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