SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH--THE BIG PICTURE
The time for lone wolf, half-baked "cowboy
archaeology" has come to an end.
Merhaba, Nasilsiniz! (Greetings, how are you!)
For years people have been intrigued by the ancient accounts of a massive flood and the
people who survived it. These accounts appear in literature belonging to cultures from
around the globe and contain many threads of similarity, so many in fact, that it would be
difficult to dismiss them as coincidental. In the western world where Christianity
dominates, the account of Noah and the Ark are widely known. In the middle east and Asia,
a similar account is found in the Quran, with much earlier allusions to the flood being
found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, and others. Even the Chinese word for
"flood", pronounced "hon", if dissected into its constituent
characters, means "eight people together in the water".
Ancient writers such as the Chaldean historian Berossus described the Ark of Noah being
extant in their time with people regularly making pilgrimages to the site to scrape
amulets from its sides. Clearly these pilgrims were visiting something easily accessible
to the common man. Later, Nicholas of Damascus (Herod's historian) and the Roman historian
Josephus recounted these stories. In addition, Moses of Chronensis and others described
the first post-flood habitations: Naxuan (Noah's Zion, or the capitol city of Noah),
Seron, and Nasir.
With such a rich body of historical literature supporting the claims found in the holy
books of several of the world's major religions, it makes sense that some would attempt to
validate these scriptures by finding physical proof of what is described. What if the Ark
of Noah could be located, or the ancient city of Naxuan?
Unlike some religious books such as the Book of Mormon which describe cities, places,
coins, and rivers which have never been found or produced by archaeologists, the Christian
Bible for example, is clearly an historical reference. Most of the cities, places, coins,
and rivers mentioned in the Christian Bible are known today, and others previously unknown
have been discovered recently. Further, the events described in the Christian Bible are
also corroborated in other secular literature. So why should there be no basis for the
flood account and the man named Noah?
THE PRESENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
Unfortunately, a lot of the work done to date regarding the search for the Ark of Noah,
has been based on unverifiable hearsay, and urban legends. Sightings are often reported,
but how many times has the camera with the proof been dropped in a crevasse, or the
pictures destroyed in the Russian Revolution, or the discoverer "dead" before
his heirs reveal his astonishing story of walking its decks? The legends feed upon each
other until it becomes sport for Humanists to concoct clearly ridiculous accounts (e.g.,
Sun Pictures) upon which the gullible Christians swallow hook-line-and-sinker, only to be
made to look like fools when the hoax is finally revealed. Adding fuel to all of this is
the group of "Indiana Jones wanna-bees" who claim that they have found the Ark
prior to doing sufficient investigation to prove their case. These are followed by those
who insist that the Ark must be on Mt. Ararat (a volcano of fairly recent origin)
in spite of the fact that the Bible only states that the Ark came to rest "in the
mountains (plural) of (the region of Urartu) Ararat". So they go chasing
shadows in the ice of Ararat's glacier, armed with little more than a fuzzy photo taken
from some distance away. When they are struck by lightning, they interpret this to be a
sign from God that they are on the right track, when in fact nothing of substance is ever
In spite of all the "bad science" which has gone on, some teams searching the
mountain have used logic to survey those parts of the glacier that are not in motion
(i.e., over caldera), and though finding nothing, still credibly removed some areas from
further consideration. Aerial surveys of the mountain have been done from a helicopter
using stereo cameras to gage the depth and breadth of objects on all sides. Few Ark
hunters have ever referenced this body of material while others are content to revisit
Is it any wonder that the scientific community at large dismisses the entire subject?
But the body of literature and verifiable circumstantial evidence cries out for an answer.
Is it possible to define a research program to scientifically investigate various sites of
interest and gather corroborating data that can identify the origin of each site as
"naturally occurring", "man made", or "a natural artifact of a
man made structure"?
To this end, Dr. Salih Bayraktutan of Atatürk University in Erzurum Türkiye and I
have discussed ways to conduct "good science" in the region of Agri Dagi (Mt.
Ararat, so named in AD 1105). Dr. Bayraktutan is designated as the official over this
region for geological and archaeological studies. In 1995, I met with Dr. Bayraktutan and
traveled to the region to see the boat-shaped object (known to some as the
"Durupinar" site) which has dimensions corresponding the plan form of the Ark as
described in the Christian Bible and Babylonian writings (300 Egyptian 20.6" cubits
in length, almost 50 cubits average width based on a deck area of 1 IKU). During that
visit we discussed how advanced techniques could be used to noninvasively glean more data
from the site and the surrounding area.
In the intervening time, we decided that it would be useful to host a workshop to
discuss how good science could be done in the region to answer a number of the questions
raised by the ancient literature, and by more recent accounts in which claims have been
made regarding sightings of the Ark on the slopes of, or in the glacier of Agri Dagi. The
workshop was entitled (as translated from Turkish), "The First International Workshop
on the Noahic Flood and the First Settlement in the Agri Mount Region".
A planning session was held on Monday October 5, 1998 to decide what sites should be
inspected during the field trip to the Iranian Frontier on the 6th through 8th of October.
This field trip was designed to better inform the participants about the region and some
of its accessible sites prior to the workshop on Friday October 9.
FIELD TRIP TO THE EDGE OF
During the field trip, those participating stayed in Dogubayazit and made daily
excursions to the Durupinar site, locations suspected to be the ancient cities of Naxuan
and Seron (based on aerial reconnaissance photographs from 1959), and Kazan with its giant
anchor (drogue) stones which may have association with the Ark. Also the southern side of
the Agri Dagi volcano and its line of cinder cones to the East was visually available for
all to inspect, though no approval was granted to venture upon the mountain. Due to
terrorist activity in the area, and the fact that we were entering into the military zone
right up to the border of Iran, we also at times had a contingent of machine gun-bearing
soldiers as accompaniment.
THE INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP:
Search for Early Post Diluvial Anatolian Culture (SEPDAC)
Members present at the workshop represented the countries of Türkiye, the United
States, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. At the Friday workshop, presentations on each of the
interest areas were restated including the Durupinar site, Naxuan/Seron, and locations on
and around Agri Dagi including the ruins of Korhan, Eli, the Caves on Ararat, and the
Stones at Kazan.
Those present decided to name the project SEPDAC: Search for Early Post
Diluvial Anatolian Culture. We also defined tasks, personnel categories, numbers of
personnel, science equipment, logistics, initial project duration (Phase I), and a budget.
FIELD TRIP REVELATIONS
At the workshop, Dr. Bayraktutan revealed his discovery of a grave with old datable
dirt inside and human remains (also datable) in a Turkish patrol road cut along the
Iranian border in "Naxuan". Samples of bone and pottery
were taken back to Atatürk University for analysis. Dr. Bayraktutan indicated that he
would immediately apply for an archeological permit to excavate at the "Naxuan"
grave sites prior to the snow (i.e., before November 1998). In addition on the first day
at "Naxuan", I found a grave site which
appeared to be an ossuarial burial. This was later uncovered to reveal the lid of the
ossuary which was lined with cut lime stone blocks. The lid was approximately one meter by
2 meters. Other graves were found and documented photographically without disturbing them.
GPS fixes were taken at various prominent locations visible in the 1959 aerial
reconnaissance photographs, as well as several of the grave sites. In addition, a number
of rectangular building foundations were identified and documented photographically. Later
it was revealed that Dr. Shea had discovered a cultural artifact with an etching of a man
releasing two birds. This was found at the Durupinar site.
During the Friday meeting, methods of inspecting objects beneath the ice on the Argi
Dagi glaciers were discussed. Some of these can be deployed remotely from an autonomous
DGPS-registered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and monitored by telemetry without risking
anyone on the mountain. This UAV has been the subject of design studies by students at the
Georgia Institute of Technology for the past four years, and a camera-bearing prototype
air vehicle (scaled version) has already been constructed. This would be especially useful
were permissions to climb the mountain not forthcoming any time soon. Other aerial
techniques discussed were TV, IR, and high resolution still photography.
Further, we discussed methods of using satellite uplinks to get new information onto
the internet for researchers around the world to analyze in near real time. This is an
exciting new way to get more researchers involved without incurring the expense to bring
them on site. For example, newly discovered inscriptions can be photographed with high
resolution digital cameras and uploaded to the world wide web in minutes. Experts in
ancient languages could then attempt to decipher the inscriptions and provide rapid and
valuable feedback to the on site team (via the internet).
Ground penetration radar surveys are also planned, though these are not practical from
an aerial platform. Ground surveys would be conducted at various sites (Agri Dagi, Korhan,
Eli, Naxuan, Seron, Durupinar) to help define the history of the region in order to better
interpret archeological findings.
Ground surveys would include:
- tectonism (paleoseismicity)/dating
- sedimentation analyses
- remote sensing
Geophyisics surveys include:
- Ground Penetration Radar (GPR)
- ground resistance
- acoustic seismology
- satellite photo analyses
Anthropological interests include:
TIME TABLE AND PLANNING
- Linguistic Translators
(from Istanbul Museum, the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere),
(perhaps someone from Ankara who is versed in "neolithic through early bronze
(to analyze any metal artifacts located at any of the sites)
(to understand and correlate the early writings describing any particular site of
interest. Some of our present members are already versed in this area)
- Other skills/services that will be required include:
- Excavational archeologists
- Data Acquisition experts
- Documentation specialists
- Logistics managers (various)
- Security (military)
- Archeological preservation experts
We plan to have a draft project outline and budget for submission to the university
before the end of the year. We are also going to recommend the establishment of an
agreement of collaboration between Atatürk University and Georgia Institute of
Technology. The meeting was very beneficial and a lot was accomplished.
Regarding approvals to climb Agri Dagi, Dr. Bayraktutan pointed out that when the
mountain opened up last time, a number of people went up and were killed. This prompted
the military to close the mountain again. The lesson is: Even if the mountain is
declared to be open, you may forfeit your life in proving that the Turkish military
analysts over-estimated their control of the region.
All involved should recognize the unique opportunity afforded each invited workshop
participant specifically to be able to go into the Iranian Frontier under government
sanctioned military and secret police surveillance and at times with an armed security
force. This is as good as it gets. In the future, people operating outside of this
overarching research alliance (SEPDAC) will be on their own with respect to security and
will likely find permissions difficult to obtain. Undoubtedly there will still be
"cowboys" who want to do it the hard way, but I think that we stand at the verge
of a new era of Diluvial research. The next round of serious research will employ new
sophisticated tools and coordinated scientific methods.
Cok tesekkür ederim! (Thank you very much)
Saygilar, selamlar! (With all respect and peace!)
Robert C. Michelson
Principal Research Engineer
Georgia Tech Research Institute,
Georgia Institute of Technology,