The Garden of Eden, a biblical site deeply rooted in the imagination of Christianity and Judaism, is described as being near Iraq and Iran in the Persian Gulf, reports IFLScience.
Scientists note that the Garden of Eden is riddled with symbolism and there are many moments in this story that cannot be understood from rational positions. However, it is quite logical to assume that this mythological garden was based on a real area.
Eden is known to be the place where humans were first created. The first two people, Adam and Eve, innocently wandered around this paradise until the insidious serpent and the forbidden fruit brought them (and therefore all of humanity) serious trouble.
The story is said to symbolize how humans fell from a position of childlike innocence and blessings to a state of free will and knowledge, as well as evil and death.
The location of the garden is described in Genesis 2:10-14:
“A river went out of Eden to water Paradise; and then divided into four rivers. The name of the one is Phishon: she goes round all the land of Havilah, that where there is gold; and the gold of this land is good; has bdola and onyx stone. The name of the second river is Gion (Geon): it goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hidekel (Tigris): it flows before Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.”
The key here is that it was located where four rivers merge. Two of these rivers we know today: the Tigris and the Euphrates. They originate in Turkey, then flow through Syria and Iraq and empty into the Persian Gulf.
However, it remains unclear what the names “Pishon” and “Gihon” mean. Over the centuries, some theologians have suggested that they may refer to the Ganges in India and the Nile in Egypt, although others have noted that in this case they are talking about a huge part of the Earth.
John Calvin, a 16th-century theologian known for his role in the Protestant Reformation, wrote: “Many think that Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; however, the error of these people is convincingly refuted by the distance between the positions of these rivers.
“People who are forced to fly even to the Danube simply do not want to think that the dwelling of one person extends from the most remote part of Asia to the extreme point of Europe.“
However, based on the mention of the Tigris and Euphrates, it can be assumed that the Garden of Eden drew some inspiration from the area in Iraq and Iran, where these two rivers merge at the Persian Gulf. In particular, on the Iranian-Iraqi border there is the Shatt al-Arab river, which is formed at the confluence of the mentioned rivers.
If we look at the location of the Garden of Eden from the point of view of science and consider it as a symbol of the origin of man, then surely we must look to Africa.
The so-called Cradle of Humankind is located in South Africa about 50 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. This site is home to the largest concentration of human ancestral remains in the world.
Among the thousands of fossils found here, researchers found the remains of Australopithecus, an early ape-like species of humans that is approximately 3.4-3.7 million years old.
Modern Homo sapiens appeared only 200,000 – 300,000 years ago. Again, Africa is the site of this development, and modern humans most likely first appeared somewhere in the area of present-day Ethiopia.
So if we are looking for a ‘scientific’ paradise, then South Africa and Ethiopia seem to be our best choices. However, whether these places were once a paradise where four rivers met remains to be seen.