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SEARCHING FOR ARTIFACTS
RELATED TO THE FLOOD OF NOAH:
We have the technology... but can we obtain the permission to use it?

Since the mid-1990's, the use of the Internet has enabled ark researchers to better communicate and coordinate research information and options. With advanced communication and high-tech research tools, i.e., high resolution satellite imagery, ground penetrating radar, unmanned aircraft, and many other techniques, we can now safely say that we have the capability to answer the question as to whether actual remains of Noah's Ark are still existent today. The question remains as to whether the government of Turkey will allow extensive research to be conducted in the eastern and southeastern regions? The lack of permission to search in these sensitive areas is understandable, with Mount Ararat located on the Armenian and Iranian borders, the Durupinar (boat shape) located on the Iranian border, and Mount Cudi located on the Iraqi and Syrian borders. When you combine historical and geographical factors along with the Kurdish PKK separatist conflict in the region, one can start to understand the scope of the research problem. Our prime research areas of interest are under military control and restrictions.

In an attempt to "open" the doors to research in this part of the world, Professor Robert Michelson at Georgia Tech in the United States and others (Dick Bright, John McIntosh, etc.) have been working very closely with Professor Salih Bayraktutan of Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey. Professor Bayraktutan is the initial contact person in Turkey for permission to search the eastern region, which includes Mount Ararat and the Durupinar (boat shape) formation. Many ark researchers do not fully understand the complicated and bureaucratic permit process. Even if Professor Bayraktutan submits a research application for approval or further processing, it must move through various government agencies, governors, mayors, and the military before full permission can be granted. Even if all permissions are in-hand, there is still no guarantee of access to the desired research sites.

During the summer and early Fall of 1998, I worked with Professor Michelson who was coordinating a conference with Professor Bayraktutan at the Ataturk University Earthquake Research Center in Erzurum, Turkey. The title for the conference was "The First International Workshop on the Noah Flood and The First Settlement in the Agri Mount Region". Where I was also acting as a consultant to Jim Hall and the Ark Research Ministries (ARM) team, I quickly put Jim in contact with Rob to ensure the ARM team would be represented at the conference.

The planning session was held on October 6th, with fieldwork conducted on October 7th and 8th at the Durupinar (boat shape) formation and what is believed to be remains of an early settlement in the hills above the site. Some in the group are prematurely calling the site "Naxuan" or "Naxuana," which according to Josephus, refers to the place of first decent. According to Professor Michelson, "Naxuan" is a Greek term meaning "Noah's Zion" or the capital city of Noah. The field group also spent an hour or two at Kazan, which is just west of Mount Ararat, to see large stones that some speculate are sea anchors or drogue stones from Noah's Ark.

During the workshop and at other informal meetings, most people expressed a desire for all potential sites related to Noah's Ark and the Flood to be researched. In reality, most participants could be divided into two research paradigms, Durupinar and Mount Ararat.

The first group included Salih Bayraktutan, Robert Michelson, David Deal, and Bill Shea, who are interested in the Durupinar (boat shaped) formation and the site above. To be fair, Bill Shea was more of a neutral observer who added a sense of balance and perspective to the two groups. I would also place Jerry Kitchens, the primary fund-raiser into the category of neutral observers.

The second group included Mark Jenkins, Matthew Kneisler, Michael Holt, and B.J. Corbin representing the Ark Research Ministries (ARM) group directed by Jim Hall. Unfortunately, Jim Hall suffered from intestinal bleeding and was forced to stay at the hospital in Erzurum during the workshop and fieldwork. To Jim's credit, he remained in good spirits and was continually encouraging the ARM team to accomplish specific tasks. The ARM group is primarily focused on researching Mount Ararat. We met Ed Crawford at the hotel and nearby restaurant in Dogubayasit, the small town south of Mount Ararat. Mr. Crawford is interested in the Abich I glacier just above the Ahora Gorge on the north side of Mount Ararat. His assumptions for potential discovery of Noah's Ark are based on cave inscriptions found in the Ahora Gorge and from a variety of photos of the glacier. He admittedly stated that he preferred to work independent of other Ararat research groups. (Crawford's web site http://www.vonbora.com)

A third research group interested in the Mount Cudi or Cudi Dagh site, some 200 miles south of Mount Ararat, was not represented at the workshop or in the field group. Currently, I am only aware of Dr. Charles Willis of Fresno, California being active in the search of this site, though Lloyd Bailey and Bill Crouse have expressed written support of the site. Dr. Willis, a veteran of several expeditions to Mount Ararat in the 1980's, has made a couple of trips to the Cudi site to prepare the way for a future expedition to search for wood and other fragments that may still remain.

