Institute for Creation (Credulous) Research (Retards), PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voi
Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021
Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469
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No. 231 "Vital Articles on Science/Creation" September 1992
The Search for Noah's Ark: Status 1992
by John D. Morris*, Ph.D.
Copyright (c) 1992 by I.C.R.
All Rights Reserved
* Professor of Geology and Administrative Vice President at ICR.
Director, Ararat Project.
Since the search for the Ark began in the 1940s, evidence has continued
to mount that the remains of a barge-like structure still exist
somewhere on Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey. This evidence consists
primarily of reports by individuals who claim to have seen the Ark.
Unfortunately, none of these accounts have been substantiated by
documentation. Thus, all are to some degree questionable, and each
should be held lightly. It can rightly be said that without these
"eyewitness" reports, there would be no reason to look for the Ark, for
the Bible contains no prophecy that it would be found. Indeed, it would
be unlikely to have survived, apart from providential intervention.
These "eyewitnesses" all describe the Ark in the same general fashion--a
large rectangular barge, usually with a catwalk, a "window," running its
entire length. They likewise describe it as being high on the mountain,
but not as high as the summit. They generally claim that only a portion
of it can be seen, usually at the end of a long, hot summer, the rest
covered by snow or rock. Most claim it is in very steep terrain,
perhaps on a ledge adjacent to a cliff. For a variety of reasons, no
one has been able to pinpoint the location.
The Bible claims that "the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat"
(Genesis 8:4). Ararat was a region -- a country -- in the time of
Moses, which included the mountain today known as Mt. Ararat, and much
other territory. Thus the Bible does not specify a location in this
region other than implying a high elevation, for it took
two-and-one-half months for other mountains to appear (verse 5). The
main reason to look on Greater Mt. Ararat is because the majority of the
eyewitnesses identify it as the site of their discovery, and their
stories, which are unrelated, substantially agree.
The Bible tells us something of the construction of the Ark (Genesis
6:14-16) with three stories, a "window" structure on top, and "pitch"
within and without. Noah was commanded to build it with "rooms" for
he animals. The "gopher wood," from which the Ark was made, is
unidentified, and some have even speculated that it may have been a
The gross dimensions are given in cubits: three-hundred cubits long by
fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. A cubit is usually thought
o be the distance from a man's elbow to his fingertips, but it seemed
o vary from one civilization to another. Estimates vary from 17.5
inches to 24 inches. For convenience, most use a conservative figure of
18 inches, making the Ark 450 feet by 75 feet by 45 feet. Even at that,
it was a huge vessel, certainly big enough to carry two (or in some
cases seven) of each "kind" of land-dwelling, air-breathing animal.
Beyond these few details, nothing more is said of the Ark, other than
that it was sufficient for the journey.
My first trip to eastern Turkey was in 1971, and I have returned twelve
times since, the last being in 1989. Some expeditions have been more
successful than others, but each has been an adventure. The
difficulties primarily lie in gaining access to the mountain from the
central government, and in dealing with local officials. Once on the
mountain, we have been able to search a number of specific sites, and
have discovered many archaeological remains, but the Ark itself has not
been found. Several other expeditions have also joined the search,
ith similar results.
Traditionally, the search was on foot, but in recent years the Turkish
government has allowed the use of both helicopters and airplanes.
ince ground expeditions usually have been only minimally effective,
there is, in my opinion, no reason for further climbing expeditions,
except perhaps for sonar surveys on the ice cap itself, and also to
check out discoveries made from the air.
Political instability in the area limits access to eastern Turkey. Most
notably, the Kurdish minority has been clamoring for independence, a
movement which has gained international attention due to the tragic
plight of ethnic Kurds in Iraq, not far to the south. The borders of
Turkey, Iran, and the former Soviet state, Armenia, all come together
t the base of Mt. Ararat, with predictable tensions. The recent breakup
of the Soviet Union has further destabilized the area, as Armenia and
Azerbaijan feud over borders.
Well-planned expeditions, with high-altitude helicopters and sensitive
scientific equipment, received permission to search from both air and
ground in 1990 and 1991, but each was cancelled over the issue of Iraq
and Kuwait, and then the Kurdish problem ensued.
On a personal note, with my own responsibilities at ICR increasing over
the years, I have found it necessary to cut back on my involvement in
the search. My interest remains, but I have no plans to launch another
ICR-sponsored expedition. However, I have maintained contact with the
various expeditions actively seeking permits, and there remains the
possibility that I would consider participating in a well-planned,
high-tech, aerial search. Other than that, I maintain sincere
friendships with other groups involved, but only nominally keep abreast
Interestingly enough, there are a few individuals who claim the Ark has
already been found. They point to an interesting boat-shaped formation
discovered in 1959 in a Turkish aerial mapping project. It is situated
some seventeen miles from the summit of Greater Ararat (i.e., with the
"mountains of Ararat"), is of a size compatible with the Biblical
dimensions (515 feet by 138 feet), and is in a streamlined "boat shape."
The site has been investigated several times over the years, first in
1960 by a joint Turkish-American expedition, then by several groups in
the '60s and '70s. My first efforts to study it in 1975 were thwarted
by the local military, but two subsequent surveys were more fruitful.
My conclusion, and the conclusion of almost every other team, was that
it is an unusual geologic phenomenon, but not Noah's Ark.
In the late 1970s, Mr. Ron Wyatt began studying the area. While a
non-scientist, Wyatt tirelessly surveyed the area, eventually marshaling
several lines of evidence to support his contention that this formation
is Noah's Ark. Eventually, Wyatt joined forces with David Fasold, Dr.
John Baumgardner, Dr. Allen Roberts, and others.
Baumgardner, a geophysicist, was able to perform several scientific
tests on the site, such as magnetometry, ground-penetrating radar,
seismic, and finally, core drilling. Although he was at first open to
the possibility that the site was the Ark, Baumgardner now contends he
has disproved the hypothesis, especially by the core-drilling, which
revealed only the sorts of rock on the nearby hillsides, and nothing of
Meanwhile, Wyatt and Fasold have both published books on the "discovery"
of the Ark, although they have now parted company and disagree about
many of the important details.
Wyatt claims he has found much petrified wood, of a type which had no
tree rings. (He holds that pre-Flood trees had no rings.) Fasold claims
the Ark was constructed of cemented reeds which have since decayed away.
Wyatt talks of the remains of three decks, rooms, and timbers, while
Fasold feels the impression of the decayed ship is about all that
remains. Both refer to "drogue stones," or stones suspended by rope
from a boat and used to maintain stability and navigation. Both refer
to corroded metal fittings, which they claim are found in rows,
delineating the "ribs of the ship," as indicated by metal detectors and
especially a "molecular frequency generator." This device, which
includes two hand-held brass rods that cross when the sub-surface target
is located, has been used by both to generate significant aspects of
their data. Let me comment briefly on each of these points:
On my two field studies and the investigations by many others,
and in the microscopic study of samples gathered at the site, no
petrified wood has been found. The rock types are somewhat exotic,
but I have found neither wood nor cemented reeds. (By the way,
petrified woods from before the Flood do have tree rings. Evidently,
while the seasons may not have been as pronounced, they were
sufficient to produce rings in the woody trees, as is obvious by
studying petrified wood from numerous geologic layers.)
The reliable subsurface tests do show distinct buried layers, but
core drilling identified these layers as rock surfaces natural to
The drogue stones are found at some distance from the site; the
nearest one, to my knowledge, being fourteen miles away. They are
not dissimilar to many tombstones in the area, and are currently
found in graveyards.
The metal "fittings" are a serious overstatement. Much metallic ore
is present in the surrounding hillsides and on the site.
igneous cobbles are frequently present, which contain high
concentrations of naturally occurring magnetic minerals. A metal
detector will indicate this high concentration, which could be
mistaken for a metal object. The sporadic cobbles were not found in
a straight line, according to those present at the time, but ribbons
connecting the locations of these cobbles did obviously appear in
a line. Subsequent metal-detector surveys by several independent
parties, including Baumgardner, have not discerned any pattern.
The molecular frequency generator, with its crossing, hand-held,
brass rods, appears to employ the ancient art of divination -- a
practice thoroughly condemned by Scripture. At best, the results
are hardly considered trustworthy. But it is this device which
has produced the main support for the claim of metal fittings.
Both Fasold and Wyatt are articulate and assertive in their manner, and
many have been convinced. They have aggressively promoted themselves
and their works, and in so doing, have intimidated many and frustrated
serious scientists and Ark searchers. Both have shown a tendency to
attack, personally, those who disagree with them. In their writings
nd interviews, each has demonstrated disdain for Christians, in general,
and ICR, in particular.
The site itself has received some attention with Turkey, and there is
n effort to promote it as the Ark, in hopes of receiving tourist
dollars. An unfurnished "visitor's center" has been built overlooking
the site. Unfortunately, getting to the site is difficult. A narrow,
rutted, dirt road winds up a steep hillside to a nearby village, but it
is not navigable by many cars. Claims of a six-lane highway leading to
the site are false.
My own geologic survey, coupled with microscopic analysis of all the
rocks gathered and the thoughts of Baumgardner and others, has led to
the conclusion that the formation, which rests between two hills on the
side of a larger hillside, was formed as soil and mud slid downhill
around a stable area, leaving a streamlined shape. Suffice it to say
that there is a perfectly straightforward geologic explanation for the
formation, and absolutely no indication that it is of archaeological
Efforts to launch meaningful expeditions in the summer of 1992 were
minimized by ongoing tensions in the area. But while the search has
changed over the years and been tainted with much controversy, there
s no shortage of veterans who want to return, and new groups attempting
to launch their own efforts. We trust any future expedition will be
conducted with integrity, all the while bathed in prayer, for until God
intervenes, the Ark's whereabouts will remain a mystery.
This "Impact" was converted to ASCII, for BBS use,
from the original formatted desktop article.
Comments regarding typographical errors
in the above material are appreciated.
Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator
Fax: (619) 448-0900
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