(RNS) Archaeologists have announced their discovery of remnants of aman-made structure under the Black Sea that provides evidence of anancient flood that may have inspired the biblical story of Noah.

The expedition by explorer Robert D. Ballard also found beams,planks, and other chunks of wood that had not been touched by mollusks orworms, The Washington Post reported.

"It is beyond our wildest imagination," Ballard said in an interviewwith the newspaper on Tuesday (Sept. 12). "Wood is existing muchshallower than we thought. When we do go deep, it can only get better."

A robotic submersible is being used to investigate the site. Itfound a collapsed rectangular building--"about like a good-sizedbarn," Ballard said--as well as two shipwrecks with jars used inancient times to carry such liquids as wine or olive oil.

Columbia University geologists William Ryan and Walter Pittmansuggested in their 1999 book "Noah's Flood" that the modern-day sea wascreated 7,500 years ago when melting glaciers caused the MediterraneanSea to overflow and dramatically raise the sea level.

Some scholars view the recent discovery as supportive of the theoryabout the quick rise in sea level causing the destruction of communitiesand deaths of people, animals, and plants.

"Among scholars who take the Bible literally this will beconfirmation," said Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical ArchaeologyReview. "Critical Bible scholars are almost unanimous in regarding theflood story as a legend.

On the other hand, legends arise not out ofimagination but from an experience. I don't think we'll ever know whatflood that was."