Though the workshop and fieldwork experiences were unorganized, key contacts and relationships were developed and several people had an opportunity to visit the Ararat region for the first time and gain useful experience.

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WHAT SITES REMAIN TO BE INVESTIGATED?

Additional and supplemental information to this paper can be obtained at http://www.noahsarksearch.com

The three prime candidates that fall within the ancient "mountains of Urartu" are:

* Mount Ararat
* Mount Cudi
* Durupinar

MOUNT ARARAT
Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey has been searched many times in the 1900's. There have been dozens and dozens of search efforts including ground, helicopter and plane expeditions to Mount Ararat. Some of these efforts have used professional aerial mapping photos from 2000 feet, satellite images, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and other innovative techniques. Considering the large estimated size of the ark, no expeditions have yielded conclusive evidence for the remains of Noah's Ark.

What can we assess from this? If the remains of Noah's Ark are indeed on Mount Ararat, they are buried or hidden from plain view. The good news is that we live at a time when we have the technology to answer the question as to the ark's existence on Mount Ararat or any other mountain. The bad news is that all sites of interest lie near hostile borders and in an area PKK separatist activity.

You can put all of claimed sightings of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat into two separate groups, which are below or above the permanent ice cap.

BELOW THE ICE CAP
There are several accounts that clearly place the remains of Noah's Ark in a remote canyon below the permanent ice cap between 13, 000 and 14,000 feet. To mention a few such accounts, Ed Davis, Ed Behling and Jacob Chuchian.

We are fortunate with the Jacob Chuchian account in that we have very detailed testimony given by his son Arthur Chuchian, which includes precise maps of how to find the location on Mount Ararat. Stuart Brassie and Thomas Sass conducted the original interviews and research regarding the Chuchian account. The site is clearly on the northwest side of Ararat below the ice cap. Using helicopter photos, I may have found the location described by Arthur Chuchian. There are approximately 10 or so specific details given that are all matched exactly in the photo that I have. Based on the testimony of Ed Behling, it seems likely that he was also in this northwest section of the mountain. The only question is Ed Davis, where researchers place him in the Ahora Gorge. Ed Davis does mention chimney or pinnacle peaks as one of the predominant landmarks in his testimony, which also matches the northwest site.

The other main area of interest below the permanent ice cap is the Ahora Gorge on the northeast side of Mount Ararat. Both Dr. Bill Shea and Ed Crawford share interests in inscriptions found in and around caves in the gorge area. Many people claim that in 1840, a violent explosion created the Ahora Gorge and destroyed the village of Ahora and the St. James monastery. Several ark researchers, including John McIntosh, Dick Bright and Ken Long have "objects of interest" in the Ahora Gorge. Another consideration with searching in this area beyond the physical dangers, is the fact that it faces the Armenian border and currently the Turkish military does not allow anyone in this area.

ABOVE THE ICE CAP
For explanatory purposes, I will divide the Ararat ice cap into four sections:

* Eastern summit plateau (16,800 feet)
* Saddle between two peaks, Abich II glacier, and Ahora Gorge (14 - 16,000 feet)
* Western summit plateau (15,000 feet)
* Upper Parrott Glacier and Abich I (14,000 feet)

In 1988, Dr. Charles Willis of Fresno, California using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) successfully surveyed and profiled the ice under the eastern summit plateau and over the high ridge into the saddle between the two summit peaks. No evidence of Noah's Ark was found, but good science prevailed, and another area was eliminated.

In 1989, Chuck Aaron, Bob Garbe and B.J. Corbin attempted to use GPR on the western summit plateau, but were limited by ice conditions and a GPR unit that could not continuously profile under the ice. The team was successful in determining the depth of the ice to be over 250 feet thick in some areas, thus giving credence to those that believe the western plateau is a caldera or sunken volcanic cone. This is interesting in lieu of accounts that claim the ark is on the edge of a lake high on Mount Ararat. An unintended bonus of this expedition was a good scale of Noah's Ark on Ararat, where markers were set on the plateau at 50' intervals up to 500 feet. David Montgomery photographed the camp from a helicopter, allowing us a good estimate of the size of Noah's Ark on the western plateau.

