What would it mean to the world today if convincing evidence of the discovery of Noah’s Ark was to be produced by archaeologists?

Would it cause people to re-evaluate their most basic assumptions about Creation, about God, about the Bible?

Or would the news be received as a mere curiosity — a historical footnote at the end of the secularized 20th century?

Next year, the world just may get the answers to those questions.

Archaeologist Dr. James Hall, the founder of Ark Research Ministries, recently returned from a sojourn to northeast Turkey to lay the groundwork for a final assault on Mount Ararat — long believed to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

“We in Western Civilization have moved into the post-Christian era,” says Hall. “As such, the long tradition of academics, religious people and professional adventurers searching for Noah’s Ark has come to an abrupt halt. To me, this is appalling.”

According to Hall, the purpose of ARM is to “conduct research into locating the legendary Noah’s Ark of the Bible.” ARM is a tax-exempt corporation.

“The revelation of the existence of such an archaeological and religious object would be of utmost scientific, religious and educational value to the people of the U.S. and the world,” says Hall, a former professor of archaeology at Liberty University. During Hall’s recent journey to eastern Turkey, he and several ARM team members traveled to the infamous “Durupinar” or “Ark Shape” site. Bright yellow tourist signs written in Turkish reading: “Nuhun Gemisi 5” or “Noah’s Ark 5 km” led the team on their trek — while under the protection of Turkish Special Forces soldiers.

Hall and his team had been invited to Turkey to participate in an academic conference entitled “Noah’s Flood and The First Settlement.” The conference was held at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey between October 1 -11.

Matt Kneisler, a technical engineer assisting Hall, said the team members came under live fire from Iranian troops stationed near the Turkish border. Additional danger took the form in PKK terrorists of the Kurdish Workers Party, a Marxist group which seeks to overthrow the moderate Sunni (and secular) Turkish government.

“During the Cold War, the Ark and Mount Ararat was off limits because of U.S. problems with the Soviets,” says Hall. “Today, Mount Ararat’s proximity to Iran, Iraq, Syria and the PKK have combined to set up new obstacles to exploring the area.”

That the PKK is targeting foreign tourists like Kneisler in the destabilization campaign is a well-documented tragedy — not unlike recent similar events in Egypt.

“Yet we were able to travel to some ancient grave sites, and there is strong evidence that we are on the verge of uncovering early civilizations established by Noah’s son Shem,” said Kneisler.

“What impressed me as a visitor to Eastern Turkey was the amount of historical treasure that is located in the various areas we visited. These people have no problem believing the story of Noah and the Flood. Christians, Jews and Moslems all hold Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood as a true, literal and historic event,” adds Kneisler. “There are similar versions of Noah’s Ark story in virtually every culture on earth – from the Aborigines in Australia to the Nordic legends to the tales of the American Indians.”

Furthermore, says Hall: “Jesus specifically said in Luke Chapter 17 that Noah, the Ark and the Flood were real events — not just a well-meaning fable with a moral.”

ARM team member Mark Jenkins believes that an Islamic revival among the moderate Sunni Moslems of Turkey (as opposed to the more radical Shiites of Iran), has increased interest among the Turkish governmental, military and academic communities to continue searching for Noah’s Ark.

Inspired by the successes of his recent trip to Ararat, Hall is busy assembling an elite expeditionary force to make a final, daring and definitive climb in August 1999. August is the month when the mountain is most hospitable.

“We hope to use a NATO Blackhawk helicopter with ground-penetrating radar equipment on several possible sites,” says Hall. Many students of Noah’s Ark believe that the Ark may have split apart into two distinct pieces which are now both under ice. As such, the use of new technologies is paramount to ARM’s mission.

Hall said that Rep. Steve Largent, R-OK, a devout born-again Christian, has been assisting ARM in trying to get declassified CIA and NSA satellite photos of Mount Ararat as intelligence data for the August 1999 expedition.

“Recent scientific discoveries in Namibia show a ‘Big Bang’ or sudden quantum leap forward in biological development,” says Hall. “Similarly, new discoveries by the Hubbell telescope show that the universe is nowhere near as old as astronomers once claimed it to be. So now we are clearly seeing that technology and science sometimes actually lean towards the creationism account in the Bible.”

Hall added that, “If we can prove the Ark is really there in Turkey, it means that you and I are not descended from apes. If it’s found to be the Ark of the Bible, then it will be a wake up call to the world.”

While the idea of searching for Noah’s Ark in the first place might seem extremist in post-Christian America, it should be noted that for most of the past 5,000 years, the story of Noah’s Ark has been accepted apriori by the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans.

