What's all this talk of Noah's ark?

Those who have an interest in current affairs will have noticed that articles about Noah’s Ark keep appearing every so often in the world’s media.  The subject first became topical in the late 1950’s after high altitude aerial photographs revealed a boat-shaped structure in the mountains of Ararat region, in Eastern Turkey. The precise location was 10 miles ESE of Dogubayazit in the province of Agri. In 1960 Life Magazine published this photo as did the Australian Pix Magazine. Over the next two decades archaeological research was conducted on this boat shaped structure by various groups of scientists including researchers from Ataturk University. (On British television in 1996, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary entitled “Quest for the Ark” which followed the six year investigation  of one of these teams led by  David Fasold).

 In 1977 the Turkish Government officially declared it to be the decayed remains of Noah’s Ark and in June 1987 established the “Noah’s Ark National Park” with a Visitors Centre overlooking the site. Since then tourists and church groups have been able to visit the site for themselves although it is far off the beaten track and expensive to reach. (For the less intrepid a summary of all this research  is publicised by Anchor Stone International and may be viewed on www.anchorstone.com).

But what do you see if you actually manage to get there?  Well, to answer that question really depends on ones expectations. Those who had  hoped that when the Ark was found,  it would be found  preserved in ice and almost intact are often disappointed by what they see. Those however who are more concerned about simply proving the authenticity of Scripture often come away inspired.

Two curious visitors, Leigh Winsbury and Surinder Panesar   went to the site in October 2009. Leigh wrote the following description of what they saw and feelings it generated.

“Well then it’s real”, I said, with a silly grin on my face. Surinder looked back at me, still trying to be logical and dispassionate. “I don’t see what else it could be” he conceded. We had been on the remains of Noah’s Ark for about an hour and we were convinced. We had travelled for two days to get to this remote part of easternmost Turkey, right on the Iranian border, to satisfy a curiosity which had burned in me throughout a much longer journey.

I had been a young teenager when a TV documentary had announced the finding of Noah’s Ark. I had watched fascinated as Ron Wyatt and David Fasold had trailed over this enormous boat-shaped heap with metal detection equipment marking out buried bulkheads and beams from decomposed iron deposits. I wasn’t yet a Christian but this was monumental; a discovery like this should change the way we think about everything.

So what had we actually gone to see? Ten to twelve miles south of Ararat, across the plain and back up into the mountain range which becomes Iran, there is a shape in the hills. A huge boat shape, like a drawn-out speedboat, pointed at the uphill southern end, rounded at the downhill northern end. The eroded remains of walls projecting up from the ground can be seen, in some places merely a foot or two in height but most of the way around much higher, anything up to 35 feet. Imagine a giant, stretched out  wooden rowing boat  laid on uneven  ground with sand heaped  up around it mostly to the gunwales and sand heaped inside it and piled up to the bottom left causing that quarter to bow out. The whole thing is pierced through the side as it hangs on to a massive limestone rock intrusion  and it appears to be this which keeps it in place as the surrounding valley, one huge alluvial mudflow, travels continually along past the ship with each wet season and earth tremor.

The sceptics said it was just a freak natural formation, the enthusiasts said it was remains of the Ark. I wanted to know for myself, so long before I left England I did research into what exactly I should look out for. To begin with the dimensions fitted the Biblical description.  But could it still be a coincidental natural formation? My mission was to look for convincing evidence that this was a man made structure.

When we first approached the steep cliff-like north western side, the first thing that struck us was a pattern of vertical lines running down about 3 feet apart. I had seen photos of this feature with claims that it showed the planking on the side of the Ark. We climbed inside the walls. I had read about and seen pictures of the claimed remains of petrified wooden beam ends projecting through the walls. The pictures I had seen always seemed to show the same two lumps so nothing prepared me for the vast number of these projections. They were everywhere, easy to see and easy to measure. This was celebration time. What we discovered was a continuous row of vertical beams all along the wall tops at roughly  5 foot intervals. This row was echoed by a double row inside the structure, visible at the north end but then disappearing into the heap of infill. Horizontal beams could be seen anywhere the wall was high enough and clear of debris, at the same intervals. At one point a section of the wall had broken right away and is in the process of collapse, but on this part three levels of rows of beams are visible, revealing the height between the decks to have been around 10’6”.

So, can I now prove that this was the Ark? Well, this is what I learned.
1.    It is the remains of a giant man-made object.
2.    It is definitely boat-shaped and isn’t a castle, barn, town wall or anything else I can think of.
4.    Its position is   in the mountains of Ararat as stated Scripture.
5.    Most of the place names in the area relate to the story of the Ark. For instance, Al judi is the name of the whole mountain. This is the name given in the Qu’ran as the landing place of the Ark. Nisir is the ancient name of Uzengili the village 500 yards from the site. This is named in the Epic of Gilgamesh as the landing site. Yigityatagi is the name of the cliff at the top of the mountain. It means “anchor place of heroes”. And my favourite, the village two miles away is called “crow won’t land”. Marvellous.

