It's been in the news lately. Arkers (my term) claim that this time, THIS time--really, really--they've found the fabled ark of Noah on Mount Ararat in Turkey. Why do we care? Well, here at Getting Medieval, we are always interested in relics that my medieval detective, Crispin Guest, might involve himself with. Although toting around an ark of the Noah variety might be problematic.
Of course, the biggest problem with Biblical archaeologists is that they start with an answer and try to fit in all they discover as evidence, instead of the scientific model--like a CSI investigation--where you start with gathering evidence and see where that takes you.
The Chinese/Turkish team from Noah's Ark Ministries (yeah, I'd still be skeptical if a paleological team called "Missing Link Industries" touted finding THE missing link) that found wooden beams in a frozen cave on the mountain are "99.9% sure" that they found the "real" ark (see below). Now how they can ever know that is part of the problem. They claim that Carbon-14 testing says that the wood found there is 4800 years old but no real scientist has yet seen the data. Interstingly, Paul Zimansky, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University told National Geographic that there has been no “expedition that ever went looking for the ark and didn’t find it” (see more pictures below from other expeditions and "finds".). Zamansky went on to say that he would welcome hearing more about the discovery. "It would be nice to know what they have found - if there's a scientific publication in the offing...press releases are not the way archaeology advances."
So is it a shepherd's hut as some other scientists specualte or is it Noah's Ark? Even if the wood itself was 4800 years old, it doesn't mean whatever was constructed is as old. But with scientific study, these things can be determined.
Scientists explain that there has never been any interruption in the culture of the region--such as might happen with a catestrophic flood--and that there isn't enough H20 on the earth to take a boat to the top of a 12,000 foot mountain. Then why do most cultures have a flood myth? Experts tell us that ancient societies that have experienced flooding--as in overflowing rivers after exceptional rains and snow melt--can experience it on a catestrophic level, especially if it wipes out farmland and famine follows. Others speculate that ancient cultures use flood myths to explain away the finding of fossilized seashells in regions that have no seas or rivers at substantial elevations. Whatever the reason, the faithful continue to pursue the unpursuable. But what happens, say, if the Vatican will ever allow another Carbon-14 dating of the middle of the Shroud of Turin? Skeptics will say, yup, that's what we thought. A medieval hoax (ever look at the hands of the "Jesus" figure on the shroud, strategically covering the genitals? Covering them because they aren't circumcised, perhaps? A dead body can't rest in that position. But someone actually holding their arms in place can. Try it). But the faithful will just go on to say, see how unreliable Carbon-14 is?
Good luck hunting for whatever neat thing you can unearth. Me, I'll stick to burying Barbies and then digging them up as I did as a kid, junior archaelogist that I was.
Here are some other Noah's Ark "finds" from all kinds of sources in many different eras, though the '70s seemed popular for all kinds of UFO sightings and such. Hey, maybe the ark was a UFO...