The Ark of Noah----UPDATE:  FOUND (Rediscovered)!!!!

Clip of Rooms Within Ark


Press Conference in Hong Kong


 Introductory Quote from The Revelations of Jesus Christ:

  9 And thus he became the Prince of Peace and behold the righteousness of the people became exceedingly great, for they did hearken unto the words of Melchizedec, and they, even they, did attain unto the righteousness of the City of Enoch, even Zion, as before the flood—for Melchizedec did preach unto the inhabitants round about many years after the Ark came to rest upon Mount Ararat, upon which mount it resteth to this day, saith the Lord, being preserved by the ice and snow—which Zion, saith the Lord, was built by Enoch and his brethren upon this the American continent.

 10 And Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah, after the flesh.

 11 And Zion was built before the flood, saith the Lord.  The Revelations of Jesus Christ, Section 5.

(taken from explorer's website: While searching for the remains of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey, a Chinese-Turkish exploration team successfully excavated and ventured inside a large wooden structure at an elevation of more than 4,000m above sea level. Wood specimens were dated as 4,800 years old. Officials of Turkish government and Cultural Ministries highly regarded the finds and jointly announced the discovery with the exploration team in Hong Kong. They planned to submit an application for the wooden structure to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A mutual agreement for further co-operation was signed and the Hong Kong team members were recognized as Honorable Citizens of Agri Province, Turkey. In the press conference on April 25, Consul General of Turkey, Mr. Mehmet Raif Karaca, was invited to come and support the great achievements of the exploration team in the aspect of the search for Noah’s Ark.

 Background information
Historical accounts dating back more than 2,000 years maintain that ‘Noah’s Ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat after the Great Flood’. The same records can be found in the Bible and the Koran. In the local region, a saying passed down through the generations goes: ‘There is an ancient boat on the mountain’.


The weather is unmerciful in winter

The earliest record of Ark search by a Western scientist was German naturalist Dr. Friedrich Parrot, who climbed the Mount Ararat in 1829. Although he failed to find substantial evidence for the proof, he was the forerunner in the field – in the following 200 years, many scientists and explorers have been dedicated to search an ancient boat that matches the historical records. However, the greatest result of Western research in two centuries was the retrieval of wood fragments in glacier at an elevation of above 4,000m on Mount Ararat. From an objective scientific point of view, the discovery of wood on Mount Ararat is encouraging because scientists maintain that high mountain altitudes are depleted of trees and no human settlement has ever been found above an elevation of 3,000 metres. Wood fragments discovered in the past may have come from the Ark.


The discovery of the wood structure


Noah’s Ark Ministries International achieves a breakthrough in the search. The team first located a site on an elevation of above 4,000m, excavated the glacier, found and ventured inside the wood structure. Man-fai YUEN, a representative of NAMI said in the press conference, “The search team and I personally entered a wooden structure high on the mountain. The structure is partitioned into different spaces. We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals.” Team members entered the wooden structure and proceeded to conduct field studies, take measurements and collect samples, with the entire process filmed. This is the first team in history ever to visually document the interior of the wood structure on the mountain.



Ahmet Ertugrul, the search team leader, was the first to get information on the location and then started the search. He explained, “I got to know the secret location in June 2008. The source told me that this is Noah’s Ark. I took a team there for the search around the region and found a wooden structure. I took some photographs of the interior structure. Since I have worked closely with NAMI for some years, I informed them of the discovery.”

Space 2 - Tenon contruction was found in the structure witnessed by Panda Lee

The search extended for nearly two years. A milestone was marked by one of the team members, Panda Lee, who went for a pioneer climb to witness the existence of a wood structure high above an altitude of 4,000m. He also surveyed the landscape, preparing for further search. Panda Lee said, “In October 2008, I climbed the mountain with the Turkish team. At an elevation of more than 4,000 metres, I saw a structure built with plank-like timber. Each plank was about 8 inches wide. I could see tenons, proof of ancient construction predating the use of metal nails. We walked about 100 metres to another site. I could see broken wood fragments embedded in a glacier, and some 20 metres long. I surveyed the landscape and found that the wooden structure was permanently covered by ice and volcanic rocks. Prior to my expedition, the Turkish team had excavated the site to expose the structure.”



