The Great Noah's Ark Hoax
April 28, 3:25 PMFreethought ExaminerD.M. Murdock
Good news for bibliolaters! At last, there is evidence that the Bible is true - well, actually, it's pretty much the same "evidence," over and over again.
News agencies have been reporting that a Chinese and Turkish team of "evangelical explorers" have discovered the "real" Noah's Ark, the wooden ship recorded in the Bible to have contained two (Gen 6:19) - or is it seven (Gen 7:2)? - of every animal on the entire planet, including whales and kangaroos! (Okay, so the Bible doesn't say exactly that, but the story implies that the world's subsequent many thousand species were reseeded after the flood by the happy animals of the ark.) Along with the announcement came pictures of a "boat" supposedly found at 13,000 feet on Mt. Ararat in Turkey that has allegedly been carbon-dated to around 4,800 years ago.
The reasons for doubting this alleged discovery are many, including the plethora of previous purported "arks" dating back centuries, a fact that immediately causes one to turn a jaundiced eye toward this one as well. There are also various scientific arguments against a global or even local flood and the subsequent dispersion of all human and animal life from Mt. Ararat. Moreover, the Bible itself doesn't really state that the ark landed upon Mt. Ararat per se but only that it rested in the "mountains of Ararat." (Gen 8:4) Nor does it indicate where "Ararat" was at the time, so it may not have been in Turkey. Also, the current structure in question has been pointed out to look quite modern in its appearance, so freshly preserved that it could have been created in the past couple of centuries.
In reality, there are many other possible uses for this structure, if it is even on Mt. Ararat in the first place. Some have suggested an old shepherd's hut, but most people are probably unaware that there are "many monasteries" on Mt. Ararat, of which this "find" could be a part, especially if it turns out not to be at 13,000 feet.
In addition, in other parts of the world we find stone arks or ships on high places, apparently as burial sites in emulation of the practice of sending off deceased royalty on burning boats, or for other reasons.
Furthermore, Noah's Ark is quite evidently based on previous myths from ancient Sumeria, Egypt, Babylon and elsewhere. Indeed, such flood-and-ark myths are found in many parts of the world, as I explain in my article "The Myth of Noah's Ark."
Where's the beef?
The Christian "evangelical explorers" who were looking for the ark obviously assumed a priori that the biblical tale was true, calling themselves "Noah's Ark Ministries International." Hence, they are blatantly biased when they make statements like the following, according to FOXNews, which was quick to promulgate this tale:
The significance of this find is that for the first time in history the discovery of Noah’s Ark is well documented and revealed to the worldwide community...
The discoverers of The Other Noah's Ark(s)™ also believed the same thing; indeed, some also went to elaborate measures to "prove" their "finds" as well. The current would-be discoverers made other such "scientific" declarations as:
There’s a tremendous amount of solid evidence that the structure found on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey is the legendary Ark of Noah...
We are also told that "several compartments, some with wooden beams, are said to be inside and could have been used to house animals..." And we are shown a photograph of what is supposed to be one of the "compartments" in which animals were allegedly held, complete with apparently 4,800-year-old straw strewn about!
While the focus right now is on this wooden structure's supposed age, size and features, we will be quite interested if its discoverers find any kind of evidence that there were two/seven of every animal inside this building and that it actually was a boat that could float at any point.
'A boatload of skepticism is in order'
Various scholars and professors are being promoted in the press as fairly gushing over the purported find, while others are, of course, skeptical. The fact any professors and archaeologists are giddy over such a "discovery" is a reflection that academia has completely dropped the ball when it comes to mythology - not realizing that this biblical story is clearly an ancient myth and that any attempts at finding such a structure therefore will undoubtedly prove to be a waste of time and money.
Fortunately, not all scholars and experts are so quick to board the ship, as MSNBC relates:
But researchers who have spent decades studying the region – and fending off past claims of ark discoveries – caution that a boatload of skepticism is in order.
In this regard, one professional scholar did not mince words, as also reported by MSNBC:
Cornell archaeologist Peter Ian Kuniholm, who has focused on Turkey for decades, was even more direct - saying that the reported find is a "crock."
Noted skeptical biologist Dr. P.Z. Myers was equally pointed in his dismissal of the "discovery":
Ho hum. I'm getting lots of mail about this ridiculous story on WND [World Net Daily] and Fox claiming that Noah's Ark has been discovered atop Mt Ararat. No, it hasn't. This is yet another mob of incompetent evangelicals hiking all over a big hill in Turkey and credulously interpreting every rock formation and every chunk of wood as proof that they've found a big boat.
