NOAH'S ARK/MOUNTAINS OF ARARAT
The Ark of Noah In Iran?
It is no secret that we here at The BASE Institute have formulated certain possible scenarios (e.g. the probable location of historical Mt. Sinai and the possible historical mountains of Noah), based on the testimony of the Bible, personal investigation, examination of evidence, and other factors.
However, we admittedly propose these conclusions as potential answers and possible scenarios. We believe it would be a fallacy to dogmatically argue that our interpretation of all these factors is the only possible interpretation a Christian can hold. Because history is a once-in-time event, no assertion of history can be proven beyond all doubt. The best that can be offered is an informed argument based on the weight of the evidence.
As we offer our possible scenarios about biblical history, we are unapologetically excited about what we believe we have discovered. We believe that others, meanwhile, are free to hold opinions of their own, and that they should be excited about those as well. We leave it to students of the Bible and of history to do enough investigation of their own to formulate their own educated opinions.
Recently the search for Noah's ark has exploded with media attention after we shared pictures of a rock formation found on a high mountain in Iran. I have been careful to position all comments that I am not claiming to conclusively to have found the ark. I am not however dismissing the potential of that find in Iran has significant historical relevance. We think that the Bible and other sources point to Iran as being the most probable resting place for the Ark.
Ararat refers to a Region of Mountains, Not one Mountain
I, as well as many others in the modern era, have searched Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey for the remains of Noah's Ark. It pains me to admit this, but I think I've spent a lot of time and money looking in the wrong place. A careful reading of Genesis will reveal why. Genesis 8:4 states, “then the ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month on the mountains of Ararat.” (NKJV)
The mountains of Ararat signify a mountainous region or kingdom. This verse does not refer to a singular mountain named Mount Ararat. Mount Ararat, as such, does not appear in the Bible. Mount Ararat in Turkey, is a singular volcanic cone mountain that rises out of the Anatolian Plain in Eastern Turkey.
So how did Mount Ararat get its name and therefore the attention? Many of earliest translations of the Bible, done in the centuries just before and after the beginning of the Christian era, render the term "Ararat" as "Armenia." Consequently, readers of Genesis probably understood the word "Ararat" in terms of the geography of their day rather than that of the Genesis narrator. That is, they likely restricted the term to the small district on the Araxes, the Ararat of their time, rather than considering the much larger ancient Kingdom of Urartu. (Urartu could at times be considered the entire mountainous region north of Syro-Mesopotamia.)
Thus, when Armenians read in the early translations that the Ark had come to rest in "the mountains of Armenia," they understood it to be the one tall mountain in this area, Agri Dagi (traditional Mount Ararat in Turkey), which rises dramatically from the plain of the Araxes. But Armenian literature of the fifth through the tenth centuries knows nothing of any Ark story. It is not until the thirteenth century that the Ark legends began to appear in Armenia, and by the fourteenth century these stories became popular. Agri Dagi did not become known as Mount Ararat until about 1200 A.D.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia agrees with the aforementioned hypothesis that the Ark of Noah would lie in a distinct mountainous region: "The Ark is said to have rested upon the mountains of Ararat, i.e., in the mountainous region of Armenia, the plural showing that the mountain peak known as Ararat was not referred to, this peak lies outside the general region."
This also makes sense in light of Genesis 8:5 which states: “And the water decreased steadily until the tenth month. And on the first day of the month the tops of the mountains became visible.” (NKJV)
This verse indicates that other mountain peaks became visible subsequent to the ark of Noah landing on the mountains of Ararat. In the Elborz Mountains of Northwestern Iran, there are fifteen peaks over 14,000 feet. Conversely, Mount Ararat virtually stands alone in Eastern Turkey. The Elborz Mountains seem to line up better with this verse than Mount Ararat.
Ararat is east of Shinar (Babylon)
The Bible gives us a clear direction for the landing location of the Ark, and it is not in the direction of Turkey. The Bible says that the survivors of the flood journeyed "from the east" and subsequently settled in "Shinar" (a region generally known as Babylon)
(Genesis 11:1) "Now the whole earth had one language and one speech..." This indicates these people were descendents of Noah prior to arriving in Babylon where multi-lingual cultures originated.
