The Book of Genesis states clearly that the land of Eden was located in the area of the Tigris-Euphrates headwaters in what is now a region predominated by eastern Turkey.
It is where YHWH Elohim planted the garden in which He later placed Adam and Eve. The garden is initially characterized as a garden of trees—an orchard—“every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food.” The Greek Septuagint calls this abundant fruitful garden Paradise. The home of Adam and Eve was a place of divine perfection and both natural and spiritual order.
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. [Genesis 2:10-14]
Eden was located in what is now the Armenian Highlands, an area rich in water resources, the location of several rivers, their tributaries, large natural lakes, and springs. The source of the Tigris River is primarily Lake Hazar and is also fed by many small tributaries in the area. The Euphrates begins not far from the headwaters of the Tigris at the confluence of two smaller rivers, the Karasu and Murat, which flow west from the eastern ranges. This area of confluence is now Lake Keban. (There are many relatively new hydroelectric dams on these rivers.)
The greater region has most probably changed appreciably since very ancient times. It was likely a relatively peaceful place with a different climate before the advent of much volcanic activity and the associated uplift which created mountains, etc. For example, Mount Ararat is presently an inactive volcano which last erupted in 1840.
WHEN WAS ADAM?
Christians have postulated various dates for the creation of Adam based on different criteria, one of which follows an exact rendering of the listed patriarch’s ages in Genesis which gives a date of about 4000BC (Young Earth). Others say such a late date is unreasonable because it fails to consider and/or ignores scientific facts. These place Adam as far back as 50,000 years ago, or at various dates since, including just after the Ice Age, known scientifically as the Last Glacial Maximum of 11,000-8,000BC when the Pleistocene ended and the Holocene began.
As the great glacial ice sheets began melting and retreating to the north, the resulting meltwater caused sea levels to begin rising precipitously. From approximately 20,000-13,000BC, the ocean level rose about 45 feet. Then from about 13,000BC to roughly 4,000BC sea levels rose another 375 feet for an overall total of approximately 420 feet. Since 4000BC the ocean level has remained constant.
It was not until after the Ice Age that evidence of human habitation appears on the historical record. Evolutionary theory claims that homo sapiens sapiens first appeared from out of nowhere 200,000 years ago (the big leap forward) but offers no actual evidence of transition or habitation at such an early date. According to Young Earth theory, the flood of Noah took place around 2300BC. Yet, interestingly enough, we have clear evidence of three roughly distinct cultures emerging circa 6000BC or even earlier in the same Armenian Highlands location where Eden once existed. We also know that Noah’s Ark came to rest after the flood in that same region.
So here we have (1) Eden, (2) the garden of Eden, (3) the place where Noah landed the Ark (the mountains of Ararat) and likely began his sailing journey, and (4) the evidence of human habitation and the rise of three distinct cultures all in the same geographic area. It is a great thing that over the last few decades among a few erstwhile researchers, proponents of both science/ancient history/archaeology/etc. and the Biblical record have utilized both to come to a meeting of the minds rather than stay incommunicado over perceived insurmountable differences.
THINGS TO PONDER
There are central differences of opinion among Christians regarding our origins and the Genesis record. Most of what we believe is what we have been taught. It is most often the case that Christians do not challenge their beliefs to any significant degree if at all and therefore rarely change their minds. If we continue to frequent institutions which support our beliefs and ban any and all challenges to them we develop a mindset of enforcement rather than enquiry and thus do not see the need of any research regarding them. When a person in another institution in another part of town has an opposing view which he also refuses to test properly we should see why we do not communicate and why fellowship is not possible.
There are some who believe Creation commenced in 4000BC. There are some who believe it was earlier and likely much earlier. There are some who believe that Noah’s flood was worldwide. There are others who believe it was a local flood. Some believe that the Genesis 1 Creation story is the same as Genesis 2 but that Genesis 2 is more specific. Others believe these two are separate accounts, which means God created human beings in general in Genesis 1 but created two specific human beings (among the others elsewhere) with a distinct purpose in Genesis 2.
I have found that the best way to go about finding the truth is allowing what we think is true to be challenged. Our own individual research can do that. Over many decades of open-minded truth-seeking Biblical study and research, I am absolutely convinced that the Biblical record is true. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But I can guarantee you that I have tested many Christian doctrines against the Word of God and found many to be unsupportable. We can do the same concerning our ancient origins if we have an inquisitive mind to do so. I believe the benefits gained are well worth the effort.
Truth never fears a challenge.
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.