Looking at ancient ice under a microscope is like staring back in time. Ice cores shed light on events in human history because they contain samples of what was in the air and water back then. But when scientists analyzed eons-old ice taken from Mount Kilimanjaro, they found something entirely unexpected. Inside the giant frozen blocks were fragments that could be evidence to support a well-known Bible passage. And it could turn what we know about the holy book on its head.
Drilling deep in the ice
How can this be? Well, scientists extract the cores by drilling into glaciers and ice sheets – either by hand or with special machinery. They can grab ice from more than two miles beneath the surface, too. So elements of that ice may have been on the planet for as long as 800,000 years.
Many ice fields and glaciers have been formed over millennia. And as each layer of ice is added, it creates a record of the climate during that time. For example, water may contain bubbles of air that come from the period in which it froze. These findings can then be examined in a lab to gather crucial information – the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, say.
Understanding our past
So ice cores can provide key info about the conditions on our planet. And that’s not all. In some cases, the cores can also help us understand events in human history we don’t know much about. Sometimes, they even seem to suggest that stories – such as those in the Bible – actually do have some basis in fact.
And those ice cores from Mount Kilimanjaro did indeed appear to link to a story from the Old Testament. It’s really quite extraordinary – and it has a lot to do with Kilimanjaro itself. This tale takes us back many millions of years, to a time before humans had evolved in Africa.