Review of “A Critique of the Claim of Noah’s Ark Ministries International of the Discovery of a Wooden Structure on Mount Ararat” by Dr. Randall Price Ph.D. and Don Patton, Ph.D.*
*Published as a Special Report in the World of the Bible News & Views, Volume 12, No.2, Fall 2010
Review by Philip Ernest Williams of the Mount Ararat Discovery Foundation
As Drs. Randall Price and Don Patton explain in their own Introduction, the authors developed their critique in response to Noah’s Ark Ministries International’s (NAMI) announcement in April 2010 of their 2009 visit to the June, 2008 discovery of a large wooden structure on Mount Ararat, what NAMI believes with 99% certainty are likely the remains of Noah’s Ark. The authors mention their concern that NAMI ‘has conducted an extensive media tour in China to raise millions of dollars in funds with a stated goal of mounting a “scientific expedition” to throughly explore the structure.’
Likely few have the background or acquaintance with Noah’s Ark searching on Mount Ararat so as to comprehend this 33 page report. Click here for the author’s full report. Similarly, most have little acquaintance with how archaeology is conducted and financed, especially the new field of alpine archaeology which this possible discovery might be destined to have a major role. As part of this review and to assist those wishing to better understand the authors’ critique, I will supply the background for understanding these endeavors and also acquaint the reader with specific individuals mentioned in this report including Ahmet Ertugrul, the discoverer, better known by his nickname Parasut (pronounced “parachute”).
The various parts of this review of the authors’ Critique of NAMI’s announcement, as also the case of the authors’ Critique, might weight on the issue of the authenticity of NAMI’s announcement, but the purpose and scope of this review is not to judge its authenticity, even less to judge here what the large wooden structure that NAMI visited might be. That would require and certainly deserves a separate report, assuming that the authors of this Critique are wrong concerning their conclusions. Here I must limit the scope of this review to explaining and judging the soundness of the investigation and conclusions of the authors’ Critique.
For those who find the authors’ long report difficult to follow, the table of contents that I compiled from Price and Patton’s subtitles in the next section may be helpful. The major sections of this review follow the authors’ sections with the addition of helpful new sections such as the ‘Outline of Price and Patton’s Report’ that follows.
Outline of Price and Patton’s Report
(I have added the Roman numbers, not in the report, to denote the authors’ major sections.)
II History of the Discovery and NAMI Release of Information
III Response to NAMI’s Claims
IV The Background of the Authors of the Critique
V Why Should We Critique NAMI’s Claims
VI Overview of the Evidence Against NAMI’s Claims
1) Fraud in NAMI’s Previously published Claim of the Discovery of a Wooden Structure on Mount Ararat
a) Fraud with respects to Photos of “A Cave Researched on Mount Ararat”
b) Fraud with Respect to a Photo of “Wood” Allegedly Taken from Mt. Ararat
2) NAMI’s failure to disclose the conclusions of a report by an American geological team
3) Intentional deception by Parasut in obtaining funds from the joint NAMI-American expedition
team and claim to the discovery of Noah’s Ark in 2008
3) Fraud with respect to Photos of 2008 “Ark Discovery”
a) Photos Claimed by Parasut and Clara Wei to be of the Ark on Mt. Ararat
b) Additional Photos Originally Stated by Parasut to Be the “Ark Cave” on Mt. Ararat
c) Parasut’s Later Photos of the Ark
4) Fraud with Respect to the Claim of Having Military Permit to Access their Site
5) Fraud with Respect to Announced “2010 Discovery”
NAMI’s Secret Location(s)
The Making of a Movie Set
Testimony of NAMI “Ark” Site Construction Workers
Transcripts of the Interview with One of Parasut’s Kurdish Workers
Composite Account of the Construction of the Site(s) Based on Interviews with Kurdish
Workers and Others with Private Knowledge of the Parasut Project
Don Patton’s Investigation at NAMI “Ark Sites #1-2
The Sample of Wood from Sites #1-2
Transporting Wood to Mt. Ararat
Timing is Everything
Why Didn’t Parasut Face the Ark After His First Contact with NAMI
6) Missing Artifacts from the Parasut/NAMI “Ark.”
7) Analysis of NAMI Photographic Evidence
NAMI’s Largest Space in its “Seven Spaces”
The Analysis of NAMI’s Photographic Evidence by Dr. David Liang
My interest in the NAMI announcement and the charges that Drs. Price and Patton bring against it date over a similar period as the authors’ involvement. Unlike the authors of the Critique, my interest in this announcement did not begin with Ark Searching. It concerned archaeology and tracing ancient human migrations. I had observe in the archaeological record of the Ancient Near East what appears a considerable discontinuity in material culture and loss of population between the Early and Middle Bronze eras. This hiatus dates almost exactly to the time of the biblical Flood!
I suspected the beginnings of the new Middle Bronze culture had its beginnings in the spread of a suddenly appearing culture that is variously called Khirbet Kerak (in Israel and Syria), TransCaucasian (in Turkey and Armenia), or Kura Araxes (in the Republic of Georgia). Figure 40 in my book shows the migration path of this culture from the region around Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey down into Syria and Israel. 1
As one archaeologist writes: “Kura-Araxes traditions emerge during a rapid burst of cultural evolution, the early stages of which remain undocumented or unrecognized.” [Peter Glumac in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (University of Chicago Press, 1992), 203.]
I wondered if those undocumented or unrecognized beginnings might have been Noah’s Ark! Interestingly, the oldest sites associated with this spread are found at sites immediately surrounding Mount Ararat. I did not however believe that the remains of Noah’s Ark could have survived for more than 4000 years, much less still contain artifacts of this culture that is spreading through the Ancient Near East.
I did learn of reports of Noah’s Ark still being on Mount Ararat and other sites but due to those reports lacking provenance and archaeological involvement, I decided not to so much as even mention them in the book that I was about to publish, The Archaeological Evidence of Noah’s Flood. What caused me to change my mind were the NAMI announcements covered in this report, the first being mention of wood being found in caves on Mount Ararat and noticing the involvement of the archaeological authorities with these discoveries. I knew that if the Ark had rested on this unstable mountain, it might easily have gotten buried. That would not only help explain its preservation, but why the location has eluded so many Ark Searchers.
I did not expect to become involved with this discovery, but NAMI’s 2010 announcement caused me to delay publication of my book. Ironically, that happen as the result of the charge by the authors of this Critique that the NAMI announcement was fraudulent. Those charges caused me to make my own investigation of NAMI’s discovery as well as the authors’ charges.
My aim was to examine the possible authenticity of this discovery or whether the authors of this Critique that I review have serious evidence that the discovery was based on a recent fabrication. I was keenly interested in this Critique that questions the authenticity of this discovery. But should the discovery appear to be an ancient wooden structure, I hoped to compare whatever artifacts might be found there with those of the Kura-Araxes culture that spreads from near this site. For that purpose, I sought greater scientific involvement in this discovery through the Mount Ararat Discovery Foundation that I helped found.
My first report on this discovery and the charges against them appeared in the Epilogue of my book. (click for ebook versions of the Archaeological Evidence of Noah’s Flood). But it has taken 5 more years of investigation to fully understand the issues behind this discovery as well as the charges in this Critique. For the duration of my investigation, I found it easy to meet with NAMI and their representatives as well as with the discoverer Parasut. Dr. Price has yet to respond to my invitation to work together so as to obtain the truth about this discovery. I hope to do that with this rare archaeologist willing to so publicly associate not only with the investigation of a possible discovery of Noah’s Ark but even with searches for the same.
Regarding the judgment of the authenticity of this discovery, I do have several advantages denied to the authors of this Critique. Unlike them, the discoverer was willing to take me to visit one of the major sites associated with this discovery. That happened November 9, 2014. The other advantage comes from a longer and closer acquaintance with NAMI and the discoverer.
History of the Discovery and NAMI Release of Information
The authors, Drs. Randall Price and Don Patton, explain how they were themselves involved with NAMI prior to the April 2010 announcement but were not allowed to visit the site. The authors are clearly offended that Parasut would not take them to the site(s) of his discovery and that NAMI excluded their expertise in their reporting on the discovery: ‘They have discounted the efforts of other researchers because they believe they have not spent sufficient time to establish the trust of locals and because, as Yeung Wing-Cheung said in the Amsterdam Press Conference Q&A:”no other organization found anything, any evidence.”‘ The authors mention in this report that they have themselves found evidence!
The quoted statement does reflect a fundamental difference in approach to Ark searching and archaeology between the authors and NAMI. The authors express great confidence in their technology and their own scientific analysis while frequently displaying a condescending view of the natives as indicated by frequent ethnic references to them as Kurds as also those with NAMI as ‘the Chinese.’ A project concerning Noah’s Ark ought to remind us that we are all of a single family. It appears that NAMI was also interested in the authors’ technology and involvement but were forced by their native guide Parasut to choose to team either with himself or the authors.
The authors mention in their history of the Discovery a correspondence from Dr. John Morris who has been involved with a group of Hong Kong ministers and scientists who wished to start a Hong Kong creation ministry and came up with the idea of a Christian theme park with a Noah’s Ark replica as a center piece. Dr. John Morris is the President of the Institution for Creation Research (ICR) and is the son of its founder, the late Dr. Henry Morris whose book The Genesis Flood (1961) is credited with launching the young earth Creationist movement that has since obtained the allegiance of so many evangelical leaders and churches.
Very important, the correspondence from Dr. Morris that the authors publish mentions a withdrawal of involvement by the local [Hong Kong] pastors after the ‘filming group gained control of the project.’ That would be a reference to NAMI or its predecessor Media Evangelism. Filming companies have a considerable interest in proprietary rights and tend to limit involvement and work on a contractual basis. This may explain the alienation of some Creation ministries from this discovery to which they might otherwise be naturally allied. That is to say, these Hong Kong creation ministries may have seen themselves pushed out of a project that they had themselves launched. Though NAMI pledged all proceeds of their documentaries to the Noah’s Ark project, these ministries may not have understood the great expense involved with safe Ark Searching and alpine archaeology and the necessity of NAMI’s funding approach.
Dr. Morris himself continued to work with NAMI though never from a contractual basis. He notes
On February 5th [2010}, Clara came to visit me at ICR. She showed me the short video clip on her laptop. I was surprised and enthusiastic about the possibilities. I noted several weaknesses in her story but had never seen anything better. I had a few others to look at the video, and with nothing more to go on, they were impressed. I wanted to see more but was told it was not available until the film was released. I forget the details but was subsequently informed and invited to the press conferences in Holland and Dogubayazit.…On June 11, Clara and a cameraman came to ICR to film my impression of the discovery for the upcoming film. As always, I was supportive of future work, but unconvinced of the discovery, and instructed her not to portray me as if I were.’
Dr. Morris reference is to Clara Wei, a Hong Kong science writer who worked for NAMI’s media partner Sparkling Sun. Clara became the coordinator between NAMI, Parasut, and local Turkish officials. She has subsequently worked with Parasut independently of NAMI. Though a nominal Catholic, Clara is not an evangelical. It is not insignificant that this producer of scientific documentaries for Hong Kong public television and, aside from the discoverer himself, perhaps the one most acquainted with the history of this discovery would be so convinced of its authenticity.
My first acquaintance with Clara Wei and NAMI occurred shortly after their April 28th announcement and just prior to her June 11 meeting with Dr. Morris. Our correspondence began in May 2010. I arranged for her to present NAMI’s findings to a group of scholars, scientists, college, and seminary leaders in Charlotte, NC. on June 7, 2010.
