A team of geologists has found evidence that an earthquake 4,000 years ago triggered a megaflood, which could be the same mythical deluge that marked the origin of China’s civilization. The study says that the water of the Yellow River was blocked by a huge dam across the Jishi Gorge for about six to nine months. Eventually, the dam burst, unleashing up to 16 cubic kilometers of water downstream.
Dr. Wu Qinglong, the lead author of the journal Science, said that the researchers stumbled upon the remnants of the vast landslide in 2007, writes the BBC. Scientists used carbon dating on flood deposits to date the Yellow River flood at about 1900 B.C.
According to a Chinese mythical tale, Emperor Yu tamed the flooded Yellow River by dredging and digging channels, which eventually paved the way for the Xia dynasty, the first in Chinese history, reports The Guardian.
Some historians are skeptical about the very existence of Xia dynasty, which they believe was a part of “myth-making” to promote imperial rule. One of the authors, David Cohen of National Taiwan University, said the evidence of a massive flood matching the time when the Chinese civilization began indicates that the Xia dynasty existed.