Mt Ararat and the search for Noah's Ark. People claim to have seen it, others allege the photos have been lost. Stories involve everything from the Russian military to the CIA.
But what evidence do we have today?
How well does Mt Ararat fit with the Bible?
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Mt Ararat, one of the tallest mountains in the middle east3, dominates the skyline at the junction of four nations. Many believe this was the resting place of Noah's Ark. The Armenians to the north revere the mountain as the origin of the Armenian people, or Hay, believing they are direct descendents of Noah's family. 1
Currently, there is no remnant or photograph of Noah's Ark recognized as legitimate by the major creationist organizations such as AiG, ICR, CRS.
While www.WorldwideFlood.com concentrates on the engineering aspects of Noah's Ark, the issue of Mt Ararat is a very popular question. It is a common belief that Noah's Ark (or remains of it) have been found on Mt Ararat or somewhere "over there'. This idea comes from a combination of sources, namely;
Needless to say, the average observer has formed a vague idea that something was nearly found but for some governmental conspiracy, or a lack of political stability preventing further study. This is not correct. In the early 1980's Col. James Irwin combed most of the mountain on foot, then surveyed and photographed the mountain from various aircraft. In 1988 (Willis) and 1989 (Aaron/Garbe/Corbin), Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology was used on Mount Ararat to look under some of the the ice.
Still no Ark.
Well known Ark hunter Dr John Morris (ICR president) considers Ararat a closed case unless a strong new lead arose. To date, the Noah's Ark "finds" are either geological formations that happens to look a bit boat-like, or rumors about secret photos and cover-ups. This is not evidence.
Could Mt Ararat be hiding Noah's Ark?
Gen. 11:2, And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.
The phrase “from the east” is a translation of MI-KÈDEM in the Hebrew Text. MI is ‘from’ or ‘coming from', KÈDEM is ‘front of the east’.
Of the locations described in Genesis 11, the most reliable location is probably Babylon. The name is almost certainly derived from the Tower of Babel. The "land of Shinar" is less obvious, but is generally considered to be in the Mesopotamian valley.
Taking the Babel/Babylon link as the strongest clue, the early descendents came from the east of this area. This may appear to exclude Mt Ararat in Turkey, which is directly north. However, the Babel incident is more than a century after the flood. Even a single year would be enough time to travel across the middle east, so this prevents any pinpoint location for Noah's descendents.
However, East of Babylon are the Zagros mountains of Iran. These are a dramatically eroded sedimentary formation that could fit the idea of early post flood erosion as the soft sediment is uplifted. The Zagros range has many excellent examples of wind gaps and water gaps 10, and other evidences of anomalous erosion patterns best explained by the receding floodwaters. However, it is far less likely Noah's Ark could survive for thousands of years in these mountains than hidden in the ice of Ararat. (Assuming it found a nice niche away from the grinding glacial flow of ice down the mountain - a dubious assumption in itself)
Analysis of the latest QuickBird images (Digital Globe) is headed by Farouk El-Baz, research professor and founding director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing. Excerpt from SPACE.com:
El-Baz first gained world attention for his work on the
Apollo program. He served as secretary of the lunar landing site selection
committee, chairman of the astronaut training group, and principal investigator
for visual observations and photography.
... He has been a pioneer in developing the field of remote sensing and is offering his expertise to what's truly resident on Mt. Ararat.
"There is absolutely enough hearsay…enough discussion about the topic to warrant looking into this, to see whether there is something tangible or not," El-Baz told SPACE.com
... El-Baz himself remains true to his training, waiting for scientific data to become available and help unveil the true nature of the Ararat object.
"There is absolutely nothing in all the pictures that we have seen up to now that is questionable in my mind. I can explain each and everything as a natural snow bank…a shadow. There is nothing," El-Baz said. But given the interest and the historical nature of such a find, the search is worth conducting, he added. "From all the points of view, there is definitely enough in this to warrant spending time to resolve the issue, one way or the other. So I don't consider it a waste of time," El-Baz said.
