The ice age was a period time during which large portions of the earth were covered in snow and ice. In many places the ice sheets reached nearly to the halfway point between the poles and the equator. In a few places they stretched even farther. In North America much of Canada was under ice. Some glacial fingers crept down into modern day northern Illinois. How did man survive during this challenging time?
The Bible does not specifically mention the ice age nor is it concerned with given a history of all the people of the world. We are not told all the movements of man or all the conditions faced by people across the world. But the Bible’s account of events after the flood provides a solid basis for a plausible explanation of the movement of humanity during the ice age.
The flood of Noah wreaked such havoc on the earth that it significantly altered the shape of continents, the temperature of the oceans and the patterns of weather. The ice age was the result. Climate models have shown that the effects of the flood on the oceans would result in many years of cooler summers and warmer winters in the upper lattitudes. These conditions resultedin the ice age. This ice age lasted only a few hundred years, not the tens of thousands speculated by evolutionists.
The Genesis account of the Tower of Babel shows that in the decades immediately following the flood most of mankind remained in the Middle East near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. When God supernaturally shattered the single language of man into dozens of languages He also worked to spread men across the globe. Because the ice sheets did not form immediately after the flood the events of the Tower of Babel likely took place early in the ice age. Thus the ice age occurred when the rebounding population of man was spreading out across the world.
The altered climate that made the ice age possible affected the entire globe. Worldwide weather patterns were significantly different, but the entire earth did not experience near-Arctic temperatures. The climates in the lower lattitudes were milder than they are today making them ideal places to live.
After Babel some families settled in and around the Middle East. Most of those who shaped early recorded history traveled south into Palestine and Africa. At the time these places enjoyed very pleasant climates. Even the Sahara desert was a fertile land. Many family groups traveled much farther. Some went south east towards India, southeast Asia and eventually Australia.
Other peoples went northwest towards Europe where the ice age had a profound effect. These effects shaped the housing needs of the people prompting them to live in caves for shelter and warmth during the long winters. The challenges of living closer to the ice sheets probably changed the diet of the people in that area. They may well have had to survive on diets lacking certain important nutritional elements.
Still others went north east into northern Asia. Like those who went into Europe the ice age presented challenges to their survival. The shorter, cooler summers would have made agriculture difficult or impossible but extensive game could have provided abundant food for the traveling families. The difficulties in raising crops may have been a driving factor in the migration of families across Asia and into the Americas.
Though it seems counter-intuitive the conditions of the ice age would have made travel around the globe easier. Though the average temperatures closer to the poles were colder than they are today the winters were not necessarily more severe. Warmer winters during the early and middle ice age would have made surviving the winter months less difficult than today. Wild game flourished until the late ice age, as evidenced by the large number of ice age animal remains, providing an abundant source of food for semi-nomadic tribes. With so much water trapped in the ice sheets, the lower ocean levels would have facilitated travel between the continents. The Bering Straits may have been traversable on foot or by a short boat journey. The combination of shallower oceans and warmer winters allowed people to walk from Iraq to Texas in a relatively short span of time.
The ice age covered a significant portion of the globe in ice and snow, but it did not make the earth uninhabitable. Many environments on earth were emminently suitable for life, both animal and human. Some men lived near the ice, surviving the cold and adapting to their climate. Some lived in temperate zones and others in equatorial regions. As the post-flood climate stabilized man continued to move around and settle habitable locations. Like the rest of recorded history, during the ice age humanity spread out across the globe. Eventually mankind gained a foothold on every continent but one.