for National Geographic News
High in the mountains of northwestern Iran, a Christian archaeology expedition has discovered a rock formation that its members say resembles the fabled Noah's ark.
The team discovered the prominent boat-shaped rocks at just over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) on Mount Suleiman in Iran's Elburz mountain range. (See Iran map, photo, country profile.)
"It looks uncannily like wood," said Robert Cornuke, president of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE), the Palmer Lake, Colorado-based group that launched the expedition.
Photos taken by BASE members show a prow-shaped rock outcrop, which the team says resembles petrified wood, emerging from a ridge.
"We have had [cut] thin sections of the rock made, and we can see [wood] cell structures," Cornuke said.
Cornuke acknowledges that it may be hard to prove that this object was Noah's ark. But he says he is fairly convinced that the rock formation was an important place of pilgrimage in the past.
The BASE team has uncovered evidence of an ancient shrine near the outcrop, suggesting that this was an important place to people in the past, Cornuke says.
"We can't claim to have conclusively found the ark, but it does look like the object that the ancients talked about," Cornuke said.
Noah and the Flood
The story of Noah's ark is told in three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
The Book of Genesis describes a great flood created by God "to destroy all life under the heavens."
But before the flood, God told Noah, one of his human followers, to build an ark and fill it with two of every species on the Earth.
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