April 28, 2010

Is This Really Noah’s Ark?

A group of evangelical explorers from China and Turkey believe that they have discovered remains from Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat, according to various media reports on Tuesday.

According to the team, carbon dating has shown that the wooden pieces of a structure discovered on the Turkish mountain are 4,800 years old, which would place them in the same era that the biblical ark was said to have existed.

"It's not 100 percent that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it," documentary filmmaker Yeung Wing-cheung, the leader of the 15-person team, told the AFP on April 27. Furthermore, Yeung told the news agency that the structure, which had several compartments that could have been used to transport animals, is unlikely to belong to any human settlement as none have ever been found that high up on the mountain.

"The search team and I personally entered a wooden structure high on the mountain," Man-fai Yuen, a representative of Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) and a participant in the expedition, said in a statement posted on the organization's official website. "The structure is partitioned into different spaces. We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals."

Search team leader Ahmet Ertugrul said that he was first informed of the location in June 2008, and after learning from a source that the structure might in fact be Noah's Ark, he took pictures of the location and then informed officials with NAMI, with whom he said he had worked with for several years. That led to the most recent expedition, which according to the NAMI website, is "the first team in history ever to visually document the interior of the wood structure on the mountain."

"The expedition was difficult," team member Panda Lee said. "We stayed a few days in base camp at 2,800 meters above sea level in order to acclimatize. All of us suffered various symptoms of mountain sickness."

"The weather on Mount Ararat was unpredictable," she added. "Fine sunny weather would be overwhelmed by heavy fog in an instant. The difference in day and night temperatures was as large as 30 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures dropped below minus 20 degrees C and one night it even snowed. The last section of the route leading to the site was very rugged. We negotiated steep terrain of 60 degrees and could see rock basalts rolling towards us: the sunshine caused melting snow to loosen, which rolled down. Some of the rock basalts were as large as a head and could seriously have injured anyone hit."

Istanbul University professor Oktay Belli called the expedition, "the greatest discovery in history," telling Joe Kovacs of World Net Daily, "This finding is very important and the greatest up to now." Not everyone agrees, however, as some experts are skeptical of the discovery.

"You have to take everything out of context except the Bible to get something tolerable, and they're not even working much with the Bible," Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist and historian at Stony Brook University, told Alan Boyle of MSNBC.com. "It's not inconceivable to me that they've found pieces of wood at that level, but that doesn't mean they've found an ark."

"It would be nice to know what they have found - if there's a scientific publication in the offing," he added. "Press releases are not the way archaeology advances."

Cornell archaeologist Peter Ian Kuniholm was even more skeptical, telling Boyle that the expedition was nothing but a "crock," adding, "These guys have already gotten the answer worked out ahead of time, and then they go out to prove it"¦ [but] there's not enough H2O in the world to get an ark that high up a mountain."

Many previous expeditions have claimed to have found the 450-foot ark, as described in the Bible's Book of Genesis. In 2004, a Hawaiian businessman attempted to investigate the peak of Mount Ararat, but was denied permission by Turkish Authorities.

Two years later, an expedition from the Bible Archeology Search and Exploration Institute, claimed to have discovered a wooden structure similar to the ark, complete with fossilized sea creatures, but no independent evidence was ever found to support their claims, according to Ben Lynch of the UK newspaper The Telegraph.


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