Looking at ice through a microscope, scientists can uncover ancient history. This is exactly what happened when a group studied samples taken from the ice of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Deep within the mountain's eons-old ice, they found evidence supporting something straight from the Bible's Book of Genesis. And what they found stunned scientists everywhere.
Ice Holds A Whole Lot Of History
With modern technology, scientists are able to drill into the ice cores of glaciers and ice sheets, extracting samples that are up to 800,000 years old!
This is how a group of scientists was able to find remnants of what they believed was evidence supporting something dating back to biblical times.
Fossils And Climate Information Can Be Discovered
Over time, ice forms layers, freezing each layer beneath it with its own special history-- climate, fossil records, and even water samples that might have been frozen in a bubble.
Everything is sitting there, waiting for scientists to find, extract, and study. But no one expected to discover what they found in the ice of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro Held A Long-Lost Secret
Because of this, ice cores can hold the key to long-lost history. Even history that people once thought was based on fiction.
But just by drilling into Mount Kilimanjaro, scientists proved that some stories, namely some aspects of the Book of Genisis, might have actually happened, and can be proven.
Mount Kilimanjaro's Ice Is Melting At A Rapid Pace
Located in Tanzania's Kilimanjaro National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at a whopping 19,341 feet tall -- the highest free-standing mountain in the entire world.
The dormant volcano has recently been the location of many scientific studies, as its glaciers and ice caps are thought to be completely gone between 2030 and 2050.
There Are Three Peaks
While Mount Kilimanjaro is not part of a range, per se, it still consists of three peaks. Kibo stands 16,893 feet above sea level, and Mawenzi scales 16,893 feet above sea level.
The third peak, Shira, has a huge summit of 13,140 feet. All in all, it's a very impressive mountain with a lot of history buried beneath the surface.
In 1848, Two Men Made Their Way Up The Mountain
For millennia, the peaks were active volcanos. Now, only Kibo has the potential for eruption. Due to the dangerous nature of the mountain, it was not until 1848 that someone took the risk to climb the peaks and get a close-up of the mountain's ice caps.
The two men were the German missionaries Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann.
Johann Krapf And Johannes Rebmann
Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann documented their climb, accounts that were published in Hans Meyer's 1891 book Across East African Glaciers: An Account of the First Ascent of Kilimanjaro.
In the book, one of the diary entries reads, "This morning, at 10 o'clock, we obtained a clearer view of the mountains of Jagga – the summit of one of which was covered by what looked like a beautiful white cloud." At the time, Jagga was another name for Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Climb Is No Easy Task
Once Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann reached the summit, there were many unsuccessful attempts to recreate their hike. Finally, in 1889, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller successfully reached their destination -- Kibo's summit.
It took Meyer three tries to get up the mountain, finally making it there with a well-thought-out plan and a well-supplied base camp.
Now, It's A Tourist Destination
It would be several more years before explorers would make it to the top of Mawenzi. Finally, in 1912, Germans Fritz Klute and Eduard Oehler conquered the peak, making it to the top for the first time.
Amazingly, the mountain and its peaks are now a highly sought-after tourist destination.
A Story Was In The Ice
Located in the tropics of Tanzania, close to the equator, it's interesting to see snow and ice caps on the top of a mountain. Even so, it's those ice caps that led scientists to confirm the Old Testament story about a biblical drought.
Thankfully, the group of scientists extracted the historical ice before it melted away.
The Team Was Led By Lonnie Thompson
It is actually then vanishing ice that led a team of geologists, led by Lonnie Thompson, from Ohio State University to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2000. They were interested in drilling six cores in the hopes of figuring out why the ice was melting at such a rapid pace.
They stayed on the mountain for a month, extracting samples.
It Took 67 Porters To Get The Equipment Up The Mountain
Their mission was no easy task, though. Not only did Thompson need to get permission to drill on the mountain from multiple Tanzanian agencies, but once they had a green light, the group of scientists had to lug all of their equipment up the over 19,000-foot summit.
That there is no easy task and took 67 porters, helpers, to get everything up the mountain.
They Were Drilling For Six Cores
While drilling six cores might sound easy, it is no easy feat. Each core was drilled to be extracted in a cylindrical form about 30 to almost 170 feet in length. Getting all six samples at the correct length took the team a month to complete.
Finally, after two years of studying the samples they extracted, the team published a paper on their findings.
They Found More Than Information On Climate Change
Their paper, "Kilimanjaro Ice Core Records: Evidence of Holocene Climate Change in Tropical Africa," discussed how climate change was negatively impacting the ice on Mount Kilimanjaro.
