Science and religion generally have vastly different agendas. One of the great biblical archeological mysteries is the final resting place of Noah’s ark. We recently saw Russell Crowe fend off the flood as Noah in Noah (2014). Now, scientists believe they found new evidence of its final resting place.
The Final Resting Place
According to the Bible, following the worldwide flood, Noah’s ark came aground on the ‘mountains of Ararat.’ Thousands of years later, we are still searching for evidence of the massive ship.
If you were to ask an archeologist or a scholar about the ark’s final resting place, they are likely to tell you the same place. In Genesis, it tells the story of Noah’s ark and its final resting place on the ‘mountains of Ararat.’ This leads many to believe that the evidence of the ark will be found in a place which today bares the same name. It has become the center of the legend which we continue to try and solve.
One group called the Noah’s Ark Ministries International has devoted itself to digging up the truth on Noah’s Ark. The Hong Kong-based group has led numerous expeditions into finding more information on the ark. While some experts have taken issue with NAMI and its findings, others believe their research has some merit. An ark hunter from California believes that they might have found the key to the ark’s last known location. Perhaps this new information can lead us to an answer.
Early Identifying Efforts
People have attempted to identify the place on which Noah’s ark first hit land following 150 of flooding for generations. According to Josephus, a first-century Roman scholar, the ‘mountains of Ararat’ are located in the area formerly known as Armenia. This account is repeated numerous times by other scholars of the time such as Berossus, Hieronymus the Egyptian, and Nicolaus of Damascus. However, not all ancient scholars agree that this is the precise location.
The Syrians Say Otherwise
While most historians agree on the general location of the ark, early Syrian tradition differs from the stories told by Josephus. In early centuries BC, the Syrians believed that the ark landed at Mount Judi. Early Christian and Islamic tradition calls Mount Judi the ‘Place of Descent.’ Josephus said that the ark’s remains were shown at the ‘place of descent’ by Armenians in the first century, 60 miles southeast of Mount Ararat. Armenians associated Noah’s ark with Mount Judi till the 11th century.
A Notorious Explorer Tells The Tale
Marco Polo, the famed explorer known for his journeys into Asia, noted in his book The Travels of Marco Polo, “In the heart of the Armenian mountain range, the mountain’s peak is 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.”
Protecting The Past
In a more modern excursion, Dr. Friedrich Parrot ascended Ararat in 1829, over 500 years after Marco Polo recorded his sighting of Ararat. While Dr. Parrot did not bring a shovel and attempt to dig up the ark, he did detail how the locals felt about the legend of Noah’s ark. He said, “all the Armenians are firmly persuaded that Noah’s Ark remains to this very day on the top of Ararat, and that, in order to preserve it, no human being is allowed to approach it.”
A Discovery We Can Work With
After years of attempted excavations and adventures, one group, NAMI, believes they found evidence of the Ark on Mount Ararat. In 2010, a group of evangelicals from China and Turkey went out hoping to find some evidence to support their beliefs. After weeks of searching, they claimed to have found wooden artifacts from the ship which would confirm it as the location of the historic ship. It seemed like the breakthrough the world was looking for.
Is It Real Or Is It Fantasy?
As exciting as these findings are, many past findings have been disproved. The search for Noah’s ark has had plenty of unsubstantiated claims thrown around over the past century. In 1955, a French explorer reported that he found a five-foot beam under a glacier on Mount Ararat. A Spanish research institute certified that the wood beam was about 5,000 years old, putting it in range. However, the explorer admitted he brought the beam from a nearby village.
View From Above
Not long after Fernand Navarra, the French explorer, admitted he fabricated his findings, helicopter pilot George Greene took his shot at seeking the ark. During a helicopter ride above Ararat, Greene said that he could see the ark from the sky. He said it was nestled into the side of a rock cliff about 13,000-14,000 feet above sea level. However, his photos failed to gain investment in an expedition. Many believe the false ark he saw was a large chunk of basalt.
The Story Doesn’t Match
One Armenian man, Georgie Hagopian, claimed that he saw the ark as a boy at the turn of the century. However, his story had a few inconsistencies. In each telling of the story, he gave a different year in which he saw the ark (1902, 1906, 1908, and 1910). Hagopian claimed to have climbed on the roof with his uncle. Many find the story difficult to believe to his described ease in finding it when so many others have struggled.
The Bible As Gospel
Perhaps one of the main reasons researchers cannot find Noah’s ark is because the story does not come only from Genesis in the Bible. Plenty of scholars believe that the Bible is not the origin of the story. They believe it came from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq and Iran) from which there are nine known versions of a massive flood. The story of a global flood which destroys everyone does not come up until the Old Babylonian period (20-16 centuries BC).
Noah By Another Name
History buffs certainly know about Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mesopotamian epic poem. The epic is recorded on 12 tablets. However, only two-thirds of the tablets have been recovered. It tells of Gilgamesh on his journey to find eternal life, in which he is told a story of the Great Flood. The flood in Gilgamesh’s story is eerily close to the story of Noah’s ark. The two stories are told nearly “point by point and in the same order.”
The Mythical Mountain
Mount Ararat holds the same name as the mountains described in the Bible and is generally considered to be the location of the ark. The snow-capped Mount Ararat is the tallest peak in Turkey at 16,854 ft. It is a dormant volcano on the far east side of Turkey. The site is considered very sacred to Armenians due to its connection to Noah and their deep Christian beliefs. Armenians love it so much that it is on their coat of arms along with Noah’s Ark.
Not On The Side Of Science
One of the biggest issues behind searching for Noah’s ark is how it inconsistently lines up with science. Outside of evangelical historians, scientists have a major issue with theories behind the flood. They consistently point to a major lack of evidence in the soil of a worldwide flood. If a flood were to wipe out the Earth, then we should be able to see evidence of those water levels in the soil.
