Our Visit to the Noah’s Ark Site
October 10-12, 2000
Our Noah’s Ark Visit
My wife and I were part of a group of thirteen people (all from USA except one from Hong Kong) to visit the Noah’s Ark site and view its remains as part of an Anchor Stone International Tour sponsored for the first time in October of 2000. I had been waiting for a trip like this for a long time. Since the early 1990s no organized tour to the site could be arranged due to the political instability in the region which borders with Iran where the Kurd nationalists have been staging violent demonstrations and attacks. During our tour leader’s visit a few months ago to the site he learned the place is safe for visitors. So we became part of the first group of visitors. Our group leader was Bill Fry who runs the Anchorstone web site which features Noah’s Ark and other discoveries. Our Turkish guide was the young and brilliant Zafer who spoke English, Turkish and Kurdish languages, a hard combination to find.
We flew from USA to Istanbul (a city worth seeing for all its history – it was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, remnants of which are left behind). The next day we flew to Van in southeast Turkey, and then took a ride on the rented bus to Dogubayazit (pronounced, ‘Doubayazit’), the closest town to the Ark site. See area maps.
Since there was still some day time, we proceeded directly to the site, going southeast for about 12 miles. There is a sign post on the road pointing to the right, ‘Nuhun Gemisi’, meaning, ‘Noah’s Ark’. Our group took a picture there, shown on the front page.
We took the right turn and passed through a park and village towards a military base (soldiers are seen frequently in the area, and we had to stop at several check posts on the main road; no photos!). From there we turned left toward the mountain top through zig-zag unpaved roads, climbing 1500 ft over a distance of two miles, taking about 15 minutes for the climb. Deep ravines or crevasses were on our left side. The Ark formation, shown below, is barely visible from the valley base, but then disappears from view due to intervening hills until we get real close to it. The Turkish government built in 1987 a Visitors Center on the hill opposite to the Ark site, and our bus could reach the Center. Many years back only a horse ride or walk would take you up there.
The Ark shape is unmistakable, spanning a distance of 515 ft in a north-south direction. This is exactly 300 cubits as the Bible says, if we assume the cubit is the royal Egyptian cubit of 20.6 inches, as found elsewhere. The front end is elevated from the back end by 125 ft, and the front end faces the mountain ranges on the southern side. In fact, mountains surround the horizon on all sides except the north (tail end) which is the valley. The second photo (by Wyatt Archaeological Research) gives a panoramic view of the boat shape and the Visitors Center.
A spectacular aerial photo of the Ark shape and the surrounding area, sent to me by Michael Bonilla (one of our tour members), and available from WAR, is shown below.
However, far beyond to the north is Mt. Ararat, 18 miles away. Its two peaks are visible on a clear day. The higher peak (Greater Ararat) is about 17,000 ft high. So Noah’s Ark came to rest after traveling from north to south for some distance. The valley must have been still full of water while it sailed through, but the water level had fallen to the level of the present site, about 6500 ft above sea level at the time of landing. I am showing below a photo taken by W.A.R. in 1996 from the Ark site from which the Mt. Ararat peaks can be seen clearly.
On our first day of visit, unexpectedly the place was very windy at 4 pm, and we could barely get out of the Visitor’s Center. After taking some pictures we left for a return visit the following day.
We stayed at the Urartu hotel in Dogubayazit, eating dinner at the Cinar (pronounced, ‘Chinar’ or ‘Shinar’ – remember the Tower of Babel in the plains of Shinar?). Dogubayazit is a rustic town, and its hotels and other facilities are tolerable. Turkish ‘Chay’ (tea) served in small glasses is a specialty everywhere.
The next morning we returned to the Ark site. The Visitor’s Center has many picture displays, and a polite custodian (Hassan) brings tea for visitors. We signed the guest book which has 1500 entries in the last 18 months from all over the world. This was remarkable because very few from America have gone there, and there is virtually no publicity from the travel agencies or books. I wondered how they all came there. My wife numbered all the pages of the guest book while she was waiting inside on the third day of our visit.
