1. Australian PIX magazine of July 1960. This was by no means the earliest press report of the boat-shaped formation which appeared following an earthquake some time in 1948. It was photographed during an aerial survey and subsequently commented upon by Capt Ilhan Durupinar, an officer in the Turkish Armed Forces. Long before this a newspaper article headed ‘We have seen Noah’s Ark… but not on Mount Ararat’ was published in France-Soir, 31 August 1949. Although written in a jocular style, the article is nonetheless significant historically, since it indicates that two Turkish journalists had visited the area and given location and dimension details which have been confirmed by subsequent investigation as reasonably accurate. The article gives the location as ‘Al Judi on the Mesopotamian border’ and describes the object as a vessel 500 ft long, 80 ft wide and 50 ft high. This report establishes that the site was known and reported in the press as a possible ark location in the year following what appears to be its initial appearance in 1948–some ten years before Durupinar is said to have identified it in 1959. Andre Parrot, Curator-in-Chief of the French National Museums and Professor of the Ecole du Louvre, made reference to this Turkish newspaper report in his Déluge el Arche de Noe, Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel 1953, which was translated from the French by Edwin Hudson and first published in its English edition by Camelot Press Ltd, London and Southampton in 1955.
2. The formation rests just under 6,300 ft elevation at 44° 15’E and 39° 26’N, as indicated on map ONC G-4 12 and further confirmed on page 3 of the Official Report of the July 1987 Geophysical Investigation of Noah’s Ark (Durupinar Site). It is about ten miles (16 km) ESE of Dogubayazit in the province of Agri, and is adjacent to the village of Mahler. Mount Ararat is across the valley approximately 17 miles to the north of the site. The area where it is found has been politically unstable, and often dangerous, bordering as it does nearby former Soviet Russia to the north, Iran immediately to the east and Iraq to the south. Access to the region is also difficult because it is under snow for about eight months of each year.
3. This official November 1987 Report from Ezurum, Turkey was entitled
JULY 1987 GEOPHYSICAL INVESTIGATION OF NOAH’S ARK (DURUPINAR SITE) MAHSER VILLAGE DOGUBAYAZIT, AGRI
The report states on page 2 that these two university project teams were operating with the authorisation of the Turkish Prime Minister. On the final page (49) of the same report, thanks are expressed to Professor Dr Hursit Ertugrul, Rector of Ataturk University, for sponsoring the project, to Mr Rüsdu Naiboglu (Emeritus General) Director of Security Affairs and to the Turkish Prime Ministry and Governor of Agri, thanks for their sincere efforts and assistance in making the project a success.
4. Hurriyet 21 Harizan. (June) 1987, article entitled ‘NUH’UN GEMISI turizme acildi’ (‘Noah’s Ark opening to tourism’).
In 1991 along with Ron Wyatt, Richard Rives and Marvin Wilson, the author personally discussed (in Ankara, just two days prior to his kidnapping) with Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Mehemet Yilmaz, and his colleagues, matters associated with excavating, protecting and developing this registered archaeological site. The author also discussed the same matters a number of times in Erzurum, then later by phone, with Dr Salih Bayraktutan, leader of the joint university research project and member of the Noah’s Ark Commission.
5. D. Fasold, The Ark of Noah (Wynwood Press: New York, NY), 1988.
6. R. Wyatt, Discovered: Noah’s Ark! (World Bible Society: Nashville, TN), 1989.
7. Viscount Norwich, Chairman of ‘Venice in Peril’, the British Committee for the Preservation of Venice, paper, Royal Institution Proceedings, May 1991, pp 250-251. Concerning the threat of subsidence and the wooden piles beneath the Companille of St Mark which was begun possibly as early as 888 AD and certainly not later than 912 AD, Viscount Lord Norwich describes what the engineers found when given an ‘unprecedented opportunity to examine the complete extent of the foundations of what was one of the oldest buildings in the city…’: ‘There were the original piles, not as tightly packed as they would have been later and still in remarkably good condition. It was not thanks to them that the tower had fallen. These Venetian piles, driven deep into the lagoon mud where they had no contact with the air, within a relatively short space of time became petrified, as tough as the rock of Manhattan island?so tough indeed, that during the restoration a few years ago of the Church of the Gesuiti, one of them actually broke the steel bit of the modern drilling equipment.’ This well-documented information establishes the fact that petrification of these wooden logs occurred within a period of no more than about 1,100 years. There is a variety of petrification processes, three of which are:
(i) atom-by-atom silica replacement;
(ii) migration of metallic ions; and,
(iii) percolation through porous material of carbonate-rich fluids.
The examples hereunder are not cited to demonstrate the process by which petrification might have occurred at the Akyayla site, but simply to illustrate the rapidity with which the process can occur.
The Clermont Ferrands Petrifying Fountains in central France are famous, containing astonified wood, animals, including snakes and birds. (See The Story of The World In Pictures, ed Harley Usill BA and H. Douglas Thompson MA, Oldhams: London 1934, p. 12. The picture published clearly shows that all of these objects have been posed in tableau before the petrification process began.) A similar process appears to have occurred in England, at the Mother Shipton’s Cave and Petrifying Well at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. (See Allan Pentecost, ‘Springs That Turn Life To Stone’, New Scientist, 21/28 December 1991, an article made available by Pentecost when researching travertine at King’s College, London, for use by Mr Robert McBratney, manager of Mother Shipton’s Cave which is featured in the article.) A range of objects demonstrates a similar process which occurs at this site in a matter of months. The author (of this present work) has two artefacts from there, one a moccasin and the other a child’s toy rabbit. The possibility therefore that a boat, if it were made of wood, could have been preserved by some petrification process in the course of 4,000-5,000 years (the possible age of the ark according to certain Old Testament chronologies) is by no means an unreasonable one. Whether the formation at the Akyayla site was made of wood or something else?perhaps reeds, as David Fasold (along with some other researchers) suggests?can be determined conclusively only by excavation and careful scientific analysis.
8. A.M. Rehwinkel, The Flood (Concordia Publishing House: St Louis, MO, 1951).
9. The Koran with explanatory notes (Charles Daly: London, 1832), ch XI.
10. The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin: Mitcham, Victoria, 1960).
11. Gen 6:15,16 (KJV).
12. Gen 6:16 (KJV).
13. Gen 6:14 (KJVV).
14. Gen 6:16 (KJV).
16. Gen 8:4 (KJ).
17. Gen 6:15 (KJV).
18. Piazzi-Smyth, The Great Pyramid (Bell Publishing Co: New York, NY, 1978), ch XVI, pp 331-353.
Piazzi-Smyth, by gathering data from the Great Pyramid and also from a wide range of ancient cubit measures employed by Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean countries, postulated a very precise length for the cubit of 20.68 inches. Further confirmation of an approximately 20.6-inch cubit is found in Nancy Jenkins’ The Boat Beneath the Pyramid (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, NY, 1980), p 68, where the author states, on the authority of her Special Consultant and Custodian of the Vessel Ahmed Youssef Moustafa, that the old Egyptian cubit was the equivalent of 52.3 cm, which is approximately 20.6 inches. It is strange that in view of the fact that there is such a cubit (and indeed another one of around 22 inches-56 cms) as has been confirmed by Meir Ben-Dov in his excavational work at Jerusalem (see his In the Shadow of the Temple, The discover of Ancient Jerusalem, Harper and Row: London, 1985, p 142), that many researchers have not seriously considered any cubit other than the 18-inch one. It is also unfortunate that this tendency has resulted in at least one English Bible translation, the New International Version, giving (on the basis of an 18-inch cubit) the length of the ark as 450 ft. The measure cited in the book of Genesis is the cubit, not the foot, and this fact together with the assumption that the cubit is 18 inches makes such a rendering an interpretation rather than a translation.
19. The length of 515 ft is confirmed by measurements taken by Maylon Wilson and Dr John Baumgardner in August 1985 using sophisticated equipment (see R. Wyatt, Discovered: Noah’s Ark!, p 14, and also David Fasold, The Ark of Noah, p 126). Fasold raises the possibility that a ‘bow extension’ which he of has observed would make the overall length approximately 531 ft (ibid, p 127).
20. This measurement has also been confirmed by the personnel mentioned in note 19.
21. R. Wyatt, Discovered: Noah’s Ark!, p 25, has included a diagram to show how, under pressure from the overburden of mud, an original width of 85.9 ft might well have been increased to 138 ft, its current breadth.
