Quick Notes:

  • Most are familiar with the biblical allegory of “Noah’s Ark.” But has any evidence been found to support this story?
  • Researchers have been trying for years to uncover the truth but the Turkish government, who has jurisdiction over Mt. Ararat, rarely allow them to do so.
  • Due to the amount of false evidence presented, experts are skeptical of any “new” discoveries.

Ahh, Sunday school. Remember the good old days of flannel-graph boards, your favorite leather buckled saddle shoes, and 70-year-old volunteer teachers of indiscernible cultural origin?

It’s one of the venues where a great many of us learned our rights from our wrongs and our Galatians from our Hittites. Many of those lessons end up following us for the rest of our lives, no matter which direction it may lead us. 

Looking back, what were your favorite Bible stories? Were you entranced by the mystical Garden of Eden? The mysterious Burning Bush? Or was it wee David slaying the feared and colossal Goliath?

Whether you consider yourself to be a believer or not, these revered stories have imprinted in the minds of those both young and old for thousands upon thousands of years. But, due to the time gone by, little known physical evidence exists to reliably back up any of these stories.

Until … now?

Ark! Who goes there?

Over the last decade and change, groups of truth-seeking researchers have been venturing out on a series of expeditions to find what they believed to be the resting place of the fabled Noah’s Ark. More surprisingly, however, is according to them — they found it!

These teams believe that the great Ark that is responsible for shepherding all of civilization after God got mega P.O.ed at us is currently resting at around the 13,000-foot mark atop Turkey’s Mount Ararat! Goodness, gracious! 

Through advanced aerial photography, not to mention the advent of drones, documentation of the spot is getting more in-depth leaving curious archaeologists with the desire to explore the rumored remnants. But that is easier said than done. 

The Turkish government, out of fear of what is or isn’t up there, has had a long-standing history of not allowing excavators up to the peak to peek around! What are they trying to hide?

“I don’t know of any expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn’t find it,” said clearly a skeptic of the finding Dr. Paul Zimansky, a Middle East archaeologist from New York’s Stony Brook University.

Haters gonna hate 

While there may be truth to the idea that anyone truly looking for something can find it. (Like me whenever I am in desperate need for something new to worry about … Say, what is that mole on my forearm? Haven’t seen that before).

The teams self-tasked with tracking down this Ark truly believe that they’ve found the Real McCoy. Or the “real Machnadebai,” as it may be. That name has no Ark-connection, it’s just also biblical. 

“It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark … but we think it is 99.9% that this is it,” said overly confident filmmaker Yeung Wing-Cheung, who accompanied one of the research teams on their series of treks to the rumored location.

The Araks River and Ararat mountain (background) on the Armenian-Turkish border. The snow-capped mountain — named in the Bible as the place Noah’s Ark grounded after the Great Flood — dominates the horizon from as far away as Armenia’s capital Yerevan. (Hakob Berberyan/AFP via Getty Images).

Before we go any farther along, let’s take a moment to set some ground rules. I’m not sure what anyone out there in reader-land is conjuring up in their minds, but there is no belief that anyone is going to reach the spot and find a pristine, sea-ready ship prepared to load in two of every creature once more. After all, it’s been a minute! 

What they are attempting to search for are small fragments of wooden remnants left behind, embedded deeply into the soil, sometimes hundreds of feet below the surface.

But if they did stumble upon a few rainbow Unicorn horns, I guess that would be pretty sweet!

Two of every kind

According to their reports, back in 1997 and 1998, a team cleverly named “Noah’s Ark Ministries International,” found seven (a biblical number) wooden planks at the aforementioned height of roughly 4,000 meters above sea level.

Based on reports from the team composed of members from both China and Turkey, the planks were precisely the same age as the wood used on the ark would have been! That opinion is not shared by everyone, however.

I’m really, really skeptical that this could possibly be Noah’s Ark,” said clearly grumpy biologist Todd Wood, a great name for a guy who seems to know a lot about wood. “The (theorized) wood date is way, way, way too young.”

Professor Wood, who formerly served as the Director of the Center for Origins Research at Tennessee’s Bryan College, is a creationist himself who teaches and believes that God created Mother Earth and all of our celestial homies out of the dust a mere 6,000 years back, give or take a couple of millennia.