(Genesis 11:2) "And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they dwelt there." If the survivors of the flood journeyed from the east, they would have come from the land in the direction of present day Iran.
Some Bibles have different translations for the verse: "journeyed in the east" or eastward," which adds confusion to the actual direction from where the survivors of the flood traveled. Dr. Roy Knuteson, Ph.D. in New Testament Greek writes, "The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in 250 BC reads: from the east. This is significant since these Greek-speaking Hebrews knew the exact equivalent of the Hebrew into the Greek and chose a preposition (apo) that only means 'from,' not 'in,' or 'towards,' or 'eastward.' I would, therefore, choose the KJV translation for the correct rendering and head for the east of Babylon for the mountain with the Ark."
It is very possible that the term "from the east" (Genesis 11:2) does not indicate a compass direction. It is probable that the author intended to refer to a geographical region, i.e., when we refer to “the south”, or “the mid west.” This is illustrated by Isaiah 46:11, which refers to Cyrus the Great coming from the region of the Medes, which is known as present-day Iran: "Calling a bird of prey FROM THE EAST the man of my purpose from a far country." This is not a compass heading but a region that Isaiah refers to. It should also be noted here that Cyrus the Great, traveled down the Diyala River from the east when attacking Babylon. This could mean that the descendents of Noah traveled this similar route while migrating from the east into the Mesopotamia Valley.
It is highly unlikely that the descendents of Noah would migrate from the traditional Mount Ararat in Turkey to the Mesopotamia plain. If they did so, they would have had to traverse impassable mountain ranges to eventually come from the east. The Assyrian invaders found it impossible to cross these mountain ranges thus it would seem that the descendents of Noah would find it equally difficult. If the descendents of Noah traveled from the traditional Mount Ararat in Turkey, then they would have traveled an easy path down the Euphrates River, which eventually pours into the Mesopotamia Valley. This North to South direction would be a contradiction of Genesis 11:2. Noah's descendents journeyed from the east, which only allows for a Northern Iran interpretation.
One scholar put it this way:
Shuckford suggested that some spot farther east corresponds better with the scriptural account of the place where the ark rested. For it is said of the families of the sons of Noah, that, as they journeyed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar. Now, Shinar, or Babylonia, lies nearly south of the Armenian Ararat, and the probability, therefore, is, that the true Ararat, from whose vicinity the descendants of Noah probably emigrated, lay much farther to the south.
As quoted from Religion and Geology by Edward Hitchcock, D. D., LL. D. Past president of Amherst College, and Professor of Natural Theology and Geology.
Ararat is East of Lake Urmiah in Iran
The books of 2 Kings and Jeremiah, and a series of ancient Assyrian expeditions, help us further locate the region of Ararat in Iran. 2 Kings 19:36 states: “So Sennacherib, King of Assyria, departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the temple of Nishroch his god, that his sons Adarammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esaradon his son reigned in his place.” (NKJV)
Sennacherib was murdered at a time of political and military unrest. In the last years of Sennacherib's reign, invaders from the north swept down from the caucuses. These invaders were known as the Gimirrai. They formed an alliance with the Medes. Sennacherib never campaigned in the region of the Mannai even though turmoil had broken out on the Assyrian frontiers. This alliance posed the only threat to Sennacherib. At home in Assyria, there was civil unrest. Sennacherib's youngest son Esarhaddon was appointed to be his successor. The two middle sons Adarammelech and Sharezer were most assuredly incensed that the youngest son was appointed to be the new king of Assyria upon the death of their father.
The Bible said the assassins fled into the land of Ararat. The Urartian ruler at the time was Rusa II, who the New Bible Dictionary proposes as the person who gave the assassins asylum. Recent inscriptions from Rusa have been unearthed in Iran in a city called Sarab. This city is next to Mount Sabalon.
Esarhaddon states in his writings that the assassins fled to an unknown country. This does not tell us where the assassins journeyed, but it does tell us where they did not. They did not travel, according to Esarhaddon, to areas he was familiar with as the King of Assyria. Areas he was not familiar with would have been the area of the region east of Lake Urmiah. This region was avoided by his father Sennacharib and never ventured to by Esarhaddon. This is in the region of Urartu and makes it the prime candidate where the mountains of Ararat should be located. All other regions in the Urartu area were well known to Esarhaddon, thus excluding them from consideration.