The authors fail to mention either in this section or elsewhere in this report their involvement in the media controversy: Dr. Price’s published email suggesting that the claim was based on a hoax. The authors investigation published in their critique was conducted subsequent to Dr. Price’s widely reported accusation. For reference in this review, I have attached those accusations as Appendix B. Due to the fact that Dr. Price’s accusation was based on a rumor from an unidentified source, he is obviously under great pressure to defend his claim.
Response to NAMI’s Claim
In this short section the authors note that NAMI has (1) submitted evidence for their claim in the form of material and media documentation, (2) ‘raised untold sums of money from churches in China’, and (3) has been afforded credibility by an American institution (Southern Evangelical Seminary) while an ‘independent examination and analysis of the NAMI site by competent experts has been lacking to this point, since the location of the NAMI site has been kept secret and permission from the Turkish authorities (rarely granted) has been necessary to access the site which lies in a restricted area of the mountain. The authors fairly explain the mixed response to these claims both in the media and among evangelicals.
By ‘competent experts,’ I believe the authors have chiefly themselves in mind. The truth is NAMI did desire Dr. Price’s involvement due to the fact that he is an archaeologist. They were prevented from doing so by the discoverer Parasut for reasons that I will discuss below.
Since I became acquainted with NAMI during this time, I can attest that NAMI and the discoverer have worked diligently to get archaeologists involved with this discovery, an issue that I will discuss in the next section. But in the light of their being unable to secure the involvement of a professional archaeologist, NAMI’s appearance at the National Apologetic Conference whose audience includes many evangelical scholars and scientists would seem an excellent forum to present the results of their findings in the hope of obtaining competent experts. Disappointingly, as an intermediary arranging for that event, I discovered that Dr. Price worked to prevent NAMI appearance at this conference. Ironically, it happened to be one of the few times that NAMI presented their findings at a public forum aside from the promotion of their fund-raising documentaries to which the authors refer.
The Background of the Authors of the Critique
Dr. Price introduces himself as ‘the archaeologist with the Ark Search LLC Expedition to Mt. Ararat that in 2010 ‘obtained the first scientific data of a large man-made structure beneath the glacier of the eastern plateau near the summit of Mt. Ararat (16,800 feet)’! Note that this is itself a remarkable claim by a rival group of Ark Searchers, which easily gets lost in the light of the controversy over the NAMI announcement. But it may explain Price’s deep concern about the NAMI announcement and also Parasut’s unwillingness to show him the site. As I explain below, Dr. Price is the archaeologist for a competing group of Ark Searchers. Don Patton is introduced as ‘currently the geologist with the Ark Search LLC Expedition team.’
The authors’ reasons for their critique
One of the most valuable sections of this report is the authors’ explanation of the reason for their report, especially one that challenges the authenticity of evidence offered in support of the Bible. As the authors explain (again, taken from the report’s subtitles):
1. Truth cannot be supported by a lie
2. Christians are responsible to critique other Christians
3. Facts of independent investigation and analysis are required for proper discernment of this claim
4. The NAMI claim has affected churches, Christian schools, and Creation ministries in China and the U.S.
5. False claims will undermine and diminish an actual discovery of Noah’s Ark
6. Published claims require a published response
7. The sensational manner in which NAMI has published its claims will have dangerous and unintended consequences
Drs. Price and Patton offer relevant biblical passages in support of reasons numbers 1 and 2. As to reason No. 3, because ‘no independent investigation and analysis have been offered to the public,’ the authors ‘have therefore undertaken to examine the evidence and its sources from claims published in the past to the present site.’ Note that the authors appear not to understand that as members of a rival Ark searching team, theirs cannot be an independent investigation. As already noted, the report also fails to mention the authors’ widely reported claims prior to the investigation reported here that the site was only recently fabricated. Thus, there are two glaring reasons that the authors’ cannot claim for their report independent investigation and analysis.
The authors mention
letters (available upon request) from pastors, seminary presidents, and missionaries in China who are opposed to NAMI raising large sums of money from Christians through their film and testimony without providing the evidence to prove their claim.’ It ‘has been deemed inappropriate and disruptive to many churches in China. This has also been the case in the US as NAMI has presented its claims at the National Apologetics Conference at Southern Evangelical Seminary (October 16, 2010) and via the English language version of its website.
Here, a disclaimer is in order. I was instrumental in arranging NAMI’s visit to the National Apologetics Conference, the first opportunity that many Americans had to see unpublished video and photos from the site that is the subject of NAMI’s announcement and hear NAMI explain why they believe this discovery is likely the remains of Noah’s Ark.
Throughout this report, the authors mention the issue of money and this warrants our special attention. But as regard to reason No. 4, ‘the announcement affecting churches, seminaries, and ministries,’ from the beginning of the Christian faith the most important and most wonderful things (Jesus’s resurrection, the Apostles’ public healing of life-long cripple, the Reformation, the Great Awakening) have been disruptive of ordinary religion. An announcement concerning the very likely discovery of Noah’s Ark if true would be a most important and wonderful event in the history of Christianity. Price and Patton’s own claim if true would be similarly disruptive.
The possibility of an important and wonderful disruption should the remains of Noah’s Ark be found also points out the truth of the authors’ reason No. 5. That is, conversely, false claims undermine and diminish an actual discovery of Noah’s Ark. As the authors point out
In the past, claims to the discovery of Noah’s Ark that have proven false have affected the faith of Christians and have eroded the confidence of the general public. Every false report undermines the potential of a true discovery by bolstering the critical view that Noah’s Ark is myth and therefor cannot be found. Every false report further diminishes the potential of a true discovery by exciting the public consciousness with a sensational claim that fails to deliver. The “Cry Wolf” syndrome then takes affect in society so that no one really cares when the real thing is finally found.
