It took nearly 5,000 years to unearth Noah’s Ark — and just three days for a serious challenge to the legitimacy of the find to emerge.
A former member of the expedition whose sponsors this week claimed to have found the legendary biblical boat buried beneath the snows of Turkey’s Mount Ararat says the “discovery” was probably a hoax.
“If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that’s fine,” Randall Price, an archaeologist who in 2008 was working with the Chinese-led evangelical team, told The Christian Science Monitor. “My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be.”In a leaked e-mail that had made the rounds on the Web, Price, a longtime ark-hunter who directs the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., says that in the summer of 2008, a group of Kurdish laborers, hired by a local guide working with the Chinese expedition, removed several large wooden beams from an old structure near the Black Sea, then hauled them to a cave near the peak of Ararat, long thought by believers to have been the spot where Noah’s Ark washed up.
Price says that those photos of the supposed ark include cobwebs in the corners of the structure’s rafters, “something just not possible in these conditions.”
Meanwhile in ark-hunting circles, news of the alleged hoax is being greeted as hardly surprising.
“There are certain biblical artifacts — like the Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of Noah — that just seem to bring out a lot of amateur searchers,” says Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information Ministries, who has himself spent years searching for Noah’s Ark. “My concern is that well-meaning Christians jump the gun, and this thing becomes viral on the Internet. A lot of Christians are confused because they thought the ark was found two years ago, or two years before that. These things seem to come up every two years or so.”