In 1955, a team from the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, led by Max Mallowan, found some 350 fragments of baked clay tablets with inscriptions. Barbara Parker subsequently pieced together these clay pieces and made an identification of a treaty made in 672 B.C. between the Assyrian king, Esarhaddon and nine princes from bordering frontier states in Iran. These clay documents are more than a treaty; they are in actuality a last will and testament of Esarhaddon. As stated above, Esarhaddon's two older brothers assassinated Esarhaddon's father. Esarhaddon, now, in 672 B.C., had a son of his own named Ashur Banipal. Esarhaddon forced this treaty on the Iranian princes specifically to avoid the mortal danger that beset his father. The treaty is unique in that it covers the single subject of the royal succession of Esarhaddon's son. The wording in this treaty specifically address the attempt to avoid an assassination attempt on his son and were specifically addressed to Iranian princes. The wording is as follows: “You will protect Ashur Banipal, the crown prince. You will not bring your hand against him with evil intent. You will not revolt. You will not oust him from the kingship of Assyria, by helping one of his brothers, older or younger, to seize the throne of Assyria in his stead.” In 672 B.C., Esarhaddon was at the peak of his political power. The countries present, witnessing the treaty, were Egypt, Elam, The Arabs of the Western Desert, The City States of Syria and Palestine, Tyre, Sidon, and even distant Cilicia, Cypress, and North Arabia.
The logic derived from the above indicates that Esarhaddon was paranoid that his son would become a victim of the same group of people that joined in the civil revolt against his father. Since Esarhaddon's brothers fled to the region of Ararat, subsequent to killing their father, it is reasonable to assume that they fled into the region that had joined them in the civil revolt. This region, Ararat, that gave the assassins asylum, would probably be the same region (Iran) that was forced into the aforementioned treaty. This can be assumed because it was the only region forced to agree to a treaty of non-revolt against his son.
Jeremiah 51:27 suggests that Ararat is adjacent to Minni (which is east of Lake Urmiah). It states, “Lift up a signal in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations! Consecrate the nations against her, Summon against her these kingdoms: Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz.” (NKJV)
This prophecy by Jeremiah is referring to Cyrus who attacked Babylon in 539 BC. The Scripture specifically says "set up a banner in the land, blow the trumpet amongst the nations." This means that Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenas were closely aligned, not only politically but geographically. Minni or Minnai was a territory lying south and east of Lake Urmiah. The Ashkenas were also known as the Scythians who occupied the Mukan steppe of Azerbaijan. This means that a more likely sight for Ararat would be east of Lake Urmiah in close proximity to Minni and Ashkenaz.
Scripture states that the nations of Minni, Ashkenaz, and Ararat were closely aligned. We can deduce this by the verse that says: Set up a banner in the land, blow the trumpet amongst the nations, i.e. visually close in proximity, and able to hear a summoning trumpet. This would indicate that Ararat would be in a more southerly location. This opinion is shared by the study section of the New International Version Bible, which states, “The ark's landfall was probably in southern Urartu”, which is in present-day northern Iran.
It is generally accepted that the Assyrians refer to Ararat as the region of Urartu in ancient times. Urartu's borders fluctuated as dominance increased and decreased with Assyrian power. Several ancient Assyrian kings made reference to Urartu (Ararat). In 714 B.C., Sargon fought Urartu. The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. III states:
Ullusunu came to meet Sargon in Surikash, a southern province of the Mannai, whence the Assyrian marched to Parsua(sh), at the southwestern extremity of Lake Urmiah, and then to Ullusunu's fortress in Mannai itself, where Sargon pledged himself to overthrow Urartu. The first assault fell upon Zikirtu, a district east of Lake Urmiah, but news arrived that Rusas had arrived in Uishdish, the district between Mount Sahend and the lake, and that Mitatti of Zikirtu had joined him there; thereupon Sargon made a forced march with his cavalry to the west and fell upon his enemy with unexpected rapidity. The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. III: The Assyrian Empire (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1925), 52.
