Noah's Ark - Have they found it this time?
Ah, so they’ve found Noah’s Ark again. Is this Ark no.1 or Ark no.2 or…oh, I don’t know, I give up.
Controversy is raging around the world over the reported discovery of the Ark, 4,800 years after it is believed to have come to rest on a mountain in Turkey. There have been claims before that the Ark had been discovered on Mt Ararat after a huge boat-like structure of what was thought to have been petrified wood, was found by religious groups – but that ‘Ark’ has been largely dismissed as a natural geographical look-alike.
Now a team of fundamentalist Christians say they have ‘99.9 percent’ evidence they have found the Ark’s final resting place. Digging underground on the slopes of Mt Ararat, they say they have found chambers where the two-by-two animals that Noah is recorded in the Bible as taking on board before a great flood swept the land were kept.
It is said that if the group really have found the Ark, it would be the greatest coup in the history of archaelogy. Terrific. Inspiring. We all want to believe it.
But I, for one, dragged to my local Baptist church by relatives when I was younger and where I learned virtually every Old and New Testament story back to front, have my doubts that this is the Ark. Common sense in my older wisdom tells me that a ship that could hold two of each animal species from the Middle East – let alone the world – would have to be enormous.
All right, so Noah, warned by God that a huge flood was coming, set about building his Ark. Where on earth did he find all those long planks, the length of a football field, that would be required to make a huge boat? How did he make it totally waterproof? Boatbuilders say that keeping out leaks in a wooden boat that size would be a huge problem. Water seeping, or perhaps pouring, in would make the vessel unstable and just think of the size of the rudder that would be needed to keep a straight course – an army of men would be needed to manoeuvre it.
Mike Pitt, a British archaeologist, notes that if there had been a flood capable of lifting a huge ship some 4km up the side of a mountain 4,800 years ago, there would have to be substantial geological evidence for this flood around the world. And there isn’t.
The story of Noah and his Ark is in the Book of Genesis and relates how God commanded him to build the vast ship for himself, his family and ‘two of every sort of animal’. Then we learn how the flood waters rose until all life, except fish, is destroyed.
The question then arises, says Oxford University lecturer Nicholas Purcel, how the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already centuries old, survived.
Perhaps the ‘new’ Ark, will give us some answers. Unless it turns out to be the remnants of an ancient mountain hut.
But as I said earlier, I want to believe…I really do.