This problem is even more the case when, as in the case of the authors’ reason No. 7, the claim is sensational. It must however be acknowledge that the better the evidence, the more sensational. No one has ever presented such photos and videos of what appears an ancient wooden structure found so high on Mount Ararat, being not only where the Bible suggests as the resting place of Noah’s Ark, but also appearing as the possible remains of an ancient ship containing what appears as stable-like compartments.
Though it would appear that the better the evidence presented for Noah’s Ark, the more sensational, the authors of this Critique see this as a vice. They blame NAMI for the death of 47-
year old British Ark explorer David Mackenzie who went looking for the NAMI site and was reported missing on October 14, 2010. “The sensational way NAMI has handled their claim may have now contributed to one man’s death with others to follow.”
The authors frequently mention the problem arising from the fact that NAMI announced this discovery prior to independent scientific investigation, something that may appear to eliminate the possibility that expectations for a false claim would not be unduly raised with believers and the public. This issue deserves considerable discussion and is one in which I have considerable experience in the case of this discovery. About this, several points should be noted:
1. Archaeologists and mainline scientists are most reluctant to become involved with a discovery viewed as the possible remains of Noah’s Ark.
From a believer’s point of view (I am also a believer) Dr. Price, who is an archaeologist, is much to be commended. Most archaeologists view association with an investigation of what might be the possible remains of Noah’s Ark the same as professional death. Dr. Price is not
only involved with the archaeological investigation of what might be the remains of Noah’s Ark, he is also deeply involved with the search for Noah’s Ark! However heroic the public may see them, what the profession regards as “Indiana Jones” style archaeologists or treasure hunters are derided in professional archaeological circles.
Notwithstanding derision from their peers, the field of archaeology is much owing to archaeologists who would now be seen as treasure hunters: Henrich Schliemann, who discovered the site of ancient Troy. Likewise, most of the great archaeologists from Sir Leonard Woolley to Richard Leaky, names in archaeology who the public best know, searched for and obtained great discoveries. To be sure, the archaeological community’s reluctance to become involved even with an archaeological site associated with Noah’s Ark is particularly severe because under the reigning paradigm among the historical sciences, Noah’s Ark is reckoned as either purely myth or else associated with a local Flood, something that would not be the case with a discovery on the heights of Mount Ararat.
Why Dr. Price believes that the remains of Noah’s Ark might be found on the heights of Mt, Ararat is that he is a young earth Creationist. Young earth Creationists believe in a worldwide Flood and attribute the fossils buried deep within the earth as the result of Noah’s Flood. Old earth creationists such as myself who also believe in a worldwide Flood do not believe these fossils the remains of Noah’s Flood because human remains are never found with these fossils. Young earth Creationists explain that as due to Noah’s Flood having been of such great severity as to destroy all evidence of humans who lived before the Flood, also reckoning those who lived before the Flood as few in number. A consequence of this view that informs Dr. Price’s investigation is that the most primitive human remains that are regarded as the oldest are presumed to date from after the Flood.
Very important, because Young Earth Creationists such as the authors generally acknowledge the most primitive human remains as being the oldest as also the case in mainstream archaeology and because they date all human remains from after the Flood, they are deeply suspicious of the relatively advanced technology such as the excellent craftsmanship of the wood and the wheel-made pottery that are associated with NAMI’s announcement of Paraut’s discovery.
Dr. Price fails to mention NAMI’s expressed and earnest desire for to see archaeologists investigate the discovery they announced. Likely, Dr. Price has himself particularly in mind. As is clear from emails that Dr. Price himself published, NAMI did desire that Dr. Price join their team. Parasut also wanted archaeologist to be part of the expedition, but at some point the discoverer strongly opposed Dr. Price’s involvement, an issue that I will address below.
2. The second issue constraining archaeological involvement is the matter of funding and alpine archaeology is uniquely dangerous and costly
Almost all non-salvage archaeological digs, especially those connected with or suspected of supporting the Bible, are privately funded. This means that archaeologists must privately raise funds for their archaeological excavations. For this, they must raise public awareness, which means that despite their desire to complete investigation prior to media announcements, most archaeologists badly need media attention for the potential of the
sites they wish to investigate. In NAMI’s case, not only did they need media attention to raise funds for archaeological investigation, they also needed to raise funds to attract the attention of archaeologists who might be willing or perhaps eager to investigate this discovery.
Like the other noble professions today, including some of the most prestigious academic institutions themselves, archaeology has become very much a profession, a business. The good side of this is that professional standards for archaeological excavations have risen far beyond the treasure hunting of erstwhile days. The down side is that however much we may regret it, archaeological programs are marketed. Sensational claims are needed for such purposes and archaeology is riff with sensational claims and these have corrupted archaeological interpretation. Claims for the oldest this or that keep pushing back the dates of archaeological sites. Likewise, forged artifacts plague the field of archaeology, which makes all sensational discoveries suspect.
These are all the more reason to have an especially sensational archaeological claim investigated by professional archaeologists. But NAMI can hardly be blamed for seeking funds for this very purpose by announcing the discovery. What is unfortunate is that NAMI does appear to have unnecessarily sensationalized what is inherently a sensational claim. There can be little doubt that this us because NAMI is a media company that develops dramatized documentaries in the interest of Christian evangelism. NAMI can hardly be blamed for doing its mission. But this does point to the necessity for an independent scientific organization to investigate the discovery.
Ordinary archaeology has a lot of expenses. The greatest expense in any enterprise is labor, offset especially in the case of biblical archaeology by enthusiasts who volunteer for digging and administration and by professionals willing to settle for minimal compensation due to the great love and devotion they have for their work. But this is no ordinary archaeological site. It is located at very dangerous sites at very high altitudes that require special adjustments. Mount Ararat, which the locals call Agri Dagh meaning Painful Mountain is an especially difficult and dangerous mountain. No one should be surprised that a Scottish missionary may have lost his life trying to get to the site of this discovery especially climbing alone. I would have lost my life going to the same site had I not had professional guides with specialized training and long mountain experience. And I am not the only visitor to the site of this discovery whose lives were saved by these same climbers.
