Is it Noah’s Ark?

Wooden structure high on Ararat announced to the world

[Updates at bottom of page: Latest 4 June 2010]

On Sunday 25 April, a press conference was held in Hong Kong at 11 am local time. A local Christian organization, The Media Evangelism Ltd, announced that they had accessed and filmed an extremely interesting item 4,200 metres (14,000 ft) up on Ararat in an extremely dangerous and hard-to-access area. TMEL apparently has an evangelistic display in the large concrete full-size Ark replica on the way to the airport.

Buried in ice and rock, (well above the treeline) they were able to tunnel down and enter and film about seven accessible rooms (there were more) constructed out of what clearly appeared to be wood, including small doorways, a shelf, beams with pegs, and more.

As more information becomes available over the next few days, we should be able to flesh out some of these details, including more on the history of the find.

We have previously wondered in print how such a structure would survive the many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes evidenced by the mountain’s geology, and whether such an obvious source of structural timber and fuel would survive long after the Flood.

It is still early days and all believers need to be careful not to jump the gun, i.e. go beyond the evidence and announce it as the Ark for sure. There will obviously be a lot more work to be done to establish whether this apparently manmade structure is indeed the remains of Noah’s Ark, or a subsequent construction, perhaps to commemorate the Ark landing. The discoverers have indicated their desire to work closely with the major creation organizations to address the obvious questions that still need to be answered.

Even if this turns out not to be the Ark itself, this find (if genuine) and the ongoing investigations and interest will focus attention on the reality of the Flood in world history.

The following are articles responding to various other previous claims about the remains of the Ark. (Note: they do not refer to this latest claim and are not intended to reflect on it.)


ADDENDUM 1: Posted 27 April 2010

  1. TMEL have a subsidiary, called Noah’s Ark Ministries International Ltd (NAMI), which has a website which details some of the claims—http://www.noahsarksearch.net. [Note: provision of a link does not indicate that the claims are (or are not) being endorsed or verified at this point.]
  2. Information received indicates that TMEL held a similarly enthusiastic press conference some two years ago about a claimed Ark find elsewhere on the mountain that apparently turned out to be of no significance.
  3. We have had a chance to view many still pictures (but not yet been given formal permission to post) and there is little doubt that these are wooden, manmade structures.
  4. The head of an Ark-searching team looking elsewhere on Ararat sent an email to a creationist chatroom site which states that TMEL/NAMIL have in his opinion likely been duped by a clever fraud, involving planted wood. He claims to have accompanied the Chinese team on one of their several expeditions and implies that TMEL was led to its discovery site by a local not exactly known for his honesty. He indicates his view that some of the still photos were from a different site, suggesting that TMEL was misled into accepting these as of the same structure. He then states that he expects positive results from his own team’s investigation of an alternative site.

All of this seems to reinforce the need for caution—in both directions, as one would expect controversy and denial surrounding a genuine find too. We plan to keep abreast of significant developments and create further addenda as information becomes available.


ADDENDUM 2: Posted 6 May 2010

  1. A number of CMI staff have been involved in ongoing discussions over the phone with reliable folk in Hong Kong we have known for years. These are people who have close contact with the team announcing the discovery and vouch for their integrity.
  2. Indications at present are that the theory that ‘the Chinese team were victims of a hoax’ is getting harder to sustain. In particular, we have had direct assurance that the following pictures posted here below are ones taken directly by the team at various times at the site (click images to enlarge). Also, the discoverers have specifically responded on their website to the email by Dr Randall Price.
  3. Ark-searching team Ark-searching team Ark-searching team Space buried under ice and volcanic rocks Very small entrance
    Very small entrance Very small entrance Very small entrance Very small entrance
  4. While unable to comment with certainty yet about items such as the straw and the cobwebs in some photos, in light of some of the comments circulating, it should be noted that spiders (and their insect prey) exist at even higher altitudes. There are many anecdotal accounts of people going up to something like this over the centuries, in which case straw may be useful for overnight bunking, etc.
  5. Further investigations will likely require, initially, face-to-face inquiries with eyewitnesses, and hands-on inspection of artefacts/samples in Hong Kong. With the gracious consent of the discovery team, CMI has expressed that we are more than willing to cooperate with all relevant players, which will also assist us in being able to offer reliable commentary to our constituency via this page as it is updated.
  6. If such investigations continue to progressively rule out the ‘planted hoax’ theory, then it would appear that a substantial wooden construction exists under the ice at this very high altitude on Greater Mt. Ararat, a construction whose nature is yet to be determined.
  7. Greater Mt. Ararat is a volcano, with much evidence of ancient (hence postFlood) eruptions. So this could well be a memorial erected to the landing (which could have been elsewhere in the region, given that the Bible says “the mountains of Ararat/Urartu” centuries later). If so, it would still be a major archaeological discovery of great interest to creationists in particular.

