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Mission: Ararat 2010

Finding Noah's Ark

Group claims to unearth vessel remnants on Mount Ararat

By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ

A friend broke the news to me a couple weeks ago. “Someone beat you to the ark.” I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently, Noah’s Ark had been found.

At least that was the story coming out of Turkey, where I’ll be leading our Mission: Ararat team in July. A 15-person group of Chinese and Turkish “ark-aeologists” claim to have found the vessel God instructed Noah to build because he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) on an earth that was “corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11).

It was covered by some mainstream media types (from The New York Daily News and National Geographic to ABC, MSNBC and FOXNews) and, of course, found its way to YouTube as well as GodTube.

The Bible tells us Noah did “everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22) and “all that the Lord had commanded him” (Genesis 7:5). He gathered his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth), the wives of his three sons, “seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3). Because, after that, God did as He promised: “I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made” (Genesis 7:4).

Floodwaters covered the earth. “For 40 days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than 20 feet” (Genesis 7:17-20).

“Every living thing that moved on the earth perished — birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.  Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:21-23).

The water flooded the earth for 150 days, according to Genesis 7:24. And then God sent “a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Genesis 8:1) and the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4).

But did the ark come to rest on modern-day Mount Ararat (16,945 feet/5,165 meters), located in eastern Turkey near the border of Armenia?

That is a question Biblical archaeologists, “ark-aeologists,” and others have asked for decades.

Mount Ararat viewed from Armenia. (Photo by Climbing For Christ member Art Salisbury)

In 2001, Robert Cornuke collaborated with David Halbrook on the book, Lost Mountains of Noah, and argued that the mountains of Ararat are actually in northern Iran. In 2004, a team of Christian archaeologists from Cornuke’s Texas-based Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (B.A.S.E) Institute believed they found the remains of Noah's Ark in the Elburz mountain range in Iran. [See story below.]

Others have claimed finding the ark. The latest team of “ark-aeologists” say they found the vessel’s remains during expeditions in 2007 and 2008. They say they located “seven large wooden compartments buried at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, near the peak of Mount Ararat,” according to National Geographic. “They returned to the site with a film crew in October 2009.”

One admitted skeptic — Eric Cline, a PhD. from George Washington University — told ABC TV’s Good Morning America: “We’ve seen this so often before. People have been trying to find Noah’s Ark … for years now. I think, in a way, it’s because they’re trying to verify the Bible. If we can find a piece of Noah’s Ark, the ark must be real, then flood must be real, then the Hebrew Bible and the New Testaments are real. People are looking to verify their faith, basically.”

Christians know that faith is not measured by physical evidence, such as carbon-dated wood allegedly unearthed from a glacier. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” the writer says in Hebrews 11:1. “We live by faith, not by sight,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus told His followers, “You have seen me and still you do not believe” (John 6:36). So finding the ark probably wouldn’t make much a difference in the minds and hearts of unbelieving people. And as for believers: we don’t need remnants of the ark to know the Bible — and our faith — is as real as the mountains of Ararat that God created.

Posted May 13, 2010

Has Noah's Ark Been Found? (June 29, 2006, ABCNews.com) — A team of Christian archaeologists from Texas believes it has found the Biblical remains of Noah's Ark in the Elburz mountain range in Iran.

“I can't imagine what it could be if it is not the Ark,” said Arch Bonnema of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (B.A.S.E) Institute, a Christian archeology organization dedicated to looking for biblical artifacts.

Bonnema and the other B.A.S.E. Institute members hiked for seven hours in the mountains northwest of Tehran, climbing 13,000 feet before making the apparent discovery [photo below].

“We got up to this object, nestled in the side of a hill,” said Robert Cornuke, a member of the B.A.S.E. Institute and co-author of the 2001 book, Lost Mountains of Noah, which claimed the Biblical “mountains of Ararat” are in northern Iran, not eastern Turkey. “We found something that has my heart skipping a beat.”

At first, they didn't dare to hope it was the Biblical boat.

“It wasn't impressive at first,” Cornuke said. “Certainly didn't think it to be Noah's Ark. But when we got close, we were amazed. It looked similar to wood.”

In addition, some B.A.SE. members say, their discovery didn't look very distinctive.

“It looked like the deck of any boat today,” Bonnema said.

The Bible places the Ark in the mountains of Ararat, a mountain range theologians believe spans hundreds of miles, which the team says is consistent with their find in Iran. The Bible also describes the Ark's dimensions as being 300 cubits by 50 cubits — about the size of a small aircraft carrier. The B.A.S.E. Institute's discovery is similar in size and scale.

Throughout history, people have been searching for the Ark to help prove God's existence.

“There's this idea, if we can prove that the ark existed then we can prove that the story existed, and more importantly, we can prove that God existed,” said Bruce Feiler, author of Where God Was Born.

Previous scholars have searched for the Ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey.

“Czar Nicholas, actually, in 1916 sent two expeditions to photograph it on top of Mount Ararat,” said Feiler. “There is a story that (President) Jimmy Carter, on his way to visit the Shah of Iran in 1977, purposefully flew over it.”

As recently as March, researchers claimed to have satellite photos that proved the presence of Ark remains [See photo at bottom of page]. The B.A.S.E institute hopes the physical evidence they've brought back from Iran will hold the answer to this enduring mystery.

“People will always be looking for it, always be skeptical, always be excited of the search,” Cornuke said. “But I think we found something here that's very notable.”

The B.A.S.E. Institute's samples are being examined at labs in Texas and Florida. B.A.S.E officials concede that there would be no way to conclusively prove that their finding is actually Noah's Ark.

This story was originally reported on ABC TV's “Good Morning America.”

Posted June 29, 2006


Ark remains in Iran?
Ark on Ararat?

The Word

“…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”
— Genesis 8:4 (NIV)


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