Archaeological investigation of this site belongs to the new and very specialized field of alpine archaeology, pioneered by the discovery in the nineties of a man frozen and preserved in the Italian Alps from about the same era as appears this discovery. Alpine archaeology requires extraordinary expenses both for workers and for preservation of artifacts that have long been frozen. I spent more than $5,000 for the special clothing that I needed both to stay dry and warm and still be able to climb and work. Cost cutting is very dangerous in alpine archaeology. Parasut, the founder of the Mount Ararat Rescue organization, has rescued many climbers including some of his competitor Ark Searchers, but has never lost anyone on these mountains. He knows that cutting cost on equipment and taking risks to save time and money is deadly both to people and the project.
Authors’ claims of fraud associated with NAMI’s previously announced wood discovered on Mt Ararat
A considerable portion of this 33-page report concerns the analysis of a piece of wood or perhaps volcanic turf found in a cave on the mountain. NAMI reported it to be petrified wood, while Price and Patton claims it to be volcanic turf. Because this discovery appears to have little connection with the sensational 2010 announcement, it might be difficult to understand why the authors give this matter so much attention until one realizes that they were themselves very much involved with this earlier discovery. The authors’ claims of fraud with regard to this earlier discovery are based on
1. A photo of a water cave in NAMI’s paper published in Dr. Octay Belli’s 2008 Symposium on Mount Ararat and Noah’s Ark. The caption in NAMI’s paper indicates that the photo was taken on Mt. Ararat.
2. The coloration of the wooden sample in NAMI’s photos.
3. NAMI’s failure to mention Price and Patton’s geological report in their paper.
I confess that I have little interest in who is right in this particular controversy. I have looked at the geological report prepared for Don Patton by David R. McQueen dated February 18, 2008. McQueen reasonably considers the question as how wood from Noah’s Ark might possibly become petrified. Just what might be the sample, he comes to no definite conclusion, stating that “More work needs to be done on the object.” and suggests how that should be done. Thus the authors don’t seem to be properly representing their own expert.
If the sample is petrified wood, it is hardly likely from Noah’s Ark or any other human structure though young earth Creationists like Price and Patton do claim that petrified wood was a result of Noah’s Flood. NAMI claims to base their conclusion on a report from geologists at Hong Kong University. According to NAMI, they prefer to believe a report done by geologists at Hong Kong University to one overseen by Don Patton whose doctorate from a university (that Dr. Patton fails to identify in this report!) is in the field of education.
The lack of a degree in geology from a recognized geological institution does not mean that Don Patton cannot be a competent geologist. Don Patton however has been involved in other geological controversies such as his claim of finding human footprints in dinosaur tracks. Even young earth Creationists organizations such as ICR, who assisted with Price and Patton’s report, are suspicious of human footprints associated with dinosaur tracks because that contradicts their contention that evidence of humans appear entirely destroyed by Noah’s Flood.
Whatever the case, I am inclined to agree with Price and Patton that NAMI was either careless in not catching the incorrect caption on one of the photos in the report — though the authors fail to mention that many more photos present in NAMI’s paper were from Mount Ararat! — or else aimed to do what is so easily and frequently done in too much scientific reporting, whether consciously or unconsciously: presenting data in a most favorable light. A media company would be especially inclined to do so. While fraud is inappropriate for carelessness due to excitement, it was not my report that NAMI rejected.
Intentional Deception by Parasut in obtaining funds from the joint NAMI-American expedition and claim to the discovery of Noah’s Ark in 2008
Interestingly, this section of the authors’ report that I read when the authors published it in late 2010 was one of the most convincing and exciting evidences persuading me that a major discovery had indeed occurred. In 2010, I had never met Parasut. I did then already know Clara Wei who wrote most of the emails in this section, including the first that Price said he received from her on July 25, 2008.
I would like to share some confidential information here and everyone please keep it to yourself. Parasut has climbed Mt. Ararat since last weekend. He said the ice melt was up to 5,000m. He is convinced that he finally found the Ark. We had brief communications by SMS and telephone over the past few days. He is still on the mountain now. He told me he found a large wood structure on 4,900m and also ventured inside for several times. According to him, he found a lot of stuff inside, including pots, 2 meter long stick, food and etc. He said the structure was not horizontal but sliding downwards. To his puzzle, lot of the pots were half full of food. He asked me why but I was unable to answer. I warned him not to take anything away and he agreed. From the earlier communications, I found him rather shocked and excited. He has not decided what to do next. I asked him whether I should share this information with you and he said alright. But he refused to show any photos.
I am not sure of the direction of the location but he said is in the region the Americans applied for permit (he meant Ark Imaging). I think the location is higher than your one.
By then Parasut had been searching for the Ark for about 20 years. To understand why Parasut is excited, consider the hoopla over that amorphous piece of rock or wood about which Price and Patton give so much attention in this report. If a big event just to find something that might be wood, consider the massive wooden structure that Parasut has just found. He is stunned by what he has just uncovered. He doesn’t know what to think. He doesn’t know what to do. What he has found is not what he expected. It isn’t what anyone was expecting. He is simply reporting to Clara what he has found, hoping that it will make sense to her. The email is all the more credible in that it was shared by someone who is hostile to this discovery.
On July 8, Dr. Price receives another email from Clara.
