Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum

The great trench excavated in the royal cemetery of Ur by Leonard Woolley. Woolley himself stands with a group on the floor of the pit (second from left, in hat and shorts) while his Arab workmen pose on the steps and around the pit’s perimeter. The square opening on the floor of the trench leads into a layer of water-deposited silt, as much as 11 feet thick in some places, which Woolley claimed was evidence of the Biblical flood.

Silt layers assumed to be the residue of the same flood that inundated Ur have been found at other Mesopotamian sites. At these sites the flood layers could be dated, and the dates (2600 to 2800 B.C.) are much later than any proposed for the Genesis flood, leading scholars today to reject Woolley’s attribution.