Going down from the Visitor’s Center to the Ark site (not more than half a mile away) is no easy task. The ground is rocky with chunks of dark lava stones (this is an area of lava flow) and thorny bushes. Also, we had to cross some crevasses or avoid them; these probably resulted from earthquakes (the last one was in 1978). The Ark appeared to be not very large from the Visitor’s Center, but once we got there, it was really large. We climbed from the tail end (north) to the front end. Along the center is a hump all the way, and it is like climbing a hill. Both sides are raised, as you would expect for a boat. Of course there is no wood to be seen; everything is fossilized. Different colored rocks, light reddish to dark are seen on the top. The elevated sides are dark with heavy rock structure. Overall, in the dry season the shape is like a boat filled with grain and bulging in the middle. The width of the Ark shape is about 160 ft, almost twice as the 50 cubits (88 ft) in the biblical account. This is believed to be due to lengthwise splitting and spaying as the Ark slid down from a higher elevation some time in the past due to lava flow. The large rock near the center is what probably stopped the Ark from further sliding down.
We had heard about iron rivets in the body of the boat shape underground. There was one exposed rivet on the left ridge towards the northern end. Photographs of the raised edge and the rivet are shown below. A metal detector that one of the tour members had brought sensed the iron (or other metals). Previous explorers have recovered at least one full size rivet from the interior.
To reach the steep sides one has to go out and walk along. On the left (eastern) side we saw halfway the gaping hole towards the top that was formed when the 1960 expedition team had dynamited the area to recover something of the boat, but they found nothing. On the right side was a drilled hole for taking sample (Ron Wyatt apparently did this during his visits in the 1977-93 time frame. Read more about Ron later). Shown below are the dynamited area, and an exposed rock in another part which resembles petrified wood.
The western steep side of the boat shape (closer to the Visitor Center) has been studied more carefully by previous researchers. When this side is brushed off, it shows vertical bands of alternate dark and light coloration, evenly spaced. The picture shown below is taken from Wyatt’s photos of the Ark site. If anyone argues that the boat shape is a natural formation, how can the stripes be explained? The darker stripes are the ‘ribs’ of the boat structure! We have already seen that the presence of iron rivets (numerous rivets have been suspected in the interior) also supports the man-made nature of the artifact.
The surrounding land is hilly and rocky, but sheep grazing was going on. Up above on the southwestern hillside was the village of Uzengeli. It is not safe to wander around there too far due to sheep dogs and possibly unfriendly villagers. The village children were in the field, grazing sheep and some collecting rock pieces to sell to visitors. We, of course, collected our samples. Larger size petrified rock pieces were prize items, but at the airport one has to convince the inspectors that you are not taking anything valuable.
We returned to the site the next morning for a last look, and for more pictures. This could very well be the last trip for most of us to the site. It was a dream come true to be at this most ancient and memorable site. Think of it: all mankind descended from the eight survivors of the Flood 5,000 years ago and it started right here at the site.
The Ark site looked dull due to the dry season. It could appear greenish during spring, and the area would be covered with snow in winter months with sub-zero temperatures. Summer is usually the best time to visit.
The site we visited is somewhat controversial because most Creationists hold that the Ark landed on Mt. Ararat. They contend that the Ark shape is natural, not of a man-made object. I shall address this question later.
About fifteen miles away from the Ark site, northwest of Dogubayazit, is a village called Kazan, also called The Village of Eight. We made a short visit of the village where Kurdish people live. Our tour guide could talk to them. A dozen of the villagers, mostly women and children (some wild boys included) curiously watched us as we passed by their dwelling places (low houses with slab roof, one low door, inside dark). Adjacent to the houses were pens (enclosures with loosely packed stone walls) for keeping the sheep at night. The boys constantly pursued us for money; we gave some candy we had brought, and I took digital pictures and showed them. This was fascinating for even the women who became friendly. We found not too far from the houses something like a graveyard with large stone slabs, some upright and some lying flat. All had crosses on them. One large slab was standing up with a large hole (four inches wide) at the top. It was about seven feet tall, four feet wide and three fourth foot thick (not uniform). This had Crosses and a boat shape carved on them.
