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Could Noah's ark really have happened?

Noah's Ark -- Evidence of No Evidence?

Genesis says that God instructed Noah to build an ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits tall. That translates to just under an acre in square footage (4046 square meters), as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Noah would have constructed the ark from wood, but the specific type is debatable since different translations specify different types. Whatever the case, it would have been huge. Because of the size and the technology -- or lack thereof -- at the time, wood experts don't think the literal ark could have withstood sailing [source: Bowen].

mount ararat
Martin Gray/Getty Images
Mount Ararat in Turkey, the Biblical landing site of Noah's Ark.

Nevertheless, in the past 20 years many news stories have popped up regarding a discovery of the biblical boat. In 1993, CBS aired a documentary called "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark" that unveiled the spectacular findings of wood from the ark. Guide George Jammal described his sighting of it to viewers and showed off a souvenir piece from it. But the alleged evidence in the documentary was a sham. Jammal's so-called ark wood was a fake, and he concocted his story.

Back at the Black Sea, in 1999, famed underwater explorer Robert Ballard, who found the sunken Titanic, set out to prove the "Noah's Flood Hypothesis." Going on the idea that the ark could be at the bottom of the Black Sea, he attempted to find it but was unsuccessful. In addition, carbon dating on artifacts pulled up from the depths showed that they were too recent to come from Noah's time.

Mount Ararat in Turkey has long been the focal point of biblical archeologists. Photos of the top of Ararat taken by the CIA and filed under "Ararat Anomaly" were classified for many years until a Freedom of Information Act released some of them in 1999. They highlight a large dark spot peculiar to the naked eye, fueling some people's beliefs that the ark rests there frozen in ice. That theory has since come up short. Experts claim that a glacier would have actually pushed the Ark out and down the mountain, rather than cause it to remain stationary [source: Discovery Channel and BBC].

Satellite photographs from Mount Suleiman in the Elburuz mountain range in Iran taken by the Bible Archeology Search and Exploration Institute held yet another possible location for the ark. Members thought a rock formation captured on film was actually petrified wood from the ark. However, there is no evidence of the joints or beams one would expect with a handmade boat [source: Ravilous].

One of the main reasons for the absence of ark evidence is that it simply wouldn't survive. Wood would likely last only a few centuries [source: Ravilous]. Also, it would take an impossible amount of rain to land a boat at a 13,000-foot-plus altitude (3,962 meters), further negating the possibility of finding ark remnants at the top of Ararat or any other mountain.

Although no scientifically conclusive evidence yet exists for Noah's ark, expedition teams will continue to gather funding to extend their quests. Until then, read the links on the next page for more information on Noah's Ark and other biblical mysteries.

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