The Roof of Turkey and Noah’s Ark
Although travel guidebooks rarely mention it, the dormant volcano of Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi) in the eastern region of Turkey is one of the world’s most respected terrains, both historically and in the present day.
Its huge, domineering height of 5165 meters above sea level thrusts it into a completely different climate zone of its own, even receiving snow in October while sunbathers rest and swim on the Mediterranean and Aegean beaches of Turkey.
Such is its domineering height and majestic appearance, locals nicknamed it the roof of Turkey, and over the centuries, many mountaineers of different nationalities have dedicated their lives to exploring it.
In Armenian culture, it receives profound respect often featuring in ancient and present literature. Many Armenians view it as the sacred mountain or call it Masis, the traditional Armenian name. Although its name suggests it is a single landmark, Mount Ararat has two dormant volcano cones, lying 13 kilometres apart.
The First Mountaineers to Climb Mount Ararat
Documents from the 13th century say no-one at that time had climbed the mountain. Ancient Armenians beliefs may have added to this considering its sacred status however in 1829, Friedrich Parrot and his guide Khachatur Abovian, after two failed attempts made the first documented ascent.
Given its reputation of shrouded mystery, the terrain, and towering height, this understandably set off a flurry of more expeditions by Russian, German and British explorers, naturalists, and scholars. All these, however, took place during summer, with cool weather, so much respect goes to Bozkurt Ergor, a Turk who climbed it in February of 1970, and who undoubtedly had to brave severe winter temperatures.
Even though its geographical terrain and weather climate have been documented, proven and accepted as fact, there is one story about Mount Ararat that continues to divide religious, historical and scientific circles. Prompting many studies, discussions and posing many questions, of which probably can’t be answered, its connection to Noah and the ark has become a modern-day mystery.
Did Noah’s Ark Land on Mount Ararat?
This is where the conversation gets interesting. Many people depending on their area of expertise disagree on the connection between Mount Ararat and Noah. Some geologists and archaeologists believe a worldwide flood never took place because there are no artefacts, evidence or proven stats about the geographical terrain to suggest it took place. Therefore, they say there was no need to build this humungous boat, and it never existed.
Historians often back up this point of view, citing no evidence of a mass cull of civilisation at that time. Both viewpoints do not, however, rule out the possibility of a smaller flood that Noah did indeed build the ark for.
According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s ark landed on Hare Ararat, which some scholars say refers to the broad region of the time and not the actual mountain. This would coincide with the Islamic story. Noah is a prophet in Islam, and the Quran says the ark landed on Al Judi, which is one of Mount Ararat’s peaks.
Speculation that Mount Ararat was where the ark landed started as early as the 11th century but trying to piece together clues and ancient documents to form one solid fact is a massive task of gigantic proportions. Then in the 1960s, a report in Life magazine said a Turkish army general surveying aerial photographs had spotted a 500 feet long boat shape engrained in the terrain.
Fever set in and over the decades, many scholars, historians, scientists, religious experts and geologists visited the area to complete studies. Great discussions took place with people dividing themselves into one of two camps; either yes, it was Noah’s ark or no, it was not. Some experts even changed their mind but after adamantly saying it was the ark to declaring they were wrong.
In 2010, the esteemed National Geographic and Time publications ran pieces in which a team of explorers said they were 99.9% certain they had found the ark. Once again, however scientists and geologists stepped forward to say there is no factual evidence to back up their claim.
Accusing many of practising pseudoarchaeology, they urged people to stop ignoring data and scientific evidence, in favour of perusing worldwide fame as the person who found the ark. It seems like every decade; someone declared they had seen the most famous boat in history.
The subject of Noah’s ark and whether it did ever exist or land on Mount Ararat has become a hot topic. People who search for it are labelled ark hunters while many religious circles believe he did land on Mount Ararat regardless of whether science can verify the claim.
Then there are archaeologists, scientists, geologists and historians who believe there was no need for him to ever build the boat in the first place. It seems the story of Mount Ararat and Noah’s ark is unlikely to ever be solved and will forever be one of history’s greatest mysteries.