The villagers who are Kurdish Moslems are late occupants of this area and know nothing of these stones or the carvings on them; before that Armenian Christians had lived there for centuries. It is believed that they had carved these shapes to portray the Flood and its survivors. Some of the anchor stones have exactly eight Crosses. Why are they called anchor stones? The Ark researchers such as Ron Wyatt and David Fasold believed that these were suspended from the sides of the Ark for stability, and were cut off some time before landing. I think a better explanation is that these dropped when the ropes were broken which explains why these stones are not all in one place. This valley would be filled with water to several hundred feet depth, so there would be no reason to cut them off. Obviously the Ark passed through this area. Another anchor stone lying on the ground nearby had no markings. We asked permission to the village male adults to turn it around to see if there are markings on the other side, but the suspicious people rejected our request. It would have taken all of our strength to turn it over.
A little further away from the village on the way back is an open ground in front of a hill which is believed to be Noah’s village where remains of his house and tomb as well as a n altar have been found. We could not visit this area due to the unfriendly nature of the villagers, particularly the Chief there. Pictures of these, however, are available in publications. I may add that it was Ron Wyatt who recognized the above sites during his first two days of wandering near Dogubayazit in 1977, his very first visit.
On the way to the Kazan village we stopped by the roadside to see a large chunk of petrified rock lying in the field. Its surface had the appearance of a tree bark, and appeared much less dense than normal petrified rock. It was of the same size as the anchor stone.
One last spot where we made a stop was a village at the foot of Greater Ararat on the southern side. There was a stream there where women were washing clothes. Women were carrying water and doing other jobs. To our surprise, some of the houses had dish receivers mounted on the top. Perhaps they have TVs and radios. The school children wore bright uniforms. The adults wore fairly decent clothes. In Dogubayazit we saw men wearing western suit jackets and pants while doing ordinary work.
Turkey became a Republic in 1922 under Kamal Ataturk (Ataturk is a title meaning ‘Father of the Turks’) who led the revolution. The Ottoman rule had ended after World War I due to their defeat. Arabic is not spoken or used for official purposes, though mosques which are everywhere in Turkey use them for prayers. Ninety-eight percent Turkish are Moslems, having been converted from Christianity centuries ago. The only Church we found was in Istanbul.
The site we visited have been known to modern people since 1959, but have been publicized only since 1987 when the Turkish government built a Visitors Center there. Even after that tourists rarely come there due to poor publicity, fears about traveling in a politically unstable region, and some negative publicity by the very people who have been searching for Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat.
The site is sometimes called the Durupinar site after Captain Ilhan Durupinar of Turkey who examined with a stereoplanograph the negatives of the photos taken from the air of the Ararat region in the summer of 1959 by Major Sevket Kurtis, a Turkish student at the Institute of Geodesy at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, under the direction of Prof. Arthur Brandenberger. These were photographed for a NATO project. Captain Durupinar’s job in Ankara, Turkey, was to examine these negatives in the lab there. On September 23, 1959 he came upon the now famous negative plate bearing the Ark shape. He did not know what it was, but the Colonel in charge of the lab assured him it was Noah’s Ark. Later on Dr. Brandenberger examined the plate and was convinced it was the outline of a man-made object. Newspaper reports started appearing from November 1959 in Turkey, Germany and USA. An expedition to the site was organized by George Vandeman in USA, reputed televangelist who ran the weekly It Is Written program. He was joined by half a dozen prominent people including Dr. Brandenberger, Rene Noorbergen (who later wrote The Ark File in 1974), and Captain Durupinar. Eryl Cummings who had explored Mt. Ararat could not go at the last moment (his wife wrote a detailed chapter on the finding in her book, Noah’s Ark: Fact of Fable, 1972). On June 6, 1960, the group reached the site on horseback with military escort. The first day’s exploration involved some digging from the outside and from the inside which brought nothing of importance. The second day they decided to dynamite a spot on one side. After that turned out to be of no value, the team decided to leave. End of the expedition.
Perhaps the best outcome of all these was a one page photo article that appeared in Life magazine, Sep 5, 1960 issue, page 112 (I have a copy that acquired a few years ago). See below.