22. D. Fasold, The Ark of Noah, in his chapter on Field Surveys (p 115 ff), uses field measurements to present a mathematical thesis involving pi and the golden mean or section, justifying the width of approximately 138 ft. In his March/April Ark-Update (Noahide Society, Poway, California, p 20), Fasold writes that the formation is 6,180 inches in length or 300 cubits and that marine engineers calculate the area within this formation divided by the length would be 1,027.57 inches for an average width of 49.88 cubits. Marine engineer Samuel R. Windsor has submitted an article dealing with the Akyayla formation to Catastrophism and Ancient History, entitled ‘Noah’s Vessel 24,000 Deadweight Tons’. It was published in Volume XIV, Part 1 of that journal in January, 1992, pp 5-31. Windsor has taken data from the boat-shaped formation in Turkey together with that set down in the Genesis account, to show, using a ‘lofting’ method, that the size and shape of the formation are consistent with the 300 x 50 X 30 cubit dimensions given in Scripture. Windsor also attempts to demonstrate the accuracy of his thesis by superimposing an overlay of the hull shape he has so formulated, upon the hull shape derived from on-site measurements drawn to scale. The correspondence between the two is remarkable.
23. D. Fasold, The Ark of Noah, p 255. The notion of the ark as a reed vessel covered with a bituminous mixture of cement was postulated long before Fasold suggested it. A.S. Yahuda in The Accuracy of the Bible (Heinemann: London, 1934), p 192, suggested that the ark was possibly composed of reed and a kind of bitumen.
24. Some who have been sceptical about this particular formation have suggested that it is not a man-made object but a natural geological formation, perhaps a syncline. In most instances the syncline idea has resulted from observing its appearance in photographs rather than from examining the formation itself. Appearances however can be very misleading as any careful researcher knows. Synclines can look like boats, but close scientific inspection that goes well beyond surface appearance generally reveals that they are not boats. Conversely, a boat can look like a syncline, especially if it happens to lie on a valley floor covered and surrounded by mud and is adjacent to, or impaled upon, what appears to bean igneous intrusion (as in the case of this formation). Careful examination of the site to date reveals that the formation lacks the major geological characteristics one would expect to find were it a syncline. For example, a syncline would consist of layers of strata which are dished or dipped towards its middle section. Where these layers are exposed in the outside walls they form quasi-horizontal bands around the formation. The Akyayla formation does not have such horizontal bands or bedding but has in fact vertical columns strongly suggesting that whatever it is, it is not a syncline. To postulate that these quite regularly spaced upright structures around the walls of the formation might all be vertically intrusive dykes would be fanciful to say the least. The suggestion that such structure is vertically bedded is also at odds with the subsurface indications of a horizontal planar reflector.
One academic was reported in the press as having travelled into the Australian outback and located a syncline there in an effort to prove the Akyayla formation is also a syncline. He and some others have suggested that the existence of boat-shaped natural formations, in other places such as on Mount Ararat, somehow indicates that the Akyayla formation is probably the same. Of course, such geological sameness can be established only by studying them all?not superficially but by investigating what is inside. Once we are certain what is inside the Akyayla formation, we can then compare it with what is inside the other formations, whether they be in Turkey or near Tibooburra in Australia.
Likewise, samples collected by anyone in the outback of Australia have little if any relevance to what is on a Turkish site until they are carefully analysed and compared with samples excavated from within the formation on that Turkish site. Until this has been done, we shall be dependent on data derived from non-invasive methods. To date much of the on-site data appears to be highly anomalous. The well-documented evidence of regular patterns of `iron lines’ along with other features presented in this book would certainly appear to be quite inconsistent with anything one would expect to find in a ‘natural’ geological formation. Unless these same features can be. shown to occur within natural formations elsewhere, neither they nor the formation in which they exist can be confidently designated natural.
The next step in determining what the formation really is, is to dig it and find out what is inside. When this is done, it should be possible to determine whether what is there is natural or man-made.
25. D. Fasold, The Ark of Noah, p 89 ff; R. Wyatt, Discovered: Noah’s Ark!, 1989, pp 9-10 and J. Baumgardner, Noah’s Ark? official newsletter, Los Alamos, New Mexico, October 1985. Each of these three describes the team as comprising the two others and himself doing metal-detection work on the site. Further to this the author of this book has carefully examined video-tape footage of this, the first series of metal-detection surveys carried out on the site in 1985 and 1986. It features all three of these men working together. Sometimes they are seen working with their own detectors, each quite independent of the others but where necessary in vocal contact. The footage features also their procedures, comments and reactions to what they were detecting. This video tape is an official electronically screen-dated record of the work done in the form of a ‘presentation being offered to the public by David Fasold’ and is so designated in the introduction. Readers interested in gaining further information about the events and statements documented on this important video-tape should contact Mr David Fasold, The Noahide Society, 14781 Pomerado Rd., Poway CA 92064.
26. Dr Baumgardner is a geophysicist who held a post in the University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory.
27. These details were made available in the publications cited in note 25 and are also documented in a range of photographs and video tapes now held on file.
28. J. Baumgardner, op cit.
30. Anyone who examines this informative ‘on location’ video documentation (as cited above in note 25) will be able to ascertain for himself the procedures used to locate and identify the patterns of iron. He will also be able to hear Dr Baumgardner’s assessment as a scientist of the evidence which emerged from the survey, as well as his carefully framed conclusions, based on that evidence, about designating the formation as man-made, a boat and Noah’s ark. Very specific information about the regular patterns of these iron ‘fittings’ and laboratory results concerning them (using, for example, electron microscope scanning) was made available to the public via United States television programmes such as `Solved?Unsolved Mysteries’ hosted by Robert Stack. Data yielded on this occasion were also reported in the US press. For example, the unusual pattern of lines revealed by this metal-detector survey along with the techniques used to locate it were reported in considerable detail in an article published in The New American, 17 December 1990. This article tells how, when the detector scanned the area outside the perimeter of the formation, no iron was found; but when the area inside it was scanned, some 5,400 separate spots, averaging one to every 8.16 sq ft of surface area, were located. When retested, each metal position was flag-marked. Each was found to be on one of 14 longitudinal lines (from bow to stern) or else on one of 9 transverse lines (from starboard to port).
31. J. Baumgardner, op cit.
33. J. Baumgardner (ibid) stated that prior to the arrival ofa radar technician and David Fasold scheduled for 17 August 1985, an advance team would survey the site, attempt some drilling and repeat the metal-detector scan. Although the drilling process was not possible, Dr Baumgardner reported that the metal-detector scan revealed once more the amazing pattern of lines which he and his team marked using long plastic tapes and which he recorded photographically for inclusion in the same newsletter. It has been suggested in Creation ex Nihilo, vol 14 no 4, September/November 1992 in an article by Dr Snelling that the ‘iron lines’ that were marked out with plastic tapes were detected with a so-called ‘molecular frequency generator/discriminator’ (ibid p 28 col 3 and p 29 col 4). However, Dr Baumgardner, in his October newsletter where he describes these metal-detection surveys, makes no mention of the use of this piece of equipment. The only term used by Dr Baumgardner in this newsletter is ‘metal detector’, not ‘molecular frequency generator/discriminator’. David Fasold’s video tape presentation (referred to in note 25) shows him (David Fasold) actually confirming with witnesses the earlier White metal-detector results. It is true that David Fasold used a molecular frequency/discriminator (as well as an ordinary metal detector) to locate on-site iron. However, it is also true, as video-tape evidence clearly indicates, that the molecular frequency generator/discriminator appeared to confirm the patterns located by the metal detectors. Leaving aside the question of the molecular frequency generator/discriminator’s scientific validity and David Fasold’s use of this equipment, one thing is clear; namely that on the latter occasion in August, when Dr Baumgardner found the metal patterns and marked them with bright yellow three-inch plastic tapes (as his October 1985 newsletter clearly states) David Fasold had not yet arrived to detect these patterns with his molecular frequency generator/discriminator (ibid, and also The New American, 17 December 1990, which makes mention of this and the fact that Dr Baumgardner had completed his own metal-detecting project on the site before David Fasold arrived). Ron Wyatt in Discovered: Noah’s Ark! writes that the ‘distinct linear subsurface pattern’ detected in the earlier investigation was repeated in August of that year (p 17). The team comprised Dr J. Baumgardner, Ron Wyatt, Maylon Wilson, a scientist from Los Alamos Laboratories, and Tom Anderson, a lawyer from Indio, California. The fact that this visit was finished before David Fasold arrived is confirmed by Fasold himself (see Ark of Noah, p 121). It needs to he stressed in summary that ordinary metal detectors had picked up the pattern of lines prior to any use of the molecular frequency generator which confirmed that pattern.
34. It is abundantly clear from this written documentation and video footage that scientifically acceptable White metal-detectors of standard manufacture and commonly used were those employed for the early stages of the project to locate and establish with laboratory samples the presence of iron in linear patterns; and that these patterns were later reproduced and thereby confirmed in another metal-detector survey carried out and documented by Dr John Baumgardner, a highly experienced and responsible geophysicist.
35. ‘JULY 1987 GEOPHYSICAL INVESTIGATION OF NOAH’S ARK (DURUPINAR SITE) MAHSER VILLAGE, DOGUBAYAZIT, AGRI, OFFICIAL REPORT SUBMITTED BY JOHN R. BAUMGARDNER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY AND M. SALIH BAYRAKTUTAN, ATATURK UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, NOVEMBER 1987, ERZURUM, TURKEY.’
36. Ibid, p 2.
37. Ibid, Abstract. Further technical detail is also set out in the introduction. The geophysical instrumentation, including a SIR System-8 ground-penetrating radar manufactured by Geophysical Survey Systems of Hudson, New Hampshire. Fig 4 of the report shows the antenna unit used to transmit and receive the radar signals. The antenna was dragged across the site on transects spaced two metres apart. Radar pulses approximately 5 nano seconds in width were transmitted at a repetition rate of 50kHz. The return radar signal was recorded on magnetic tape and played back for visual inspection and interpretation on the graphic recorder. The survey was per-
formed during the period of 19-23 July 1987. Other instrumentation included a proton-precession magnetometer Model G-856A and a single-channel signal enhancement seismograph Model ES-125, both manufactured by EGG Geometries of Sunnyvale, California. The magnetometer survey of the site was conducted 27-28 July by taking readings at two-metre intervals in both co-ordinate directions. Seismograph investigation of the site was performed 29-30 July. The results of these investigations are discussed in this report which is dated 10 November 1987, Erzurum.
38. Ibid, title page.
39. Ibid, Abstract and John Baumgardner Is it Really the Ark? official newsletter: Los Alamos NM, 15 September 1987.
41. J. Baumgardner and M. Salih Bayraktutan, Geophysical Investigation of Noah’s Ark, Erzurum, Turkey, November 1987, p 10.
42. Ibid, pp 35, 45.
43. Ibid, p 45. Material at seismic velocity (2,400-3,300 m/s) lies at 6-8 m and the report suggests this is the same material responsible for the strong radar reflections at 4-8 m.
44. Ibid, CONCLUSIONS, p 49.
49. Ibid, ABSTRACT.
51. J. Baumgardner, Is it really the ark? official newsletter, 15 September 1987.
52. J. Baumgardner and M. Salih Bayraktutan, Geophysical Investigation of Noah’s ark, ABSTRACT, p 10.
53. J. Baumgardner, op cit.
56. J. Baumgardner, A Search For the Elusive Ark, official newsletter, 19 August 1988.
57. Letter from Dr J. Baumgardner written in reply to an official letter 14 August 1992 from Mr John Farr, on behalf of the Sydney project organisers, regarding details of evidence from the Akyayla site elicited and interpreted by Dr Baumgardner. In this letter Dr Baumgardner gave details concerning the findings which emerged from the core drillings, namely:
?that there were four drillings taken: of these, the two taken along the centre line in the southern sector did not locate the planar reflector. Dr Baumgardner gave as the reason for this that those who did the work were unfortunately ‘not able to drill enough holes in the area where the planar reflector occurred to make a definitive interpretation’. The question this raises is, where is the planar reflector layer? It would seem, as Dr Baumgardner himself states, it was simply not encountered.
?that the third core, also on the centre line (north of the outcrop), indicated that ‘coherent basement rock extends all the way to the surface’. Again the planar surface was not encountered.
?that the fourth core hole on the eastern edge of the site revealed ‘only mud-flow material for the full 10 metre depth’. Once more, the planar surface was not encountered.
Furthermore, additional information gained by Dr Baumgardner that a long ridge of coherent basement rock ‘extends to within 10-15 feet of the surface along the centre line’, dropping away from it ‘in a transverse direction’, indicates that this ridge does not have the profile required to enable it to be identified as the planar reflector revealed earlier by subsurface equipment.
58. ‘There was no evidence from the core drillings for wood, petrified or otherwise.’ J. Baumgardner, op cit.
60. Ibid. This ridge-shaped island of basement rock was the one which the drills had revealed along section of the centre line. Dr Baumgardner in his 15 September reply to Mr Farr’s request for scientific evidences to support the notion that the formation might not be a man-made one, made reference to this island of basement rock located by three core-drillings. He referred to it in that letter as ‘a strip of ophiolitic rock representing former ocean floor incorporated into the continental rocks along a zone of continental collision [which] happens to cut across the area and underlies the site’. Indeed, the object is in an ophiolitic zone (see p 100, Introduction to Geology, Vol 2, Read and Watson). However, this information does not preclude the formations being a man-made object and is in fact quite consistent with that possibility if one assumes that the formation, if it were indeed once a boat, is not now in its original location having been transported from higher up the mountain (a possibility Dr Baumgardner has himself mentioned?see earlier in note 41 fl). It must be stated that whilst continuing to stand by the data derived from his earlier research on the site, Dr Baumgardner has since modified his interpretation of that data and no longer holds to the position that the formation is a man-made object.
61. J. Baumgardner, Is it Really the Ark?, official newsletter, 15 September 1987.
63. Ibid. Dr Baumgardner’s evidence seems to be contradicted by Dr Andrew Snelling who stated (see Creation ex Nihilo magazine, Vol 14 no 4 September/November 1992 article, p 2 cols 2 & 3) that ‘The notable discovery of iron oxide (limonite) nodules in the surface mud is entirely consistent with the weathering of iron sulphide (pyrite) nodules and veins (which are found in the rocks of the area).’ Dr Baumgardner, however, from his extensive work on the site explicitly states that these limonite nodules were not only anomalous but never observed anywhere in the fissures and mudflow clay (publication cited in note 61). These limonite nodules would therefore, in the light of so much metal having been detected on site, appear to be significant.
66. Prior to the author’s first visit to the site, he had occasion when in Britain to study the archaeological findings which emerged at Sutton Hoo where an early medieval Anglo-Saxon ship had been buried under a mound. Details of the ship’s structure were preserved in the corrosion products of its rivets. As each rivet corroded, ‘the oxides migrated into the wood immediately surrounding the rivet and preserved it’ (see A.C. Evans, The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, British Museum Publications Ltd: London, 1989, p 25). The possibility that the limonite nodules found at the Akyayla site by core drilling have been formed in a similar manner should be seriously considered.
67. Late in the summer of 1990, Ron Wyatt, Richard Rives and others carefully inspected these structures. Their existence under the mud veneer was fully documented both photographically and on video tape. When the author was there in the following summer they were still observable and were photographed on that occasion also by a number of the team examining the site.
68. They appear to be highly unusual. Until examples of very similar or identical structures can be shown to exist in ‘natural formations’, there would seem to be a reasonable basis for assuming that they might be perhaps the metamorphosed ribs of an ancient boat, especially since they are spaced so regularly along the outside of this boat-shaped object.
69. This document headed 27 June 1991, states that the object was indeed
found on that occasion. It also states that Ron Wyatt was observed finding it and picking it up just outside the ‘hull’. It is signed by Mr Foster Daniel, Mrs D. Barnes, Mr R. Murrell, and eight others including the author.
70. Galbraith Laboratories Inc, Knoxville TN, 18 July 1991, Assayers Laboratories, Elko NV, 16 September 1991 and Teledyne Allvac, Monroe NC where the taking of the sample and its testing were recorded on video tape by Mrs Mary Nell Wyatt of Nashville, Tennessee, who holds it currently on file. Scientists who were engaged in the testing also made their own photographic records with their own cameras and gave copies to Mrs Wyatt. Those involved in the analysis were very impressed by the fact that there were many times the amount of organic carbon present in the adjoining section sample as was found in the ‘rivet’ sample of the object. The test carried out at Teledyne Allvac, involved quantitative elemental analysis. More tests including thin sections on this sample and hopefully on others retrieved from the site are envisaged. Results will be published when all the necessary data are collated and evaluated.