Naturally speaking, it is more likely that Noah's Ark never survived 4500 years of exposure. The following specialist website covers the search for Noah's Ark in five prospective areas;
Home | Overview | ArcImaging | FAQ's | Links | Products | E-mail | News
Urartu | Mt. Ararat | Mt. Cudi | Durupinar | Iran
The Google Map window below is centered on Mt Ararat (39.7N,44.3E). Click on "Satellite" to show detailed terrain due to the limited map detail in this area. You can drag on map or use the navigation controls on the left.
A marker also locates the Durupinar site (39.44N,44.235E), which is in the foothills of Mt Ararat. This is considered a geological formation created by mud flow (obviously due to its proximity with the snow-capped and volcanic Ararat). Similar formations exist in the area.
1. The modern republic of Armenia covers only the northeastern portion of an area historically inhabited by Armenians, whose ancestors settled in the area of Mount Ararat, in present-day Turkey, in the late 3000s BC. http://www.arab-world-information.com/armenia.htm This date is agreeable, but does not guarantee Mt Ararat as the correct landing site. Claiming ancestry from Noah's Ark logical but not unique, the Bible makes it clear we are all descendents of Noah's family. Gen 9:19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. Return to text
2. Assuming at Noah's time that climactic changes had not yet produced snow and ice on Mt Ararat, the terrain is still extremely dangerous. Morris J. D., Noah's Ark and the Ararat Adventure, Master Books, 1988.
Many times while climbing we were nearly hit by falling rocks. Some of these rocks were boulders bigger than a car. At times, hundreds of rocks would start rolling down the mountain as fast as a runaway truck. They would easily crush anyone they hit. Even the smaller rocks could kill. Some climbers have been seriously injured, and others even killed on Mt Ararat.
Alternatively, Mt Ararat may have been covered with loose rocks only recently. However, an easy route down Mt Ararat would be special pleading. Return to text
3. Mount El’brus (5633m) further north in the Caucasus and Mount Damavand (5604m) near Tehran in Iran, are taller than Mount Ararat. Return to text
4. Ararat is not Hebrew but is probably derived from the Assyrian word “Urartu,” meaning highest land. Return to text
5. "There seems to be almost a total lack of evidence that this mountain was ever under water." Crouse B., The Landing Place, TJ 15(3), 2001. p10 and ref 7 (Crouse argues Burdick's pillow lava claim is unsubstantiated). Return to text
6. The permanent icecap on Mt Ararat is approximately 44km2 and up 60-90m thick in places. The ice is glacial, so it is continuously moving which would tend to tear the Ark to pieces. Return to text
7. Crouse (2001) argues that ancient accounts favor Cud Dagh as a landing site. Northern Iran is also indicated in some ancient maps. The earliest reference that refers specifically to the Turkish Mt Ararat (Agri Dagi) as the resting place of Noah's Ark is in the 13th century. Return to text
8. Assessment of Ron Wyatt's claims regarding the Durupinar site; Snelling, A., Special report: Amazing ‘Ark’ exposé. Creation 14(4):26–38 September 1992 Return to text
9. Morris, J., That boat-shaped rock … is it Noah’s Ark?, Creation 12(4):16–19 September 1990
Having studied Mount Ararat and the surrounding area, one of intense geologic and volcanic turmoil, I have concluded that a wooden structure such as the Ark would not be likely to survive if it had landed there. The only reason to be looking at all is that eyewitnesses claim to have seen the Ark. Return to text
10. Water gaps refer to rivers that cut through a mountain range when it would be expected to go around it. Wind gaps are water gaps that subsequently lost flow to another route, leaving the valley high and dry. These are best explained as occurring during the receding stages of the Flood where a mountain range acted as a dam, but was breached in certain places. A dominant breach would leave others as wind gaps. The Zagros Mountains are one of the best examples of these Deluge-like erosion patterns, an indicator that it may have been one of the first areas to uplift. Return to text
11. Report of 2004 discovery by Media Evangelism Limited; http://www.media.org.hk/noahsark/asp/apply1_eng.asp Return to text