Search for Noah's Lost Ark: History of the Search Part 1

About the search for Noah's Ark the ship from the Bible that saved man from the flood, history and background.

The Continuing Search for. . . Noah's Ark

But where did the ark land 5,000 years ago? Genesis gives no specifics other than calling the place Ararat. In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, "Ararat" is simply translated as "Armenia." In the ancient Assyrian language, "Urartu" is Ararat and is referred to as a broad area inclusive of what we know as Armenia. There, indeed, is a tall, eternally snow-and-ice-clad mountain rising 16,946'. Today, because of geographical shifts in national boundaries, Mount Ararat stands in northeastern Turkey at the triangle where the U.S.S.R. and Iran meet between the Black and Caspian seas.

The 1st known reference to the actual location of Noah's ark comes from Berossus, a Chaldean priest who compiled a history of Babylonia around 275 B.C. As to the ship that landed in Armenia, he is quoted by Alexander Polyhistor as saying, "Some part still remains in the mountains of the Gordyaens [Ararat] in Armenia, and some [people] get pitch from the ship by scraping it off, and use it for amulets."

After Berossus, a steady trickle of historical writers referred to the ark. In his Jewish Antiquities, compiled in the early centuries after Christ, Josephus says, "The Armenians call the spot the Landing-Place, and they show the relics of the ark to this day." The early Christian fathers added corroboration of a kind. Faustus of Byzantium described how a bishop of Persian origin, Jacob, went on a pilgrimage to Ararat and received a plank of the ark "from an angel." This plank, presumably, is the piece of petrified wood now preserved in a golden casket in the monastery at the foot of Ararat.

In 1670, a Dutch pilgrim-monk went to Mount Ararat in search of Noah's ark. There he met a hermit who had been inside it. The hermit's official attestation reads in full:

I have thought it unreasonable to refuse the request of Jans Janszoon who besought me to testify in writing that he was in my cell on the holy Mount Ararat, subsequent to his climb of some 35 mi. This man cured me of serious hernia, and I am therefore greatly in his debt for the conscientious treatment he gave me. In return for his benevolence, I have presented to him a cross made of a piece of wood from the true Ark of Noah. I myself entered that Ark and with my own hands cut from the wood of one of its compartments the fragment from which that cross is made. I informed the same Jans Janszoon in considerable detail as to the actual construction of the Ark, and also gave him a piece of stone which I had personally chipped from the rock on which the Ark rests. All this I testify to be true--as true as I am in fact alive here in my sacred hermitage.

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