The Explorers of Ararat - And the Search for Noah's Ark
B. J. Corbin, Editor
Great Commission Illustrated Books, 1999, 482 pages
Available from: Great Commission Illustrated Books
This book is a compilation of various stories from 13 men who have explored Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's Ark: John McIntosh, Elfred Lee, Bob Stuplich, Dr. Don Shockey, Dr. Charles Willis, Robin Simmons, Bill Crouse, Robert Garbe, Chuck Aaron, Dr. John Morris, Ray Anderson, Richard Bright, and B. J. Corbin. Each man wrote a chapter telling his own story. The editor, B. J. Corbin, packaged them together with many photos and other information regarding the ark in hopes that someday it will be conclusively found.
The Bible says that the ark rested upon the mountains of Armenia, or Ararat. It does not say that it rested on Mt. Ararat, but only somewhere in a mountainous region near Armenia. This generally would describe the ancient kingdom of Urartu, which covers parts of south-eastern Turkey, south-western Armenia and north-western Iran. The book cites many historic sources other than the Bible which describe the flood, the ark, and its location.
One of the explorers, Bill Crouse, is convinced that the ark is not, in fact, on Mt. Ararat. He believes that the more likely location, based on historic references, is Mt. Cudi which is on the southern border of Turkey where Iraq meets Syria. There is a stone structure on top of that mountain called the "Ship of the Prophet Noah" which is thought by some to contain the relics of the ark.
Most of the support for Mt. Ararat being the resting place of the ark comes from medieval legends and modern-day eyewitness sightings. Many of these are documented in the book. Although a number of people claim to have seen the ark on Mt. Ararat, it is difficult to reconcile all of their stories, and no clear photographs of the ark are known to exist.
One of the more detailed eyewitness accounts comes from an Armenian named George Hagopian who claims that as a boy he climbed up Mt. Ararat with his uncle twice in the early 1900's and saw the ark. He says that he even walked on top of the ark and looked inside the openings. Another account comes from an American named Ed Davis who claims he was taken to Ararat to see the ark in 1943, when he was stationed in Iran with the military. Unfortunately, neither man knew exactly where he was when viewing the ark.
Several eyewitness stories come from pilots who claim to have seen the ark, or a dark object, while flying over Ararat on military missions. Although the stories are similar, they do not all agree on the precise location of the ark. Ed Davis claims that the ark was in several pieces when he saw it which could account for the different descriptions.
Chuck Aaron flew a helicopter around Mt. Ararat back in the 1980's looking for the ark. He was able to fly over many of the locations where the ark has supposedly been sighted. This was during a warm period when much of the ice cap on the mountain had melted back. According to some of the locals, the ark is only visible during years with warm summers. Even though the weather was clear, offering excellent views, Mr. Aaron was not able to locate any object which he could identify as the ark.
Perhaps the most promising story comes from Robin Simmons. He asked a remote-sensing specialist, George Stephen III, to look at Mt. Ararat with a satellite to search for the ark. Mr. Stephen was able to locate what he describes as two man-made objects near the summit of Ararat. The objects were about 1000 feet apart and covered in snow when he detected them.
Mr. Simmons then went to Ararat and was able to get a Turkish man to go to the area indicated by the satellite and photograph what appeared to him to be the ark. The photograph is in the book but it is not clear that what is in the picture is indeed the ark.
Throughout the book difficulties in climbing Mt. Ararat are described. The mountain itself is not easy to climb since it is a volcano and the rocks are not stable. The weather is also known for being unpredictable and storms break out with little notice. The political situation in this area is tense since the Kurds consider it to be their homeland and do not want to be subject to the Turkish government. So getting permission to climb in the area or fly over the mountain has been difficult. Ever since the war with Iraq in 1991, it has been nearly impossible.
The Explorers of Ararat is a must-read for anyone interested in the search for Noah's ark. The difficulties, frustrations, and motivations of the explorers are revealed in their accounts, but each one considers it a privilege to have been able to explore Mt. Ararat.