71. The finding of this sample was witnessed by Dr Bulant Atalay, Mark Steffins, along with his wife and daughter, Hasan Ozer and ‘Watcha’ McCallum (now deceased).
72. Further tests including thin sections are planned before results are prepared for publication.
73. This sample has been visually identified as petrified wood by a number of geologists. It has been laboratory tested and awaits further scientific analysis, including thin sectioning, to determine its exact nature and whether its layers represent a form of gophering or lamination involving some kind of adhesive. This sample is being held on behalf of the Turkish Government and the results of further analysis will be made available for publication at the appropriate time.
74. Dr Smars, a medical doctor and veteran Ararat climber, together with Mr Bouma, an engineer and architect engaged by the Dutch Government in the historical restoration of windmills, made a valuable contribution to Mount Ararat research in 1990 by providing first-hand information to Dr D. Shockey and his team regarding an ice-cave formation that was under scrutiny that year as part of their helicopter investigation.
75. Jack Bouma was examining the area around the deck support when he noted the presence of this substance and reported it immediately to Dr Smars and the author who were examining fragments of igneous rock in the mud flow some fifty yards cast of the formation. The substance was then photographed both in situ and in sample form. Small amounts of it were later laboratory analysed.
76. Positive identification of the sample as pitch was made on the basis of analysis of a concentrated extract of the sample as submitted to Oil Check P/L, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and compared by them with a bitupave sample of bitumen (Tue 05 09:43:11 1991). The technique used was Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR). Contrary to Dr Snelling’s comment on the analysis of this material (see Creation ex Nihilo article, Vol 14 no 4, September/November 1992, p 32, col 1), ‘Gas chromatographic analysis’ is not ‘the only scientific procedure that could verify it as pitch.’ Nor is it ‘the standard method used’ as Dr Snelling suggests. According to P. Duguid, M Sc (Pharm) of Robertson Scientific, the preferred method has always been IR (the infra-red technique) because ‘the heavy long-chain carbon molecules’ clog up the Gas Chromatographic column. Analytical trace and laboratory report are held on file by the author. Hopefully a dig will enable further samples of this substance to he located and examined.
77. According to testing at Galbraith Laboratories, Knoxville TN, 3 December 1984, a number of these samples contained over 80% Manganese Dioxide which, if they are indeed slag, could be the by-product of some metallurgical process. The designation of one of these samples by Dr A. Snelling (see Creation ex Nihilo article, Vol 14 no 4, September/November 1992, p 33, col 1) as possibly being an example of ‘manganese nodules which even today are found on the ocean floor’ would seem not to be sound, since such ocean floor nodules never attain this high percentage 80+% of manganese dioxide (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1985, ‘Oceans and Seas’ where it is stated that the content of manganese in such nodules is only ‘as high as 50%’). Furthermore, the on-site chunks from which our samples were randomly taken were over a foot long?far too large to be manganese nodules, which (see Oceans and Seas as above) ‘average only 4 cm’?slightly less than 2 inches. Therefore, because of its manganese dioxide content and its size, this material cannot be identified as ocean floor manganese nodules. It must be something else. One possibility (as Ron Wyatt suggests) is that the material might well be slag used perhaps as ship’s ballast. This suggestion can be checked if more of the substance is found inside the formation on excavation. The notion of a high level of metallurgical sophistication prior to the Flood is suggested by the reference to Tubal-Cain in Gen 4:22.
78. A fossilised antler base was found within the perimeters of the formation whilst it was being inspected by a team accompanying Ron Wyatt prior to 1990. In 1991 the author also found another fragment?a small antler tip projecting out of tile mud covering the mid-western section of the wall. The locating of this antler tip was witnessed by Mr Frank Barnes, an engineer, and his wife Mrs Debbie Barnes, a scientist, both of them in the group inspecting the site with many others. The object was detected in situ and photographed. The research required to deal with this object is underway but not yet completed. Unfortunately the object’s significance cannot be properly determined until a number of things are done. Secure identification of the object must be established. Essentially this has been done. Additionally the species must, if at all possible, be identified biologically?no easy task, since the object is only a small fragment. Once this is done the habitat of such an animal should be ascertained; not only its present but its past habitat. Having done this, it might then be possible to determine whether an animal of this species was ever indigenous to the region where the formation lies or whether it is exotic. Research into this area has already revealed that the area where the formation lies once abounded in various animals of many types. The Life Nature Library Series, ed. Francois Bourliève and the Editors of Life (Time-Life International, 1965), states,
It is certain that Palaeolithic man hunted deer, gazelle and goat 25,000 years ago in what is today Iran. Later… the pressure of larger grazing animals grew to the point where many faced extermination. The royal hunts in particular, carried on for over 2000 years were affairs of enormous slaughter. An Assyrian king of the 9th century BC boasted thus of his prowess… ‘by my stretched-out arm, through my furious courage, 15 mighty lions from the mountains and the woods in my hand I captured… herds of wild oxen and elephants and lions and birds… beasts and wild asses and gazelles and stags… 30 elephants…I slew and 250 mighty wild oxen I laid low and 370 mighty lions’. This same king gave a feast at which 500 deer and 500 gazelle were served in addition to 1,000 cattle and 1,500 sheep. The king also claimed that this same area provided the first sheep and goats to be tamed (p. 27).
It is also indicated that the genetic parents of our modern wheat may well have come from this same general area.
If this ancient account is to be believed, it would seem that tile spot where the formation rests was once in an area characterised by well developed pastoral and agricultural activities. In the light of this information, any evidence of the presence of animals, such as fragments of antlers, hooves or horns, must be assessed with caution. Such evidence, especially if it is found inside the boat-shaped formation, could be of real significance in establishing a positive identification of that formation. However, to establish such significance, a great deal more on-site investigation and interpretation of data will be necessary. Further on-site research is also required to discover whether there are other fragments?antlers, horns or hooves associated with the formation. Although this process is under way, there is still much more to be done before the significance of the object can be properly evaluated and the results published. At the time of writing, this research programme has been hampered by a serious lack of finances and dangerous terrorist activity in Eastern Turkey where the formation lies.
79. These await further scientific identification and analysis to determine animal type, food eaten and likely environment.
80. Provisional arrangements have now been made to have these and other samples of such hair forensically analysed to establish whether they are or were indigenous to this particular area. Hair can last for thousands of years without deterioration and still be capable of identification and analysis. Determining the age of such samples is also important. However, this is by no means a straightforward matter. Unfortunately dating techniques are not as reliable as one would hope. Serious doubts have been raised by competent academics and researchers concerning for example radio carbon dating. (See Wakefield Dort, Dept of Geology, the University of Kansas, ‘Mummified Seals of Southern Victoria Land’, Antarctic journal [Washington], Vol 6, September/October 1971, p 211 and Dr Allan Riggs, formerly of US Geological Survey, now on staff at University of Washington, Seattle, ‘Major Carbon 14 Deficiency in Modern Snail Shells from Southern Nevada Springs’, Science, Vol 224, 6 April 1984, p 58.) Documented research concerning the unreliability of the Rubidium Strontium method is provided by Dr C. Brooks, Professor of Geology, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Dr D.E. James, Staff Member in Geophysics and Geochemistry, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington DC, USA, and Dr S.R. Hart, Professor of Science MIT?Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA, ‘Ancient lithosphere: Its role in young continental volcanism’, Science, Vol 193, 17 September 1976, p 1093. The reliability of these and other methods of dating which might be relevant to this project are currently being evaluated.
81. An excellent illustration of an ancient Mesopotamian creel with three drogue stones (complete with rope holes), stacked on its deck is reproduced by Andre Parrot, Curator-in-Chief of The French National Museums, Professor Ecole du Louvre, Paris and Director of the Mari Archaeological Expedition, in his The Flood and Noah’s Ark, translated from the French Deluge et Arche de Noi (Delachaux et Niestlé: Neuchatel, 1953: and Camelot Press: London and Southampton, 1955). Honor Frost, world authority on anchor stones, presents a range of carefully researched material and photographs of these artefacts in Arts et Industries de la Pierre, Ras Shamra?Ougarit VI Sous la direction de Marguerite Yon, Editions Recherche. sur les Civilisations, 1991 `Anchors Sacred and Profane’, pp 356-408. Dr William Shea (once Professor of Old Testament at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, now Associate Director of The Biblical Research institute, Silver Springs, Maryland) examined the Arzap stones personally in Turkey and identified them as anchor stones (see his article in CRS Quarterly, pp 90-95, Origins 82, 1981).
