Friday, March 10, 2006

Still Looking

Live Science reports on a habit that dies hard:

High on Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey, there is a baffling mountainside "anomaly," a feature that one researcher claims may be something of biblical proportions.

Images taken by aircraft, intelligence-gathering satellites and commercial remote-sensing spacecraft are fueling an intensive study of the intriguing oddity.

But whether the anomaly is some geological quirk of nature, playful shadows, a human-made structure of some sort, or simply nothing at all—that remains to be seen.


Whatever it is, the anomaly of interest rests at 15,300 feet (4,663 meters) on the northwest corner of Mt. Ararat, and is nearly submerged in glacial ice.

It would be easy to call it merely a strange rock formation.
But at least one man wonders if it could be the remains of Noah's Ark—a vessel said to have been built to save people and selected animals from the Great Flood, the 40 days and 40 nights of deluge as detailed in the Book of Genesis...
Whatever the anomaly is (and obviously I don't know - that's what scientists are for) the current search is simply the latest in a very long line of people looking for the most famous boat in history. Many claims (like sightings by locals, Russian Pilots, and seemingly a squillion others) but very little evidence have been brought down from Ararat, which may or may not even be the correct mountain to be looking on. Every couple years Noah's Ark makes the news cycle; it even makes National Geographic on occasion.

The search, of course, is nothing new. 2000 years ago, Flavius Josephus (Antiquities, Book I, Ch. 3) had the following to say:

After this, the ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia... the Armenians call this place, The Place of Descent; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day.

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."
Of course, it's just like mankind to cut the boat up into pieces for good luck charms, and even several thousand years ago it had the feel of myth (not 'untrue' myth, but 'long ago and far away' myth). Given that even the ancients found the existence of the ark the stuff of myth and legends, I would be very surprised if the baffling mountaintop anomaly under study turns out to be something other than a strange rock formation.

No comments: