Search for Noah's Lost Ark: History of the Search Part 3

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

The search has continued, now inspired by what is called "Ark Fever" or "Arkeology." Dr. John Montgomery, a teacher at Trinity Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., and author of The Quest for Noah's Ark, has climbed Ararat twice--the south face in 1970 and the north face in 1971. Another expedition, blessed by President Nixon in 1970 and sponsored by the Denver, Colo., religious group SEARCH, was denied permission to make the ascent since the Turks justifiably consider Ararat--a highly militarized zone--of strategic importance. However, John Morris and his 12-man team, under the auspices of the Baptist research organization Institute for Creation Research, was successful in getting Turkish permission to ascend Ararat in the summer of 1972 and hopes for another ascent in 1975 or 1976.

CONCLUSIONS: There is surprising consensus as to the probable location of Noah's ark. Some of the evidence has been flimsy: Recently there was the aged Armenian who fled to America after the Turks took control of the area; he had climbed Ararat as a boy and described the ark as "absolutely petrified, just like pure stone." Other evidence--the existence of wood hewn by hand found at an improbable height, for instance--has been documented. But the passage of millennia, the 1840 volcanic eruption (which blew one side of the mountain away, and doubtless would have exposed the "ark" to view), as well as the melting, shifting, treacherous glacier which envelops the elusive object, contribute nearly insurmountable obstacles to the determination and exploration of the site.

The task is of pressing importance to religious groups. Their interest and sponsorship has stimulated most of the recent expeditions; probably, because of Muslim-Christian antipathy, their work has been hindered by successive Turkish Governments. Ararat is traditionally and mystically considered the "cosmic mountain" connecting heaven and earth--a jumping-off point from one to the other, a ladder to God, so to speak. According to fundamentalists, the verification of the existence of Noah's ark is vital at this time. It would attest to the much-disputed veracity of the Bible, for one thing. Some even go so far as to say that it would disprove the scientific theory of evolution and reinstate the authenticity of the Old Testament version of creation.

In 1973, students in a creative writing class at Willits High School, Mendocino County, Calif., decided to see what would happen if someone were to try to build an ark today. They undertook the task of applying for the permits and permissions necessary for building and loading said ark, slyly sending out letters signed "Noah Lamechson" (Lamech was Noah's father) without mentioning the school. They received pseudo-serious replies from the Division of Highways, the Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bank of America, the district attorney, and others. The class published its full report on the difficulties encountered and expressed the throes of their "frustration" in a pamphlet titled "You Can't Build an Ark in Mendocino County!" Perhaps this humorous effort is an inadvertent testament to the present state of civilization. The definitive recovery of the original ark might loosen the red tape of bureaucracy in America, as well as add factual depth to biblical scholarship.

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