Saturday, 6 February 2010

In Search Of Noah's Ark

The story of Noah's Ark is probably one of the best know stories from the Bible, thanks to it's rather appealing symbolism, it's drama and it's happy ending (well if you forget about the suffering and pain caused to millions of people, animals and plant life). It's also helped by the fact that flood stories seem to have a deep resonance across cultures (something some Christians insist helps prove the reality of the Flood).

Believing in the literal truth of the Flood story is one thing, but some people don't just believe it happened: they believe the Ark is still around today and can be found.

Traditions regarding the location of the Ark stem back far into Judeo-Christian history.

Genesis 8:4 (New International Version): "and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat."

Josephus, a Roman-Jew who recorded the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, was among other early commentators who postulated that the mountains of Ararat lay within Armenia (which would later, perhaps fittingly, become the first Christian country).

By the 7th Century a place known as Mount Judi (possibly in what is today northern Iraq) was considered the most likely "Place of Descent" and it is this tradition that was taken up by the contemporary Quranic accounts.  Many from these times believed not only that the Ark came to rest but that it was still in existence. These early accounts have fuelled modern searches. Marco Polo says in The Travels of Marco Polo:

In the heart of Greater Armenia is a very high mountain shaped like a cube (or cup), on which Noah's ark is said to have rested, whence it is called the Mountain of Noah's Ark. It [the mountain] is so broad and long that it takes more than two days to go around it. On the summit the snow lies so deep all the year round that no one can ever climb it; this snow never entirely melts, but new snow is for ever falling on the old, so that the level rises.
By modern times the tradition had moved to Greater Ararat back in Turkey (and mere miles from the Armenia border), a tradition which continues to this day.

James Bryce climbed above the tree line on Mount Ararat in 1876 and claimed to discover a slab of hand-hewn timber, four feet long and five inches thick, which he identified as being from the Ark.

Thanks mainly to the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey and the onset of the Cold War (which caused the Turkish-Soviet border to become one of the possible flashpoints), many Arkeologists (you see what they did there??) found it difficult to do research. Some of the difficulties could be seen during the two expeditions led by lunar astronaut James Irwin:

Ever since astronaut James Irwin led an expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey in 1982, people around the world have been fascinated by the possibility that actual evidence of Noah's Ark may be discovered. Unfortunately, Mr. Irwin was knocked unconscious when he tumbled down the 17,000-foot mountain. He returned to Mount Ararat in 1983, but a blizzard halted the expedition. Kurdish militiamen halted another expedition in 1985.

Finally, Mr. Irwin was arrested by Turkish officials in 1986 when they accused him and the film crew of conducting espionage. Irwin never returned. The ark-hunting astronaut died of a heart attack in August 1991.

Irwin's interest in Mount Ararat was spurred by what is known as the Ararat Anomaly: The claim that a wooden structure atop snowy Mount Ararat had been spotted and photographed by military pilots in 1949. The 600-foot anomaly was also photographed by two U.S. satellites in the 1970s. Irwin's high profile as a moon-walking astronaut who wanted to discover Noah's Ark generated enormous publicity and curiosity about Mount Ararat.

In recent years, however, the Turkish government has rejected all requests for expeditions on Mount Ararat. Some people speculate that the CIA has installed high-tech surveillance posts on the mountain. Source: The Quest For Bible Treasures

The Ararat anomaly is one of two currently proposed sites for the landing place of the Ark. The picture on the right was taken in 1949. The other possible site is Durupinar which is in the Ararat mountain region but not on Greater Ararat itself.

This site was made famous by Ron Wyatt's expeditions and supposed discovery of the Ark here in the late eighties and early nineties.

Ron Wyatt's claims are interesting so I've dug up a Youtube video so you can see them and make up your own minds (I think you know where my own mind sits)

Part Two is here

Even as recently as 2006, another group claim to have discovered the Ark... in Iran! What do I get from all this? It's all very, very dodgy. Little evidence, much fanfare and little results. It makes the Oak Island Money Pit explorations look positively successful! What do you guys think?

Some sceptical perspective on the story and some of the finds.

Further Research

Discovery of Noah's Ark: The Best Evidence 2 DVD Special Edition - From Ron Wyatt's expedition

The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark  Charles Sellier

The Explorers Of Ararat Rex Giessler

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist


jsm said...

Great post!

CoastConFan said...

“Finally, Mr. Irwin was arrested by Turkish officials in 1986 when they accused him and the film crew of conducting espionage. Irwin never returned.”

Actually, Mr Irwin returned the next year, 1987 where he piloted a helicopter and photographed Mt Ararat, see see also . I met Mr Irwin in Ankara right after the expedition and viewed his photographic slides after they were developed. They were nice photos of mountains, but I saw no boats of any size.