Ancient Discoveries on Trial

Part 3: Did Ron Wyatt find Noah's Ark?

By Jim Allen

A Turkish army captain saw what appeared to be the remains of a large ship while flying over the mountains of Ararat in 1959. Soon after the discovery, he led a team of scientists to the site to investigate. The excavation results at the site were disappointing even though the boat-like shape with a rounded stern and pointed bow challenged their findings. But, this was not the end. Years later Ron Wyatt and his team went to the site and found so much archeological evidence that the government of Turkey was overwhelmingly convinced and declared the site a national park.

Scanning of the site by Wyatt's team of experts suggested the site had features mirroring a manmade structure. Even more remarkable, the dimension of the site is 300 cubits long, the same dimension given in the Bible for Noah's Ark (Genesis 6:15). Carbon testing of fossilized rock suggested its properties were once that of wood. The wood's laminated feature proved it was man-made. Reports from laboratory tests confirmed the artifacts found at the site were man-made metal parts used to hold the structure together. Wyatt claimed large stones found nearby were used to stable the ark in high winds. If true, the find would add credibility to Wyatt's claim.

Others disagree and claim the boat-like shape is a freak of nature. "Well-known creationist geophysicist Dr. John Baumgardner, a scientist at Los Alamos Laboratories…is known for his strong stand on the truth of Genesis. He researched the 'Ark-site' with Wyatt and eventually concluded the claims were 'bogus.'" [3.1]

Baumgardner's debunking of the site was surprising. When questioned further he said, "The footage of me in the video that has been shown several times on U.S. and British television during the last three years reflects my early enthusiasm about the possibility of a connection of the site with Noah's Ark, but it does not accurately represent my very firm conclusions reached after the extensive geophysical investigations we conducted at the site in 1987 and 1988. I realize this answer is brief, but I hope it is clear I am convinced the remains of the Ark must be somewhere else, that such remains are emphatically no associated with this boat-shaped formation." [3.2] Baumgardner went on to say he felt the site's formation was natural and not at all man-made.

So, what are we to make of these claims by Wyatt? Surely the Bible has something to say about this extraordinary vessel.

"In Genesis 6:14-15, God gave precise instructions about the dimensions of the Ark. 'Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.' In the British Museum, a Royal Egyptian Cubit is 20.62 inches. By simple arithmetic, 300 cubits is equivalent to 300 x 20.62 inches = 6,186 inches. The length of the structure found by Ron Wyatt was 515.5 feet, which is 6,186 inches exactly! This seemed to confirm that this large vessel was indeed Noah's Ark. This was a very large ship, slightly smaller than the Titanic, and about the same size as a World War 2 Aircraft Carrier! The width was greater than that mentioned in the Bible as the sides of the boat had splayed, which would be expected in a ship of that age. The rib timbers and deck joists of the ship are clearly visible along the entire length of the ship." [3.3]

Is Wyatt right or wrong? What we know for sure is Noah built the ark to specific dimensions. The ark site found by Wyatt seems to match the dimensions, at least in length. While the width of the ship is not verifiable, it was recorded to be twice as wide because the sides, according to Wyatt, flayed out. The depth is not verifiable because the decks are said to have collapsed one atop another. Regardless, there is ongoing debate about the cubit measurement used by Noah.

"While the Bible tells us that the length of Noah's Ark was 300 cubits, its width 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits, we must first ask, 'How long is a cubit?' The answer, however, is not certain because ancient people groups assigned different lengths to the term 'cubit' … The length of a cubit was based on the distance from the elbow to the fingertips, so it varied between different ancient groups of people." [3.4]

The irony of finding a geological site shaped like a large boat in an area of the world where the Bible said the ark landed is indeed credible. When you add the anchor stones found nearby and the onsite artifacts, the evidence weighs in Wyatt's favor. That there would be anything left of the ark is equally interesting, perhaps even a miracle for those unconvinced by the accuracy of the Bible and the claims of Wyatt.

Did Wyatt find Noah's Ark as claimed?