Parasut is now back in Dogubayazit [He is now off the mountain.] I talked to him and it was really a difficult task. Now, he requests to double the fee(Euro 120,000) because he said that it is not the same deal. He said that we no longer go to “your” location but “his” location. I argued with him but failed. Here is his idea:
1. He can take four to eight persons to the mountain. Some more people can come and wait in Van. From the campsite to location is risky, he can take only for at a time. So, if more than 4 in the group, he has to split the group into two trials. 2. The team is not allowed to film, but they can take photos. The photos can only [be] used for internal fundraising purpose for a second full search, with helicopters taking equipment and all that. He wants the second search asap, not to wait another year. The team cannot disclose anything public without his consent. 3. He refused to send any photo yesterday. But today, he called me saying if we can give guarantee of Euro 9,000, he can send a photo of the pottery. 4. If we can make a deal; the team can climb the mountain next Monday, in condition that passport copies available and all money sent to him.
I know the budget you prepare is only Euro 60,000. Of course Yeun wants to join the expedition. If so, he will bear the other half. Problem will be solved. This morning he said he would give a reply today. But in the evening he said he needs more time and will reply tomorrow.
To understand what is happening, know that Parasut’s source, that I will not discuss here, has recently become concerned that Price’s Arc Imaging team are getting too close to the location of what the ancient residents of this mountain have always believed to be Noah’s Ark. This means that it is time for Parasut to stop guiding Ark Searchers to the places they wish to search and devote himself to the project for which he has prepared himself from childhood. It is also time for the world to know. But it must be done in a proper manner and that is going to take a lot of funding. The photos are his means of obtaining that funding.
Dr. Price replies to Clara Wei on the same day:
Of course we are not convinced that his site is not our site as our satellite data shows no other structure on the mountain than where we located and he seems to be quite near that location. However, he has made the discovery and is calling the shots at this point. We have to keep in view the historic nature of this discovery and the impact it will have for the future as we proceed. Again, it is essential that from the beginning professionals be involved so when the information can be released hat it will be understood that this is a “scientific” discovery and therefore convincing to the world. For this reason, an archaeologist must be included in the initial climb with Parasut.
Price continues in his email to negotiate the price and terms. Anyone interested in that can read the rest of his email in the Critique. On the same day, Clara sends him a response from Parasut:
About the location, I argued with him they should be the same one. But he just said “no, no, no, no, no.” He even said that he would take you to “your” location at the original price. But I am afraid with his location in mind, he will intentionally lead you to the wrong place!
Euro 9,000 is part of the grand total. When I reach him, I will see how to proceed and also ask Yuen to share. I hope Yeun will give a positive answer tomorrow. I know his organization is out of money for the moment.
The authors use this email as evidence of “fraud.” But notice that Clara Wei, who is negotiating the team that will visit the mountain, realizes that Parasut is very keen to protect the location he has just found. She doesn’t know the site of Price’s location where Parasut agreed to take him at the original price, but in case it is the same site she is concern that Parasut would deliberate take Price to a different place. In fact Parasut knows that the sites are different as above when he tells her “no, no, no, no, no.” Having just found what he believes is Noah’s Ark, he is no longer interested in Price’s site, but he can use Price’s money and will take Price to his site if Price still wants to go there.
Clara Wei’s email continues
He welcomes the involvement of an archaeologist in the trip. In the early communications with him when he was still on the mountain, he wanted me to send an invitation to all Ark researchers around the world for a joint expedition. And every team has to pay. But Yeun rejected the idea. Though Parasut does not allow us for filming, I suspect he would bring a camera man with him and keeps the tapes for himself. But I think if we continue the search in the future, he will release the film to us later. To my understanding, when the right moment comes, he wants to disclose the finding and give it to the government for protection. Of course, after he has earned enough money.
Parasut is in the tourism, climbing, and Ark Searching business. He does want to earn money with his new discovery. He realizes that archaeological authorities will eventually be in charge of the discovery, Perhaps he will remain involved, but so might others. Until this becomes a designated archaeological site, he is free to take Ark Searchers there on his own terms. Price the archaeologist and the Ark Searchers will assist in confirming the discovery. But he wants for himself the rights to filming this discovery resulting from his proprietary secrets. This is smart business. It is not fraud.
Claims of fraud based on photos of the Ark site
The authors claim they were defrauded based on photos that were not from the Ark site. In fact, the photos in this section of the authors’ Critique were not from the site of the discovery. What the authors omit is that these photos that Parasut provided to Price in September 2008 are subsequent to the photos from the site that Dr. Price was given in June 2008, as Dr. Price states in a 5/7/2010 post to his website (see Appendix). Dr. Price also acknowledges being shown at a hotel in Van, Turkey photos of the site that NAMI released in the 2010 announcement.
Randall Price notes that Parasut became angry when Dr. Price questioned the pottery as being from the site. Parasut is also beginning to suspect Dr. Price’s involvement with the Ark Search LLC Expedition led by his arch-rival Richard Bright. I will discuss the pottery below, but when Price demanded photos of the exterior of the site where Parasut found the pottery, Parasut provided exterior sites of cave exteriors though not from the site of Parasut’s discovery.
Suspicion that Parasut climbs without permits.
The authors claim that Parasut offered to let them climb the mountains without the proper military permit to climb off the Federation Trail. The authors acknowledge this a mere suspicion due to Parasut handing them DAKUT shirts and due to an email from Clara Wei that mentions her and a cameraman needing to hide. DAKUT is the mountain rescue organization founded by Parasut. Note that Clara Wei’s email also mentions some trouble on the mountain, but the hiding is surely due to efforts to keep secret the location of this important site. It is my experience that Parasut is extremely cautious about permits. This is due to the fact that his business depends on climbing permits. Any infraction would jeopardize if not shut down his business. Probably the last thing that Parasut would do would be to take Randall Price to the mountain without proper permits.
On the other hand, Don Patton mentions in this very report (page 22) “We camped that night in an obscure location to avoid being seen.” As I will explain below, Patton is moving into the restricted area off the Federation Trail to visit what he claims is Parasut’s site. Price and Patton appear to be projecting their method of climbing illegally onto Parasut.
