Responses to the Latest Noah’s Ark Claim

The ASOR Blog has a run-down on rebuttals of the recent “discovery” of Noah’s Ark:

Tim Harrison on CTV: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100429/noahs-ark-found-100429/20100429?hub=CanadaAMV2 Eric Cline on Fox News: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4171840/wheres-the-actual-site Eric Cline in Time Magazine:  http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1985830,00.html Robert Cargill at RobertCargill: http://robertcargill.com/2010/04/28/no-you-didnt-find-noahs-ark/

Present circumstances do not give me time to read, watch, or comment on these.

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Noah’s Ark Discovery Exposed

Noah’s Ark has been found again, according to a Fox News report.  Peter Wong alerted me to this a couple of days ago (see www.thenoahark.com), but it seemed like more of a scheme to make money than anything.  But today’s report has more information.

Before I go further, I should just note that there are two common responses to a report like this.  One is to laugh and say it’s obviously a hoax (without troubling to consider the evidence).  For some, this is because of a preconception that there was no Noah, there was no ark, and there was no flood. 

Others respond with complete trust, and regardless of what evidence comes forth, they will never relinquish their belief that the ark has been found.  The two approaches have in common a disregard for the evidence.

The FoxNews report does not sound nutty to me.  (I have an expectation of such because there have been previous “discoveries” of the ark that were fraudulent.)  Read it yourself and see if you can detect anything fishy.  Based on this article (and my belief that there was a Noah, an ark, and a flood),

I can’t deem this a fraud.  I’m still suspicious and want to see more evidence, but I’m not yet convinced either way.

But PaleoBabble has an inside scoop.  Randall Price is a professor at Liberty University and he was involved with this expedition.  He explains the “discovery” as the result of a carefully orchestrated hoax. 

I was the archaeologist with the Chinese expedition in the summer of 2008 and was given photos of what they now are reporting to be the inside of the Ark. I and my partners invested $100,000 in this expedition (described below) which they have retained, despite their promise and our requests to return it, since it was not used for the expedition. The information given below is my opinion based on what I have seen and heard (from others who claim to have been eyewitnesses or know the exact details).
To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake. The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, 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. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut’s men to the site saw the wood, but couldn’t get inside because of the severe weather conditions. 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. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.

My prediction is that this won’t be the last attempt to scam believers.

If I hear more of interest, I’ll note it here.

UPDATE (4/28): I have received the entirety of Price’s letter.  Here is the second half:

To my knowledge, the Chinese took no professional archaeologist or geologist who could verify or document the wood or the structure in situ (in its place of discovery). They were duped in 2006-2007 by Parasut when they were shown a similar cave with something they thought was wood. I met the Chinese when I went with a team of geologists to examine the “wood” in Dogubabyazit and to report that it was volcanic rock (called “tuff”) and not wood. Thereafter, since the Chinese were apparently able to get permits to climb in previously off-limit sites,  I and two other professionals joined with the Chinese (bringing our own independent satellite data) and went with them to Mt. Ararat in 2008. During that expedition, the guide Parasut who claimed to have found the Ark, was constantly drunk and after one month sitting in a hotel waiting, the expedition never happened. It was at this time that I made contact with Dr. Richard Bright who has climbed Mt. Ararat 33 times in search of the Ark and with several others climbed the western side of Mt. Ararat with a shepherd (who had recently been discovered by Dr. Bright’s Kurdish partner) who knew the location of a piece of the Ark. Last year we had a good expedition to a higher site (the satellite site) and this summer we will excavate the shepherd’s site and have every reason to expect success.
I am sorry to have to report that this is apparently a fake (and I am sure that the Chinese do not know this, but they do not respond to my e-mails), however, we do hope soon to have the real thing.
I encourage your prayers for me and others who will have to explain this “discovery” to many others – because negative reports are never well received and motives are questioned, especially when those doing so are part of a competitive expedition. But we do not want people to reject the truth of the Bible because another Noah’s Ark report turns out to be false. We prefer to as clear upfront in our reporting as possible so Christians (and others) can make up their own minds.
I hope that this will be helpful to you at this time,
Randall Price
Archaeologist
Ark Search LLC Expedition

UPDATE (4/28): Good Morning America has a 5-minute segment on the “discovery,” with the majority of that devoted to an interview with archaeologist Eric Cline.  Cline has previously written about the problem with “arkeologists” in his book, From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible.

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Recent Discoveries in Egypt

The Global Arab Network has posted a number of articles on discoveries in Egypt, as noted by Joe Lauer.

1. A new tomb was discovered by an SCA mission at Tell el-Maskhuta [biblical Succoth] in the Ismailia governate (Egypt). The tomb dates to the 19th Dynasty (1315-1201 BC), is constructed of mud brick and consists of a rectangular room with a domed ceiling made of stone, and a deep square-shaped shaft.

2. The Head of Antiquities of Lower Egypt Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud said that archaeological missions working in North Sinai have unearthed Tharu, an ancient fortified city, a move which stressed the importance of this area as the eastern gate of Egypt.

