The recent ‘discovery’ of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, Turkey has taken the archaeological world by storm, and it’s no surprise that some are less inclined to believe the audacious claims of Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NIMA). At the same time the team released a computer-generated image of the site, right, American Biblical historian Randall Price has already refuted the team’s claims, stating he went to the ark’s purported location and saw nothing. Price has since been met with Orwellian media backlash on NIMA’s website, but another leading expert has added his concerns to the debate.
Dutch Biblical expert M.J. Paul has serious reservations about the ‘discovery’, which so far has only comprised sketchy videos and interviews with NIMA. And in true Biblical style he has issued a list of ten points he wants cleared up before he believes its veracity, in an interview with Reformatorisch Dagblad (translated):
1. Every few years claims that the ark has been found surface. How do we know this is the real ark? That the wooden remains really originate from Noah’s ship?
2. Archaeologists are obliged to pinpoint exactly where they’ve found something, but these ‘discoverers’ keep their location secret though they do name Ararat. This makes control/checking impossible.
3. In the news it is stated the find is at a height of four kilometres. At this height there is a massive amount of ice, and many scholars/researchers doubt if in ‘movable gletsjer ice’ the structure of a ship can be preserved.
4. The mountain that is currently named Ararat is – according to most geologists – only ‘created’ quite recently, definitely after the flood. It is a volcano without sedimentation layers, which would have been deposited by the flood’s waters. Are they sure they are aiming at the right mountain?
5. The wood is said to be tested in a laboratory in Iran, and estimated to be about 4800 years old. Does Iran actually have laboratories where one is skilled at determining this correctly? Why did this happen in Iran? And why aren’t the official ‘reports’ publicised so the results can be double-checked?
6. The news release mentions a ‘black substance’ on the wood found and refers to the tar mentioned in Genesis. That’s too quick a conclusion. Why wasn’t this substance further examined?
7. The ‘iron pins/nails with square heads’ found could indeed be interpreted as nails to tie animals to, but there is a total lack of considering other interpretations/possiblities of use.
8. It induces distrust that the discoverers first want to make a film documentary before actual factual data is released and verified/reviewed. When will the finds be presented on the normal way to the scientific community so that verification is possible?
9. One of the published photographs shows a spider web/cobweb in one of the corners. Is it possible for spiders to live at that height? Survive in that cold? Or did they photograph a cave positioned much lower than 4000m?
10. The guide leading the search/mission is known to be very unreliable. Why did they hire him anyway?
A damning critique indeed. It’s unsurprising how quickly people have pounced on the story as proof Noah’s Ark exists – it’s always the case with a Biblical mission, always will be. Yet these ten points, if left unanswered, are surely enough to put down even the sturdiest of claims from NIMA’s leading officials. Dr Paul signs off with a poignant message to NIMA, and the archaeological world as a whole:
“Various orthodox scholars believe that this is pseudo-archaeology, doing more damage to God’s word than it does good. It is the test of the finders to show what is truly going on.” It seems an obvious thing to say, but judging by NIMA’s ever-increasing arsenal of provocative videos and images they feel the public should believe them with the little proof they’ve exhibited thus far. Watch this space – this argument could get very messy in the coming days, and I’ll keep you updated as things move forward. In the meantime check out our list of archaeology’s top ten hoaxes, not that we’re pre-empting anything…