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My social media stream lately has been awash with claims about items supposedly dissevered at a site discovered by Turkish army captain Llhan Durupınar in 1959 that is believed by some to be the final resting site of Noah's Ark.

As a resident in Turkey and interested in Biblical sites, I have been aware of the site for some time but the last few months seem to have seen a piqued public interest in the site fueled (as far as I can tell) by the claims compiled in this article (if server not responding try re-posts here or here) about the advanced technological nature of various items supposed to be part of the archaeological find.

These claims include reports of advanced carpentry in the form of ancient Glulams

Perhaps the most significant find from the Ark itself is a piece of petrified wood. When this was first found it appeared to be a large beam. But upon closer examination it is actually three pieces of plank that have been laminated together with some kind of organic glue!

…as well as a some rivets involving alloyed metals:

An analysis of the metal used to make the rivets revealed that they were a combination of iron (8.38%), aluminum (8.35%) and titanium (1.59%).

The list goes on although some associated claims seem a little less far fetched/ such as the ballast anchors:

[…] huge stones were discovered, some standing upright while others lying on the ground. These stones, weighing many tons, have holes carved in them.Scientists have determined that they were anchors and the holes would have been their attachment to a ship with hemp rope. […] The huge anchors would have been suspended from the keel of the ship.

Are the claims about technologically advanced artifacts made in this article reputable and reliable in the sense of having been verified as finds from this site, have been properly dated, and has there been sufficient independent review of the technological properties of these items been done?

I understand that almost all archaeological claims involve some degree of doubt but I would like to know if there is reason to be skeptical (and not perpetrate) these claims or if they hold enough credibility to be worth further interest and investigation.

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@IlyaMelamed This question is more concerned with whether the specific claims of technologically advanced artifacts have been reviewed than whether the site is potentially that of Noah's ark. Please help keep this on track by not making this about the Biblical flood account in general. –  Caleb Dec 26 '13 at 14:30
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If someone claims to have found the remains of Noah's ark, there's automatically reason to be skeptical: the legend of the flood predates the Bible and has nothing to do with a man named Noah. –  Sklivvz Dec 26 '13 at 19:41
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up vote 17 down vote accepted

I have been unable to find any corroborating source concerning the planks glued together (even the Wyatt Museum website says nothing of this); at this time it appears to have originated with this article. I have sent an email requesting references, and will provide an update later.

What I do know:

The Witnesses

Dr. Brandenburger

Ohio State University's Dr. Brandenburger, quoted in the article as a supporter of this location being the ark, in fact vehemently denied the claim1:

Regarding my position on the Durupinar site, the core drilling we performed in 1988 settled the issue as far as I am concerned--the site is a natural formation, nothing more, produced by a mud slide as mud flowed around a ridge-shaped block of basement rock that is still present inside the resulting boat-shaped form...
Furthermore, the material Ron claims is petrified wood is nothing but igneous rock of basaltic composition. We have analyzed many samples of it here at our laboratory, and Ron is aware of these analyses.

Mr. Baumgardner then lists a question and answer session he had with another person.

  1. Did you witness evidence of the metal rivets in this "igneous rock?"

    --none whatsoever.

  2. I have seen pictures of these rivets and wonder, based on what you state above, if they're from another site or from that location. Do you have any comments on that?

    --I am almost 100% certain that Ron 'planted' them.

David Fasold

The US Merchant Marine officer and salvage expert David Fasold joined Wyatt in his investigation in 1985, and for a time considered it to be the remains of a boat constructed of reeds and bitumen; however, he became convinced in the 90's that the structure was a natural formation, even co-authoring a paper to support that conclusion3.

The Archaeological Evidence

The structure

The article claims that "the distance from bow to stern was 515 feet [157 m], or exactly 300 Egyptian cubits. The average width was 50 cubits. These were the exact measurements mentioned in the Bible."

In fact, Fasold measured the structure to be 538 ft (164 m) long4, which is about 310-313 Egyptian cubits. This is a very minor point, as we're assuming we know what the biblical "cubit" is and the biblical writer was not necessarily seeking numerical accuracy, but I cannot help but wonder why the author would claim "exact measurements."

The Drogue Stones

Several miles from the location of the Ark, huge stones were discovered, some standing upright while others lying on the ground. These stones, weighing many tons, have holes carved in them. Scientists have determined that they were anchors and the holes would have been their attachment to a ship with hemp rope.

These stones were found in a cemetery, and research has determined the rocks came from the area, rather than from Mesopotamia, as would be the case if they were anchors for the ark3. Must more be said?

It is most likely that these "anchor" stones originally had nothing to do with Christianity or the Flood. According to Abraham Terian the stones that Wyatt has found are not unique to the Durupinar area but are scattered throughout ancient Armenia. They are known to have been crafted by pagans and used in their worship long before Christianity came to Armenia. What Wyatt has identified as "rope holes" were originally niches for lamps. When the local Armenians became Christians, says Terian, many of these pagan stele were Christianized with inscriptions and symbols. This is why many of them are found in Christian cemeteries. They were holy stones, first for the pagans, then the Christians.2


1: Letter from John Baumgardner to Gary Amirault
2: Has Noah's Ark Been Found?
3: Bogus "Noah's Ark from Turkey" Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure
4: The Ark of Noah, David Fasold

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I'm not sure how the last quote is helpful. Obviously, Christianity was not in the area for many centuries before the pagans of Armenia. Whether it is the Ark or not, neither side claims such a thing, because the closet thing Noah would have been is Jewish. Seems like a straw man. On a different note, it seems really weird to me to first confuse a natural rock formation for a large boat, then recant later. It seems that there is a lot of disinformation around this issue. Great post. –  fredsbend Dec 26 '13 at 19:31
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@fredsbend: The last paragraph provides an alternate explanation for the rocks that are supposed to be the anchor for the ark (such anchors would be necessary to balance a large, top-heavy ship). The "Christianizing" of the stones wasn't the point - the fact is that such stones are not unusual for the area and have their origins in pagan worship. I possibly should have removed the irrelevant portion to avoid misunderstanding. –  Ryan Frame Dec 26 '13 at 19:42
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