A DNA Dilemma
In addition to the lack of evidence in the soil, scientists question the flood myth due to DNA evidence. In the story of Noah and the flood, Noah is instructed by God to bring his family onboard the massive ark as well a few of each animal. If his family were the only survivors of the flood, we would be able to trace DNA genealogy back to this one family over 4,600 years ago since they were responsible for repopulating Earth.
A Story For The Ages
Regardless of the scientific question marks about the story’s accuracy, the story of Noah is one of the notorious tales from the Bible. In Genesis chapters six through nine, we hear the story of Noah, a righteous man, whom God instructs to build an ark. God was fed up with the wickedness and corruption and had Noah build the ark to spare him and his family’s lives from the catastrophic flood in which everyone would perish.
PETA’s Favorite Part
Not only did God tell Noah to bring his family onboard, but also he instructed him to bring along everything necessary to restart life following the flood. This included bringing enough animals with him. According to the Bible, he was told to bring a pair of each “unclean” animal and seven pairs of the “clean” animals. This has been interpreted as what would be considered as “kosher” and “non-kosher” in the Jewish faith. Once the flood subsided, the animals could then freely roam again.
Surviving The Cataclysmic Storm
How did Noah survive the biblical storm (outside of an act of God)? He needed quite the ship to survive a storm so massive that it wiped out the world while also protecting himself and a zoo’s worth of animals. The ark was absolutely massive as God gave Noah the necessary dimensions for the ship. Noah’s ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. That is the equivalent of 450 x 75 x 45 ft. It had three decks inside.
See For Yourself
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to step inside Noah’s ark? Fortunately, life-sized replicas exist, giving you the chance to see its massive scale. In July 2016, a creationist group called Answers in Genesis opened ‘Ark Encounter,’ a theme park, in Grant County, Kentucky. The park is housed inside a life-sized version of Noah’s ark. It has received plenty of criticism for breaking the ‘separation between church and state’ for the tax incentives it receives.
With so many inconsistencies – depending on which group of people you speak with – in the story of Noah, it seems like we might never know where the real Noah’s ark landed following the flood. Fortunately, a group of creationists will not let that dream die. The Geoscience Research Institute put on a symposium in Turkey on Mount Ararat to further the discussion. Over 100 scientists and researchers came together to bring their knowledge of the ark forward for discussion, one of whom claims he has the answer.
It Does Not Add Up
While the researchers at the symposium discussed the final resting place of the ark, one Oxford University lecturer in ancient history, Nicholas Purcell, expressed his skepticism. He said, “If floodwaters covered Eurasia 12,000ft [3,700 meters] deep in 2,800BC, how did the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already many centuries old, keep right on regardless?” He even referred to the claims from the symposium as the “usual nonsense.” However, the creationists would not be bothered by the haters.
Conflicting Internal Reports
While most creationists believe that Noah’s ark landed on today’s Mount Ararat, not everyone agrees with that detail. Dr. Andrew Snelling, a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney and a young-Earth creationist, takes issue with the ark hitting ground on Mount Ararat. He says that it is impossible for it to have landed there since Mount Ararat did not form until after the flood. Why does he feel so strongly about this variation from the story?
A Dissenting Opinion
Something has always stuck with Dr. Snelling from his research. He said, “The biblical reference to ‘mountains of Ararat’ as the landing site of the Ark suggests those mountains formed well before the Flood ended. The Flood was a global catastrophe that totally reshaped the earth’s geology, and the earth’s surface has continued to change since then. Perhaps the geology of the modern Mount Ararat region sheds light on whether we should be looking for Noah’s Ark on that mountain.”
Ashes To Ashes
Dr. Snelling is adamant, even within his creationist beliefs, that Mount Ararat cannot be the place. He said, “The volcano now called Mount Ararat did not grow until well after the ocean (flood) waters had retreated. Furthermore, the lavas and ash layers of Mount Ararat date to the time of the post-Flood Ice Age. Thus, from my perspective as a biblical geologist, I do not expect to find Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.”
There Is Still Hope
With plenty of backlash from the haters, one American researcher believes that he actually found evidence of Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. Professor Raul Esperante is from California and works with the Geoscience Research Institute (which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church) in digging into this seemingly unsolvable question. He said, ”My purpose is to visit the sites around the mountain to find clues about catastrophic events in the past.”
In April 2010, NAMI archaeologists claimed that they found the ark while searching Mount Ararat. Man-Fai Yuen, a NAMI researcher, said, “The search team and I personally entered a wooden structure high on the mountain. The structure is partitioned into different spaces. We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals.” They claim carbon dating put the wood at 4,800 years old.
A Strong Statement
After their findings, NAMI stood by their discovery. Eung Wing-Cheung, a filmmaker with NAMI, said, “It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that it is.” Paul Zimansky, a Middle East-specializing archaeologist from Stony Brook University, replied to the findings snarkily. He said, “I don’t know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn’t find it.” However, Esperante is adamant that NAMI’s findings are correct.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Esperante is doing everything he can to prove Mount Ararat as the location and NAMI’s findings as correct. He said, “I think that rigorous, serious scientific work is needed in the area…The result of my findings will be published in books, publications, and journals, but at this point, it is too early to know what we are going to find. Once the scientific community knows about the existence of Noah’s Ark in Mount Ararat, we can make it available to the general public.”
Although Esperante has not released his findings yet, he has urged the international community to invest in his research. If he and NAMI are correct, it could be one of the greatest discoveries into our history since the discovery of Rosetta’s Stone. The world’s scientific community is still heavily against any theories about a physical location for Noah’s ark, but that does not mean research will come to a halt. If anything, it only adds fuel to their fire as they chase a legend.