Renowned men such as Marco Polo and the Roman historian Josephus documented the existence of the Ark in both their travels and writings. In his authoritative book the “Antiquities of the Jews,” compiled in 100 AD, Josephus writes: “The Ark landed on a mountaintop in Armenia. The Armenians call that spot ‘The Landing Place,’ for it was there the Ark came safe to land, and they show relics of it even today.” In more modern times, the Aug. 10, 1883, edition of the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page headline entitled “Noah’s Ark Found,” after the Turkish government announced it had uncovered the Ark with the help of a British mercenary.

This shocking discovery led Prince Nouri, the Archdeacon of Babylon, to make a journey to the summit of Mount Ararat. On April 25, 1887, Nouri excitedly wrote that he “found the Ark wedged in the rocks and half-filled with snow and ice.”

Afterward, Prince Nouri returned to the West and tried to organize financial support to bring the Ark to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. However, Prince Nouri soon died of pneumonia — taking with him his secret route to Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.

Other major sightings of the Ark include that of George Hagopian, who climbed atop the vessel in 1902 as a young boy. Russian aviator Vladimir Roskovitsky saw the Ark in 1916, and led a reconnaissance expedition comprised of two companies of the Czar’s finest soldiers to the site. The recon party took measurements and photos of Noah’s Ark, but these materials were destroyed within days of the communist revolution against the Czar’s Romanov family in Russia.

The famous world traveler Robert Ripley of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” went to great lengths to document the location of Noah’s tomb near Damascus, Syria. Ripley has claimed to have found the anchors of Noah’s Ark in the North Africa’s Tunisia.

In July of 1955, French explorer Fernand Navarra, along with his 12-year-old son Raphael, found wooden beams in a deep crevasse on Mount Ararat.

However, “The Carbon 14 dating of Navarra’s wood dated it back only to the time of Christ,” says a legendary archaeology professor Bruce Cresson of Baylor University. Some critics argue that C-14 dating is not reliable for materials which have been under salt water for long periods of time, and that further tests are still required.

More recent attempts to find the Ark were undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s by former Apollo astronaut James Irwin and John Morris, who appeared in the popular 1976 film “The Search for Noah’s Ark” by Sun Pictures International.

Will Dr. Hall and his elite team of heady Bible-believers be able to pull off the “find of the Millennium?” In addition to braving the avalanches, poisonous snakes, bitter cold, avalanches, bandits, PKK terrorists and militant Iranian recon parties, this group of Indiana Jones wanna-bes will have to face an even greater foe — the Byzantine Maze of bureaucratic red tape associated with gaining permission to climb Mount Ararat.

“Noah’s Ark might well be up there under the ice somewhere,” says ARM team member B. J. Corbin, who has made four trips to Mount Ararat. “Despite the risks and obstacles, we definitely see this as the adventure of a lifetime.”

Certainly Mr. Corbin is not alone in his zeal. The idea of one righteous man — Noah — escaping God’s judgment of a wicked world, while at the same time rescuing a pair of baby koalas, elephants, kittens and all else there is to love in the animal kingdom has inspired boundless generations for many different reasons. For example, the battleship Oregon — the flagship of the U.S. naval fleet — was designed by George W. Dickie, who used the exact same ratio of length to width to depth as Noah’s Ark.

Will the discovery of the Ark serve as a sign to a Western world which has fallen into unbelief? Or at best will the search for Noah’s vessel serve as an initiator for a new era of cooperation between Christians, Jews and Muslims? Perhaps it is fair to wonder that even if Noah’s Ark is discovered and documented, will it be trivialized along with issues like the militias, the New World Order, Monica and the O.J. trial?

“Just as long as I don’t see my photo on the cover of one of those supermarket tabloids reading, ‘Try My New Noah’s Ark Diet — I lost Twenty Pounds Searching for Noah’s Ark,'” says Mark Jenkins, who works as a documentary film producer.

“People who understand the concept of righteous believers preparing to survive God’s judgment in this age are far closer to Noah’s message than those who climb Mount Ararat in search of Noahian relics,” says Pastor Jung Min Kim of First Baptist Church in Seoul, South Korea. “Still, I wish I could go explore with them — wouldn’t anyone?”

“I think that it is vital that we keep searching for Noah’s Ark in the footsteps of our brave and faith-filled predecessors,” adds Mr. Jenkins. “By doing so, we will carry the torch of Judeo-Christian civilization into the year 2000 A. D. and beyond. What’s life without a little adventure?”

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