The Hong-Kong-based team claimed earlier this week that they have found the remains of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ağrı in eastern Turkey.
The ministry has also initiated an investigation into state officials of the province of Ağrı, including Deputy Governor Murat Güven, Provincial Tourism Director Muhsin Bulut and an official from the district governor’s office in Doğubeyazıt, who were present at the press conference in Hong Kong where the explorers made their finding public.
“A statement was made from abroad, claiming that Noah’s Ark has been found. There were Turkish state officials present when the statement was made. We are investigating the technical and legal aspects of the issue. How did these objects get there [to Hong Kong] and under whose authority were the officials present there? We are investigating this,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said.
Günay also stated that they were happy for the Hong Kong explorers to carry out research on Mount Ağrı but noted that the ministry doubted they asked for permission before doing their research. He also sent a strong message to Turkish scientists who claim that Noah’s Ark is not in Turkey.
“Today, there is a widespread belief that the Greek gods lived on Mount Olympus. No one has attempted to refute that. This has a separate place in mythology. I think the claim that Noah’s Ark is on Mount Ağrı is more serious than the claim that gods lived on Mount Olympus. At least, it is written in the holy books of three Abrahamic religions. The Ark’s location on our soil raises the historical and religious value of Turkey. This discussion increases the number of tourists.”
Noah’s Ark Ministries International, an evangelical Christian group, had claimed in 2007 that they had discovered walls made of stone and trees at a height where no flora existed, saying that these were the first solid traces of Noah’s Ark. Earlier this week, members of the team announced that carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old, around the same time the ark was said to be afloat, saying that their finding is 99.9 percent sure. The group did not reveal the exact location where they had encountered the wooden remains.
A research group composed of Turkish scientists and commissioned by the ministry is expected to launch an expedition on the mountain, as the ministry officials doubt that the Hong Kong explorers will tell the Turkish researchers their ostensible Ark site. If they do, the ministry plans to send a mixed group of Turkish researchers and explorers from Hong Kong up the mountain.
Noah’s Ark has attracted many searchers throughout the ages. The first known attempt to discover the Ark was by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who visited the Urartians, at the foot of Mount Ağrı, in the seventh century AD. A Dutch explorer who went to the mountain in 1670 claimed that a priest told him that he had found the Ark on the mountain, while German scientist Frederic Parrot, the first person known to scale the mountain, said he saw traces of the Ark in 1829. American astronaut James Irwin climbed the mountain to look for the Ark in the 1980s.