Legendary vessel of Genesis story goes from nowhere to everywhere
By Joe Kovacs
‘Noah’s Ark’ by Pennsylvania artist Edward Hicks, 1846
Last month, headlines screamed that a Texas team of archaelogists believed they had possibly located the biblical boat in Iran.
But hang on to the “Hallelujah!” chorus a little longer.
There are numerous claims about the final resting place, from Ararat to Armenia. With modern technology and digital photography being utilized in the hunt, it seems like everyone is finding what they think is Noah’s Ark.
The Iran claim
As WorldNetDaily reported June 30, a 14-man crew that included evangelical apologist Josh McDowell says it returned from a trek to a mountain in Iran with possible evidence of the remains of Noah’s Ark.
The group, led by explorer Bob Cornuke, found an unusual object perched on a slope 13,120 feet above sea level.
Cornuke, president of the archeological Base Institute and a veteran of nearly 30 expeditions in search of Bible artifacts and locations, said he is cautiously, but enthusiastically, optimistic about the find.
Some of the team’s photos can be seen here.
Also on the team were Barry Rand, former CEO of Avis; Boone Powell, former CEO of Baylor Medical Systems; and Arch Bonnema, president of Joshua Financial.
The team returned with video footage of a large black formation, about 400 feet long ? the approximate length of the ark, according to the Bible ? that looks like rock but bears the image of hundreds of massive, wooden, hand-hewn beams.
Bonnema observed: “These beams not only look like petrified wood, they are so impressive that they look like real wood ? this is an amazing discovery that may be the oldest shipwreck in recorded history.”
The team said one piece of the blackened rock is “cut” at 90-degree angle.
Even more intriguing, they said, some of the wood-like rocks tested this week proved to be petrified wood.
It’s noteworthy, they pointed out, that the Bible recounts Noah sealed his ark with pitch, a black substance.
Despite the hype, there are those who maintain the vessel is definitely on Mount Ararat, in present-day Turkey.
Among them is Edward Crawford, a former draftsman illustrator for the U.S. military who now teaches Christian theology at Evergreen Bible Presbyterian Church in the Seattle suburb of Pullayup, Wash.
Crawford has made numerous climbs up Ararat, and says in 1990, he discovered a large, rectangular structure buried in the ice at an elevation of 14,765 feet.
“I don’t have any doubt about it at all, and the Turks don’t either,” he told WND.
He says the structure currently sits under snow and ice, which he calls “ridiculously hard stuff,” but he expects it will be at its highest point above the frozen water this summer, as forecasts call for an unusual warm-up.
Crawford has put much of his discovery online at a website called Project von Bora, where photographs and diagrams are available, and he alleges the structure has 90-degree angles.
Edward Crawford believes a rectangular Noah’s Ark lies at this location on Mount Ararat (courtesy Edward Crawford)
“Those don’t happen in nature,” he said. “If you think someone went up there to build that, it would take a greater miracle than the Flood [of Noah] itself.”
Crawford is now urging the Ankara government to formally acknowledge his find, and grant him permission to explore the site again this summer.
“This is not a politically correct discovery,” he said. “I never imagined that I would discover the structure and its disposition. I had no idea it would take this long to sort through the Turkish red tape.”
Not far from Crawford’s “structure” on Mount Ararat is something which made headlines in March with the release of a new, high-resolution digital image of what has become known as the “Ararat Anomaly.”
Satellite image of ‘Ararat Anomaly,’ taken by DigitalGlobe‘s QuickBird Satellite in 2003 and now made public for the first time (courtesy: DigitalGlobe)
The location of the anomaly on the mountain’s northwest corner has been under investigation from afar by ark hunters for years, but it has remained unexplored, with the government of Turkey not granting any scientific expedition permission to explore on site.
“I’ve got new found optimism … as far as my continuing push to have the intelligence community declassify some of the more definitive-type imagery,” Porcher Taylor, an associate professor in paralegal studies at the University of Richmond, said at the time.
For more than three decades, Taylor has been a national security analyst, and has also served as a senior associate for five years at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
“I had no preconceived notions or agendas when I began this in 1993 as to what I was looking for,” he said. “I maintain that if it is the remains of something manmade and potentially nautical, then it’s potentially something of biblical proportions.”
The anomaly remains ensconced in glacial ice at an altitude of 15,300 feet, and Taylor says the photos suggest its length-to-width ratio is close to 6:1, as indicated in the Book of Genesis.
