hebrus. It was said that on its banks Orpheus was torn to pieces by Thracian women. The Thracians were hunter gatherers more than settlers, and were famous for their horses which were large and fast. The Thracians were said to have been 'bold and ferocious tribes, subdivided into many tribes which were migratory and predatory hordes.' The Thracians were famous in ancient times for tattooing themselves, which reminds us of the mark upon Cain.

The Edirne area has megalithic standing stones:

Presumably they are neolithic, and if as old as Stonehenge in Britain they would have been constructed by about 2600 BC,

Enos, I'm told by a professor of Semitic languages, is an Amorite word. Amorites, as we know, later became Canaanites. The gulf at Enos was said to abound in fish, with shallows near the shore. No gold or silver deposits are known today within easy reach of Enos though gold is said by Pliny (the Elder AD 23-79) to have been 'washed in the sands of the Hebrus' a process known to have gone on during the 16th c AD on a small scale. Enos is said to be 'at the entrance to the natural and easiest route to the rich corn lands, the ranches, the timber and fruit producing region of eastern and central Thrace. The Hebros ... flows in a broad fertile valley through central Thrace until it reaches Edirne where it swings sharply southward in a yet wider valley, ... the lowlands... were famous in antiquity, as now, for the speed with which their corn ripened, and for the heavy yield of the crop.'

Some people say there is a physical resemblance between the Hebrews and the Armenians in the eastern part of Anatolia. This area of Turkey is where Genesis says Noah's ark grounded, on Mount Ararat, in eastern Turkey. When Isaac and Jacob took their wives, these came from the northern area, this same area, also. I think it's interesting that the world "Semitic" itself comes from "Shem", one of the sons of Noah. The three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, are supposed to have been responsible for linguistic groupings. Japheth, as mentioned elsewhere is really Iapetos, who is one of the Greek Titans. And when you look at some of his descendants, Dodanim, which is really the Dodecanese islands; Kittim, which is really Kriti, which is Crete; and Javan, which is really the Aegean; and Ashkenaz: the Ashkenazi Jews are known even to this day, they're the ones that come from Europe. I think all this can bring us into the Thracian area for the 'garden.'

We then, looking at the references to Abraham in the Bible, and establishing ourselves with Anatolia, might well expect that earlier on there had been borrowings from Anatolian culture into Thrace. And in order to try to determine whether that approach was justified, I talked to Professor Ruth Tringham, a prehistorian who was an associate professor at Harvard, and then a professor at Berkeley in California. She's a specialist in the area which includes Thrace, and what would seem logical when starting up an agricultural community would be a need for animals, basically sheep, and they would need cereals, basically wheat. So we began by talking about sheep.

Prof.Ruth Tringham (RT): I personally think the evidence shows us that there is no real domestication of sheep, not even a real presence of sheep north of Greece before they were introduced from the outside from places where they are native, for example Greece or Anatolia. But I think it's as likely that it was a generalized colonization of Europe from either Anatolia through, for example, what is now Edirne, or from Greece.

Edward Furlong (EF): Apparently they used to pan for gold in that area. In fact, I read somewhere that this was still being done all the way up to the 17th Century A.D. So if that's the case, the gold must have been probably placer gold, I think it's called, and must have come from further upstream somewhere. Can you offer any comment on that?

RT: Well, the Maritsa starts, or at least some of its tributaries start in gold-rich country, and gold is still found in the mountains, as is copper, and other minerals, so it's very likely that gold could be carried down from those areas.

EF: Would you comment on the age of the sites in the Edirne area.

RT: There's nothing like any sort of agricultural or settled village in the Maritsa basin as old as Jericho or any of those early settlements in the Levantine coast. It's an interesting area. It doesn't go back as early as the earliest levels of Karanovo or other sites further up the Maritsa. The sites lower down the Maritsa tend to start later, but at least it goes back to the later part of the 4th millennium. Now we're talking about sort of 3400 to 3500 B.C. It's interesting that we don't have the very early neolithic dates down there, but I think that's probably just the result of people not being able to excavate in the right levels. The Maritsa has poured down these huge deposits of alluvium all through the millennia all the time, especially down there in the lower basin. So the sites get covered up.

My comment:
I think that is reasonable evidence to confirm the age of the Edirne sites so far discovered is close to the dating we can derive from the chronology in the Bible as to the age of the Eden story. After Adam and Eve have been evicted from the Garden of Eden by the Immortal, Genesis 3:21

Unto Adam and also unto his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them.

That could be fur coats, but Mesopotamia is one of the hottest places on earth. In summer, it's said to be over 140º (F). In winter It's about 50º (F) or more. But Edirne is colder, it's colder now, but I think it was colder in about 4000 B.C.