In 1990, Dr. Don Shockey and team focused on the Abich II glacier area, based on confidential information that there were two unnatural objects under the ice in the Abich II glacier. They also had a photo taken of an object in the Abich II glacier the year before by Ahmet Arslan. Close range photos and video were taken of the Abich II and the mountain in general. Several objects of interest were discovered from this expedition that need to be checked out.

This means that there are only a few places left to search under the ice on Mount Ararat.

* Abich II glacier, and Ahora Gorge (northeast 14 - 16,500 feet)
* Western summit plateau (15,000 feet)
* Upper Parrott Glacier and Abich I (northwest 14,000 feet)

Most experts agree given the temperate and fractured ice conditions of Mount Ararat that ground-penetrating radar would yield the best results over air and satellite techniques. The problem here is the lack of permission to climb and search all areas of interest on Mount Ararat. All available technology for peering under the ice on Ararat should be investigated.

There are several interesting ruins on and near Mount Ararat that should also be investigated with equal fervor:

* Korhan (northwest)
* Eli (southeast)
* St. James (northeast)
* Caves on Ararat (northeast & others)
* Stones at Kazan (west - southwest)


MOUNT CUDI
An excellent book by Dr. Lloyd Bailey entitled "NOAH: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition" provides modern-day ark researchers some food-for-thought. Using ancient texts and sources, Bailey describes several alternatives to Mount Ararat and gives compelling evidence as to why one should consider Mount Cudi or Cudi Dagh a more likely candidate for the ark's landfall based on historical accounts. Mount Cudi (pronounced Judi in Turkish) is approximately 200 miles south of Ararat near the Iraqi/Syrian borders and the Tigris River. Mount Cudi is a considerably smaller mountain than Ararat, and one could only expect to find fragments and other evidences to substantiate this mountain as the landing site for Noah's Ark.

There is a note in the reference section of the NIV Study Bible, stating the ark probably landed in southern Urartu. Mount Cudi would fall into this general proximity, where Mount Ararat would be considered in northern Urartu.

Bill Crouse has a good web article on the subject at
noah.htm

Dr. Charles Willis, a veteran of several expeditions to Ararat in the 1980's, now believes that Mount Cudi is the correct mountain for the ark's landfall. He has made a couple of exploratory trips in the 1995 and 1996 to the Mount Cudi region in hopes of mounting a more formal expedition in late 1998 or 1999.


DURUPINAR
This boat-shaped formation gained prominence with media attention of expeditions by Ron Wyatt and the late David Fasold. Though the site was regarded by many early on, as only a natural formation, it still holds the interest of several individuals and groups today. Salih Bayraktutan and Robert Michelson are still actively engaged in researching the Durupinar site. David Deal, a friend and colleague of the late David Fasold, is also in this camp, though he openly admits his bias that the Durupinar site is indeed the footprint remains of Noah's Ark. He also calls the area above Durupinar Naxuan. To be charitable, these types of declarations are premature at best. They feel that the criticisms of the site are not grounded in good science and they hope to conduct in-depth experiments before making a final determination.

Keys points by those that favor the Durupinar site:

1. The shape is a "boat" exactly 300 Egyptian (20.6") cubits long (Moses was trained in the court of the Pharaoh and would likely have used Egyptian units, not the later Hebrew cubit (18")). Babylonian documents place the deck area at 1 IKU. Dividing the length of the boat into the area gives right at 50 (Egyptian) cubits average width. Certainly a most intriguing coincidence if it is not related in some way to the Biblical Ark.

2. The "boat shape" is in the mountains of Urartu and is on one of three mountains in Turkiye named Cudi. The Quran is specific that the Ark came to rest on "al Cudi".

3. The places surrounding the Durupinar site bear names such as Kargakonmaz ("the crow won't land"), Masher ("Judgement Day"), Yigityatagi ("hero's anchorage"), Ziaret ("to make a voluntary pilgrimage"--what Josephus said people did during his day (meaning that it was accessible to the common man)), and Nasar ("to make a sacrifice"-- what Noah did upon leaving the Ark. Note: The Babylonians refer to Utnapishtim (Noah) being in "Nasir"), etc. etc.

4. Unlike the Ararat volcano for which no evidence has ever been substantiated that it was under water (no pillow lava, no marine sediment, no fossils), the Durupinar site is littered with fossils and marine sediments which prove that this area was at one time inundated by an ocean.

5. Ancient writings speak of the Ark's place of "first decent" (thereby implying a place of second decent). Aerial photographs from 1959 show a boat shaped impression located around 7,300 ft at the top of a large ever moving mud flow. At around 6,200 ft down the same mud flow is the Durupinar boat-shape which exactly fits the impression at the top of the mud flow. At these altitudes, organic materials would have rotted or been used for fuel and building materials long ago. If it is at all related to the Ark, the Durupinar site is probably the compression footprint in the natural material. -end-


I have now been to the Durupinar site on three separate occasions and agree that an archeological dig would answer the question once and for all. Just looking and walking around the Durupinar site, it appears to be totally natural and consistent with the surrounding landscape and material. My concern is, why after all these years of controversy has the site not been excavated and the final question answered?

Reference: durupinar.htm

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A brief daily journal of my fourth trip to Turkey:

Thursday 10/1/1998
I left Salisbury Regional Airport on a commuter to Philadelphia, only to find out that my connecting flight to Washington Dulles had been cancelled. My only option was to fly to Washington National Airport and hope to catch a shuttle bus to Dulles. When I arrived at Washington National and asked the US Airways representative at the gate about getting to Dulles to catch my International flight, he said there is no way to make the flight. A young man overheard my dilemma and suggested the only way possible to make the connection would be to take a cab for around $50 dollars to Dulles, and he offered to split the fare with me.

We race to Dulles, then I dash to the Lufthansa ticket counter out of breath and give the short version of the story to the ticket agent. She completed a fast transaction and quickly directed me the appropriate security checkpoint (which I cut in line to the front) and then to an airport shuttle to the correct terminal.

I run through the airport with two fairly heavy bags and see Jim Hall, Matthew Kneisler and Mark Jenkins (with wife and two sons to see us off) already in line to pre-board the flight. It takes me several minutes to catch my breath and cool down. I make the flight from Dulles to Frankfurt/Ankara!

Friday 10/2/1998
We arrive in Frankfurt, Germany very early Saturday morning. Michael Holt and Jerry Kitchens are waiting at the gate for us. Michael Holt, an employee of United Airlines, coordinated special accommodations for the team, including a place to rest, eat, and take showers. We are soon joined by Rob Michelson and discuss tentative plans for our trip to Turkey.

We all fly to Ankara, then take a 15 - 20 mile taxi ride to the Tunali Hotel.

Saturday 10/3/1998
We leave Ankara airport to fly further east to Erzurum, Turkey. We stay at the Oral Hotel and get settled in. We have dinner at the hotel and Salih stops by to meet everyone and to pickup Rob.

Later that evening the Ark Research Ministries (ARM) team meets in Jim Hall's room. Jim shares his overall goals and visions for the project, then shares a long and detailed testimony. We have a time of fellowship and prayer, then it seemed only minutes afterwards that Jim goes into the bathroom and sounds sick. Most of us figured that it was something that he had eaten. He returned with us for a brief time, then returned back to the bathroom. The group broke up and decided to give Jim some privacy.

Only minutes later did Michael Holt knock on our door (Matthew Kneisler and B.J. Corbin) and said we need to get Jim a doctor. There was a large amount of blood in Jim's bathroom floor that had been coming out "both ends." I ran downstairs to the front desk and attempted to explain the situation. We soon had an ambulance to take Jim to a hospital in Erzurum. Michael rode in the ambulance with Jim as Salih Bayraktutan and Rob Michelson returned to the hotel from a pre-conference meeting. Salih Bayraktutan and family, along with the management and staff of the Oral Hotel, and the staff at the hospital all need to be commended for the excellent care and concern expressed to Jim in his time of need. They even donated their own blood to help him.

The team was obviously very concerned for Jim's well being, and had felt like we had witnessed a spiritual attack on Jim and the team, though logical explanations were offered.

Sunday 10/4/1998
This was one of the longer days of the trip. We were all concerned about Jim and visited him at the hospital. We were supposed to have a pre-meeting with Salih around 5 p.m. that evening, but later received a call from Rob stating that the meeting would be moved to 7 p.m. Around 9 p.m. the rest of the team is getting both anxious and frustrated. I recall Rob returning to the Oral Hotel around 10 p.m. to a semi-hostile crowd.

Monday 10/5/1998
The workshop began around 10 a.m. with opening statements from Dr. Salih Bayraktutan. He expressed an interest in having an international team of researchers investigate all sites and areas of interest relating to the flood of Noah.

Professor Robert Michelson gave a detailed presentation for the Durupinar (boat-shaped) formation, though careful not be make any claims of discovery. He also echoed the call for collaborative scientific efforts for sites related to the flood of Noah.

David Deal followed Rob with his interpretation of aerial photos and historical references regarding the Durupinar site and to a new claim of discovering "Naxuan" or "Naxuana" in the hills above Durupinar. He boldly proclaimed that Durupinar was indeed the remnants of Noah's Ark, and the upper site was probably Naxuan. I personally found these statements to be total conjecture since Mr. Deal had never even been to either of these sites, and presented little in the way of conclusive evidence.

After lunch, Matthew Kneisler of ARM presented the team research proposal, in proxy, for Jim Hall who was in the hospital for intestinal bleeding.

B.J. Corbin presented a brief history of research on Mount Ararat and concluded with the most likely areas left to search on Mount Ararat, including the ruins at Eli, Korhan, and the St. James monastery.

Tuesday 10/6/1998
We leave in three rented cars for Dogubayasit, which is just south of Mount Ararat. We stop in Agri for lunch and photos opportunities. We encounter some typical communication problems at the entrance of the governor's office building because of the video camera. The situation was soon resolved and we were escorted out of town by police and registered with Turkish security.

After passing through several military checkpoints, we arrive in Dogubayasit late in the afternoon, where Salih needs to meet with local police, security, mayor, and military that we are in town and the nature of our visit.

We checked into the Hotel Grand Derya which was quite nice by eastern Turkey standards, and noticed that we had two Turkish security assigned to us in the lobby. There were also security posted outside of the hotel on our behalf.

Wednesday 10/7/1998
We stop at the military headquarters to see about our escort for the day. Two Turkish soldiers are assigned to protect us as we ventured on the Durupinar site, where a short, but solemn memorial service was held in honor or David Fasold, as David Deal sprinkled some of the ashes of David Fasold on the site.

The group also went up near the Iranian border to search for ruins of an ancient settlement. We did hear some gun shots, and were hoping these were only from target practice, or maybe warning shots from Turkish military, as we were very near the Iranian border. No ruins or artifacts were easily discernable to most of the group once we reached the upper site of interest.

We concluded the day with a drive to Kazan, a small village west of Mount Ararat, where some claim large stones are actually sea anchors or drogue stones from Noah's Ark. We arrived in the Kazan near dark, and it was decided to wait until morning of the next day to visit the stones.

Thursday 10/8/1998
We went to Kazan to see the large stones. After about an hour or so, we returned to the Durupinar site, where the ARM team conducted an interview at the visitors center, and the others went back up to the upper site. We heard more gunshots, and could only hope for the best.

There was a brief period of tension during the afternoon, where most of the ARM team was left at the visitors center with no car or person that spoke Turkish. At one point, we got a little nervous where someone was crouched in the brushes for over a half an hour. Too long for a mere bathroom break! Not to mention the occasional gun shots in the background.

Salih, Rob and Dave announced the discovery of what they believed to be the top of a tomb at the upper site. I recall them saying that they found corners of a 3' by 5' stone slab. Due to some confusion, I did not go up to see the sites, but Rob later showed me some photos of the sites, which seem to warrant further investigation. Some members of the group claim to have found pieces of pottery and bone.

We eventually left for Erzurum around 4 p.m., stopping again in Agri for dinner, this time without incident.

Friday 10/9/1998
Matthew and I went to Erzurum airport to catch an earlier flight out. We arrived at Ankara and spent several hours changing tickets. We also alerted Lufthansa of Jim Hall's condition and had phone numbers of doctors and wheelchairs waiting. We were able to make a standby flight to Frankfurt and were very pleased. We celebrated by staying at the Sheridan Hotel at the airport, mostly at our own expense.

Saturday 10/10/1998
I catch a train to Augsburg, Germany, to stay with good friends for a few days before returning to the United States. I leave Matthew at the airport to catch a flight back to Dulles and then on to Tulsa.

Only after receiving an email from Matthew, did I learn that the remainder of the ARM team had been travelling behind us and actually met Matthew at the airport gate in Frankfurt. They said Jim was bleeding a little, but was in good spirits and made it home safely.

Jim Hall and the ARM team are now making diligent plans for a possible expedition in 1999.

Since that time, I have left ARM (now ARP) and with Rex Geissler started a new research group called ArcImaging.


B.J. Corbin


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