"Ron Wyatt has, through his book and video, created an interest among lay members in this boat-shaped site. Wyatt claims that the Turkish government credits him with finding the Durupinar site, and thus, the discoverer of Noah's Ark…. This is an unusual claim since this site was discovered in 1959 … and even acknowledged, if somewhat lightly, by Wyatt himself…" [3.5] The Turkish government credited the discovery and named the site after Captain Llhan Durupinar.

Was Wyatt given credit for finding Noah's ark? Yes, according to Wyatt Archaeological Research. In fact, the Turkish Government attributed the "official" finding of Noah's Ark to Wyatt, on June 20, 1987. Wyatt was the guest of honor at the official dedication of the site. As you might imagine, archeologists who later learned about Wyatt's notoriety and the dedication of the site in his honor (as the official site of Noah's Ark) were less than pleased.

"Ron Wyatt is neither an archaeologist nor has he ever carried out a legally licensed excavation in Israel or Jerusalem. In order to excavate one must have at least a BA in archaeology which he does not possess despite his claims to the contrary..." [3.6] It would appear Wyatt persuaded the Turkish officials that the Durupınar site was indeed the actual ark using evidence from the ark site he provided as proof. Unfortunately, the evidence was never recognized by the archeological community as verifiable evidence. In other words, Wyatt's excavation efforts of the Durupınar site did not follow scientific excavation, preparation and run-through to properly analyze and verify the artifacts as genuine.

"There are several negative things about Wyatt's efforts on the site which do nothing to help but hinder it, foremost of which was his attempt to fabricate rib-evidence on one side of the Ark-mold structure. His other claims of 'petrified wood and animal hair' are unsubstantiated. The Ark however, was not his discovery, but to his credit he did find the Ark's anchor stones at Kazan." [3.7]

Because of the shoddy presentation of evidence and ongoing debunking of the Durupınar site by professionals and creationists, the visitor center at the site has fallen into disrepair. While the visitor center is still open to the public, interest in the site and its artifacts continue to fade like the setting sun. Of additional interest, "Ron Wyatt's side-kick on his Durupinar expedition was David Fasold. Toward the end of Fasold's life he co-authored an article with Lorence Collins that was published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication called the Journal of Geoscience Education …" The article rebuked Wyatt's discovery as bogus and agreed with Baumgardner's conclusion that the geological formation cannot be the remains of Noah's ark." [3.8]

Amidst scientific and religious push-back on the excavated evidence, there are some who maintain Wyatt really did find Noah's Ark. Though the scientific community and creationists seldom agree on anything, they agree in this instance and denounce the Durupınar site as nothing more than soil and rock irregularities molded by natural causes. If you look closely around the site - in the many online photographs of the site - you will see other nearby protruding soil and rock formations similar to that of the alleged ark site.

As for the undecided, Noah' Ark did exist. It served its holy purpose thousands of years ago. Some say the vessel is buried, unbroken, under a glacier near a mountain peak. Others say the ark is torn apart and strewn under glacial ice. But even if the ark could be found or the ark site at Durupınar proven true, its discovery would do little to convert anyone to faith in Christ (Romans 10:17).

Noah's Ark is an ancient footnote in bible history and a notable vessel in its time. Even though the mission of the ark is now long complete, it continues to echo a message of great truth through the halls of time. Noah's Ark is an enduring picture of salvation. The ark, broken or whole, or wherever it may be is a picture of the living Christ who was broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24) to make us whole again (Colossians 2:10).

If you've entered into this ark you will know it to be true (Romans 8:16). If you are unsure, there is still time to find the doorway to the living Ark (John 3:1-7). To enter will be the greatest discovery of a lifetime and the Treasure of all treasures to possess for eternity (Matthew 6:19-21).

3.1 Answers In Genesis — The non-Ark Site
3.2 Tentmaker — Letter from John Baumgardner
3.3 "Measurement and Confirmation of Noah's Ark in 1979"
3.4 Answers In Genesis — " How long was the original cubit?" 3.5 Andrews University — Institute of Archaeology — "Has Noah's Ark been found?" — David Merling, Ph.D.
3.6 "Letter from Joe Zias"
3.7 "Naxuan, The Lost City of Noah Found!"
3.8 Life and Land seminars — "Noah's Ark is (still) in Turkey"

Published 2-5-14