A young, 27 year old Ron Wyatt in Tennessee saw the Life picture and was captivated by it. He had no way of visiting the site, so he did all he could to learn more about Noah’s Ark, and he even did some experimentation with paper boats floating in water to find out the pattern of landing in a hilly area. Then, in 1975 he read Noorbergen’s book, The Ark File (I bought my copy recently from a used book seller who had only 21 copies left). He contacted all the people who had gone for the 1960 expedition from USA. No one could help him to give directions to the site except that he had to first go to Dogubayazit. In 1977 he decided to take matters into his own hand, and on August 7 he flew to Istanbul with his two teen aged boys (being a single parent). From there he reached Dogubayazit via Ankara and Erzurum, taking three days for the tedious bus and train travel. His cab driver spoke no English, so he and the boys wandered around the Dogubayazit area. On the third day he reached the Ark site (the boys were left at the hotel) after walking up the hill from the valley below. ‘What happened on the first two days, I have already told you. Ron believes he was divinely guided to the location (details are found in his video Discovered: Noah’s Ark and in his newsletter of July 1994, available from Wyatt Archaeological Research, TN).
Ron scraped together enough money from working in a hospital and kept going back to the site for the next 15 years. Soon other researchers joined him. Included were David Fasold, a marine salvage expert from San Diego, Dr. Baumgardner , a geophysicist from Los Alamos National Laboratory and others. They used metal detectors and subsurface interface radar scanners to map the Ark form. A criss-cross pattern of rooms underneath emerged from the scans. Evidence for the use of iron rivets in the structure was also found. At least one rivet has been recovered (later shown on TV). A rectangular chunk of petrified wood was obtained by Ron who got permission to take it home. Examination showed that it had been once laminated wood. What these meant was that the pre-Flood people had advanced knowledge of construction and metallurgy, not surprising when we read Genesis 4:23 about Tubal-Cain who lived before the Flood and had expertise in working with iron and bronze. Ron found a very large heavy flat rock further up hill from the Ark shape which on analysis showed high manganese content. He believed this to be the ballast for the Ark. The manganese containing rock, not native to the area was probably the slag from iron ore processing in the pre-Flood period. The Ark is believed to have been carried further down to the present location by lava flow some time later. It stopped at its present location due to a large outcropping rock there.
In 1978, a year after Ron’s first visit, an earthquake ripped open the western side (closer to the Visitor Center) exposing vertical rib pattern, giving further evidence of the ‘boat’ Light and dark vertical ribs can be seen if we clean up this side.
I have already mentioned that the Turkish archaeologists did their independent study and concluded that this was indeed the petrified remains of Noah’s Ark. The foremost Turkish archaeological expert, Prof. Ekrem Akurgal agrees with this conclusion.
It may be pointed out that after some years of their assertion of the Noah’s Ark site finding, both Dr. Baumgardner and David Fasold (who wrote the first book on the Ark site research, The Ark of Noah in 1988) retracted their conclusions and stated the boat shape was a natural formation. It is known that Dr. Baumgardner had once demanded that he be declared the discoverer of the site, and the Turkish officials declined. As for Fasold, he got into some law suits and to get out of his financial trouble he had to recant his findings to a Creationist financier who was eager to disprove the site. Fasold later regretted it, but it was too late. He died in 1998. I have a three page letter from Fasold written March 28, 1990 in which he mentioned the attack of ICR Creationist group in San Diego on his findings. Fasold and Wyatt did not agree on the construction details of the Ark. Fasold thought of it as a reed boat, while Wyatt assumed it to be a regular boat made with wood (with cabins and decks, of course). It seems that Wyatt may be closer to the truth. The Ark is definitely not rectangular as some models seen in Creationist books (see below).
Ron Wyatt made a model of the Ark and tested it in turbulent waters to prove its stability. A picture of this model with Ron at its side taken by Jim Pinkoski at the first museum Ron had opened is shown below. Replicas of anchorstones were once suspended from its sides, not shown in the picture.
I have been collecting and reading books on Noah’s Ark Search since the 70s and have gone through books by Cummings (1972), Montgomery (1974), Balsiger/Sellier (1976), Berlitz (1987), Fasold (1988) and Wyatt (1989), as well as newsletters, videotapes and internet articles. Currently there are two main camps with regard to the Ark site. The Creationist camp led by ICR and similar groups had been promoting the Mt. Ararat site for at least 30 years. As Cummings’ book shows, several ‘sightings’ of the Ark way up on the mountain are reported. Yet there is not one single photo to prove it. A sketch of the Ark, broken into two pieces lodged at the end of an ice covered ledge is included in Cummings’ book, 1972 (see Bibliography) shown below.