The following also illustrates Sargon II involvement with Urartu.
The Urartu were a confederation of indigenous tribes who tangled fatally with Sargon II, king of Babylon, in the eighth century BC. The word Ararat, the name of the mountain on which Noah's ark settled, comes from the Urartu; Utnapishtim is the of Ubartutu, a possible reference to this geographic region. William Ryan, Walter Pitman, Noah's Flood (Simon & Schuster, 1998), 240-241.
The above description of geographic designations indicates that the first assault by Sargon II fell upon Zikirtu, a district east of Lake Urmiah in present-day Iran.
There was a marked weakness of Assyria in 782-746 BC, caused by poor representatives of the Royal House. Rather than a collapse of military power, a series of expeditions were sent to the hill country around Lake Urmiah. The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 111, The Assyrian Empire (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1925), 31.
We can date these expeditions by way of an eponym list (see below). Eponym lists were accurate for chronology in ancient times. They were compiled from events that occurred of great importance for the designated year. For instance, in today's dating we would have the year that a president was assassinated as the dating practice. We could transfer this event, such as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, to be 1963. Since the ancient Assyrians did not have a numerical dating sequence, they used the eponym list as the method for assigning annual dates. The dating of the eponym lists is trustworthy because one date can be fixed with certainty. This is possible because one of the eponym lists mentions an eclipse of the sun that took place in the month of Sivan in the eponymy of Par-Sagale. Present day astronomers have shown that an eclipse of the sun did actually take place on June 15, 763 B.C. This gives historians a fixed point from which to reckon backwards or forwards. Ernest A. Budge, Babylonian Life and History, (New York: AMS Press, 1925), 204.
This eponym list from ancient Assyria shows activity of expeditions to the region of Ararat by government officials in the reign of Shalmaneser IV, 782-772 B.C.
List of Assyrian Eponyms
781BC Shalmaneser IV King of Assyria Expedition to Ararat
780BC Samsi-il The Tartan Expedition to Ararat
779BC Maruduk-utulani The Rab-bitur Expedition to Ararat
778BC Bel-esir Chief of Palace Expedition to Ararat
776BC Pan assur-la-mur The Governor Expedition to Ararat
774BC Istar-duri Governor of Nisibin Expedition to Ararat
Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. III, describes Shalmaneser activity as being in the region the shores of Lake Urmiah, located in Iran. This would indicate that the Ararat region, according to the ancient Assyrian kings, was in the region of northern Iran.
Here in the lands of Parsuas and the Minni (Manna) on the shores of Lake Urmiah he found himself threatened by the Assyrians, and here, accordingly, a large part of his military operations took place. Most of the reign of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser IV (782-772) was occupied in wars with Ararat… The Cambridge Ancient History, 175-176.
As stated above, Lake Urmiah is east of Babylon and west of the Caspian Sea in the northwestern area of present day Iran.
Other Ancient Writers put the Ark in Iran
Nicholas of Damascus, the biographer of Herod the Great (about 30 BC), referred to an object considered to be the remnant beams of Noah's ark in Armenia, the Biblical equivalent of Ararat. “Above the country of the Minus in Armenia a great mountain called Baris, where as the story goes many refugees found safety at the time of the flood, and one man transported upon the ark grounded upon the summit: and relics of the timber were for long preserved.” Montgomery. The Quest for Noah's ark, Bethany fellowship 1972.
Flavius Josephus, first century Jewish historian, also wrote about the remains of the ark as follow- “A district called Carron…has excellent soil for the production of Amomum in the greatest abundance; it also posses the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood-remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.”Antiquities XX. 24-25 ( Loeb edition, volume 1X , pp. 403-403).
Julius Africanus in the third century wrote more specifically about the location of the ark as follows “And the ark settled on the mountains of Ararat which we know to be in Parthia.” Loyrd. R. Baily. Noah- The person and the story in history and tradition. University of South Carolina press 1989. Parthia is noted on various 19th century maps as being in the mountains of Iran.
It seems apparent from the preceding that there were some historians that spoke of beamed remnants of the ark still existing in a time period just before and after the time of Christ. Since the object we located in Iran is so uncannily beam like in appearance, it is possible that the object is one in the same as the aforementioned historians referenced.