Claims that the site was fabricated as a movie set
This is the only serious charge in the authors’ report, but it is a most serious one. It includes: (1) the transcript of an interview with a worker who claims to have assisted with the construction of a movie set that is the basis of NAMI’s announcement; (2) a detailed explanation of how the site was fabricated; (3) Don Patton’s visit and investigation of the site; (4) an apparently fabricated board that Don Patton claims to have found at the site.
The authors are basing their serious charge from an anonymous witness! The photo of their masked informant pictured at right was taken from a video produced by one of the authors.
The relevant information from the transcript of the authors interview with the anonymous witness is incorporated in the authors’ explanation below. My comments will follow each paragraph of their explanation of how the site was fabricated.
Authors’ explanation of how the site was fabricated
The plans for this project started four years ago. The caves were created by melting the snow and glacial ice with fire and gas. Once they melted out a part of the snow they inserted the wood. In one cave they put wood in and photographed it in the cave and then took it out. The wood that was left outside in the snow was three meters long. Three of these caves are located just off the Federation Way (Trail) at the 4200 meter camp area, although others are a distance from these. The big room never existed.
Know that the authors are themselves involved with a rival project on the summit of Mount Ararat that does involve melting or removing snow whether with fire and gas I don’t know. Though extremely dangerous, what the authors’ team are doing at their rival project on the summit and what is proposed here is not so difficult. But what would be incredibly challenging is removing the many tons of frozen volcanic rock overlying the buried site that NAMI shows in their videos. From my own experience, I know that merely visiting this site is trepidatious. But it is the melting of the ice that loosens the rocks that makes it so very dangerous even when one is not deliberately melting the ice. Carrying large timbers to these heights and transporting them by hand across a dangerous canyon would be most challenging, but the dangers and difficulties of that would be nothing like digging into the frozen ground to remove these very large but unstable rocks. Due to the special needs of operating at these heights that would require a far larger operation than the authors propose here. Another danger are the large rocks that regularly tumble down the mountain, which the authors themselves experienced in their attempt to visit what they believe to be the site.
According to our Kurdish sources Parasut has four partners: two Chinese (one woman, one man) and two businessmen from the Black Sea area. About a year and a half ago Parasut hired Kurdish workers to start working on building the sites. They employed 30 workmen who were not told what they were doing — just do the job and get paid — ask no question and tell no one anything. Nine people were working at any one time and worked for a period of two weeks every year (and will work two weeks before Hong Kong people come this year). They started after it got too cold for tourists to climb the mountain and they could work alone. According to one source some of the wood came from an old barn, however, other sources said the large wood came from a ferryboat from the city of Trabzon near the Black Sea that Parasut bought with the Chinese. The workers also brought things from the Hot Springs at Kaplica (at Diydan).
The two Chinese partners mentioned here are probably Panda Lee and Clara Wei. Panda Lee is a devout Christian of notable sincerity and humility. Both are well known to many of us. The Black Sea “businessmen” is Turkey’s number one rock climber and his cameraman. His assistance is needed due to the great danger of these sites. The number of workers, nine working at any one time, sounds reasonable for a large expedition to the site. That number
working for 2 weeks as noted is about what is required simply to obtain access to these buried sites, but certainly not for the impossible task of building what is visited.
The wood was carried by large trucks to 2,500 meters and then by horses to 3,700 meters. Then each worker carried two pieces of wood until all of it was at the site. They started by putting the wood on the ground to make floors. Then they made sides and finally a roof. There is a ladder in one cave that leads down to the wood. The workers took ash (see photo of a sample of this ash) and rubbed it on the wood to make it look old.
They piled up snow against the wood frame they built and let the rain, snow, and ice cover everything inside and out. Rocks and other things fell off the roof and one caved in. The government may or may not have known about the transportation of the wood and the construction of the structures, but, as our source said, the government is only interested in furthering tourism since the economy is so poor, so they probably wouldn’t care or say even if they knew. The workers said they worked for about one month from around November 1 until December.
The time of yearly construction that the authors unidentified source mentions has somehow expanded from 2 weeks mentioned previously to one month here. Perhaps the extra 2 weeks are seen here as needed for hauling and carrying the timbers. That is going to be a lot of traffic on the Federation Trail. Even if the government didn’t know, surely many in Ararat Village and Elli Nomad Village as well as Dogubayazit did notice all those large trucks and horses headed up and down the mountain. The authors’ Ark Search LLC use these same porters and horses. It is very difficult to operate at 4,000 plus meters. Surely Parasut would have thought of processing the wood to make it look old before carrying it to the site. But wasn’t he suppose to have brought old wood to the site! In any case, rubbed ash isn’t going to adhere to the wood like tar pitch or a coat of paint. In truth, no amount of onsite processing is going to make the wood look old, or obtain the appearance of the wood shown in NAMI’s photos. (See below.) The numerous tons of rocks that would need to be removed would be piled up and would surely be falling on the structure. But due to the now buried built structure, the exterior should still have a very large pile of leftover rocks. Anyone, including Price and Patton should easily find Parasut’s site.
Parasut took many old things to put into places in the structure like stone bowls, seeds, and a rock. The piece of old wood that the Chinese gave to be tested was just a single piece that came from Alamut, a 3,500 year-old castle locate 20 km from the city of Esfahan, Iran. Parasut also put straw and other things on the floors.
As I will explain below, Parasut showed Price pottery that appears to me to date precisely from Noah’s time. Parasut isn’t an archaeologist. How did he know the kind of pottery that might be found in the Ark and from what archaeological museum did he obtain it? Apparently, not even Dr. Price knows the kind of pottery that would date his discovery precisely to the era of Noah’s Ark. And why ever would Parasut think people would expect to find seeds and straw still in Noah’s Ark! When announced, that became an immediate cause of skepticism. But these are just the kind of surprises that occur in important archaeological discoveries that profoundly change our understanding of the world and its history.
