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Studies and Research
From at least the time of Eusebius (c. 275 – 339 AD - bishop of Caesarea in Palaestina) to the present day, the search for the physical remains of Noah's Ark has held a fascination for Christians. Although Jews and Muslims share a religious tradition that includes Noah's Ark, adherents of these faiths have not been as interested in searching for physical evidence of this supposed relic.
Noah's Ark is the huge vessel described in the Bible and Quran. In Hebrew Bible/Old Testament book of Genesis, by the ark the Hebrew God saved Noah, together with the other seven members of his family, plus representatives of all the species of animals and birds, from a cataclysmic flood with which he wished to exterminate all other life on Earth. It is described as 300 cubits long, or approximately 450 feet (137 m) - considerably longer than any wooden vessel ever built in historical times. According to Genesis 8:4 the Ark came to rest "in the mountains of Ararat."
The motivation of the searchers is summed up in this quotation from the Institute for Creation Research: "If the flood of Noah indeed wiped out the entire human race and its civilization, as the Bible teaches, then the Ark constitutes the one remaining major link to the pre-flood World. No significant artifact could ever be of greater antiquity or importance.... [with] tremendous potential impact on the creation-evolution (including theistic evolution) controversy." The writer might equally have added the implications for geology, cosmology, and almost every other branch of modern science.
The search has been largely American, supported by evangelical and millenarian churches, and sustained by ongoing popular interest expressed through faith-based magazines and lecture tours, videos, occasional (and often sensationalist) television specials, and, more recently, the Internet.
Ark searchers have had little to guide them to the Ark beyond the Genesis mention of the "mountains of Ararat." By the middle of the 19th century, archaeologists had identified a 1st millennium BC kingdom and region of Urartu, contemporaneous with the Assyrian empire and the early kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and located in the mountains of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey.
In the 4th century AD, Faustus of Byzantium (Armenian historian of the 5th century) was apparently the first to use the name "Ararat" to refer to a specific mountain, rather than a region, where the Ark could be seen, and told how an angel had brought a holy relic from the vessel to a pious bishop who had been unable to complete the ascent. The Byzantine emperor Heraclius is said to have made the trip in the 7th century, but less well-connected pilgrims had to brave uninhabited wastelands, rugged terrain, snowfields, glaciers, blizzards, and, in the habitable areas, brigands, wars, and ever-suspicious Ottoman officials.
Marco Polo (1254-1324) wrote in his book The Travels of Marco Polo that:
Not until the 19th century was the region settled enough, and Westerners welcome enough, for exploration by well-heeled Ark-seekers to begin in earnest. In 1829 Dr. Freidrich Parrott, who had made an ascent of Greater Ararat (highest peak of Ararat massif), wrote in his Journey to Ararat that "all the Armenians are firmly persuaded that Noah's Ark remains to this very day on the top of Ararat, and that, in order to preservation [sic], no human being is allowed to approach it." In 1876 James Bryce, historian, statesman, diplomat, explorer, and Professor of Civil Law at Oxford, climbed above the tree line and found a slab of hand-hewn timber, four feet long and five inches thick, which he identified as being from the Ark. In 1883 the British Prophetic Messenger and others reported that Turkish commissioners investigating avalanches had seen the Ark. Activity fell off in the 20th century. In the Cold War Ararat found itself on the highly sensitive Turkish/Soviet border and in the midst of Kurdish separatist activities, so that explorers were likely to find themselves in extremely hazardous situations. Former astronaut James Irwin led two expeditions to Ararat in the 1980s, was kidnapped once, and like others found no tangible evidence of the Ark. "I've done all I possibly can," he said, "but the Ark continues to elude us."
Activity fell off in the 20th century. In the Cold War Ararat found itself on the highly sensitive Turkish/Soviet border and in the midst of Kurdish separatist activities, so that explorers were likely to find themselves in extremely hazardous situations. Former astronaut James Irwin led two expeditions to Ararat in the 1980s, was kidnapped once, and like others found no tangible evidence of the Ark. "I've done all I possibly can," he said, "but the Ark continues to elude us."
In 2001 the Turkish government re-opened Mount Ararat to climbers. However, the government requires a climbing permit and the use of a certified Turkish trekking guide. It takes approximately two months to obtain climbing permission.
By the beginning of the 21st century two main location candidates for exploration had emerged: the so-called Ararat anomaly near the main summit of Ararat (an "anomaly" in that it shows on aerial and satellite images as a dark blemish on the snow and ice of the peak), and the separate site at Durupinar near Dogubayazit, 18 miles south of the Greater Ararat summit. The Durupinar site was heavily promoted by adventurer and former nurse-anaesthetist Ron Wyatt in the 1980s and 1990s, and consists of a large boat-shaped formation jutting out of the earth and rock. It has the advantage over the Great Ararat site of being approachable—while hardly a major tourist attraction, it receives a steady stream of visitors. Geologists have identified the Durupinar site as a natural formation, but Wyatt's Ark Discovery Institute continues to champion its claims.
In 2004 Honolulu-based businessman Daniel McGivern announced he would finance a $900,000 expedition to the peak of Greater Ararat in July that year to investigate the "Ararat anomaly"—he had previously paid for commercial satellite images of the site. After much initial fanfare he was refused permission by the Turkish authorities, as the summit is inside a restricted military zone. The expedition was subsequently labelled a "stunt" by National Geographic News, which pointed out that the expedition leader, a Turkish academic named Ahmet Ali Arslan, had previously been accused of faking photographs of the Ark.
In June 2006, Bob Cornuke of the fundamentalist Christian Bible Archeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE) took a team of 14 American "business, law, and ministry leaders" to Iran to visit a site in the Alborz Mountains purported to be a possible resting place of the Ark. The team did not include any archaeologists or geologists among its members.
The team claims to have discovered an "object" 13,000 feet above sea level, which had the appearance of blackened petrified wooden beams, and was "about the size of a small aircraft carrier" (400 ft long), and supposedly consistent with the dimensions provided in Genesis of 300 cubits by 50 cubits. The team also claimed to find fossilised sea creatures inside the petrified wood, and in the immediate vicinity of the site. One member of the team claims that 'a Houston lab used by the Smithsonian' tested some beams and confirmed they were petrified wood containing fossilised sea animals, but the name of the laboratory was not given. No one outside the expedition has offered independent confirmation, and apart from a few purported beams, no photographic images of this supposed Ark in its entirety have been made available (though short video segments have been made available). The team's consensus on the "object" is not absolute; Reg Lyle, another expedition member, described the find as appearing to be "a basalt dike". 
It is the official position of the BASE Institute that Iran was the logical resting place of the Ark. Their website does not definitely claim the object to be the Ark, but concludes that it is "a candidate".
Over the years there were many "Eyewitness accounts" seeing the ark and many hoaxes.