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Chinese explorers stand by claim of Noah's Ark find in Turkey

The Hong Kong-based team rebutted skepticism over their claims of finding Noah's Ark in Turkey, though they said further research is needed to prove beyond doubt that they have located the fabled biblical boat.

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Open to interpretation

Creationists, like many of those searching for the ark, have long sought evidence of Noah's Ark to reaffirm their belief that God created the world in seven days and judges the wicked, as when the world was destroyed in a flood that spared only Noah and his family.

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“If Noah built a real solid boat just like you or I could build a solid boat, and traveled over a stormy sea just like you or I could travel over a stormy sea, and landed on solid ground just like you or I could land on solid ground, if all that could be affirmed, it would also affirm the moral theories that they’re interested in,” says Christopher Toumey, an anthropology professor at the University of South Carolina.

The story of an ancient flood is more ancient than Genesis, says Professor Toumey. A passage from the Sumerian epic Gilgamesh, among the world's oldest known literature, tells of a man named Ziusudra surviving a great flood. The Babylonian version of that story says Utnapishtum survives the flood. The plot was reworked and the name again changed, this time to Noah, in the version in the book of Genesis.

As such, Toumey says the discovery of Noah's Ark may not necessarily prove useful to evangelical Christians.

“Obviously they want it to affirm the story of Noah. It could just as easily affirm the story of Ziusudra or Utnapishtum,” Toumey told the Monitor.

Investigation continues

Turkey’s culture minister this week ordered a probe into how NAMI brought pieces of the wood sampled from Turkey to China.

“How did these objects get there [to Hong Kong] and under whose authority were the officials present there? We are investigating this,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, according to local newspaper Today’s Zaman. At the same time he welcomed the finding and said it could boost tourism.

The next step in the discovery, says Wei, is to coordinate with scientists, researchers, and the Turkish government to conduct further studies on the site.

Mrs. Wei says she is 99.9 percent sure they have found Noah’s Ark.

“We need scientists to give us another 0.1 percent.”

[Editor's note: The original article was unclear regarding how long Noah's Ark was afloat. According to the Book of Genesis chapters 7 and 8, a storm raged for 40 days and 40 nights, and Noah's Ark floated on the flood waters for about five months before coming to rest "on the mountains of Ararat." Noah, his family, and two of every animal remained inside the boat for about 13 months total.]

IN PICTURES: Noah's Ark

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