The mountains of Ararat
Some 15 miles from Mount Ararat is perhaps the most well-known candidate vying for the title of Noah’s Ark.
Many believe this is Noah’s Ark, already found on a mountain next to Mt. Ararat (courtesy: wyattmuseum.com)
A boat-shaped object thought by many to be the fossilized remnants of the the vessel sits in Dogubayazit, Turkey, and was first photographed in 1959 by a Turkish air force pilot on a NATO mapping mission.
It gained worldwide attention after its photo was published in a 1960 issue of Life Magazine.
The man most responsible for promoting this location as the ark’s actual resting place from the Bible was Ron Wyatt, who died of cancer in 1999 after years of searching for biblical antiquities, also claiming to have found the remains of Pharaoh’s chariots that chased Moses through the Red Sea, and the “true” location of Mount Sinai in Arabia.
In 2004, Wyatt’s widow, Mary Nell Wyatt Lee, published a history of the discovery in a book titled, “The Boat-Shaped Object on Doomsday Mountain.”
She writes that on Dec. 12, 1987, “it was the official decision of members of [Turkey’s] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of Internal Affairs, and researchers from Ataturk University, among others, that the boat-shaped formation did indeed contain the remains of Noah’s Ark!”
An Associated Press story from that month read:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A group of Turkish researchers has decided that a boat-shaped formation found in 1977 on a hill in eastern Turkey is the remains of Noah’s Ark, a Turkish tourism official says.
Mary Nell’s Cornersville, Tenn.-based foundation, Wyatt Archaeological Research, is filled with on-location photographs and charts promoting its case with physical evidence including radar scans of bulkheads on the alleged vessel, deck timber and iron rivets, large “drogue” stones which are thought to have acted as types of anchors.
However, there’s been no shortage of critics from both scientific and Christian circles who think the Dogubayazit site is erroneous.
Lorence Collins, a retired geology professor from California State University, Northridge, joined the late David Fasold, a one-time proponent of the Wyatt site, in writing a scientific summary claiming the location is “bogus.”
“Evidence from microscopic studies and photo analyses demonstrates that the supposed Ark near Dogubayazit is a completely natural rock formation,” said the 1996 paper published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. “It cannot have been Noah’s Ark nor even a man-made model. It is understandable why early investigators falsely identified it.”
The Armenian factor
The final entrant is Leroy Blevins, a New Richmond, Ohio, man who carries a 1950 Catholic Press Bible which states the ark rested “upon the mountains of Armenia,” leading him to believe the location of the vessel is indeed in the former Soviet republic.
Is this Noah’s Ark on Mt. Aragats in Armenia? (courtesy Leroy Blevins)
Blevins offers little proof for his claim, except a series of photos on his website, as he purports the ark is situated on Armenia’s highest point Mount Aragats, not to be confused with the similar sounding Ararat in Turkey.
“No one has ever looked for Noah’s Ark on this mountain in Armenia,” he told WND. “There is a rectangle-shaped boat on the top of this mountain. This boat has what appears to be either a vent or windows. You can see the whole outline of this ship and it is locked in the mountains. … You can see that it is big and man-made.”
Joe Zias, a Jerusalem-based anthropologist who is a former curator at the Israel Antquities Authority, is quick to throw cold water on all these claims of the ark being discovered.
“Just when I think I’ve seen it all, another group of nutters shows up,” he told WND.
Zias says the parties making the discovery claims are “pimping” off the Bible for money, suggesting they have no training in geology, archaeology or anthropology; nor any peer-reviewed articles, university appointments and “any credibility whatsoever in academic circles.”
“Aside from myself who follows this craziness, few if any in the profession have ever heard of them,” he said.
In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible speaks of Noah and the ark, and Jesus Christ and the apostles Paul and Peter all make reference to Noah’s flood as an actual historical event.
According to Genesis, Noah was a righteous man who was instructed by God to construct a large vessel to hold his family and many species of animals, as a massive deluge was coming to purify the world which had become corrupt.
Genesis 6:5 states: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Noah was told by God to take aboard seven pairs of each of the “clean” animals ? that is to say, those permissible to eat ? and two each of the “unclean” variety. (Gen. 7:2)
Though the Bible says it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, it also mentions “the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.”
The ark then “rested” upon the mountains of Ararat, but it was still months before Noah and his family ? his wife, his three sons and the sons’ wives ? were able to leave the ark and begin replenishing the world.