Earlier this week a group of Chinese Christians held a news conference to announce they were 99.9 percent sure they had found Noah's Ark — the boat the Bible says was built by God's most righteous man before a "sinful" human race drowned in the Great Flood.
Maybe the find on Mount Ararat in Turkey really is Noah's Ark. More likely, it isn't. But if it isn't, that won't stop Ark enthusiasts from believing it is out there somewhere.
Immediately in the wake of the news flash, experts weighed in to shoot it down. "The wood in the photos is not old enough" ... "There are no location pictures to verify the site" ... "No independent experts have looked at the data" ... "There's never been evidence of a great flood."
And the people voicing the loudest caution are biblical archeologists who believe the ark is real and that it can be found.
Dr. Randall Price, head of Judaic Studies at Liberty University, had been a cohort of the Noah's Ark International team until two years ago. He pulled out of the project, sensing they were being taken advantage of by Kurdish guides, who've turned Ark searching into a cottage industry.
"I think we can't rule out the possibility that this is a hoax, because a lot of the things that happen in that region of the world, and especially with the Kurdish guides that are involved, are designed to try to extract money from gullible people," Price said.
But he added: "I'm reserving my opinion at this point until I see how things are developing."
Dr. John Morris, lead archeologist at the Institute for Creation Research, says "I'm leaning towards that the Chinese people have been deceived."
Morris has led 13 expeditions to Mount Ararat looking for the ark. He knows the area well and says of the recent find, "At best, it is an elaborate deception."
Morris and Price were contacted by the Chinese team to take part in the press event, but they declined based on how little evidence they saw.
Professor Porcher Taylor at the University of Richmond says he, too, believes it is not Noah's Ark, because "they're digging in the wrong place on Mt. Ararat."
Taylor says satellite imaging of the region about a half mile away from where the Chinese group says they found the ark shows what has been called "the Ararat anomaly," an area that has intrigued the U.S. intelligence community for years.
"If the remains of Noah's Ark are on Mt. Ararat," Taylor says, "the only logical place would be at the Ararat anomaly site, and not at the site in these sensational claims made by this group."
A fundamental question separating scientific inquiry into Noah's Ark is: Is the account of the great flood in the Bible true, or is it a mythical legend?
Dr. Paul Zimansky, professor of archeology and ancient history at State University of New York at Stony Brook, says, "I think it has all the earmarks of a story, but in any case it isn't anything we can investigate as an archaeologist."
A catastrophic flood on Earth is spoken of in many ancient cultures: in Sumerian, Babylonian, Greek, Hindu, Gallic, Scandinavian and Chinese legends. Some even predate the Old Testament.
The odd thing, Zimansky says, is that even though there are written accounts of the flood in all these cultures, archaeologists have yet to find evidence of it.
If you take the Bible literally, Zimansky says, "this ark is going to be deposited in an archaeological context which would be a flood stratum. And it's not going to be a little flood stratum. It's going to cover the entire Earth. Well, no such flood stratum exists."
And that's where Morris disagrees with archaeologists like Zimansky.
"It all depends on your presupposition," says Morris. "I think they're looking at it through the wrong glasses."
Morris says a great flood would shape the landscape of the entire planet — carving out crevices like the Grand Canyon, even separating huge masses of land like the African and South American continents.
"Everything on earth gives evidence of the flood," Morris says.
That is why he is convinced something is up there on Mt. Ararat. He says there have been hundreds accounts from eyewitnesses saying they saw what looked like a big ship. Some of those accounts, he says, are from pilots who flew over the area during World War II. Considerable amounts of military data and ground-penetrating imaging have reported showing a shape of something manmade on the mountain.
Taylor is also convinced Noah's Ark is there, because of the Ararat anomaly's shape and size. "The boat-shaped Ararat anomaly and Noah's Ark both have a 6-to-1 length-to-width ratio," he says.
The Ark, depending on how you measure a cubit, could be anywhere from 450 to 600 feet long. The anomaly is 1,200 feet. But, Porcher says, scientists have debated for years the length of a cubit, which is thought to be the length of a man's forearm between the elbow and the tip of his finger. But whose elbow?
The Bible talks of "the Nephilim" (Genesis 6:1-4) being in the world at that time. The Nephilim were giants or a very large race. If a cubit was measured by the length of a very large man's forearm, Porcher says that would mean "the ark was much larger than previously thought."
Many experts have concluded from examining the photos that the images are of rock formations that strongly resemble the boat described in Genesis.
Whatever it is, it convinces Morris, and countless others, to keep returning to Mt. Ararat, hoping to find what their faith tells them can be found.Print This Post
A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah's Ark.
The group claims that carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old, meaning they date to around the same time the ark was said to be afloat. Mt. Ararat has long been suspected as the final resting place of the craft by evangelicals and literalists hoping to validate biblical stories.
Yeung Wing-Cheung, from the Noah's Ark Ministries International research team that made the discovery, said: "It's not 100 percent that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it."
There have been several reported discoveries of the remains of Noah's Ark over the years, most notably a find by archaeologist Ron Wyatt in 1987. At the time, the Turkish government officially declared a national park around his find, a boat-shaped object stretched across the mountains of Ararat.
Nevertheless, the evangelical ministry remains convinced that the current find is in fact more likely to be the actual artifact, calling upon Dutch Ark researcher Gerrit Aalten to verify its legitimacy.
“The significance of this find is that for the first time in history the discovery of Noah’s Ark is well documented and revealed to the worldwide community,” Aalten said at a press conference announcing the find. Citing the many details that match historical accounts of the Ark, he believes it to be a legitimate archaeological discovery.
“There’s a tremendous amount of solid evidence that the structure found on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey is the legendary Ark of Noah,” said Aalten.
Representatives of Noah's Ark Ministries said the structure contained several compartments, some with wooden beams, that they believe were used to house animals.The group of evangelical archaeologists ruled out an established human settlement on the grounds none have ever been found above 11,000 feet in the vicinity, Yeung said.
During the press conference, team member Panda Lee described visiting the site. “In October 2008, I climbed the mountain with the Turkish team. At an elevation of more than 4,000 meters, I saw a structure built with plank-like timber. Each plank was about 8 inches wide. I could see tenons, proof of ancient construction predating the use of metal nails."
We walked about 100 meters to another site. I could see broken wood fragments embedded in a glacier, and some 20 meters long. I surveyed the landscape and found that the wooden structure was permanently covered by ice and volcanic rocks."
Local Turkish officials will ask the central government in Ankara to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status so the site can be protected while a major archaeological dig is conducted.
The biblical story says that God decided to flood the Earth after seeing how corrupt it was. He then told Noah to build an ark and fill it with two of every animal species.
After the flood waters receded, the Bible says, the ark came to rest on a mountain. Many believe that Mount Ararat, the highest point in the region, is where the ark and her inhabitants ran aground.Print This Post
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