Following Panda’s confirmation, although search activities were interrupted by unmerciful weather and tense situation, the quest was relentlessly conducted for a whole year. Finally, in October 2009, a film crew accompanied the search team to document the expedition. Six Hong Kong team members entered the wooden structure, with Fiona Leung the sole female member. She says, “The expedition was difficult. We stayed a few days in base camp at 2,800 metres above sea level in order to acclimatize. All of us suffered various symptoms of mountain sickness. The weather on Mount Ararat was unpredictable. Fine sunny weather would be overwhelmed by heavy fog in an instant. The difference in day and night temperatures was as large as 30 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures dropped below minus 20 degrees C and one night it even snowed. The last section of the route leading to the site was very rugged. We negotiated steep terrain of 60 degrees and could see rock basalts rolling towards us: the sunshine caused melting snow to loosen, which rolled down. Some of the rock basalts were as large as a head and could seriously have injured anyone hit”


Seven spaces revealed

The wood structure discovered by the team is broken, so members entered the structure through various openings. Up to now, the team has discovered seven spaces. One of the team members, Wing-cheung YEUNG explains during the press conference (please refer to the DVD):“

  1. One of the spaces discovered is frozen by ice. Under ice is wood with wood beam above. There is tenon construction on the wall and it is obvious artificial structure.

  2. The space witnessed by Panda Lee is L-shaped. This is the first discovered space. It’s L-shaped and its features match well with some spaces discovered later, like tenon construction. We concluded that it was originally a box-shaped room and heavily decomposed.

  3. This space stands at more than 5 metres high. Team members had to get through a broken opening and abseil down to get inside. All walls are wood and the space is not box-shaped. Strictly speaking, the walls are not vertical but rather curved and inclined. The small door on one side, of dimensions one meter high and half meter width, presumably leads to another space but our team did not risk going further due to the lack of oxygen.

  4. This room is box-shaped, having a dimension of height, width and length of more than two metres. There is a wooden beam with wooden nails on one side of the wall. It is believed that a rope was hooked on these nails to keep animals in place. On another side of the wall, there are racks.

  5. A very small tunnel-like space connects two spaces.

  6. A few wooden staircases were found inside the structure, which seemingly craved by tree logs. Our team climbed one and found a door in the ceiling and concluded the wood structure has more than one floor. We tried to open it but failed. Since we did not want to destroy the structure, we will try again with appropriate equipment in the future.

  7. The team has not entered this space. They viewed and took shots from a small opening above. The height and width are estimated to be 5 metres and 12 metres respectively. ”

Attending experts and government officials agreed that the discovery is of great significance. In light of historical records, they believe that the most probable explanation is Noah’s Ark and subsequent scientific studies should be undertaken. Mr. Gerrit Aalten, renowned Dutch Ark researcher said, “The significance of this find is that for the first time in history the discovery of Noah’s Ark is well documented and revealed to the worldwide community.” With more than 30 years experience in collecting information, Mr. Aalten believes that detailed eyewitness accounts made the Ark puzzle complete because they all together mentioned the same significant details that exactly match this astonishing find on the mountain. He continued, “Just a few of the many details that are matching this find: …the height it’s found on, which is above “the 4000 meters level”; another detail is, the way the Ark is situated on the mountain which is: “slightly tilted”; …that it has a ” reddish/brown wood appearance”, …the end of the Ark “is decayed and broken and has a hole” through which one can enter; …it is most partly “embedded in the ice and rock debris”;…and that the Ark is “very solid and of high quality”; …and ”very dark, long and rectangular”. In conclusion, Mr. Aalten said , “there’s a tremendous amount of solid evidence that the structure found on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey, is the legendary Ark of Noah.”


An archaeologist, Professor Oktay Belli said, “The search team has made the greatest discovery in history. This finding is very important and the greatest up to now. On Mount Ararat, human settlement has never reached up to 3,500 m. Mount Ararat is a holy place and has rich historical accounts about Noah’s Ark on the mountain. Many people have searched the mountain for the holy Ark. This time’s discovery is the first serious search that the team found a wood structure under ice.”


Dr. Ahmet Özbek, a Turkish geologist explained how the condition has helped preserve the structure for thousands years without decay or petrifying. He said that “In present days, the permanent snow line on Mt. Ararat is 3,900 meters. The wood structure was found higher than 4,000 meters.” The low temperature and environmental condition of glacier deposits and volcanic material helped the preservation. He also explained that the proportion by weight of wood material was able to carry loads up to 5 times its weight. So this structure can bear heavy weight without breaking into pieces.



Turkish government officials, Mr. Murat Güven, Lieutenant Governor of Agri Province, Mr. Muhsin Bulut, Cultural Ministries Director of Agri Province and Mr. Ibrahim Sahin, District Secretary of Dogubayazit City appreciated the effort put forward by the search team and thanked them for the discovery of Noah’s Ark. It would be shocking news to the world. Mr. Muhsin Bulut, Cultural Ministries Director of Agri Province said, “For more than 2,000 years, historical and eyewitnesses accounts tell us that there is an ancient boat on Mt. Ararat which survived a great flood and landed on the mountain. People believed that it is Noah’s Ark. I believe the team has finally located this ancient boat and I believe it is Noah’s Ark.” The Turkish government officials will help further scientific search of NAMI in the future. Attendees will invite the participation of scientists and will be committed to scientific search to reveal the truth of Noah’s Ark. They read and signed a co-operation agreement:


“We, the undersigned, agree to collaborate on scientific search and study related to Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat.
The results are of significance to the whole world in that humankind should cherish its common beliefs and origins.
We believe that the discovery of Noah’s Ark will resolve centuries of national ideological conflict.
We are dedicated to working towards a better, peaceful world.”