But even with his core faith backing him up, he has a hard time accepting that they’ve found the long-sought-after Ark. 

“If you just got off the ark, and there are no trees (due to the great flood), what are you going to build your house out of? You’ve got a huge boat made of wood, so let’s use that,” he told National Geographic in 2010. “So I think it got torn apart and scavenged for building material basically.”

But … Could some of those build sites have been atop a sweet mountain in modern-day Turkey? Sure the structure may not resemble a ship (as we’ve already established), but the evidence of its existence could still be close by. 

Journey to the edge of the earth 

Jumping ahead a few years, in 2017, a Seventh Day Adventist-sponsored group called the Geoscience Research Institute made their pilgrimage to the region and, as suspected, they also found exactly what they seemed to be looking for.

“My purpose (was) to visit the sites around the mountain to find clues about catastrophic events in the past,” said professor Raul Esperante who led the group on their perilous trek. 

Esperante promised to fully document the events of his journey via books and scientific journals, but to date, few are readily available for critical review. “Once the scientific community knows about the existence of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, we can make it available to the general public,” Esperante said.

Sounds good. Any day now would be nice…

“All of the previous claims that Noah’s Ark has been discovered have turned out to be outright hoaxes,”  countered University of Texas Bible Scholar Brent Landau.  “With wooden beams or other artifacts planted there by the discoverers themselves—or natural rock formations that look somewhat like a giant boat. I am quite confident that this present claim will turn out to be more of the same,” Landua told Newsweek upon the supposed discovery in 2017.

Despite the findings of the 2007/2008 team as well as Esperante’s California-based exhibition, there are some out there who just can’t be bothered to be impressed by the potentially world-changing discoveries. 

“If floodwaters covered Eurasia 12,000ft deep in 2,800 B.C., how did the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already many centuries old, keep right on regardless?” said Oxford lecturer Nicholas Purcell who clearly is not familiar with the premise of the Waterworld film.

But he does have an argument. According to an analysis from the University of Sydney’s Dr. Andrew Snelling, Mount Ararat wouldn’t have formed in its current state until after the supposed floodwaters had receded. But I guess the Ark could’ve landed there and they have grown with the crag, like those bikes who get swallowed up by trees as they grow. Right? 

The Animals Board Noah’s Ark. Found in the Collection of Art History Museum, Vienne. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Image via Getty Images).

Well I guess it would be nice … if I could touch your celestial body

As someone who grew up in Sunday School and goes to church regularly today, one of the core principles of belief is the big F-word: Faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 states: “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

So even with the discovery of “proof” that one of our most well-known tales was, in fact, true, shouldn’t mean a whole heckuva lot to believers anyway. 

We never needed to see it to believe it and anyone who didn’t believe the stories prior probably isn’t going to be turned around by a few moldy logs in the dirt, no matter how impressive their history may be. 

While I do think it would be cool for a “breaking news” bulletin to flash across the bottom of my screen during reruns of Family Feud telling me about the discovery of the stone that lodged itself into Goliath’s skull or the tomb where which Jesus stayed for three days prior to his reemergence, those discoveries would also take away a great deal away from what makes faith-based religion so great.

If everyone could see it in order to believe it, no one would need to trust.

Until the next adventure

So while future exhibitions to Mount Ararat may be filled with good-natured people driven only by their quest for truth and likely a lucrative book deal will likely return time and time again with more definite news as to what they found up there, remember to take their findings with a grain of salt.

But not too much salt. You don’t want to end up like Lot’s wife. 

If all of this talk of biblical Ark’s and archeologists is giving you those nostalgic  Indiana Jones flashbacks, that is a-okay.

Telling the story of a handsome Dr. Jones fighting his way out of modern-day Turkish prisons on his journey to find the mythical ship would definitely make for a tremendous fourth movie in the franchise (and yes, I am conveniently ignoring that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ever happened).

But until that day comes, we will just have to settle for what millions of wide-eyed school children have done for generations and daydream about the Ark and it’s constantly fur-shedding contents (seriously, can you imagine the clean-up? Or the smell?). It might not be the etched-in-wood answer that these adventurers want, but perhaps it is the one that truly makes the most sense.

Or, they can watch Evan Almighty.

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