One GeoCreationist theory of Genesis is that the Garden of Eden was in the region marked by Lake Van and Lake Urmia. Adam was placed there by God around 4300BC. After being expelled from Eden, he moved to the dry farming region of Ubaid 3/4 in North Eastern Iraq, a bit south of the mountains of Ararat. After Cain and Abel were born, each took up one of the vocations for which Ubaid 3/4 left evidence of participating in: Cain farming and Abel sheparding. After Cain killed Abel, he found Eden, but it was blocked by the flaming sword God left at its entry. Cain settled in Nod, East of Eden, had a wife and son (Enoch), and built a city named after his son.
I use the word "theory" above on purpose. Why? Because the scientific method is to look at evidence, form a theory, then test it. However, even after finding evidence for the theory, it still remains a theory, on the possibility that the evidence could be explaining something else not yet understood, or that additional undiscovered evidence would change one's interpretation. With that in mind, this GeoCreationist theory suggests a question: what evidence might there be for settlements between Lakes Van and Urmia from the time of Ubaid 3/4?
The Chalcolithic Era in Anatolia
Ubaid 3/4 (4,400-4000BC) faces South to Ubaid 1/2 toward the Persian Gulf, and North toward the Mountains of Ararat, beyond which is the extreme eastern portion of Anatolia, whose Eastern extants1 include Lake Van, and nearly reaches Lake Urmia. During the middle of the Chalcolithic era (5,500-3,000 BC), this region of Anatolia saw its first metal implement made of Copper. This would later give way to Bronze, which effected trade, crafts, and population movement, regions rich in copper supplanted those rich in other hard substances, such as obsidian. "This age is represented in Anatolia by sites at Hacilar, Beycesultan, Canhasan, Mersin Yumuktepe, Elazig Tepecik, Malatya Degirmentepe, Norsuntepe, and Istanbul Fikirtepe."2 These sites reach into the time when Adam would have left Eden, and Cain would have returned to it. While these particular sites are not near Lake Van or Lake Urmia, knowledge of the Chalcolithic is important in understanding what scant evidence does exist in the area where Eden might have been. Zooming in on the span of Adam's life about (4,500-3,500BC), one finds that of the sites between Lake Van and Lake Urmia, there are two that stand out.
Lake Van - The Tilketepe Mound
The primary excavation site from the Chalcolithic Era near the east of Lake Van is the Tilketepe Mound3. It dates from 5,000BC to 2,000BC. The mound has three layers in it. The bottom and oldest strata dates to 5,000BC, fully 600 years before Ubaid 3/4 and Adam and has much in common with the Halaf culture of Northern Mespotamia (NE Iraq). It contains pottery that was similar in kind and technique to Northern Mesopotamia, along with obsidian, and weapons made from it. Over the years, as we see evidence of metal usage increase during the Chalcolithic in general, we also see obsidian implements becoming correspondingly less important around Lake Van, consistent with a decrease in trade between Van and Mesopotomia as the Late Chalcolithc started to give way to the Early Bronze Age from 4,000-3,000BC. In fact, history seems to go quiet in the area as the Halaf Period ends around 4,500BC4,5, and the next set of Tilketepe strata start again around 1,000 years later.
With a GeoCreationist date of 4336BC for Adam's birth, and Cain moving back to the area (Gen. 4:16) less than 130 years later (Gen. 5:3), there is a convenient lack of evidence either for or against the notion of Adam's creation and residence in an area somewhere East of Lake Van. This is not to say that there are no other settled regions in the area that have been discovered. In fact there are several, but they are not old enough. For example, the Dilkaya Mound lies along the eastern edge of Lake Van. However, it would appear to date back only to 2600BC6, nearly 200 years after The Flood. Eden therefore appears hidden from the human eye, or was destroyed in Noah's Flood; Nod would seem to be a region without a city; Enoch was then either destroyed by Noah's Flood (along with Eden), or perhaps is known by another name.
Lake Urmia - Hasanlu
Urmia is located in ancient Persia, and contains several historical sites, the largest of which is Hasanlu. "Hasanlu is the largest of the historical sites that include the Neolithic sites of Pisdeli Tepe and Hajji Firuz, the Bronze Age and Iron Age sites of Ziwiye and Dinkha Tepe, as well as the sites of Qalatgah, Agrab Tepe and Dalma."7 Hasanlu goes back to before the birth of Adam, containing Stone Age implements from around 7,000 BC and a Neolithic mud-brick building at Hajji Furuz that dates to between 5400-5000 BC. There is also a tell at Godin that dates to 3500-3000 BC, which is around when Noah would have been born.