82. Urarlu, Accadian cognate of Ararat, used in ancient documents to designate Armenia which incorporated this range of mountains. T Wycliffe fe Bible Commentary, Old Testament, ed Charles F. Pfeiffer, Oliphants Ltd: London, 1963, p 14.
83. Gen 8:4. The Hebrew indicates that mountains is plural and that the ark rested on them.
84. The Works of Flavius Josephus, William Whiston MA (Ward Lock and Company: London, nd), I.iii.6. Thus Josephus suggests Armenia as the region where the ark landed. He also notes that the Armenians called the place where Noah, his family and the animals came out of the ark, The Place of Descent. He. adds that the remains of the ark `being saved in that place… are shown there by the inhabitants to this day’ (I.iii.5).
85. Charles Daly in his explanatory notes to tile Koran, London, 1832, ch XI, pp 166-7, states that the name Cardu or Gardu given to the region was rendered by the Greeks as Gordyaei. Hence, the inhabitants were known as Gordyaeans or Cordyaeans.
86. Ibid, ch XI. The Mount AI Judi was constantly written by the Arabs for jordi or Giordi. See also The Travels of Marco Polo (Heron Books, Edito-Service S.A. Geneva, published by arrangement with J.M. Dent, undated) footnotes pp 35 and 36, where confirmation of the Mohammedans’ Al Judi, rather than Mt Ararat, occurs. ‘L’opinion commune des Orientaux,’ says D’Herbelot ‘est que l’arche de Noé s’arrêta sur la montagne de Gioudi, qui est une des croupes du mont Taurus ou Gordiaeus en Arminie.’ (See also this work ch 5, especially footnote 20.)
87. In 1990, the author, when asking the manager of Hotel Cimer where the ark landed, received the answer ‘Al Judi’ as he pointed towards the mountain ridge that overlooks the valley where the boat-shaped formation rests. (See also D. Fasold, The Ark of Noah, p 192, for further confirmation of local knowledge concerning this matter. Fasold gives other research evidence in this chapter to support the notion that this is in fact the mountain, Al Judi, cited by Mahomet in the Koran, as the landing-place of the ark.)
88. Gen 8:7 tells how the raven sent forth by Noah kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. The name Kargaconmaz means ‘Crow will not stand’ (or `perch’). Gen 7:7 states that there were eight humans on board the ark and for this reason the name Village of the Eight which is close by in this district is interesting.
89. Ron Wyatt and the author began to do this in their respective countries. In Australia the author maintained close contact with The Turkish Embassy in Canberra ACT and the Consulate in Sydney, NSW. The research, the projected plans to dig, protect and develop the site have been continuously shared with the appropriate government officials over a number of years. Applications have always been officially made through these authorities with embassy endorsement, then followed up with government personnel in Turkey and where necessary in Britain. All government representatives have been without exception extremely supportive.
90. Fax headed 1991-08-30/16:27, transmitted from Otel Oral, Erzurum, Turkey, to the author’s son Chris Roberts and through him to the author’s wife and various others listed.
For a period of several years, however, the formation received little archaeological attention, mainly because of the dangerous political situation and climatic restraints of the region.(note 2)
Although there was a good deal of ongoing interest in locating the ark during this period, it had not been focused upon the Akyayla site but upon nearby Mount Ararat. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that systematic research began on the Akyayla boat-shaped object. Early in this period Ron Wyatt went there several times and was one of the first to submit the formation to careful investigation. There is little doubt that it was his persistent work in co-operation with the Turkish authorities and a number of others that led to the site’s being recognised as one of archaeological significance.
In the 1980s the Turkish government set up a Prime-Ministerially-authorised project, operating from Ataturk University at Erzurun and also from Los Alamos National Laboratory at the University of California, to investigate the site thoroughly.(note 3) Much of the research involved in this and other scientific investigations led Sevket Ekinci, Governor of Agri and Chairman of the Noah’s Ark Commission, officially to declare the site a national park. The park was solemnly dedicated as the place where the remains of Noah’s Ark were believed to exist. Mr Gengiz Cokce, Head Official of the District of Dogubayazit, Mr Osman Baydar, President of the Municipality and many others were present. (note 4)
The occasion of the ceremony had been well documented by the press both in Turkey and overseas. Film footage of the occasion had been televised in Turkey and the United States. Video tapes including it had been widely distributed in several countries and were still readily available. As official confirmation of the site’s recognition, an impressive Visitors’ Centre was built overlooking the formation.
My own interest in the formation was rekindled in 1989 when I was given David Fasold’s book, The Discovery of Noah’s Ark. (note 5) The book told how he had worked with Ron Wyatt to discover whether the structures inside the formation were those of a real boat. David Fasold’s background as a qualified ship’s master and marine salvage expert enabled him, I thought, to bring valuable insights to bear upon the research data, especially that derived from electronic sub-surface techniques. At this time I felt I had studied the Akyayla site long enough from afar, and so when I received Ron Wyatt’s address and some financial encouragement from a friend, I determined to make contact with him. I did this initially by numerous long-distance phone calls, letters and faxes. Ron and his wife Mary Nell also sent me photographs, video tapes, a range of data and copies of Ron’s book (Discovered: Noah’s Ark!) (note 6) documenting their research up to that point. The information thus gained confirmed my own opinion that the formation needed to be properly and promptly excavated. I therefore resolved to visit the site at the first opportunity.
And so it was finally arranged in late July of 1990 that my wife should fly back to Australia from London where we’d been staying, and I should fly to Turkey. My intention was to meet Ron in the town of Dogubayazit to examine the site with him and then, hopefully, to arrange with the Turkish Government for a preliminary dig, beginning if possible that very summer.
When I arrived in Dogubayazit I discovered that Ron was not there to meet me. He was back home in Nashville. Due to the mounting threat of war with Saddam Hussein, the dig had been put on hold.
Naturally I was disappointed. However, I determined to make the most of the opportunity I now had to examine the formation. Next morning saw me high in the mountains of Ararat and ready with all my equipment to examine the site.
I shall never forget my first view of the formation. In spite of all my research I was not really prepared. There in the valley below was the gigantic ‘boat’ with pointed ‘prow’ and rounded stern’, symmetrical too and as big as a battleship.
And here I was, about to complete the last half-mile of a journey which had begun in my mind thirty years ago and had brought me half-way around the world to this place and to this moment.
For the next week, I carried out the most complete examination of the formation and its environs that I could manage. This involved a comprehensive photographic survey and an on-site study of structures, rocks and soils. Various measurements were also taken.
By the time I was ready to leave, I felt that probably sufficient data now existed to justify a strong case for the site to be thoroughly excavated. This data had not been amassed haphazardly.
It was the result of a long and careful process, to which many people had contributed. Several like myself had made a feature-by-feature comparison of what the Old Testament record said about Noah’s ark, with what had been found on this site.
Although no one had yet had opportunity to do a proper excavation of the formation, there certainly seemed to be enough evidence available to warrant one.
As a historian, I had long believed that archaeology was in many respects like detective work. The method used is very similar, especially if one compares it with the detective’s approach to finding and identifying a missing person.
The detective begins by questioning those who knew the missing person, to get a detailed description. He also questions those who have information about where the person was last seen and, if possible, the circumstances leading to his disappearance. From all of this the detective is able to make a check-list on the basis of which he initiates an informed search.
This approach was used during the nineteenth century by Heinrich Schliemann who sensed that Homer’s account of Troy ?its siege, the wooden horse and other events described there? had the marks of an eye-witness account that could be historically accurate. Although experts disagreed with him, Schliemann attempted to locate Troy using the clues on his check-list. The rest is archaeological history. Schliemann discovered Troy; and although his pioneering techniques are not all to be emulated, his check-list approach is a good one and is still used by archaeological researchers.
This approach would appear to be appropriate for those engaged in a search for an ancient vessel such as Noah’s ark. One does not begin with the a priori assumption that there is no such thing as an ark and therefore not bother to look. Had Schliemann reasoned this way, he would not have discovered Troy. One should begin, no matter what one believes, by taking the record, assuming that it could be true, and then testing its features in the field.
