for National Geographic News
Satellite pictures taken last summer of Mount Ararat in Turkey may reveal the final resting place of Noah's ark, according to Daniel McGivern, the businessman and Christian activist behind a planned summer 2004 expedition to investigate the site.
"We're telling people we're 98 percent sure," said McGivern, a member of the Hawaii Christian Coalition. "In one image we saw the beams, saw the wood. I'm convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah's ark. "
McGivern wrote a list in his Bible more than 20 years ago of ten great projects. Finding Noah's ark was at the top of his list.
McGivern began his quest in earnest in 1995, when the publication of a book on the topic moved him to arrange for satellite images to be taken of Mount Ararat.
Attempts to take satellite images in previous years had been foiled by clouds, unavailability of imaging equipment, and lack of image resolution. But the attempts had helped pinpoint the location. In the summer of 2003, everything came together.
"Last year was the hottest summer in Europe since 1500; more than 21,000 people died of the heat wave," McGivern said. "The summer melt was far more extensive than it has been in years."
DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite-imagery company, confirmed that they took the images that McGivern is using.
An international team of archaeologists, forensic scientists, geologists, glaciologists, and others is being recruited to investigate the site sometime between July 15 and August 15.
Ahmet Arslan, a professor in Turkey who has climbed the mountain 50 times in 40 years, will lead the expedition. Arslan reported an eyewitness sighting of the ark and took a photograph in 1989 from about 220 yards (200 meters) away. However, he couldn't get any closer, and the picture is not definitive.
"We hope to assemble what we're calling the Dream Team," Arslan said. "The slopes are very, very harsh and dangerous on the northern faceit is extremely challenging, mentally and physically."
The story of Noah's ark is told in the Book of Genesis. It says God saw how corrupt the Earth had become and decided to "bring floodwaters on the Earth to destroy all life under the heavens." God is said to have told Noah, an honorable man, to build an ark 450 feet (137 meters) long, 75 feet (23 meters) wide, and 45 feet (14 meters) high, and fill it with two of every species on the Earth. It reportedly rained for 40 days and 40 nights. After about seven months, the waters receded, and the ark came to rest, according to the Bible.
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