Doubt cast on Noah's ark found in Turkey
A group of Chinese and Turkish explorers announced this week they are '99.9 percent' sure of their discovery on Mt. Ararat. While Noah's ark found in Turkey would bolster Bible literalists, an American ark-hunter says the latest discovery could be a hoax.
A longtime ark-hunter has serious doubts about this week’s announcement that Noah’s ark was found in eastern Turkey.Skip to next paragraph
A Chinese-Turkish team from Noah's Ark Ministries International held a press conference April 25 in Hong Kong to present their findings and say they were “99 percent sure” that pieces of wood found at above 12,000-feet elevation and dated as 4,800 years old were from the biblical Noah’s ark.
Such a finding would provide evidence for a literal interpretation of the Bible and boost the evangelical Christian worldview in a relatively young Earth that was formed in seven days and where a wrathful God punishes the wicked.
But Dr. Randall Price, an evangelical Christian and former member of the Chinese-led team that announced this week’s finding, says the latest purported finding may not withstand closer scrutiny.
"If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that’s fine. My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be," he says.
'Difficulties with a number of issues'
Dr. Price, who is director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., was the archaeologist on the Chinese-led team in 2008 when this alleged discovery was first made. He says he has “difficulties with a number of issues related to the evidence at hand.”
Price declined to elaborate. However, a leaked email from Price – which he confirms that he wrote – shows that he has reason to believe that a group of local Kurdish men trucked wood up to the mountain and staged an elaborate hoax for the Chinese team.
A group of Kurdish workers “are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. … During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film,” Price writes in the email.
Price is a longtime searcher himself for the ark. As a member of Noah’s Ark Search LLC, he had gone on a number of expeditions to Mount Ararat.
Price was not the only member to withdraw from the Chinese-led team over questions about their purported finding.
Not good evidence
Dr. John D. Morris, who is president for Dallas’ Institute for Creation Research and has been a consultant to the team since 2005, says he declined an invitation to be a part of this week's press conference in Hong Kong.