Hong Kong people are recognized as Honorable Citizens for the first time

In appreciation of the Hong Kong search team’s dedication and contribution to the Ark search on Mount Ararat in Agri Province and its subsequent discovery, Mr. Murat Güven, Lieutenant Governor of Agri Province announced four of the team members as Honourable Citizens. They are the first foreigners to be recognized this status.





Press Conference:
Ark search on Mount Ararat
Expeditions from Aug 2008 to Oct 2009 were rived with hardships
A breakthrough discovery was made in Oct 2009
During the expedition in Oct 2009, the search team was accompanied by a film crew
The search team camped at 2,800 m above sea level in order to acclimatise
The route leading to the structure has a slope of more than 60 degrees
The Chinese-Turkish exploration team
Mount Ararat is situated in Eastern Turkey
Seven Spaces Revealed
Space 4 - A wooden beam with nails on one side of the wall. It is believed that a rope was hooked on these nails to keep animals in place
Space 4 - Racks were found on a wall
Space 4 - The entranc is very small
Space 5 - A tunnel-like space connects two spaces
Space 5 - Wood has decayed in this space
Space 6 - A door in the ceiling was found. It is concluded that the wooden structure has more than one floor
Space 6 - A few wooden staircases were found inside the structure
Space 7 - The height and width are estimated to be 5 m and 12 m respectively. Square openings were seen above
Space 2 - It is buried under ice and volcanic rocks
Space 2 - In Oct 2009, Panda Lee witnessed a wooden structure at an elevation of more than 4,000 m on Mt. Ararat




CIA Releases New 'Noah's Ark' Documents
Posted Nov. 13, 2002
By Timothy W. Maier  

(1.Also see Lt. Roskovitsky's overflight account in 1916; 2. The Record of Josephus; 3. Marco Polo's Account; 4. George Hagopian Eyewitness Account )

Is it the Ark, or just a piece of rock?

Two years after Insight filed an appeal charging that the CIA withheld documents and imagery concerning the Mount Ararat anomaly in Turkey, the CIA has released two new documents to Insight that indicate the search for "Noah's Ark" reached the level of the White House under former president George H.W. Bush.

The appeal, filed one month after Insight's exclusive story (see "Anomaly or Noah's Ark?"; Nov. 20, 2000), comes on the heels of the CIA's releasing thousands of satellite images, which soon will be available at National Imagery and Mapping Agency Website. It is unclear whether images of
Mount Ararat will be included. Insight's exclusive story marked the first time the public was able to see high-resolution photographs of the anomaly, located at 39 degrees 42 minutes north latitude and 44 degrees 16 minutes east longitude. Insight contracted with Space Imaging to maneuver its IKONOS satellite to zoom in on the anomaly. Afterwards, Insight hired a team of scientists and engineers to examine the pictures and to deterimine whether the object in question was man-made or rock. Four of the experts claim it's man-made, two believe it's rock and one says the evidence is inconclusive.

Unfortunately, the release of the additional records does not offer any more proof of what the object might be, but only raises more questions as to why the CIA continues to hold such records as classified.

One of the records released is a 1995 memo from an agent who had a conversation with John Hanford, then a member of Sen. Richard Lugar's (R-Ind.) staff.
Hanford apparently recalled a White House meeting under the George H.W. Bush administration in which Robert Gates, then National Security director, showed one of the old images of the Mount Ararat area to various people at the meeting. "Mr. Hanford said that imagery showed something sticking out from the ice and snow — but that it could have been almost anything."

The memo was triggered by a newspaper article that suggested
Mount Ararat imagery might be made public under former president Bill Clinton's decision to release historical documents. The CIA agent says in the memo that such imagery "might or might not be included in the declassified materials."

The other record concerned a review the George H.W. Bush administration conducted between 1990 and 1992 concerning
Mount Ararat. The record was in response to former CIA director James Woolsey's requesting what it might cost to undertake a more exhaustive review of all the material. At the time, the price was considered too high to do such a search. Woolsey was told it would take an analyst six months to complete such a study. It appears that study never was completed.

Insight still may receive additional records. The CIA has asked other agencies to review specific records for possible release in the near future. In the meantime, Insight is reviewing its options on whether to pursue in federal court images taken by the CIA with its KH-9 remote-sensing satellite in 1973 and its KH-11 satellite in 1976, 1990 and 1992.

Timothy Maier is a writer for Insight.