The Hasanlu tell has been excavated back to the strata designated as Layer VIIc8, which dates to the Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age, which dates it to around 4,000BC9 to 3,000BC10. This also places it within the lifetimes of Adam and Cain. What is interesting is that there there is the High Mound and the Low Mound of Hasanlu, and Period VII appears to be when people first populated the Low Mound. The High Mound appears to have been populated continuously, and both mounds were popoulated until the Iron Age. With Layer VII spanning the entire Bronze Age (3300-2100BC), it would seem that Hasanlu was far enough or high enough from The Flood to survive.
Relation to the Rest of the Middle East and the Flood
Though Hasanlu's Layer VIIc is consistent wth the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age (EBA) of the Middle East, its dating is based largely on the ceramics and pottery found there. Throughout much of the rest of the Middle East, the EBA shows a distinct transition from simple villages to walled cities around 2700BC11. Any city built by Cain therefore would most likely be of the simply-village type. It seems however that the villages of his era were all deserted around the time of the flood, and the walled cities were simultaneously populated. Could the villages have been destroyed during the flood? Could the walled cities that followed have been an attempt to prepare against the possibility of another flood? In that case, it would seem that Hasanlu was far enough away from the Persian Gulf and the Mountains of Ararat to avoid any archaelogically noticeable damage, or change to living arrangements, following the flood. Perhaps the High Mound was high enough; perhaps the Low Mound was populated after the flood.
The area from Lake Van to Lake Urmia meets many of the requirements for the location of the Garden of Eden, Nod, and Enoch. The archaeological evidence for the region during the time of Adam is defined primarly by two archaeological sites, The Tilketepe Mound at Lake Van and Hasanlu at Lake Urmia. They appear to have been connected to Mesopotamia to the South and Asia to the East through trade routes. While the Tilketepe Mound has a gap of time in its strata starting around 4,500 BC -- not long before Adam was born -- Hasanlu's occupation appears continuous, suggesting a population co-existant with Ubaid 3/4. While Ubaid 3/4 is consistent with Adam's lifestyle after expulsion from the Garden, Hasanlu could be key to Adam's biological origins before then.
Whether we assume the Garden of Eden is destroyed, cloaked, or even "raptured", it seems more likely to neighbor Van than Urmia. Trade with Van would have ceased by then as obsidian exporting wound down, and that might have driven the population growth of other areas such as Hasanlu at Urmia. This creates the opportunity for God to plant a garden at Van, and place Adam there for a short season of his life. Looking at the map to the right, one even sees that God could have planted the garden just west of Tilkitepe. Had he done that, then Cain would have had some place to settle, just east of Eden, as scripture records. Though conjecture to be sure, it is consistent enough with the record to make one think.
Finally, this places Eden sufficiently close to the Mountains of Ararat, that the rains and flooding experienced by Noah on Lake Van could easily have reached and destroyed the Garden, without necessarily impacting Hasanlu very seriously.
As theories go, the attempt here is to be reasonable, to explain how scripture and science are both true, how each weaves in and out of the other. This may not be precisely what happened, but the fact that one theory can be put forth with some degree of reasonableness gives one hope that the truth of history, scripture, and their interpaly, whatever is, is only more reasonable.
1. Anatolia - Geography - AncientAnatolia.com
2. "History of Anatolia" - Wikipedia.org
3. "Van - from Ancient Times up to the End of the Urartian Kindgom" - Republic of Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism
4. "The Halaf Period (6500-5500 BC)" - Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
5. "Map fo Halaf Culter, Ancient Mesopotamia, Middle East c. 5500-4500 BC" - The History Files
6. "VAN - DİLKAYA HOYUK EXCAVATION ( Prof.Dr . Altan ÇİLİNGİROĞLU )" - EGE University, Protohistory and Near Eastern ARCHAEOLOGY - TIP: Google toolbar to translate!
7. "Zoroastrian Heritage" - By K.E.Eduljee at HeritegeInstitute.com
8. "Hasanlu Publication Project - Overview"
9. "Ancient Near East" - Wikipedia
10. "Bronze Age" - Wikipedia
11. "The Settlements and Population of Palestine During the Early Bronze Age II-III" - Broshi and Gophna, 1984