The "science" is further called into question, as, naturally, there is no geological evidence at all that Mt. Ararat was underwater at the time. As MSNBC likewise discussed:
Even if you assume the explorers found what they say they found, linking the discovery to Noah's Ark requires lots of leaps of faith: Is the carbon dating accurate? Cornell's Kuniholm said he would like to know who did the dating, especially considering that previous tests reportedly came up with more recent dates. Is it more plausible that the structure is from a miraculous ark, or from an ancient shelter on the mountainside? Is there any evidence of a catastrophic flood that rose to near the top of Ararat 4,800 years ago?
"We know what's going on with Turkey archaeologically at that time, and there's no major interruption in the culture," Zimansky observed.
"There's not enough H2O in the world to get an ark that high up a mountain," Kuniholm said.
Concerning this structure, ABC News relates that George Washington University professor Eric Cline "suggested it could even be a very old shepherd's hut." Cline also pointed out that the "wood should just have disintegrated" long ago. He further evinced that "it's reasonable that [Noah] would have dismantled his ship to use the wood for shelter" and that "[i]nstead of Noah's Ark, I would be looking for Noah's first house or something like that."
Indeed, how many "large structures" made of wood have survived largely intact for almost 5,000 years? It would seem that this one - if indeed that old - must be Noah's Ark, because it surely has been supernaturally preserved!
Meanwhile, the edge of the wood in some of the images released by NAMI looks as if it had just been hewn not long ago. In this regard, a carpenter on Myers's blog comments:
The wood shown appears to be relatively recently milled and joined. The planks and beams do not exhibit the type of drying and shrinkage that occurs to wood over time, regardless of being in a deep freeze.
The surface of the wood doesn't show the different shrinkage rates of hard and soft grain. Most noticeably the joint lines cannot be millennia old and still be as close as the photos show.
It is further claimed that this structure must be very old because it uses wooden pegs rather than nails in its construction. However, it is possible that its builders didn't have metal nails, and this sort of construction still occurs in many parts of the world. Moreover, the fact that the carbon dating was allegedly done in Iran also does not inspire confidence. China, Turkey and Iran make an interesting combo in any event...
Even enthusiastic bibliolater scholars are unconvinced, such as Liberty University archaeologist Dr. Randall Price, a veteran ark hunter, who was involved at one point in this particular "discovery" but who denies it has anything to do with The Real Noah's Ark™. Said Price:
I was the archaeologist with the Chinese expedition in the summer of 2008 and was given photos of what they now are reporting to be the inside of the Ark. I and my partners invested $100,000 in this expedition (described below) which they have retained, despite their promise and our requests to return it, since it was not used for the expedition. The information given below is my opinion based on what I have seen and heard (from others who claim to have been eyewitnesses or know the exact details).
To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake. The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut's men to the site saw the wood, but couldn't get inside because of the severe weather conditions. During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters - something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit [stet] (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.
So, there we have it. As to the motive of this evident fake clearly eludicated in Price's remarks, Myers concludes:
You can hardly blame the Turks around Ararat. There's a lot of money being poured into the local economy from these numerous creationist expeditions. It only makes sense to salt a few sites with chunks of wood.
It would otherwise be curious why the Chinese would be so interested in proving Middle Eastern myths - the only other way such a thing could occur is because of religious conditioning, plain and simple. Large swatches of people in practically every nation have now been indoctrinated to believe that the megalomaniacal writings of one particular "chosen people" represent "God's Word." To a person educated about the world's various cultures dating back thousands of years, such a view is not only unscientific but also a result of cultural bias.
Meanwhile, this latest ark find is clearly a hoax - as they will all turn out to be, because the story of Noah's Ark is a myth based upon other myths that constitute nature worship and astrotheological knowledge dating back thousands of years.
D.M. Murdock is the author of controversial books and articles on comparative religion and mythology that can be found at Stellar House Publishing and Freethought Nation. For more articles from the Freethought Examiner, be sure to subscribe!
Sources & Further Reading
New Evidence Emerges in the Search for Noah's Ark
Has Noah's Ark Been Found on Turkish Mountaintop?
Finding Noah's Ark
Evangelists claim Noah's Ark found
Flood of claims for 'Noah's Ark'
Noah's Ark found? Not so fast
Randall-Price, noted Ark-Hunter, says latest find is fake
Latest Ark finding is a fake
If Fox News and Wing Nut Daily say it's true, it must be so
The Myth of Noah's Ark