EF: Post holes. Now, you and some other scholars say, "Oh the post holes in that area were deep," and I realize that all you have left may just be what, a stain in the ground, or something like that? But you don't say how deep, so I'd like to ask you, how deep is deep?

RT: I excavated a whole row of post holes which represented one whole wall of a house which were dug from their surface, from the surface of the house, all the way down, were about 2 metres and 20 centimetres deep.

EF: Ah, very interesting, because that's what I suspected. You see, here in Canada, we have to get down about 4 or 5 feet, almost a couple of metres, to get below the frost line, and if you don't do that, the posts would heave, the building would heave. So you have to get your foundations down below the frost line.

RT: Right. That's a very good point. Thank you, Mr. Furlong. I'll put it in my next book.

EF: Now, I'm not quite through, I've got things to add to that. We have construction almost identical, it seems to me, nowadays in Canada with what you are describing in your book in one of the sketches. The centres for those posts look to me to be about 16 inch centres. That's 16 inches apart, centre to centre. In Canada the standard is 16-inch centres for studs (96 inch 2x4s). And so you either had a wood frame construction with studs, with those centres, or you had a post and beam construction. It seems to me that going back 8000 years, they then had wood frame construction, and they had post and beam construction.

RT: We've done a lot of work on the early architecture of this period, and we've been especially looking at another part of the architectural materials that get preserved apart from the post holes, and that is this mass of clay. And the clay was burned and so it was really very well preserved, and this is the clay superstructure and the floor. So that what we can see is that probably in the earliest period of pioneering agriculturalists, if you like, these earliest levels in the tells in Maritsa, that they may have started off with a wooden construction, but that basically, especially down there in Bulgaria, from very early on, they were building with a construction of wooden posts and a sort of wattling in between and a very thick layer of clay slapped on to at least the outside of this wooden frame, possibly not on the inside, although in certain cases that seems to be so. And then with a big clay floor, very thick, solid clay floor.

EF: Well, this again supports my suggestion that in the Eden story we're dealing I think with cold temperatures in winter because I suspect that thick clay with wattle and daub would give you some protection against cold, which I also think is the reason for a semi-basement. They dug into the ground, and again, this would give them protection from cold in the winter.

RT: There seems to be plenty of data to show us that at that time the climate wasn't that different from what it is now. If anything, it might have been slightly warmer in winter, and it might have been slightly wetter. It might have been slightly less continental than it is today, but these are very, very slight differences. But apart from that, I think though that your idea of cold, frosty winters with snow is perfectly reasonable. I would agree with you.

My comment:
Edirne was a very fertile area, the Maritsa area, and it was, interestingly enough, an area that did not develop into large cities. And, of course, Eden itself quite clearly, since everyone was driven out, didn't develop into a large city either. So I discussed the early agricultural history of that area with Professor Tringham:

EF: I have a large-scale map of the Edirne area, and I see, around the city, there seem to be quite a number of islands and waterways. It looks as though there is considerable distribution of the water into a fairly wide area, around Edirne.

RT: Right.

EF: It's a very fertile area. It was called the "market garden of the Near East" at one time.

RT: I can believe that, it's extremely fertile, even now. What's interesting is that we can see the villages developing over a thousand years, 2,000 years, getting larger and larger, and they're nothing -- it doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't evolve into a city. It's your "Eden" all right, but it's very small, small scale. I think what you have to think of is a "small is beautiful" place.

EF: Eden was no urban culture, Cain went away somewhere else to build a city, so maybe this was really more likely a place where Eden could have been.

RT: I think that's a lovely idea.

My comment:
I don't think any historians, prehistorians or scientists today are going to commit themselves to a particular location as the site of 'Eden,' particularly since they would be relying on the wording of the text provided in the Bible or Torah. Even after our careful analysis and restoration of the probable earliest version of the text, I wouldn't want to define a specific location in hard, tangible terms myself after a lapse of 6,000 years. I think there is evidence here, but it's not incontrovertible evidence, though we do have reasonable arguments put forward which justify considering this particular location fairly seriously: a place named Edirne; another nearby named Ainos; gold; a collection of rivers; great fertility; and appropriate known archaeological dating. Further, the ancient Israelites were known as Hebrews (ancient Egyptian Habiru) and the Maritza river was formerly called the Hebros. In the early days before vowels they are all the same: Hbr. The word Hebrew itself does not appear to be older than the exile to Babylon, as 'Hebrew' was 'ibri' 'one from the other side (of the river).'

The beauty of our modern day and age is that each of us is entitled to his or her own opinion. And what I am trying to do basically is to get people out of a rut, to stir their minds up a little bit, get them to look at things in a different way. They may not agree with me. Fine. But I think at least we can now, from our present perspective in this scientific technological age we live in, look at some of these ancient problems in a different way and not necessarily, for example, just abandon them as myth. Maybe we can reinterpret them in a more practical way in line with the civilization in which we find ourselves.