In summary, at this time we believe, based on those recent discussions, that the evidence as it currently presents itself to us warrants more than just a “wait and see” approach, but a willingness to be involved with the investigation, ensuring that all competing theories are also fairly dealt with. We’ll keep you posted with such updates as soon as significant news is available.

This video was posted on YouTube by the Hong Kong based discoverers (TMEL/NAMI), footage shot by their team and showing some of the spaces delimited by obvious wood. The coughing is a consequence of the high altitude. The small hard pellets have been sampled, not yet identified at this date (6 May 2010).


ADDENDUM 3: Posted 28 May 2010

Apparently, some are saying that CMI believes it’s probably the Ark, while others are saying we think the opposite. A careful reading of our statements to date should indicate that neither is an accurate representation.

Our aim at this point is to keep supporters briefly informed of really significant developments, but not overloaded with all the back and forth. Nor to go into the minutiae of the arguments for and against the various probabilities.

Recently, the discoverers held a press conference in Amsterdam. Extensive video of that conference (the interesting question time is in part 5) is at http://www.thecreativelaboratory.com/conference/part_1.html

It includes comments by Parasut, the guide who has been named as a key figure by those proposing possible (or even likely) fraud.

There are also reports circulating of local Kurds talking about wood being taken up and planted in a cave over a period of years.

Due diligence

With our responsibilities to supporters in mind, we will have a brief face-to-face meeting in Hong Kong with NAMI leaders in early June. This is not because we have any reason to distrust the motives of the discoverers, whose evangelical track record is, according to Hong Kong missionary friends, impeccable. It is because no matter how logistically difficult a hoax would appear to be, it remains a possibility—history is replete with instances of intelligent people fooled by motivated tricksters (Jeremiah 17:9).

We have been informed that the meeting will include team members who were on the mountain and shooting the photos. Our purpose will be to better understand the chain of evidence to date, more from a forensic point of view than a scientific one. We want to make sure there weren’t any possible ways in which fraud could have been perpetrated on NAMI, helping assess the balance of probabilities regarding fraud, and trying to understand why NAMI believes it can be definitively ruled out.

As believers, we are told to ‘prove all things’ (1 Thess 5:21). That doesn’t mean waiting till the last excruciating test is completed before even letting people know of woodlined rooms under the ice high up on Ararat, of course. And in that sense, we understand NAMI’s announced desire to spread the news as widely as possible, right now, in the cause of evangelism. But if it were a straight-out hoax, (as opposed to some other ancient structure, for example) it would mean ‘major egg on the face’ for biblical Christianity. We see trying to definitively rule out hoax as a crucial issue at this point in time.


ADDENDUM 4: Posted 4 June 2010

At this moment of posting, Dr Carl Wieland is in Hong Kong meeting with members of NAMI who were on the mountain and took the photos. An email sent out today to supporters asked for prayer and included the following two paragraphs:

Via contacts in Hong Kong, there has been tentative talk of CMI being invited to attend a June/July forum (and press conference) in Turkey, along with various scientists and archeologists from the Turkish government. We respect NAMI’s passion for the Gospel, which appears to have led them to more or less take a stance in public that this is the Ark, till proven otherwise (the same stance was taken in Amsterdam by the Turkish archeology academic). NAMI has provided answers to several aspects of earlier claims that a detailed hoax had been played on them. Despite this, however, nothing to date has definitely ruled out a hoax, with some talk now of wood from very old remote buildings having been hauled up there over many months and progressively planted in a cave.

We really appreciate this opportunity to spend private time face-to-face in depth, something very necessary before there could have been any consideration of making a commitment of personnel time/costs—and before lending the ministry’s name to the claim, directly or indirectly. We will be seeking detailed answers to many specifics, with those who were there and took the pictures, etc. We believe that it is on the basis of such further intensive private enquiry that we can perform the appropriate ‘due diligence’ on behalf of our supporters. So we are very grateful to NAMI for granting time for CMI in their busy schedule. We are particularly grateful because we understand that the hoax allegations are especially sensitive and painful issues for them.

Carl has already reported that he has just spent a full day observing substantial numbers of secular people being exposed to very well-presented truths about not just the Ark and Flood, but about the person and work of the Lord Jesus, in an extremely well-presented public attraction driven by the efforts of the people behind NAMI. He said that to him, this spoke volumes for their motivation and passion for the Gospel.

We anticipate being able to give a more detailed comment about the Ararat claim in about a week or so (without excluding the possibility of earlier updates).