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|The search for Noah's ark: one man's obsession|
Seeking answers: Dr Roberts near the site in Turkey, where he believes Noah's ark has come to rest.
"And the ark rested in the seventh month,
on the 17th day of the month, upon
the mountains of Ararat" genesis 8:4
Here I Was to complete the last kilometer of a journey which had begun in my mind 30 years ago and had brought me halfway around the world to this place and this moment... Suddenly we topped the rise - and there it was. A gigantic mud-covered formation , the shape of a boat, in a valley at 2000 meters altitude. In spite of the blistering Turkish heat, I was almost frozen into immobility by what I saw."
DR Allen Roberts of Sydney, wrote these excited words after his first visit to a remote, barren region of north-eastern Turkey. He believed that the site,in a valley near Mount Ararat, could be the resting place of the biblical ark that carried Noah and his friends during the Great flood.
Exploration of the area, known to the local Kurdish people as "Akyayla", had become a passion for 59 year old Dr Roberts - the highlight of a life dedicated to historical research.
He is not a qualified archeologist, but a highly qualified historian. Recently retired, the search for the ark has become his obsession.
"He has always loved history but I've never seen him so excited as he was after his first visit to the site," says his wife, Margaret.
It is more than 30 years since Dr Roberts learned of the formation from an article published in 'Life' magazine. It had been discovered about 1948 when it was thrust up to the earth's surface by an earthquake, but little was heard of it until the 'Life' story.
Even then, archeologists paid it scant attention. Dr Roberts believed that was because the region was dangerous and because it was covered by snow eight months a year.
He had a strong desire to investigate it. But family and work commitments prevented that, and he followed progress at the site from afar until last year.
Dr Ron Wyatt [well known for his Noah's ark expeditions] meanwhile began exploring the Akyayla site in 1977.
"It attracted Ron's attention because the formation was in the mountains of Ararat, and the altitude was consistent scientifically with the flood story,"said Mrs Wyatt, speaking from her home in Nashville this week.
Mrs Wyatt says her husband and other experts have now done every type of scientific testing that can be done on the site without actual excavation.
Several years ago they discovered material that convinced them the formation was made by humans and that it contained the remains of a ship encapsulated in the lava flow.
Fossilized timber was found at the site, and the investigators believe it is "laminated", like plywood. Metal rivets have been detected by sub-surface radar at regular intervals along the formation.
Mr Chris Roberts says his father wont say the formation is the Noah's ark, preferring it to be fully investigated first. "But there is an incredible amount of evidence to suggest it is a boat", Mr Roberts says. "If it's not the ark, what is it, and what is it doing at that altitude?"
Mr John McNicol is from the Canberra-based Noah's ark Research Foundation, which was set up last year to fund Dr Roberts' studies. He says another reason for the lack of exploration is the conflict between Christians who believe in the theory of evolution and those who believe in the theory of creation.
"If you are a theologian who believes in the theory of evolution, you cannot believe in the ark.
Why confirmation has not come
Confirmation of a worldwide flood and the ark would force a redating of the geological record, and therefore disprove secular evolution.
Henry Morris, director of the Creation-Science Research Center located in San Diego, California wrote: "The confirmed discovery of the Ark would have worldwide repercussions.
"It would provide conclusive evidence confirming the global nature of the Flood, and thus the mortal blow to any further belief that evolution is a scientific theory."
Apparently it is not in the interests to science to have a confirmation of the ark/flood.
Click to enlarge.