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Noah’s Ark

Have we discovered Noah’s ark? No. Thanks.

We haven’t discovered Noah’s ark and, in my opinion, I don’t think we are likely to ever find it. That doesn’t stop people from going to look every single year. If you read the newspaper accounts, not only does somebody go out and find it every year or go looking for it, but somebody actually finds it every year. It’s amazing how many times Noah’s ark has been found! So, it used to be that my wife’s grandmother would call me up and say, “You know Eric, they found Noah’s ark!” and I would say, “Again?” That’s what it seemed like. 

I tried to address this, I wrote a book a couple of years ago called From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible and one of the chapters is devoted to Noah’s ark; and I explored both the phenomenon of why people keep going to look for it and then the question of whether they would find it. And I concluded, first of all, they’re not likely to find it because, well, it’s wood and no matter when you date the flood, it was long ago that the wood would’ve disintegrated or you know, petrified or whatever and, but you’re not likely to find it and you’re certainly not likely to find it where they’re looking for it. Mount Ararat is not where the ark landed most likely. Mount Ararat was named that a couple of centuries ago in part for tourism purposes, right? We should be looking for the mountains of Ararat, which are more likely over towards Urartu, closer to Iran.

So, for one thing, as Indiana Jones said, “They’re looking in the wrong place.” So I don’t think you’re going to find it there. But, also realistically where would something be preserved? If you’re talking wood, it’s either going to be in a place that’s extremely dry like the sands of Egypt; think of the Pharaonic boats that have been found. Okay, that’s a possibility, but nobody has ever suggested that Noah’s ark is in Egypt that I know of. The other possibilities that might be way down deep in, say, the Black Sea, in a layer with no oxygen, which is what we have in the Black Sea, so we should be looking way down there. The other thing that most people don’t take into account is, you know, think about it! Put yourself onto the boat with Noah; pretend you’re stowing away with him. When you land and when you get out, one of the first things that you’re, I think, going to do is take your boat apart. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we probably shouldn’t be looking for Noah’s ark, we should be looking for Noah’s house or Noah’s barn or whatever he built with the wood that he used when he took the ark apart. To think it remained in an ark shape is probably deluding yourself. So (a) I don’t think we’ll find it and (b) if we do, I don’t think it’s going to look like an ark.

  • Eric H. Cline

    Dr. Eric H. Cline is professor of classics and anthropology and the current director of the George Washington University Archaeological Institute. He is a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright scholar, and an award-winning teacher and author. He has been a member of the Megiddo Expedition, in Israel, excavating biblical Armageddon, since 1994. The author of several books, his most recent is 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Princeton University Press, 2014).