Well if that wasn’t enough, we also travelled out to a small village called Arzep in the middle of a wide valley plain called “the region of eight” named after the eight survivors from the Ark. Here we were shown around by our guide Zafer Onay and a village elder called Faizal. This plain is home to several massive stone monuments. What is special about them is that they have a whole drilled right through them near the top, large enough to take a rope about as thick as my arm. Apart from their size they follow the same general design as drogue stones which have been recovered from the Nile and the Mediterranean. These stones were lowered from vessels into the water to act as stabilisers in rough weather and to slow the passage of a vessel in fast water. The question is, what are these giant versions doing in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from the nearest navigable water? The connection was obvious to us as it was obvious to the Crusaders who came this way on pilgrimage and carved eight crosses on everything they could find which related to the Ark.

Needless to say we came home quite happy that we had indeed been on board the ship that saved Mankind by God’s design and I don’t mind confessing that it was quite an emotional experience once we were certain.
Leigh Winsbury

Stories of a worldwide flood abound in legends and folklore. It has been estimated that there are 200 or more separate   “flood accounts” from around the world, each telling much the same thing; a global flood, a Noah like figure, a giant ship and a handful of survivors. French archaeologist Andre Parrot stated that with so many separate accounts it was difficult to deny that there must be some factual basis to these stories.  He wrote “There can be no question that the flood marked a clean break in history. The memory of it remained vividly in men’s minds. The cataclysm was accompanied by destruction on such a scale and made such an impression that it became one of the themes of cuneiform literature.”

According to Scripture, the Flood was accompanied by unprecedented volcanic and seismic upheavals on a global scale. The first recorded event of the Flood is in fact a reference to movements of the earth’s crust.  In Genesis ch 7 v 11 it states “on the same day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Oceanic basins would have been fractured and uplifted and these prolonged geologic upheavals continued for five months. There would have been volcanic explosions, earthquakes, the rising and sinking of land masses and mountain ranges and   the disappearance of entire continents under water. The disturbing thing about the blockbuster film 2012 is that some of the scenes shown provide an all too  vivid picture of what it must have been like.

Genesis ch 1v 7 refers to “waters above the firmament” surrounding the planet.   This water vapour canopy in the outer atmosphere collapsed at the time of these seismic upheavals and today’s oceans are composed  of  much of this water, the earth still being 70% submerged. During this time numerous living creatures were quickly buried in the swirling sediments to produce fossils. This explains the existence of vast fossil beds lying across various parts of the world. Under the ordinary processes of nature, fossilisation rarely occurs   because bones   first require quick burial   in order to preserve them from scavenging and decay.  The quick burial occurring at the time of the Flood, therefore, provided ideal conditions for the process of fossilisation to take place and explains why there are millions of fossils in the world today.

In pre-flood times the existence of this water vapour canopy would have made the earth’s climate and environment dramatically different from what we have now. The resulting “greenhouse effect” would have made the planet an ideal habitation. It wouldn’t have been cold in the polar regions nor overly hot at the equator.  The discovery of plant and animal remains in the Arctic supports this, by revealing that at one time the area was warm enough for wheat and barley to grow, likewise cave paintings in the Sahara desert demonstrate that this area was at one time fertile and green.

Those inhabiting the earth at this time were living in a perfect environment with their DNA and their entire physical bodies being fully protected from the sun’s damaging radiation. According to Scripture the process of degeneration or aging of the human body was so slow under these conditions that people lived for hundreds of years. All this changed dramatically after the Flood. It is fascinating to plot the ages of those who lived in pre-flood times and compare it with the ages of those who lived afterwards. After the Flood the process of aging and degeneration becomes   so rapid we now survive but three score years and ten. (Psalm 90 v10)
The common perception of ancient Man is that he was simple, primitive and lacking knowledge but the real truth is very different. The pyramids of Egypt with their alignment to the stars, their complex structure and  precise construction  is testimony that  ancient Man had  great technological  skills, understanding and motivation, to build  vast structures.  Indeed, it is debatable as to whether or not we could build the same kind of structures today. To the Ancients the construction of an Ark the size and length of an ocean liner would have been well within their technical abilities.

Jesus referred to the Flood as being a real, literal and terrifying event rather than being some kind of metaphorical story. (Luke ch 17vs26-27).  There is abundant evidence to show that the remains of the Ark have indeed been found and   that the Flood was a real event so whether or not an individual accepts this evidence is actually a spiritual issue rather than anything else. The problem is that many people don’t   want to believe in either the Ark or the Flood because of what it stands for. The existence of Noah’s Ark is a sobering reminder that God is not mocked and that He won’t tolerate evil behaviour.  It is an inconvenient and uncomfortable reminder that God judges sin and wickedness and is calling on us all to repent and turn to righteousness. It is sometimes more comfortable to ignore evidence rather than acknowledge the truth of God’s reality.

The site of Noah’s Ark only became visible and exposed   in 1948 due to an earthquake breaking up and lowering   the surrounding mud flow.  1948 also saw the official rebirth of Israel as a nation which had long been predicted in Bible prophecy. (See the article entitled Israel and the Middle East in Prophecy). The discovery of the Ark and the rebirth of the Jewish nation in the same year are reminders that God’s timing is perfect.  They are two profoundly significant events for those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear”.  May these events encourage us all towards a closer walk with God that when Jesus Christ returns we are ready and prepared to meet Him.