"Much of the credit for obtaining the Ararat Anomaly photos goes to Porcher Taylor. The 1949 photo above was released to Mr. Taylor on March, 14, 1995, who requested the DIA photos using the Freedom of Information Act.1989 Ararat Anomaly area While camping on the Western Plateau in 1989, Bob Garbe and I stood just above the Ararat Anomaly."


Close-up view of the 1949 Ararat Anomaly


Lieutenant Roskovitsky, Russian Aviator's Account of the Ark on Ararat:  (Back to Top)

In the summer of 1916, during the thaw, Lieutenant Roskovitsky of the Russian Imperial Air Force noticed a half-frozen lake on the shelf or gully on the side of Mount Ararat while flying high-altitude test to observe Turkish troop movements. As they flew nearer to the lake, he saw a half submerged hull of some sort of ship. He noticed two stubby masts and a flat catwalk along the top. The following excerpts were taken from Berlitz.In Roskovitsky's words (from the New Eden Magazine, California, 1939): "We flew down as close as safety permitted and took several circles around it. We were surprised when we got close to it, at the immense size of the thing, for it was as long as a city block, and would compare very favorably in size to the modern battleships of today. It was grounded on the shore of the lake, with one-fourth underwater. It had been partly dismantled on one side near the front, and on the other side there was a great doorway nearly twenty feet square, but with the other door gone. This seemed quite out of proportion, as even today, ships seldom have doors even half that large ...."He then told his captain who wanted to be flown over the site. The captain stated that it was Noah's Ark and explained the reason for its survival as "frozen up for nine of ten months of the year, it couldn't rot, and has been in cold storage, as it were, all this time .... "The captain forwarded a report back to St. Petersburg resulting in orders from the Tsar to send two engineering companies up the mountain. One group of fifty men attacked one side, and the other group of one hundred men attacked the big mountain from the other side. Two weeks of hard work were required to chop out a trail along the cliffs of the lower part of the mountain, and it was nearly a month before the Ark was reached. Complete measurements were taken, and plans drawn of it, as well as many photographs, all of which were sent to the Tsar. From the magazine article: "The Ark was found to contain hundreds of small rooms, and some rooms that were very large, with high ceilings. The unusually large rooms had a fence of great timbers across them, some of which were two feet thick, as if designed to hold beasts ten times the size of elephants. Other rooms were also lined with tiers of cages, somewhat like what one sees today at a poultry show, only instead of chicken wire, they had rows of small iron bars along the front. Everything was heavily painted with a waxlike paint resembling shellac, and the workmanship of the craft showed all the signs of a high type of civilization. The wood used throughout was oleander, which belongs to the cypress family and never rots; which of course, coupled with the fact of its being frozen most of the time, accounted for its perfect preservation. "The investigation officers sent photographs and reports by courier back to Petrograd, to the personal attention of the Tsar. But Nicholas II apparently never received them during the breakdown of communications that followed the February and October Revolutions of 1917. The results of the investigation have never been found or reported.. A rumor says the results and pictures of the Ark came to the attention of Leon Trotsky, who either destroyed them or placed them in a file destined to be kept permanently secret. And the courier who delivered the news, his silence was sealed with his execution.


Marco Polo's Account: (Back to Top)

  The information for this section has been taken from the book, Marco Polo The Travels, Ronald Latham has translated the story from the Italian version. Marco Polo was born 1254 the son of a Venetian merchant. Marco joined his father on a journey to China in 1271. They spent the next twenty years traveling in the service of Kubilai Khan. Marco was a prisoner of war in Genoa in 1289 - 1290 and met Rustichello of Pisa. Together they wrote The Travels; a product of an observant merchant and a professional romancer. Marco Polo died in 1324 and left his inheritance to his three daughters. Here is a quote from his book with regard to Noah's Ark: "In the heart of Greater Armenia is a very high mountain , shaped like a cube (or cup), on which Noah's ark is said to have rested, whence it is called the Mountain of Noah's Ark. It [the mountain] is so broad and long that it takes more than two days to go around it. On the summit the snow lies so deep all the year round that no one can ever climb it; this snow never entirely melts, but new snow is for ever falling on the old, so that the level rises."

Record of Josephus:  (Back to Top)

5. After this, the ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia; which, when Noah understood, he opened it; and seeing a small piece of land about it, he continued quiet, and conceived some cheerful hopes of deliverance. But a few days afterward, when the water was decreased to a greater degree, he sent out a raven, as desirous to learn whether any other part of the earth were left dry by the water, and whether he might go out of the ark with safety; but the raven, finding all the land still overflowed, returned to Noah again. And after seven days he sent out a dove, to know the state of the ground; which came back to him covered with mud, and bringing an olive branch: hereby Noah learned that the earth was become clear of the flood. So after he had staid seven more days, he sent the living creatures out of the ark; and both he and his family went out, when he also sacrificed to God, and feasted with his companions. However, the Armenians call this place, (GREEK) (16) The Place of Descent; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day.

6. Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berosus the Chaldean. For when he is describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: "It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs." Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same. Nay, Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them; where he speaks thus: "There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses the legislator of the Jews wrote." Antiquities, Book I.



George Hagopian(Back to Top)


  George Hagopian has first hand knowledge of the ark. As a young child, he walked along the Ark's planks with his uncle. Artist, Elfred Lee, drew this picture of the Ark as directed by George Hagopian. The following excerpt is from Charles Berlitz, The Lost Ship of Noah , which details the fascinating story.
"He was eight years old, Hagopian said, and it was in the year 1908 [note: another account says the year was 1905 and Hagopian was 10 years old] when his uncle took him up Ararat, past Ahora Gorge, passing the grave of St. Jacob on the way. As the mountain grew more precipitous his uncle carried him on his shoulders until they came to something that looked like a great ship located on a rock ledge over a cliff and partially covered by snow. It had flat openings like windows along the top and a hole in the roof. Hagopian had first thought it was a house made of stone but when his uncle showed him the outline of planks and told him it was made of wood he realized it was the Ark, just like the other people had described it to him. His uncle boosted him up from a rock pile to reach the Ark roof telling him not to be afraid, "because it is a holy ship ..." (and) "the animals and people are not here now. They have all gone away." Hagopian climbed on the roof and knelt down and kissed the surface of the roof which was flat and easy to stand on.
  While they stood alongside the Ark his uncle shot into the side of it but the bullets bounced off as if it were made of stone. He then tried to cut off a piece of the wood with a sharp knife and was equally unsuccessful. On this first visit to the Ark they spent two hours there looking at it and eating some of their provisions. When Hagopian returned to his village eager to tell the other boys about his adventure they replied, rather anticlimactically, "Yes, we saw the Ark too."
  Hagopian died in 1972. Since he was unable to read maps with any accuracy he was unable to pinpoint on a map of the mountain where it was that he had seen and climbed on the Ark. He consistently told his interrogators that if he could get back to Mount Ararat he could lead a party to the Ark. Although his testimony was successfully approved by voice-stress analysis, it is not unusual that reports such as this , from a single person, even if firsthand, have been discredited because of lack of corroboratory evidence from others."


Anomaly or Noah's Ark? (Back to Top)

During a routine U.S. Air Force mission over Turkey on June, 17, 1949, cameras captured something strange on the northwest corner of the Western Plateau of Mount Ararat at about 15,500 feet. The excited fliers thought they had stumbled on the ruins of Noah's Ark. According to the Book of Genesis, the first in the Bible, the Ark "came to rest on the mountains of Ararat" after spending 150 days at sea.

Their superiors reviewed the film, wrote a report and filed it under "Ararat Anomaly," where it remained classified as "Secret" for half a century. In 1993, Porcher Taylor began asking hard questions about the file. Taylor is a scholar at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies specializing in satellite intelligence and diplomacy. He also is a professor of law at the University of Richmond Law School and knows how to ask questions.

To Taylor's amazement, this professional scholar discovered that in addition to the 1949 military film footage there also were classified photographs of the anomaly snapped by a U-2 spy plane in 1956, high-resolution images taken by the CIA in 1973 using a KH-9 military remote-sensing satellite and even more sophisticated images obtained by the CIA from flyovers in 1976, 1990 and 1992 by an advanced KH-11 satellite.

Indeed, Taylor found evidence of images of the Mount Ararat Anomaly spanning nearly 50 years - and all of it classified. After many thwarted attempts to learn why, Taylor filed Freedom of Information Act requests, which also were rejected. That is, until the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington released six photo frames from the 1949 military footage.

To Taylor and others in search of Noah's Ark, the images were stunning - even though made too far away to determine whether this was a man-made structure or a rock slab. The only way to make sure was either to climb the mountain - which Ark explorers have attempted over many decades, only to be restricted routinely by the Turkish government - or to pursue alternative means to obtain images the U.S. government has held under lock and key for 51 years. Until recently, the access to such images was strictly limited.

Now, thanks to government decisions to allow commercial uses of previously classified technologies, high-resolution satellite cameras are finding their way into the private sector for such uses as mapping geological formations that may reveal underground oil reserves, sunken treasure ships or ancient roadways buried under thousands of years of dust.

One of the beneficiaries of this private-sector conversion is Space Imaging, based in Denver. Frustrated in his quest for answers from the U.S. government, Taylor came to Insight with the idea of buying time from Space Imaging, which has the world's only high-resolution, remote-sensing, commercial-satellite cameras capable of shooting images at 1-meter spatial resolution. When the U.S. military and intelligence agencies also denied Insight access to the official images of the Mount Ararat Anomaly, this magazine contracted with Space Imaging to photograph the Western Plateau. Because so many federal agencies for so long have kept secret whatever is atop Mount Ararat, Insight prepared to report the contents of those satellite photos regardless of what they showed.