Those who had searched for the ark on snow-covered Mount Ararat had generally assumed that although it would now be thousands of years old, it might be preserved there under the ice, as for example ancient mammoths have been preserved in Siberia. However, since the formation of the Akyayla site was below the snow line, it would seem reasonable to assume that the ark, if it were there, would have had to be preserved in some other way?possibly by a process of petrification, which, contrary to popular belief, can and does occur quite rapidly. This fact is clearly evidenced, for example, by the petrification of the wooden piles supporting the buildings of Venice. (note 7)
If he is searching for an ancient vessel such as Noah’s ark, the historian engaged in archaeological research begins by carefully examining the historical records of the time and from them constructs his check-list. He then goes into the field and using this check-list compares, point for point, what is on it with what he finds. The more features that correspond, the more likely it is that he has found what he is looking for. This entire process should involve a willingness to examine all the forthcoming evidence, while maintaining throughout the process a reasonable open-mindedness and healthy scepticism.
Anyone who examines ancient anthropological literature will find that the account of a world-wide flood and a Noah-like character, who with his family and a host of animals was saved in a great boat, is one of the commonest of accounts. Most nations seem to have it in some recognisable form or other in their folklore. A. M. Rehwinkel, along with others, cites numerous examples from around the world. In his book The Flood (note 8) he presents many of these. One for example from Alaska tells how the father of the Indian tribe lived toward the rising sun.
Having been warned in a dream that a deluge would devastate the earth, he built a raft, on which he saved himself, his family and all the animals. He floated several months on the water. The animals, who could then talk, complained and murmured against him. A new earth at length appeared. He therefore alighted with all the animals which then lost the gift of speech as punishment for their complaining.
The Koran (notably in Chapter XI) provides quite a full account of Noah, the ark and the flood.(note 9) Perhaps the best-known extra-biblical flood account is the Epic of Gilgamesh (note 10), a well-developed form of the flood tradition containing many of the features found in Genesis.
It is however in the Genesis account that one finds not only the elements of this basic narrative but the most impressive detail; ideal for an archaeological check-list.
When it comes, for example, to the nature of the ark, its Specifications and so on, we are able to note in our check-list its actual dimensions in ancient measurements that can be quite accurately interpreted.(note 11) Other details are also available. We know for example that it had three decks (note 12), rooms (note 13), a kind of window (note 14) and a door (note 15). We know also something about the range of its occupants, human and non-human. All of these details furnish our check-list with a wealth of information about what we are seeking.
Concerning where, the Genesis account simply states that the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. (note 16)
These what and where check-list criteria had been used by the majority of those engaged in this research to date, and using them as a yardstick it had already been possible to tick off several of them in the field.
Concerning the what criteria, this colossal boat-shaped object with its pointed ‘prow’, its rounded ‘stern’, its largely symmetrical shape and its ‘list to starboard’, certainly looked as though it might be a boat?perhaps the ark.
However the possibility of its being the ark was based on far more than appearances. Our check-list from the Old Testament gave a length of 300 cubits, a breadth of 50 cubits and height of 30 cubits. (note 17) These are very specific measurements. Obviously, to check them out in the field we would need to know the length of the cubit. This is not quite as straightforward as it seems. There were a number of cubit lengths. The 18-inch cubit is the one of which most people are aware. However there is also a 20.6-inch cubit which is not quite so well known.
From the evidence of several researchers, including Piazzi Smyth, Scotland’s Astronomer Royal in the nineteenth century, there was, I believed, a compelling case for the 20.6-inch cubit as the one most appropriate to the cubit dimensions of the ark. (note 18) On the basis of a 20.6-inch cubit, the length of the ark would be around 515 ft.
The formation when carefully measured was in fact this length– 515 ft. (note 19)
The width, according to our Old Testament check-list, ought to have been 86 ft. However, the breadth of the formation when measured was much wider, about 138 ft. (note 20)
Reasons had been put forward to explain the fact that the formation is so much wider than that set down in the Genesis account. It had been suggested by Ron Wyatt (note 21) that this might have been the result of ‘splaying’ due to the fact that, before the 1948 earthquake, the formation had been buried under a huge overburden of mud. However, because the outline of the ‘hull’ was so sharp and regular (especially as it appeared in the early aerial photograph below) the possibility had been raised that the shape had not been distorted at all. Fasold had held to this view, and had suggested that the breadth of 50 cubits set down in Scripture was not meant to be taken as straight gunwhale-to-gunwhale width, but as an average. (note 22) He had also maintained that the formation is the remains of a reed boat rather than a wooden one.
These questions concerning the composition and dimensions of the formation were very important ones. However, the ultimate answers would be forthcoming only as a result of a dig.
Whether the formation had the right appearance and size to be the ark was not the crucial issue. A natural formation could be of similar appearance and size. (note 24) The issue of whether it was the ark or not rested upon the question of whether or not there was a boat under that mud covering.
A number of very careful scientific investigations had already yielded enough anomalous data to suggest that the formation might not be natural, but a man-made object?possibly a boat. These investigations had yielded information which, although by no means complete, appeared to be significant and warranted a dig.
For example, using metal-detector scans, some particularly interesting subsurface readings from inside the boat-shaped formation had been gained. These were especially intriguing because there were no such readings outside it.
The first metal-detector investigation was carried out in June 1985 by a team consisting of Ron Wyatt, David Fasold and geologist Dr John Baumgardner (note 25) –who was later to work with the Turkish/US Project team formed officially to investigate the formation. (note 26) All three men published details of this work. (note 27) The detector indicated lines of metal underground. These were found to be in an organised pattern with longitudinal as well as transverse lines. The longitudinal lines converged to points at either end of the site. Dr Baumgardner surmised that the lines represent rows of nails or spikes. (note 28)
Another metal-detector scan was carried out a few months later and once again, according to Dr Baumgardner, this ‘resulted in the amazing pattern of lines’. (note 29) The presence of such regular patterns was, of course, strongly indicative that below the surface of the formation was a man-made structure of some kind. (note 30) That these pieces of metal might be joining mechanisms of the sort one might expect to find in a large boat seemed to be a reasonable possibility. The team were impressed by the fact that the lines were distorted and bunched up as if on impact where the rock outcrop juts into the formation. Dr Baumgardner made particular reference to this in one of his newsletters. (note 31)
This metal-detector evidence was rated very highly by all those involved in the work. Dr Baumgardner, indeed, gave as his professional opinion that ‘the grid of metal lines almost certainly demands that the site contains a man-made structure.’ (note 32)
As one who has done some amateur metal-detecting in the early goldfields of New South Wales and Victoria, I agreed that this metal detection work was significant, especially since it had been carried out and confirmed in the presence of a number of responsible personnel. (note 33) It had been well documented too. (note 34) Grid patterns had been marked carefully by long coloured tapes, and much of the process had been both photographed and videotaped. On the basis of this evidence alone, it was clear that the site needed to be excavated.
During the month of July 1987 a joint research project sponsored by Dr H. Ertugrul, Director of Ataturk University, was conducted. Leaders of the research team were M. Salih Bayraktutan of Ataturk University and John R. Baumgardner of the University of California. (note 35) Other members of the team included Thomas T. Anderson; Maylon T. Wilson of the University of California; Thomas F. Fenner, with Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc, manufacturer of the radar; and Semsi Yazici and Necmettin Tamas of Ataturk University. In addition, James A. Burroughs, Daniel M. Devaney and Jeffrey C. Wayman of Seven League Productions provided photographic documentation for the project. (note 36) It was the responsibility of this team to carry out a subsurface geophysical survey of the site using ground-penetrating radar, a high-precision magnetometer survey and limited investigations with a one-channel seismograph. (note 37) The results of these tests were published in a scientific report by Dr John Baumgardner (University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory) and Dr M. Salih Bayraktutan (Ataturk University, Faculty of Engineering), in November 1987, Erzurum, Turkey. (note 38)
Once again the results were highly interesting. Concerning the radar scan, this Turkish Government sponsored report stated that between four and eight metres below the ground surface there is an almost planar surface which covers a large portion of the site. (note 39) What is this large flat surface? Dr Baumgardner cautiously suggested in his official letter (15 September 1987) that although he could not provide a definitive answer, there seemed to be two possibilities.