3. A collection of 14 Graeco-Roman tombs dating to the third century BC have been found in a cemetery in the Ain El-Zawya area of the town of Bawiti, in Bahariya Oasis.

The first and third articles have photographs of the finds.

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Weekend Roundup

Tours of the ancient sites in Iraq will begin this summer. A nine-day tour costs $3,375.

Hamas plans to regulate the trade of antiquities in Gaza.  Of 25,000 gold and bronze coins unearthed since 1990, 14,000 were sold on the black market. 

The Washington Post has the best article I’ve read on the restoration of Jaffa Gate.

Christianity Today has a story on the discovery of the “Miracle Boat,” also known as the “Jesus Boat.”  (Why not “Galilee Boat”?) The article also mentions the recent campaign to increase the number of visitors to the boat.  My suggestion: lower the outrageous entrance fee.

Tourists can now bring their iPad to Israel without fear of it being confiscated by customs authorities.

Israel’s Tourism Minister is vowing to stop the country’s degrading treatment of visitors. 

Leon Maudlin has been posting “two views” of Miletus, showing the dramatic differences in the ancient city in different seasons.

HT: Explorator, Paleojudaica, and Joe Lauer

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Tourist Shot in Church of Holy Sepulcher

From the Jerusalem Post:

A tourist visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem was shot by a policeman and seriously wounded Friday night after allegedly threatening visitors with a knife and attempting to stab a police officer.
Police said the incident began at closing time when two priests and a policeman walked among the visitors, asking them to leave. The man then allegedly drew a knife and threatened them. The policeman drew his sidearm and instructed the man to put down the knife. Other officers arrived on the scene and, when the man refused to lay down his weapon, sprayed pepper spray on him. The man then reportedly tried to run and was shot after threatening one of the policemen with his knife.

Holy Sepulcher facade, tb011610699

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
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Jordanian Students Learn Archaeology

Students from the International Academy Amman recently were given hands-on experience in excavating the ancient city of Gadara (cf. Matt 8:28).  From the Jordan Times:

Digging in trenches in northern Jordan was far from 18-year-old Aoun Jumaa’s definition of “fun”.
But after the International Academy Amman (IAA) student spent the past week excavating at Um Qais as part of his school’s community action and service programme, he said he has gained appreciation of the Kingdom’s “exciting” archaeology.
“I have been to Um Qais, but I have never seen it like this before,” he said.
The programme offers students the unique opportunity to explore their past and open up avenues for their futures.
The 20-odd students quickly learned that an archaeologist’s day is by no means an easy one. Starting at dawn, the students were in the trenches digging, cleaning and shovelling all morning, and after a short lunch break, they sorted and washed pottery shards and attended evening sessions on pottery identification and cultural interpretation.
Meanwhile, they devoted their evening hours to research projects, interpreting their finds and writing down their analysis, according to IAA teacher and programme coordinator Andy Daily.

The full article is here.

HT: Joe Lauer

Gadara nymphaeum, tb060503129

Gadara nymphaeum with Sea of Galilee in distance
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Ptolemaic Coin Hoard Found in Egypt

From the AFP:

Archaeologists have uncovered bronze coins bearing the image of ancient Egyptian ruler King Ptolemy III in an oasis south of the capital, the culture ministry announced on Thursday.
Also found by the Egyptian team were necklaces made of ostrich eggshell, it said.
The 383 items dating back more than 2,250 years were found near Lake Qarun in Fayum oasis, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Cairo, the ministry said in a statement, adding that they were in excellent condition.
The coins weighed 32 grams (1.12 ounces) each, with one face depicting the god Amun and the other the words “king” and “Ptolemy III” in Greek along with his effigy, the statement said.

You can see a photo of all the coins, stacked but uncleaned, here. Middle East Online has a photo of the discovery site.

HT: Joe Lauer

Lake Qarun in Faiyum Oasis from west, tb010805083 Lake Qarun, near location of discovery
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St. Paul’s Anchor Offer

If you hurry, you can get a special copy of The Lost Shipwreck of Paul by Robert Cornuke. 

According to the email advertisement, you don’t want to miss this:

BASE Institute has in it’s [sic] possession a small piece of lead from anchor #3 of the 4 anchors believed to be from Paul’s Shipwreck.  This unique offer will include Robert Cornuke personally taking the piece of lead and drawing the image of an anchor on the front page of the book.  Also, a signature will be included by Robert Cornuke certifying that the lead transfer image is from the actual anchors as described in The Lost Shipwreck of Paul book.

Cornuke sounds like one of those televangelists.

In unrelated news, if you purchase the complete set of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands right now, the author will personally glue a few grains of sand to the CDs and his signature will certify that these are actual pieces of dirt from the land where Jesus walked.  Don’t wait; order now!

For links to several articles on the Malta shipwreck, see here. For other previous appearances of the former policeman on this blog, see here, here, here and here.

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