Serving as a space-based Indiana Jones, the IKONOS satellite was tasked to explore whatever lay buried under so many centuries of mystery and intrigue. And, just as in the Indiana Jones movies starring Harrison Ford, the Space Imaging/Insight team had a map to help locate what some believe on faith to be the biblical Ark. Ironically, in 1995 a senior Pentagon official had confided to Taylor the then-secret coordinates of the Mount Ararat Anomaly at 39 degrees 42 minutes 10 seconds north longitude and 44 degrees 16 minutes 30 seconds east latitude.

The Space Imaging/Insight team began work in secret to get IKONOS positioned to zoom its supersophisticated lens to within 100 yards of the coordinates Taylor had obtained from military sources. The results, about a half-dozen digital images, proved to be stunning - with an amazing clarity and definition none dared even hope for when the project started.

IKONOS snapped a series of photos sufficient for analytical purposes, with the best shots taken on Aug. 5, 11 and 30 and Sept. 13. Space Imaging also located in its archives an Oct. 5, 1999 shot of the approximate area, which Taylor purchased for the project. That shot proved significant because it helped identify snow melt as well as shadowing.

Even Ark explorers who have been adamant that the 1949 anomaly is not a man-made structure will be hard-pressed not to be excited at the chance to review the entire IKONOS digital imagery for other areas on the mountain that can be enlarged for further scientific study.

One of the most difficult problems in photographing the Mount Ararat Anomaly was getting a cloud-free picture, as well as enough melt of the snow and ice to expose the anomaly. Space Imaging guarantees 80 percent cloud-free photos, which is why it took four months for IKONOS to obtain the contracted images.

Luck, though, was on Insight's side, because this summer Turkey experienced some of the hottest temperatures in 60 years. Even the thick cloud cover that drapes the mountain disappeared for a few critical days and, as a result, IKONOS had several direct hits - including cloud-free images and enough snow melt clearly to photograph the anomaly stuck in the northwest ledge of the Western Plateau.

That surprised experienced Ark searcher John McIntosh, who managed to get Turkey's permission to climb 7,000 feet of Mount Ararat in late August but was unable to see the Western Plateau anomaly. He says Ark searchers never had seen it before because it always seemed to be "buried deep in snow and ice." But IKONOS found enough of it exposed to snap brilliant bird's-eye images of a three-piece object perched on a ledge in the same general position on the mountain that Sir John Chardin described in his 1711 book, Travels in Persia.

While in the IKONOS shots snow consumes the surrounding mountain terrain, there indeed does appear to be a broken-up rectangular object that juts from the snow as if it had different thermal characteristics, or the snow somehow had failed to fall on that one oddly angled strip of the mountain. When Space Imaging brought up the pictures on its computers, a crowd of curious employees gathered around to see the magnificent digital details. All wanted to know: Did IKONOS find Noah's Ark?

Indeed, it is a question with no easy answer - at least not yet. But history is in the making. Based on the surrounding terrain, geologists, image analysts and former CIA agents confirmed to Insight that the anomaly IKONOS hit is the same object pictured in the now-declassified 1949 Air Force photos supplied to Taylor and, according to military and intelligence sources in the federal government, which also was observed by the CIA in its KH-9 hits in 1973. While the military spy satellite KH-11 provides digital images six times sharper than the IKONOS images, with a resolution capability of six inches - close enough, perhaps, to detect license-plate numbers from space - the IKONOS imagery is dazzling compared with its declassified Mount Ararat predecessors, such as the French SPOT imagery from September 1989, LANDSAT imagery from the 1970s and NASA's Space Shuttle imagery from 1994.

However, Space Imaging is the first to offer 1-meter resolution, compared to the 2- to 5-meter resolution of its predecessors. The difference is notable when conducting analysis because there is less shadow and greater detail.

John Copple, chief executive officer of Space Imaging, says his firm soon may be the first company to produce 0.5-meter resolution images from space. In fact, Insight has learned that the National Security Council has approved the Space Imaging application. "We have a way to visualize information," Harris says. "We're in powerful demand with governments all over the world."

The success of IKONOS broke nationally in January with such a crisp shot of Washington, D.C., that nearly every federal building was identifiable. It also assisted authorities in tracking the forest wildfires in the West this summer and is involved in other contracts with the federal government because U.S. satellites are being overtasked, according to intelligence sources. Space Imaging had the confidence and professionalism even to enter virgin territory, as the IKONOS lens inquired into one of the greatest archaeological mysteries of ancient times.

