Has Noah’s Ark really been found on Mt. Ararat?

Has Noah's Ark been found?

The Bible tells us that "the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat" in Genesis 8:4.  "Ararat" in this verse probably refers to a region and not a specific mountain.  Today the mountain called Ararat refers to a mountain range with twin peaks.  It is located on the Turkish/Soviet border covered by snow and ice most of the year and is subject to continual earth movements because it is positioned where three transcontinental fault zones meet.

Thus, exploration of the area has been difficult not only because there are just a few months of the year where the weather permits any visibility but also the military situation in the area makes exploration dangerous and even occasionally fatal.  Regardless, many expeditions have taken place over the years in search of Noah's Ark. 

In 1948, following an earthquake, a Kurdish farmer discovered a large boat-shaped object.  In 1960 photographs taken by a Turkish Air Force pilot of a boat-shaped object gained worldwide publicity and has become known as the Durupinar site.  This has become the most famous site due to the efforts of Ron Wyatt.  Wyatt is a nurse anesthesist from Madison Tennessee and a "self-styled" archeologist and explorer.  His photographs and stories are widely distributed and accepted in the Christian community.  The Bible is clear in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 that we are to "prove all things" and not "believe all things."  Thus, it is necessary to examine his claims carefully.

Wyatt first visited Turkey in 1977 and over the years has recruited the help of many people, including former astronaut James Irwin in his search.  (Irwin was especially helpful in convincing the Turkish President to allow exploration in 1982.)  Wyatt was even kidnapped in 1991 and held captive by Kurdish guerrillas for three weeks.  Despite initial enthusiasm, former merchant marine officer David Fasold and geophysicist Dr. John Baumgardner are now convinced the site does not contain the ark.  Core-drilling data, extensive geologic surveys, subsurface radar and magnetometer surveys have convincingly shown the Wyatt's claims to be untrue and misleading.  This site is simply a geologic formation common to the Ararat region that just happens to be close to the size of the ark. 

Wyatt's credibility is also clouded by the fact that he has made some other rather extraordinary claims.  He claims to have also found the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a chariot wheel from Pharoah's drowned army at the bottom of the Red Sea and even an actual sample of Christ's blood.  

Many other claims made in finding the ark could be mentioned, but two are especially worth mentioning.  First, many people are familiar with a movie released in 1976 called "In Search of Noah's Ark" which gave the impression that the ark had definitely been found.  Further exploration of that site showed that the object was just a large rock formation.

Second, recent satellite pictures by ark researcher Porcher Taylor have been especially intriguing.  High temperatures in the summer of 2000 caused a meltback of the Mt. Ararat ice cap.  Taylor commissioned a commercial satellite company to obtain these pictures of an object about the size of the ark.  Of the seven experts invited to examine the pictures four believe the object is man-made.  

Although it would be interesting and exciting as a Christian to find the ark it would also be unlikely according to geologist John Morris.  He said, "If it is there, it has been protected from glaciers, erosion, earthquakes, eruptions, and from Noah and his family dismantling it to use it in other timber structures."  He also stated, "You can hardly imagine anything that would give more credence to the creation cause than the discovery of Noah's Ark."

However, finding the ark could produce some real problems too.  Scientists would not be convinced.  Many have already concluded this is not true and thus have already made up their mind due to their philosophical bias.  In Luke 16 the rich man pleads with Abraham, "if someone goes to them from the dead they will repent."  Abraham's response is, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead."  Likewise, we should not think that finding the ark would convince the whole world of the authenticity of the Scripture and bring them to Christ. 

In addition, just like in medieval times when relics became a substitute for worship of the true God, Noah's Ark could also prove to be an idol.

In conclusion, there is much reliable, yet circumstantial, evidence that the ark still exist, but we must be cautious and discerning about accepting anyone's claim about finding the ark.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen