Three major world religionsChristianity, Judaism, and Islambelieve in Noah and his ark. Reports of ark sightings have been numerous. Witnesses often describe an old wooden structure sticking out of the snow and ice near the summit of Mount Ararat.
Despite the numerous sightings and rumorsof pictures taken by the CIA and locked in vaults, of lost photographs taken by a Russian expedition at the behest of Tsar Nicholas Alexander in 1918no scientific evidence of the ark has emerged.
"On the one hand, I'm hopeful. On the other hand, I'm very skeptical" of the validity of the satellite images, said Rex Geissler, president of ArcImaging (Archaeological Imaging Research Consortium). "There is no publicly available picture that readily shows a man-made object that has any clarity whatsoever Some of the photos are outright misrepresentations, non-scientific, and do not prove anything.
"We think that with the hundreds of explorers who have visited the region, if the ark was jutting out of the ice, it would be obvious."
ArcImaging was the first organization to receive permission from the Turkish government to survey the mountain since 1981. The archaeological research organization conducted a preliminary investigation of the icecap using ground-penetrating radar in 2001.
The Search Continues
The Bible states that Noah landed in the region of the ancient kingdom Urartu. Mount Ararat (its name probably a corrupted version of Urartu) has been the focus of those seeking the ark because itat 17,000 feet (5,165 meters)is the highest point in the area.
A volcanic mountain, Ararat is covered by an icecap from 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) to 17,000 feet (5,200 meters). The icecap is about 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) in size and is as deep as 300 feet (90 meters).
Known to locals as Agri DagiTurkish for "mountain of pain" Ararat is not easy to access. Located in eastern Turkeyclose to the borders of Armenia and Iran, and only 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Iraqthe region is politically volatile and often dangerous. Much of the region is part of a military zone, and getting permission to explore it is extremely difficult.
The ArcImaging team hopes to visit the region to continue their mapping of the icecap this summer.
McGivern is optimistic his group will also be on the face of the mountain this summer. He and Arslan met last week with the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. Arslan, who at one time worked in the Turkish prime minister's office, plans to meet with the prime minister next week.
"The ark is broken into a minimum of three pieces, up to six, from a huge earthquake that occurred in 1840. But it's been miraculously preserved. The satellite imagery shows vertical beams, and one horizontal beam," McGivern said.
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