©2002  by Gerard Wakefield
(This article may be copied for educational purposes only.)

"Lost River Of Eden discovered By Satellite"

The Garden of Eden has been dismissed by Bible critics as imaginary or allegorical. However, Gen. 2:8-13 indicates that Eden had a specific geographic location, especially since two of its rivers, the Euphrates and the Hiddekel (Tigris) are two of the best-known rivers in the ancient world. Eden did indeed have an actual location, and science is just beginning to unravel its mystery.

The search began in the 1980’s, when Juris Zarins, a professor from Southwest Missouri State University, discovered that the northern tip of the Persian Gulf (where the Tigris and Euphrates end) had once been a lush, fertile region. The area he investigated was located at the junction of four rivers: the Tigris (Hiddekel); the Euphrates; the Karun River in southwestern Iran, which Dr. Zarins postulates is the Biblical Gihon; and the now-dry riverbed Rimah-Batin, which Zarins believes is the Pison. Zarins’ hypothesis was prompted by advances in satellite technology, Newsweek reported:

Scrutinizing satellite images of the Middle East, he spotted a "fossil river" that seems to be the lost Pison. Eden, Zarins concludes, lies under the mouth of the present Persian Gulf between Iraq and Iran. (1) Zarins’ discovery was further examined in Reader’s Digest Mysteries of the Bible, which stated: "Thousands of animal remains found in the Gulf area suggest that game was abundant. Furthermore, the presence of stone tools provides evidence of human habitation." (2)

Dr. Zarins is no longer alone in his discovery. Boston University geologist Farouk El-Baz emulated Prof. Zarins by closely examining satellite photographs of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf area. He detected a fossil river running diagonally through Arabia that ended in Kuwait, at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf — exactly where Zarins had located the Garden of Eden. What’s more, El-Baz found that this dry riverbed was the Wadi Al-Batin — none other than the Rimah-Batin that Zarins had detected. (3)

The July/August 1996 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, a magazine which, despite its name, does not support a literal belief in the Bible, gave a detailed report on the discovery of Eden’s long-lost fourth river, the Wadi Al-Batin or Rimah-Batin, which Professor El-Baz renamed the Kuwait River. In an article subtitled "Creation Story Preserves Historical Memory," the magazine reported:

The Kuwait River [the Batin] also has a probable Biblical connection. It may well be the Pishon River, one of the four rivers, according to the Bible, associated with Eden:

The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. Genesis 2:11-12

Although the meaning of some of the details in this passage is uncertain, it does describe a river flowing into the head of the Persian Gulf from the low mountains of western Arabia, the path followed by the recently discovered Kuwait River. An important key is the Biblical phrase "the gold of that land is good." Only one place in Arabia has such a deposit — the famous site of Mahd edh-Dhahab, the "Cradle of Gold." This ancient and modern gold mining site is located about 125 miles south of Medina, near the headwaters of the Kuwait River.

The Biblical text also mentions bdellium and onyx. Aromatic resins (bdellium) are known in Yemen to the southwest, and, although they are not thought to have been produced in the vicinity of Medina, they could easily have been brought there. Semiprecious stones such as alabaster also come from these areas, but it is uncertain whether other precious stones, such as onyx, do.

In any event, no other river would seem to fit the Biblical description. I am therefore inclined to think that the Kuwait River could well be the Pishon of the Bible. If so, it implies extraordinary memory on the part of the Biblical authors, since the river dried up sometime between about 3500 and 2000 B.C. (4)

That the land of Havilah through which the lost Pishon once flowed is modern Arabia is attested to by the fact that havilah is the Hebrew word for "sandy" or "land of sand." What is perhaps most astonishing about this article is that the author, Harvard archaeologist James A. Sauer, began the piece with the words, "I speak as a former skeptic....Now I am recanting." (5)


  1. Sharon Begley, "The Hunt for a Lost Holy Past," Newsweek, 22 June 1987, 56.
  2. Reader’s Digest Mysteries of the Bible (Pleasantville (NY)/Montreal: The Reader’s Digest Association, 1988), 24-25.
  3. "How to Find a River — No Divining Rod Needed," Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August (1996): 55.
  4. James Sauer, "The River Runs Dry: Creation Story Preserves Historical Memory," ibid., 64.
  5. Ibid., 52.

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