In some cases the so-called eyewitnesses made up a story when lured by the interviewers with money. In other cases the description of the witnesses fit better with the alternate site. The alternate site proposed by Wyatt, Fasold and the Turkish government holds that the Durupinar site shows the correct Ark remains, and that the Ark is shaped like a boat. This is the site I visited in my recent trip because I am convinced of its authenticity.
A web article written by Drs. Lee Spencer and Jean Luc Lianard examines the merits of the Ararat location and rejects it. You may check the web site:
The historical information they give is as follows:
1. The Bible says the Ark landed on the ‘mountains’ of Ararat, not on ‘Mt. Ararat (Gen. 8:4).
2. The ancient Armenians never identified Mt. Ararat (which they called Mt. Masis) with the Urartu region where the Ark landed.
3. The Chaldean version of the Bible uses Mount Kardu (or better, mountains of Kardu) in place of Ararat. Mountains of Kardu/Kardum is identical with Gordyeaen Mountains in Greek which Berosus (275 BC) identified with the Ark location.
4. The Gilgamesh Epic (650 BC) states Mt. Nisir as the landing place of the Ark. The annals of Ashurnasurpal II of Assyria (833-859 BC) places it south of the Zab river
5. Theophilus of Antioch (115-185 AD) said the Ark could be seen in his day in the Arabian mountains. Later Church Fathers also mention the Ark as late as the mid 7th century.
6. The Koran of the Moslems (7th cent.) places the Ark on Al Judi, a mountain in the country of Masur. Judi is believed to be a form of Gordea or Kurd.
7. It was in the 13th century that Willam, a traveler, stated for the first time that Mt. Masis was the Ark location (present-day Mt. Ararat).
8. Ptolemy’s Geographia (1548) mentions the mountains of Armenia as the place of landing. So does the traveler Nicolas de Nicolay (1558). Both state that Mt. Ararat is equivalent to Mount Gordian, a mistaken identification.
The so-called modern findings of the Ark on Mt. Ararat in this century are all questionable. Yet, some Creationists are still pushing for the Ararat site. A June 1993 CBS documentary The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark based on a Sun Classics Motion picture produced by Charles Sellier turned out to be a hoax, and Time magazine wrote an article on the hoax in their July 5, 1993 issue, Phony Arkaeology. John Morris’ picture book, Noah’s Ark and the Lost World (ICR, 1988) acknowledges that the rectangular shaped Ark form on Ararat could be a phantom ship, not real. In spite of all that, the Creationists vehemently attack the Durupinar site and its promoters.
Our Noah’s Ark site trip was a dream come true. I thank God for the opportunity to visit this most historic site. As far as I am concerned, the site we visited is genuine. I am aware of all the criticism, but I have weighed the evidences as I have done of the other Bible Discoveries on my web site.
Have you wondered what Noah would have done if he were alive in our time? I was amused by an ad in Time magazine December 27, 1999 issue shown below:
Noah, the Master Ship Builder, would be making boats for us moderns, most likely for recreation, and not for crossing the oceans or to survive another Flood!
However, Noah would more likely be a Dooms Day Preacher for the second time, preaching to the people of the earth of the coming Judgement by Fire.
1. Noah’s Ark: Fact or Fable? by Violet Cummings (Creation-Science Research Center, San Diego, 1972)
2. The Ark File by Rene Noorbergen (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1974)
3. The Quest for Noah’s Ark by John Warwick Montgomery (Pyramid Book, 1974)
4. In Search of Noah’s Ark by Dave Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier Jr. (Sun Classic Books, 1976)
5. The Lost Ship of Noah by Charles Berlitz (Fawcett Crest, New York, 1987)
6. The Ark of Noah by David Fasold (Wynwood Press, New York, 1988)
7. Discovered: Noah’s Ark by Ron Wyatt (World Bible Society, 1989)
Discovered! Newsletters of Wyatt Archaeological Research (W.A.R.) September 1992 to Present
Discovered! Noah’s Ark video by W.A.R.
Surprising Discoveries video by Jonathan Gray (available from the Anchorstone web site)
www.arkfind.com (by Mark Johnson, another member of our group