But, while the team of geologists was studying their samples, they came across something else altogether, something they weren't expecting to find, something that went along with the Book of Genesis.
They Found An Ispotope Called Chlorine-36
According to their findings, the scientists dated their cores back to between 1951 and 1952, a time when nuclear bomb tests were being performed. The tests resulted in the formation of a radioactive isotope called chlorine-36.
The good news for the scientists is that this isotope allowed them to track the whole history of the ice cylinders.
They Began Learning About Droughts
After further investigation, Thompson discovered evidence suggesting a drought in Africa some 8,300 years ago! Not only that, but he found that the drought lasted a long time, a solid 500 years.
In a press release from Ohio State University, Thompson said, "We believe that this represents a time when the lakes of Africa were drying up."
They Were Interested In 4,000 Years Ago
Not only did he find evidence about a drought happening 8,300 years ago, but he also found samples suggesting a more recent drought, one that occurred 5,200 years ago.
It wasn't the first or third drought that peaked Thompson and his team's interest, though. It was the third drought that happened 4,000 years ago and lasting 300 years.
The Story They Were Looking Into Was In The Book Of Genesis
The drought that happened 4,000 years ago was the one that they found to tie into the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, the Jewish Torah, and the Islamic Quran.
The story is told in chapters 37 to 50 of Genesis, recounting how Joseph was born to Jacob and Rachel.
It All Has To Do With Joseph
According to the story, Joseph was a favorite of his fathers. He was even presented with a "coat of many colors," showing his father's affection. The gift, along with Joseph's ability to interpret dreams, angered his siblings to the point of them conspiring to murder their brother.
They didn't. Instead, they sold him into slavery and smeared goat's blood on the coat, telling people he'd died.
He Wound Up In Jail
As the story goes, Joseph found himself in Egypt as a slave to a rich man called Potiphar.
After alleged claims made by the rich man's wife, Potiphar threw Joseph in jail, where he stayed until called upon by the Pharaoh, who had heard of his gift for dream interpretation.
Fellow Prisoners Witnessed Joseph's Gifts
While in prison, Joseph put his dream interpretation skills to use, helping his fellow inmates understand their dreams. The first person was the Egyptian pharaoh's chief baker. Unfortunately, Joseph saw his dream as a warning that the baker would be executed.
The second person, the ruler's cup-bearer, then had a dream in which Joseph said he'd be restored to his former position.
Eventually, He Was Called Upon By The Pharaoh
As stated in the Bible's Book of Genesis, both of Joseph's prophecy's wound up coming true. Stories of his skills trickled down the pipeline, eventually making their way to the Pharaoh.
It just so happened that the Egyptian ruler was in need of someone like Joseph, as he'd been having strange dreams of his own.
Seven Years Of Prosperity And Seven Years Of Drought
The Pharaoh had a strange dream that had scared him, and he wanted someone to interpret it for him. In his dream, the Pharaoh saw seven emaciated cattle eating seven well-fed cows.
Asking Joseph his interpretation, the slave said it meant Egypt would have seven good years followed by seven years of drought and famine.
Joseph Was Rewarded
Impressed by this interpretation, the Pharaoh made Joseph a vizier, a senior advisor, and official. Going off the dream, Joseph made it his mission to store as much grain as possible during the seven good years to get the Egyptian people through the seven hard years ahead.
In the end, the stores saved the people.
The Relation: It's The Same Drought
Amazingly, it is this exact drought that is spoken of in the Book of Genesis. Biblical scholars claim the drought and famine occurred approximately 3,600 and 3,700 years ago, years that Thompson and his team accredited during their expedition on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Their findings suggested a drought about 4,000 years ago, lasting for 300 years.
There Was Also A Thin Layer Of Dust
The evidence of the drought happening all of those years ago wasn't the only thing Thompson and his team discovered in their ice core findings. In one of the cores, Thompson found a thin layer of dust.
The dust was a huge find that supported their claim about the relation between the Book of Genesis drought and the ice core.
The Dust Is Evidence Of The "Seven Years Of Prosperity"
Before the drought, the Sahara desert used to be fertile land. The dust found in the ice core suggests Joseph's prophecy of seven good years of prosperity and seven bad years of drought and famine were historically accurate.
Of course, there are bits of the story that are most likely embellished.
The Evidence Is Hard To Dispute
While some people do not see the Book of Genesis as a historical fact, much can be said about modern-day scientific findings and how it relates to the intricacies of the Old Testament story.
It is hard to dispute that Thompson and his team's findings are somehow related to the story of the great drought that happened 4,000 years ago.