BASE Teams in 2005 and 2006 find possible evidence of the shrine and the Ark on Takht-i- Suleiman
In July 2005 and June 2006, I traveled with BASE teams and found the object believed to be the Ed Davis object perched on a ridge at 13,120 feet. The team also found a worship shrine,the shrine and wood fragments were located at the 15,000 foot elevation and some samples were taken for analysis.
Fossilized clams were also found there in abundance on an adjoining mountain peak at 14, 000 feet. Thousands of samples littered the whole mountain top. Some say that up-thrust over millions of years caused the shells to be present at such a high elevation. Others have suggested that they were grown during the great flood.
We also noted that Mount Suleiman has a unique climatic region around it. Within a very short distance, you can find everything from glaciers to deserts, salt seas, freshwater lakes, rivers and tropical forests. This region seemed to have every eco system to accommodate varied life forms.
This area also has some very intriguing recent animal finds. In 1965 a horse thought to be extinct for thirteen hundred years was found roaming the flanks of the Elborz Mountains along the southern rim of the Caspian Sea. The small horse was discovered by Louise Firouz and was DNA tested by the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gus Cothran headed the DNA research team which yielded compelling evidence that breed is in fact the distant ancestor of most modern breeds. These horses were found in the mountain range of Mount Suleiman which is the same location we found the Ed Davis ark looking object in July of 2005 and June of 2006.
(For more information on the Caspian Horse contact www.caspianhorse.com)
We also noted that the Elborz Mountains matched to what the real Mountains of Ararat should look like according to a description by Sargon the Second in 714 B.C. He recorded that the Mountains of Urartu (Ararat) were like the spine of a fish which were very high and impossible to cross. Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, (London Penguin Books, 1966), 313. Mount Suleiman in one of several high narrow mountains peaks that look like the long spine of a fish. There are fifteen peaks are over fourteen thousand feet high in that range.
Conclusion: Is the Object on Takht-i-Suliman Noah's Ark?
I have been looking for the ark for a long time and many other lost locations in the Bible. The Discovery Channel has claimed that Bible archaeology is the most controversial subject in the world. I think that there would be little argument that the ark of Noah is one of the most controversial subjects in the Bible. In effect, anyone looking for the lost ark is engaging in a search that will probably never result in the satisfaction of everyone.
In fact, there are several obstacles to anyone claiming to identify definitively any particular object is Noah's Ark. How could one prove beyond any doubt that an object several thousand years old is Noah's Ark? First of all the Bible claims the Ark was made out of gopher wood. But since we do not even know what gopher wood is, we can't test for it.
Second, we are looking for an object that existed in the dim recesses of history, and which was involved in a cataclysmic event that could have produced unknown mineral, temperature and other chemical factors. Any opinion as to the nature of those factors seems extremely speculative.
We can, of course, make some assumptions. Even though we don't know what gopher wood was, it's probably safe to assume that it would decay like any other wood. Therefore, if anything from Noah's Ark has survived, it might now be in the form of petrified wood.
Here is what we found on Mount Suleiman:
The object consists of dark rock with an uncanny beam-like appearance in several places.
The color and texture of the rock appears to be unique in the area.
The object fits the approximate dimensions of Noah's Ark
Some samples tested by an independent lab showed signs of petrified wood. (Not the entire object.)
The object is at 13,120 feet but the nearest tree is at about 8,000 feet (and there are very few trees even at that level).
Takht-i-Suleiman means “Solomon's Throne.” It is the only mountain we know of in the Middle East outside of Israel with a Hebrew name.
Wood at the Summit, which may be from the shrine, has been dated to be around 500 years old.
We found abundant sea life at an adjacent summit.
We found microscopic sea life in a rock sample from the object (a foram, which is normally only found at the depths of the sea).
All major climates are close by along with all eco systems.
The research and site survey being investigated by the BASE Institute has strong potential. Is it the remains of Noah's Ark? The BASE Institute does not make the claim that we have found Noah's Ark. We'll let you draw your own conclusions. In our opinion, it's a candidate. The research continues.