Noah’s Ark Found? Turkey Expedition Planned for Summer
for National Geographic News
April 27, 2004
Photo caption: This satellite image of Mount Ararat in Turkey shows what
looks like a large object emerging from melting snow. An expedition is
planned to visit the site to see if it is Noah’s Ark.
Image Courtesy Shamrock/DigitalGlobe
Satellite pictures taken last summer of Mount Ararat in Turkey may
reveal the final resting place of Noah’s ark, according to Daniel
McGivern, the businessman and Christian activist behind a planned summer
2004 expedition to investigate the site.
“We’re telling people we’re 98 percent sure,” said McGivern, a member of
the Hawaii Christian Coalition. “In one image we saw the beams, saw the
wood. I’m convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of
tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah’s ark. ”
McGivern wrote a list in his Bible more than 20 years ago of ten great
projects. Finding Noah’s ark was at the top of his list.
McGivern began his quest in earnest in 1995, when the publication of a
book on the topic moved him to arrange for satellite images to be taken
of Mount Ararat.
Attempts to take satellite images in previous years had been foiled by
clouds, unavailability of imaging equipment, and lack of image
resolution. But the attempts had helped pinpoint the location. In the
summer of 2003, everything came together.
“Last year was the hottest summer in Europe since 1500; more than 21,000
people died of the heat wave,” McGivern said. “The summer melt was far
more extensive than it has been in years.”
DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite-imagery company, confirmed that
they took the images that McGivern is using.
An international team of archaeologists, forensic scientists,
geologists, glaciologists, and others is being recruited to investigate
the site sometime between July 15 and August 15.
Ahmet Arslan, a professor in Turkey who has climbed the mountain 50
times in 40 years, will lead the expedition. Arslan reported an
eyewitness sighting of the ark and took a photograph in 1989 from about
220 yards (200 meters) away. However, he couldn’t get any closer, and
the picture is not definitive.
“We hope to assemble what we’re calling the Dream Team,” Arslan said.
“The slopes are very, very harsh and dangerous on the northern face-it
is extremely challenging, mentally and physically.”
The story of Noah’s ark is told in the Book of Genesis. It says God saw
how corrupt the Earth had become and decided to “bring floodwaters on
the Earth to destroy all life under the heavens.” God is said to have
told Noah, an honorable man, to build an ark 450 feet (137 meters) long,
75 feet (23 meters) wide, and 45 feet (14 meters) high, and fill it with
two of every species on the Earth. It reportedly rained for 40 days and
40 nights. After about seven months, the waters receded, and the ark
came to rest, according to the Bible.
Three major world religions-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-believe in
Noah and his ark. Reports of ark sightings have been numerous. Witnesses
often describe an old wooden structure sticking out of the snow and ice
near the summit of Mount Ararat.
Despite the numerous sightings and rumors-of pictures taken by the CIA
and locked in vaults, of lost photographs taken by a Russian expedition
at the behest of Tsar Nicholas Alexander in 1918-no scientific evidence
of the ark has emerged.
“On the one hand, I’m hopeful. On the other hand, I’m very skeptical” of
the validity of the satellite images, said Rex Geissler, president of
ArcImaging (Archaeological Imaging Research Consortium). “There is no
publicly available picture that readily shows a man-made object that has
any clarity whatsoever . Some of the photos are outright
misrepresentations, non-scientific, and do not prove anything.
“We think that with the hundreds of explorers who have visited the
region, if the ark was jutting out of the ice, it would be obvious.”
ArcImaging was the first organization to receive permission from the
Turkish government to survey the mountain since 1981. The archaeological
research organization conducted a preliminary investigation of the
icecap using ground-penetrating radar in 2001.
The Search Continues
The Bible states that Noah landed in the region of the ancient kingdom
Urartu. Mount Ararat (its name probably a corrupted version of Urartu)
has been the focus of those seeking the ark because it-at 17,000 feet
(5,165 meters)-is the highest point in the area.
A volcanic mountain, Ararat is covered by an icecap from 14,000 feet
(4,300 meters) to 17,000 feet (5,200 meters). The icecap is about 17
square miles (44 square kilometers) in size and is as deep as 300 feet
Known to locals as Agri Dagi-Turkish for “mountain of pain”- Ararat is
not easy to access. Located in eastern Turkey-close to the borders of
Armenia and Iran, and only 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Iraq-the
region is politically volatile and often dangerous. Much of the region
is part of a military zone, and getting permission to explore it is
The ArcImaging team hopes to visit the region to continue their mapping
of the icecap this summer.
McGivern is optimistic his group will also be on the face of the
mountain this summer. He and Arslan met last week with the Turkish
ambassador to the U.S. Arslan, who at one time worked in the Turkish
prime minister’s office, plans to meet with the prime minister next
“The ark is broken into a minimum of three pieces, up to six, from a
huge earthquake that occurred in 1840. But it’s been miraculously
preserved. The satellite imagery shows vertical beams, and one
horizontal beam,” McGivern said.
© 2004 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.