Taylor and Insight provided the spectacular IKONOS imagery and the declassified 1949 Air Force photos to a team of independent scientists and imagery analysts assembled for this project. Each of the experts was asked a simple question: What is it? In turn, the experts provided oral and written reports detailing their observations. None were paid or provided with information about the analyses of other experts. The team consisted of Clifford Paiva, a retired senior physicist and satellite imagery analyst of the U.S. Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center, Countermeasures Technologies Applications Branch; Farouk El-Baz, who heads the prestigious Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University; Peter K. Hsu, a forensic Naval engineer who worked on the Titanic and Bismarck forensic teams for National Geographic; Brad Miller, an experienced mechanical and manufacturing engineer skilled in evaluating spatial representation of 3-D objects; David Barak, a digital-imaging expert who worked as a military-photo and submarine target-recognition interpreter for the U.S. Navy; and Roman Gomez, a digital-imagery expert formerly with Dicomed, a leading U.S. supplier of electronic hardware.

The final team member was a senior Pentagon intelligence contractor in the reconnaissance field who asked for anonymity to avoid being caught up in the expected controversy over the anomaly.

Indeed, controversy already has erupted as news about the Insight project has seeped out in advance of publication. E-mail messages and telephone calls have come in from around the world concerning what may or may not have been found. And it seems likely the views of the independent experts assembled by Insight will only begin the debate about the images and stunning assessments.

For now, specifically: The object appears to be about 534 feet in length and 80 to 98 feet wide. Its height could not be measured because it is unclear how deep it is seated into the snow and ice. Still, the measurements are comparable to the Ark described in Genesis - 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Biblical scholars say a cubit is about 20 inches, which would make the Ark about 500 feet long, 83 feet wide and 50 feet high.

There still is no certainty about what the anomaly is, but four of the experts say it could be man-made; two believe it's a rock; and one calls the evidence inconclusive. Gomez says the 1-meter resolution is not high enough to make a final determination, although his review of just the 1949 photographs suggests it may be man-made because, he says, nothing like it appears to exist elsewhere on the mountain.

While Paiva says it could be "geological," he tells Insight it is more likely a man-made structure because of the 90-degree angles. He also notes that there is "nearly 300 feet depth of ice i in the anomaly area, easily burying an object" the size of the Ark.

Likewise, Hsu says "it is too linear to be a rock. It could be a man-made object. The resting place has moved because half of it is on one edge. But, whatever it is, it does resemble a structure." One of Hsu's theories is that a glacier may have rolled the "structure" to its current resting place, while others say either the volcanic eruption of 1840 or the earthquake of 1883 could have split the structure into two or three pieces.

Miller's calculations also suggest the anomaly has moved. "In the 1949 photo the eastern part of the anomaly appeared to be higher than the western portion. In the 2000 IKONOS photos, the eastern part appears lower than the western part. This indicates that the anomaly has moved slightly over the years. That is encouraging because, if it is true, then at least the anomaly is not a part of the mountain but is made of some foreign matter, as it has moved in relation to the ridgeline," says Miller.

While Paiva believes the anomaly could be artifacts of a village or town of some 3,000 years ago that have been broken into large pieces and scattered across the Western Plateau, El-Baz is convinced it's nothing more than a rock slab. After consulting with Bradford Washburn III, the honorary director of the Boston Museum of Science, and Mutlu Ozdogan, a doctoral candidate at Boston University and Turkish citizen, El-Baz remains convinced it`s a natural land formation. "It's a high notch on the ledge that is covered by snow and ice. There is nothing peculiar or unnatural here," he says. "It is a high notch on that continuous ledge. However, there is no way of telling what is beneath that rock surface."

Barak says it's more than a notch. "Over the 51 years since the anomaly was photographed by the U.S. Air Force in 1949, the position, orientation and size of the object have remained constant," he notes. "This suggests that it's not just a snow cliff or other snow formation that's subject to melting or drift, but something much more stable."

As Barak sees it, "Based on the orientation and shape of the anomaly, it doesn't appear to be a part of the natural terrain. It's not oriented in any natural-appearing way with the rest of the terrain and the shape doesn't suggest that it's a large stone broken away from the rest of the mountain. The most recent [IKONOS] photos show a significant melt of the usual snow cover on the Western Plateau of Mount Ararat. In fact, the snow has melted right up to the edge of the anomaly. Judging from the appearance of the anomaly and the way the snow melted, it's apparent that the anomaly is made of a different material than the surrounding terrain."

He adds: "If you look at [1949 Air Force frame 2] there appears to be a slight overhang of ice and snow, with the dark area below being shadows cast by a vertical face. If this is the case, then the vertical face should be as dark as the shadows, as both would be in shadow. This leads me to believe that this is in fact a solid convex object, not a concave notch in the snow and rock. It's the same feature that shows up in the IKONOS images."