‘One,’ he wrote, ‘is that the surface represents the petrified remains of one of the decks of the Ark, probably the middle deck. The other is that the surface is the flat top of a large boat-shaped piece of bedrock whose dimensions by coincidence happen to match closely those given for the Ark in Genesis.’ (note 40) Whilst cautiously stating in his newsletter that the surface could be bedrock, Dr Baumgardner nonetheless set down in the official university project report two considerations that suggest it is not. The first was that the radar results did not indicate that the surface is similar in nature to the calc-schist rock that forms the adjacent hills on either side of the mudflow and the outcrop of rock that appears to intrude into the formation. The second was that there was a ‘double reflection’ suggestive of a layer, rather than a simple transition into a material many metres thick; and to find such a layer in this context was highly anomalous from the standpoint of known landslide and debris flow. Dr Baumgardner and Dr Bayraktutan therefore suggested in their official joint report that if the layer pertained to a buoyant man-made structure, its setting suggested that it was transported by a landslide to its present position where it was stranded on the outcropping rock on the middle of the site. (note 41)
Neither the magnetometer nor the seismographic data were inconsistent with the radar evidence which indicated a large planar surface. (note 42) The seismograph data in fact, though very limited, revealed the presence of similar material to that indicated by the radar and within similar depth parameters. (note 43)
The conclusions of this official report affirmed that, ‘We conclude that the data from our geophysical investigations in no way conflict with the proposition that the unusual boat-shaped site near Mahser village (note 44) contains the remains of Noah’s ark.’ This report, conducted by highly skilled professionals from two countries, went on to add, ‘Indeed, the existence of the remains of a large man-made structure in the site is an attractive way to account for the highly anomalous feature of the extensive, almost planar reflector observed in the radar data.’ (note 45) Clearly the fact that there were such anomalous data yielded by these subsurface techniques suggested that there was a distinct possibility that the formation was not a natural one. To clarify the matter, it was recommended that what was needed was actual material, removed from inside, as is stated in the conclusions of the commissioned report:
Without actual samples of the subsurface materials we feel that definitive interpretations of our data are not possible. On the other hand, we believe samples obtainable through core drilling a small number of holes in the site can provide the information required which, together with the geophysical data we already have, could allow very solid conclusions to be reached. We therefore urge the Turkish authorities to support efforts to conduct core drilling as early as 1988, as weather conditions allow. (note 46)
It was also recommended ‘that core drilling at several locations both inside and outside the site be performed to provide the additional information needed to make proper interpretations of these geophysical tests.’ (note 47)
To find and identify this ‘almost planar surface’ (note 48), the nature of these core drillings and the way in which they were to be done were set down very specifically in recommendations by Drs Baumgardner and Bayraktutan in the official report and by Dr Baumgardner in his official newsletters.
In the first place, as Drs Baumgardner and Bayraktutan stated, drills would need to be sent down ‘at several locations’ (note 49) ? a wise recommendation, since the formation covers such a large area. Furthermore the subsurface layers, whatever they were made of, could well have been fractured, dislocated and even separated from one another by earthquake activity.
Secondly, the drills would need to be sunk not only within the formation but outside it as well. (note 50) In this way, characteristics of the normal terrain could be ascertained and valid comparisons made between it and what was inside the perimeters of the formation.
Thirdly, the drills would need to be sunk to a depth sufficient not only to locate the planar reflector surface as indicated by the radar and other survey techniques, (note 51) but also to reveal important contextual features, both above and below that surface. Dr Baumgardner in his official report recommended very appropriately that continuous core sampling be carried out to a depth of 20 m (approximately 65 ft). (note 52)
Plans were therefore made to carry out this core drilling programme. By 15 September 1987, Dr Baumgardner was able to report that Dr Bayraktutan had located suitable drilling equipment (note 53) with the aim of using it on the site in the autumn of that year. (note 54)
Dr Baumgardner also reported that permission had been given by government officials to have the drilling carried out by a special team from Erzurum.
The work was done between 28 July and 7 August (note 55) but unfortunately, when the drilling was done none of these three recommendations was followed.
A total of only four drill holes was sunk, which in view of the situation was simply not enough; a fact acknowledged by Dr Baumgardner himself when he referred to the severe limitations imposed by such sparseness of core drillings. (note 56)
Furthermore, no drillings were done outside the formation, to enable the essential geological comparisons to be made. In addition to this, the recommended depth requirement was not met. Consequently, it was not surprising that this critically important planar radar reflector was not encountered, as Dr Baumgardner himself also indicated. (note 57)
Dr Baumgardner also commented in one of his newsletters concerning the absence of other core-drill evidence, namely, wood, (note 58) pointing out however that ‘Core drilling is severely limited in its ability to find buried archaeological structure especially if it is sparsely distributed and has been significantly altered by decay and chemical weathering’. (note 59) –a situation that would appear in fact to have obtained on this site. Dr Baumgardner was careful to add that the absence of such evidence did not rule out the possibility of the formation’s being a man-made object, perhaps the ark:
We still cannot rule out the scenario that the ark of Noah had landed previously higher on the slope and during the mud slide event was swept downslope and caught on this ridge-shaped island of basement rock. (note 60)
It seemed abundantly clear to me that what was needed to clarify the matter, perhaps as a first step, was a considerably increased number of core drillings which would penetrate deeply into many areas, not only along the centre line, but also between it and the periphery of the formation, as well as at a number of places along that periphery, some of them perhaps horizontal rather than vertical; this programme also to include many drillings at numerous points outside the formation for control purposes.
The second and ultimate step would be the one recommended by Dr Baumgardner when he said in 1987, ‘… it appears that we have exhausted the methods available that involve minimal disturbance to the site. The only procedure that makes sense at this juncture, if the critical question of archaeological structure is to be resolved, is to dig.’ (note 61) By 1989 such a dig had not yet been completed. However, because the Turkish Government was holding so much significant information from so many sources, I was certain that eventually a dig would be necessary, and would be initiated.
In spite of its lack of success in locating the planar surface, the core-drilling programme did uncover some other things of considerable significance.
Three of the four drill-hole locations revealed what Dr Baumgardner in the same letter described as ‘nodules of bright yellow mineral limonite’. (note 62) In this setting, it seemed to him anomalous, (note 63) since he had not observed such limonite previously in ‘fissures or exposures in the mudflow clay’. (note 64) He went on to write in his letter that because of earlier indications that there might be ‘unusual amounts of iron in the site’, he thought that its occurrence ‘could represent the rusted remains of metallic iron objects’. (note 65) These limonite occurrences were reminiscent of the rusted metal nodules located at Sutton Hoo, where the remains of an Anglo-Saxon ship had been unearthed, about 60 miles northeast of London, England. (note 66)
The columnar shapes on sections of the exterior walls of the formation (especially those of the north-west and south-cast faces) had evoked considerable interest among many who had observed them. On the south-east section, near the southern end of the formation, there were deep slits between these bulging column shapes. The mud veneer which covered them was in places stained a rusty brown colour. Below this thin layer of mud one could see some unusual structures. They appeared to be columns of rock, upright and more or less evenly spaced. The regular spacing of these uprights and their fairly uniform widths had suggested the possibility that they might indeed be ribs?as Ron Wyatt had earlier suggested they were. (note 67)
Some thorough archaeological work was needed to ascertain what these rib-like structures really were. (note 68) To determine this would of course require careful excavation, to reveal these structures fully from both outside and inside the formation, along with careful sampling and analysis to identify precisely their nature and composition.
All these anomalous features associated with the general nature and structure of the formation raised some very important questions. Arid these questions could not be properly answered without further investigation and research? ideally, in conjunction with an excavation.
There were other questions too, many of which arose from the discovery of various objects on or around the site. While many of these objects still required further analysis, they were nonetheless potentially important, in that they opened up leads which needed to be explored. One was a sample which had the appearance of a rivet head surrounded by a washer. It was found by Ron Wyatt at a point just outside the western perimeter of the formation on 23 June 1991. The find was witnessed and fully documented in writing and signed by some eleven persons. (note 69)
As a first step, three separate tests were completed on this sample. (note 70)
Other samples from the site which occasioned a great deal of interest were those that had been identified as petrified wood. The first of these was found in August 1984 at the northern end of the site where the rounded end of the formation is fretting away and crumbling. (note 71) This sample had not only the appearance of fossilised wood but gave the impression of having been hand-tooled to produce what was possibly the shoulder of a tenon joint. (note 72)
The second sample had been removed from the inside of the formation in 1987 by special arrangement with His Excellency Sevket Ekinci, the Governor of Agri, who was present with several other Turkish officials on the site when it was officially declared a National Park. The object, a heavy dark brown rectangular slab of stone, was layered and appeared to have been hand-tooled. Its features had prompted the notion that it might be a piece of laminated ‘deck’ timber. (note 73)
In the summer of 1990 I was accompanied to the site by Dr G. Smars and Mr J. Bouma who offered to assist me in my research there. (note 74) Consequently on this occasion I was privileged (as leader of this small team) to be present for the discovery of a black tarry substance which appeared to have oozed out of a possible ‘deck support’ on the eastern edge of the formation. A small sample of this substance which was first noted by Mr J. Bouma (note 75) was later identified as bitumen or pitch (note 76), which is of course specifically mentioned in Genesis 6:14.
Samples of rock-like material found on site had also evoked considerable interest. As result of a number of analyses and because of their general appearance, they had been identified as possibly a form of slag that could have been poured off from a furnace. (note 77)
In addition to these objects, some interesting samples suggesting the presence of animals had been located. These included antler fragments (note 78) taken from the formation, several coprolites (egg-shaped pieces of animal dung (note 79)) and numerous strands of animal hair from inside the western wall of the formation. (note 80)
Then there were the large stones discovered across the valley. They resembled drogue stones, used in the ancient world to steer or anchor vessels. Although drogue stones are not uncommon artefacts, (note 81) none of those which had been found seemed to be anywhere near the size of the ones found near the village of Arzap which was within visual distance of the Akyayla site. The stones in this area were up to ten feet high and weighed several tons. A dozen or so of them had been found in the region where the boat-shaped formation lay. Like other drogue stones, their holes had been carefully hollowed out and designed to receive knotted ropes. It had been suggested that if these gigantic stones had been attached to a vessel such as the ark, they could well have served as sheet anchors to direct it and prevent it from broaching in the heavy seas of a cataclysmic flood.
This evidence, though somewhat fragmentary and requiring further confirmation, seemed cumulatively to strengthen the possibility that what was here, under the mud, was quite possibly a gigantic man-made structure?a boat, in fact.
Concerning the ark’s location?the where factor?the formation appeared to check out very well. The range of mountains on which the formation presently rested could quite legitimately be termed the mountains of Ararat, or the Ararat mountain range. Ararat is the modern name for Urartu, an ancient kingdom which included this very range of mountains. (note 82)
Also on the matter of location, our Old Testament checklist indicated that the ark rested ‘on’ the mountains?that is, at some elevation. (note 83) The formation is in fact at an altitude of about 6,300 feet above sea level.
In addition to this Genesis information, there were other clues that indicated where the ark rested. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian who wrote in the first century AD, claimed that all writers of barbarian histories make mention of the flood. Then concerning its resting place Josephus went on to cite Berosus, who lived in the third century BC. Josephus quotes him thus:
It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia at the mountain of the Cordyaeans and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen which they take away and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs. (note 84)
The name ‘Cordyaeans’ would appear to refer to those who inhabited this region. (note 85) The Koran states that the ark came to rest upon Al Judi. (note 86) To this day, the locals call the mountain on that part of the range where the formation rests Al Judi. (note 87)
Several ancient names still extant in the near vicinity of the formation have echoes of the flood account in Genesis. For example there is a nearby village called Kargaconmaz, which means ‘crow will not stand’; another is called ‘The Village of the Eight’ (note 88). While any of these names might not confirm the site, several of them (which do in fact exist) begin to assume more significance when considered cumulatively.
The area where the formation now rested did not seem to be at odds with major historical references to the ark’s resting place.
Before leaving Turkey, I discussed possible future arrangements with Ron by phone. We both agreed that we should begin preparations for a preliminary dig in the following summer. This would involve recording, professionally documenting and marshalling our data so that it could be presented to embassies, government officials and a range of others whose assistance would be sought. (note 89)
On my return to Australia, I began to do this. I went on to share data from the site with colleagues and friends. Interest grew so rapidly that an old friend, John McNicol, suggested that a research association be formed to encourage and support the work as an Australian initiative. This was done early in 1991.
Well before the summer of 1991, Ron and I had completed arrangements for our next trip to Turkey. Our aim for this trip was twofold: to complete some more field work on and near the Akyayla site, and to meet with Turkish Government Ministers and others to secure a preliminary dig permit, if possible for that same summer.
We went to Turkey as planned and completed our field work on the site. However, we did not get our important meeting. Since there was no purpose in remaining in Turkey, Ron decided to return to America and I to England. The plan was that I would wait in England until the Turkish official arranging our meeting contacted me. I would then phone Ron in Nashville, Tennessee, and we would both fly to Ankara where, hopefully, we would have our meeting and receive our permit. We estimated that the preliminary dig could be completed in four to six weeks, before winter began.
And so we both waited. Ron continued his normal work as an anaesthetist in a Nashville hospital, while I worked on a book I was writing. I also took the opportunity to do some fossil-fossicking in the gravel pits of Wiltshire.
Weeks passed. A month was soon gone. My progressively extended stay with my old friends Arthur and Vivienne Roderick and their family became a standing joke. Throughout this time I kept in continuous contact with Ankara through the Turkish Embassy in London. As the period lengthened to almost two months, I realised that this unresolved situation could not continue much longer. I was just about to make plans to return home when I received a phone call from the Turkish Ambassador’s Secretary in London.
He began his phone call by saying he had some bad news for me. The Turkish gentleman who had been organising the meeting, and ultimately the issuing of our permit to dig, had just been tragically killed in Ankara. He told me that this important man’s demise would seriously affect arrangements for our meeting and the issue of our permit. He advised me to defer our plans and arrangements until the summer of the following year. Regretfully, on this advice I made reservations to fly home to Australia the next day. I phoned Ron, who agreed this was our only option.
I was just about to pack my bags when I received another call from the Turkish Embassy. This time they told me that they had just received good news. Word had come from Ankara that our meeting had been set for the Thursday of the following week. I cancelled my reservation to Australia, notified my wife and then phoned Ron. We agreed to fly to Ankara for our meeting on Wednesday 28 August 1991.
How pleased I was on the morning of that day in Ankara to meet Ron, as well as Richard and Marvin who had both accompanied him from America! And how wonderful it was, after waiting so long for this vital meeting, to be told later that day by the man behind the desk at Parliament House that a committee of high-ranking officials from the Turkish Ministry of Culture were ready right then to meet us.
The meeting went very well. We were welcomed most cordially and our proposals for the protection and development of the site were considered and discussed very warmly and thoughtfully. The Director of Excavations for Turkey, who was present at the meeting, had already examined the Akyayla formation and well understood the need for prompt action concerning it.
Before the meeting was over, arrangements had been made for us to go the following day to the Department of Foreign Affairs who would organise the permit to dig.
Next morning we attended this meeting to discuss the project and the granting of our permit. Again the officials in this meeting were most positive about the whole project which we all discussed with enthusiasm as we sipped our cay, the Turkish tea which one drinks from tiny glass cups. It was quite certain from our conversation that they had no objection to the granting of our permit. But there would be a delay of some ten days, they thought, before it would be officially issued to us, due to the fact that Turkey was about to enter one of its Muslim religious observance periods.
We were of course delighted with this positive response. We returned to our hotel to discuss plans, not only for the dig but for the ensuing ten-day period prior to receipt of our written permission. We eventually decided to utilise this short delay by travelling to the Nemrut Dag area in the South-East to complete some investigations already begun; and perhaps then to fly to Israel to further some additional work near the Dead Sea.
On the basis of these arrangements we flew to Erzurum, planning to travel by road from there to Bingol and thence to Nemrut Dag. By Friday afternoon the four of us were all loaded up and ready to begin our minibus trip to Bingol. Dilaver our trusted guide and old friend had organised both the vehicle and its driver.
I faxed a brief note to my wife in Australia telling her that at last things had begun to move very rapidly and that we were greatly encouraged by developments. I also gave her some time parameters. I estimated that if we started the preliminary dig in about two weeks, we might finish about five or six weeks later.
I had been away for about three months, and although I longed to return home I was determined (as all four of us were now) to complete the job. In this vein I wrote the following words to my wife: ‘As much as I am keen to come home, it is perfectly clear that the project must proceed as quickly as possible…’. (note 90)
I was so pleased after months of frustrating uncertainty and delay to tell my wife that at last we had made some plans that would not be wrecked by unforeseen circumstances.
Who could have believed that before midnight on this very day, we would all be scrambling at gunpoint half-way up the precipitous side of what the locals call ‘Black Hell Valley’?