El-Baz, however, maintains that the ice sheets at the site of the anomaly and elsewhere on the mountain flanks have been fractured to form crevasses. He says the setting of the anomaly is due "to shadowing effects, and the parallel striations are a result of snow accumulations by wind action much like linear dunes in deserts over massive ice sheets."

Barak disagrees and says that the "thermal characteristics are different" than the stone and dirt in the area and "the color and reflective properties are different." Even the shadows don't seem to make sense because some of these didn't line up with other shadows, he notes. For that to be true, the "sun would apparently have shone down from two different directions." He concludes: "Yes, based on the photos, I would lean toward it being man-made."

No way, counters El-Baz: "There is no anomaly. The displayed features are part of the natural setting that might characterize any high-elevation peak, such as that of Mount Ararat or any glacier in a mountainous area."

Paiva disagrees. "There is an anomaly up there," he says firmly. While Paiva - who had access to the 1973 KH-9 and 1976 KH-11 hits but refuses to talk about what's in those images because they are classified - he isn't buying the denials. "There's something up there and that's the only issue," he says. "I'm not saying it's the Ark. But there is something up there."

Hsu says the predominant features suggest the shape of a structure below might be man-made. "The most interesting feature is that some of them appeared to form an almost-90-degree edge, similar to a boxlike structure," he says. "They appear strongly, suggesting that man-made structures are underneath the snow, in particular, and when triangulated with the 1949 DIA photo since they all appear consistent."

El-Baz was not alone in his dissent. By using a computer to remove shadows from the IKONOS Sept. 13 shot, you could see three croppings, says the Pentagon intelligence contractor. "Upon consulting with terrain analysts, we both agree that it is a rock or a geological formation. We even got a name for the formation - it's called `Arett.' I don't know why anyone thinks this is special. When we took the shadow out we could see the snowcap and the cliff, and broken away down the hill is very rough rubble."

Asked if they are 100-percent sure, the source replied: "It's probably geological. But there is no way to confirm it with 1-meter resolution."

The only way to settle the dispute is to have Congress work out a scientific expedition with Turkey, says Hsu. "Turkey should request the U.S. to fly [a team] down in the name of science," says Hsu. "If it turns out to be a rock or man-made, it doesn't matter. We can do a lot of science together."

But don't expect that to happen anytime soon, even though Turkish Brig. Gen. Salih Centinkaya, formerly Ankara's military attache in Washington, says the Turkish people long have believed something of great archaeological significance is at the location of the Western Plateau anomaly. Yet the House International Relations Committee's endorsement of a resolution recognizing the 1915-1923 killings of Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman Empire as genocide could jeopardize any joint U.S.-Turkey expeditions for years. The ongoing war with Kurdish guerrillas in eastern Turkey also has made it difficult to get access to Mount Ararat, which has been under military rule since 1990. Even McIntosh, who was held up at gunpoint by terrorists during one of his climbs, fears Turkey now may implement sanctions against the U.S. that could stop his Ark search team, which hopes to launch another expedition next summer.

Despite the IKONOS imagery, next summer's expedition will not focus on the Western Plateau as a high priority, says Liberty University professor James Hall, who plans to go to Turkey to seek permits for next summer's climb. Hall's area of interest is east of the Western Plateau, in the Ahora Gorge. Most Ark explorers, including McIntosh and late astronaut Col. James Irwin, have concentrated in the Ahora Gorge because Armenian shepherd George Hagopian and U.S. Army Sgt. Ed Davis, both deceased, claimed independently to have seen the Ark in that area, though skeptics say their stories were inconsistent as to where and what they saw.

McIntosh claims he found an odd-looking rectangular shape in the gorge similar to one where Davis said he saw the Ark but reports he couldn't get close enough to identify what it may be.

"Our take is that the Western Plateau area is not where the Ark is," Hall says. "We feel all the evidence - the more viable evidence - points to the Ahora Gorge. But, Hall says, the Western Plateau anomaly should not be ruled out completely until someone goes up there and touches it.

As for the ruins of Noah's Ark surviving 5,000 years or more, Paiva chuckles at the thought. "I can't tell you it's the Ark," he says. "C'mon."

But could it? Miller says it could. "Although wood deteriorates over time, after a period of about 1,000 years the object will gradually slow its deterioration rate and any material not deteriorated at this time will tend to be more resilient to natural forces," he advises. "The Bible says Noah built the Ark of gopher wood, which many scholars believe is a form of cypress or cedar. The experience of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory shows high natural-decay resistance for both cypress and cedar woods."

Coating the Ark with a thick pitch, Miller adds, could have had the effect of preserving the organic wood - similar to the preservation of the 5,000- year-old Iceman found fully intact in 1991 under a melting glacier in Austria. 
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