When the people heard on the news that Parasut had found the Ark many of them laughed, but others said they would keep quiet because it would be good to bring in the tourists.
Authentic or not, one might expect just such a reaction from many locals.
Parasut will not try to go inside until after the Sport Climb (Federation Way) route is closed and the site is frozen up again. The workers plan to return in October to work again, this time building the “house of Noah.” They said that Parasut told them this project would continue for many years and that he would continue to put more old things inside. He said that Parasut planned to open a museum in Dogubayazit to exhibit things the people would bring out from inside.
More than 5 years since this report, the “house of Noah” is not to be seen on the north side of the mountain as the authors elsewhere mention as the purported site of “Noah’s house.” Perhaps, this anonymous source is referring to Noah’s Village, a tourist project that the businessman Parasut is developing, though on the south side of the mountain. Parasut does have a tourist attraction museum as
part of that project. Or perhaps, the anonymous source has also overheard his mention of the scientific museum under an independent archaeological authority that would be necessary for the archaeological investigation of the site.
According to Hale Ibrahim Sahin, second in authority in the government of Dogubayazit (like a Lieutenant Governor), the majority of the local authorities know about Parasut’s hoax, but few will say anything because any focus on the city will boost tourism which is sorely needed. He mentioned one official who went on television to denounce discovery of the “Ark” as a local man’s scheme. At first, quite a number of officials and locals believed the account, but once some of the workers began to talk the word spread of how the site was built and most people changed their opinion, and now know the story is not true.
When one of Parasut’s Kurdish workers saw Parasut interviewed on TV, claiming that he had found and entered the Ark, the worker realized that Parasut was talking about what he himself had helped build. Parasut paid well and the worker needed the money to support his family, but he did not like being part of a fraud. One of his Kurdish friends was part of the team that worked with Dr. Price and Dr. Patton. Though this friend’s influence he agreed to guide Dr. Patton his friend to the “Chinese” site and reveal to him what they had been building.
This is the kind of gossip and reaction that one might expect to the announcement of such an amazing discovery.
The authors visit to NAMI’s site
According to the authors
Parasut and NAMI have assiduously protected the location of their site(s). However they do not have the right to such exclusion, especially in view of the nature of their claim and lack of independent verification to support it. We became aware of the location of the site(s) in the spring of 2010, but conditions on the mountain precluded an expedition until the late summer. However, on August 8-10, 1010, our Ark Search LLC expedition videographer Pedro Veneers was take to the NAMI site by two Kurds who had personal knowledge of the site.
Of course, Parasut and NAMI do have every right to keep this location from their competitors. But spying on a competitor is unethical while doing so without the proper permits is also illegal! According to their anonymous source above, Parasut builds the site in stages, but the authors are saying here that the “staged Ark” has to be rebuilt every year due to it being destroyed each year by the glacier, of course explaining why the authors can neither find nor show what appears in NAMI’s photographs and videos.
The authors provide GPS coordinates of these sites, which they claim as NAMI’s. One site is at an elevation of 13,114 feet and the other at 13,200 feet. They ‘offer this information with an invitation to any who are able, and can obtain the required government-issued permit, to investigate the site(s) for themselves.’ A question here is why a reputable archaeologist would be visiting this restricted area of the mountain without permits if that is why Dr. Patton ‘camped that night in an obscure location to avoid being seen.’ Or perhaps this is why Dr. Price did not accompany his colleagues to investigate what they believed the site(s) of the discovery. If so, the authors are doing precisely what on mere suspicion they accuse Parasut of “Fraud with Respect to Having Military Permit to Access their Site.” (see above)
With the required military permit, I did visit the site where Parasut took NAMI, but it was much further up the mountain than the sites mentioned here. NAMI also denies ever visiting the site where the authors claim the discovery is to be found.
To be sure, the entire Red Canyon has similar appearance with crevices and cracks appearing here and there at various times of the year depending on the movement of the big rocks and glacier. The entry to the site I visited was covered as soon as we exited the site. I doubt that Drs. Price or Patton would have known they were at the site of the discovery had they been standing upon the rock covering the entrance. Due to the frequent changes in the canyon, Parasut’s workers may themselves have trouble finding the site. Had the authors’ anonymous Kurdish worker who guided Don Patton to the site ever been to the site, he either couldn’t remember the location or else deliberately took them to another location.
Notice the black board propped against the rock just to the left of Don Patton’s right arm (see red arrow). The authors seem to have failed to notice the board is present here. Has Don Patton taken it from where he is standing, in what he understands is the NAMI site?
Did, as he claimed, find this blackened board it floating in the crevice at another ‘site where he claims NAMI’s Ark was constructed’? (below)
Or was this board that Dr. Patton claims to have found at the NAMI site brought to the mountain along with the tripod in Don Patton’s left hand. (see above)
Authors’ explanation as to how the wood was fabricated If this blacken board was taken to the site, it was likely fabricated in the same way that the authors contend that the wood from NAMI’s site was fabricated.
The problem with this board that we can agree with the authors has been recently fabricated by someone is that it is so very unlike anything that appears in NAMI’s photos. (See next page.)
Nor does it look anything like the wood that I observed on my visit. This board has indeed been blackened either from the soot pictured above, from the surface having been burned, from having been coated with a black pigment, or perhaps a combination of these methods.
However it was done, it lacks the surface rot or aged look that appears on the wood in all of NAMI’s photos (See photos on the next page).
In fact, from the photos provided by the authors at left, one can see the obviously fresh wood between the deep cracks and near the splintered end where this board has been cut.
The narrow growth rings of the board contrasts with the exceptionally large and even growth rings in the wood I observed at the site. The width and shape of the board shown here is nothing like those wide boards in NAMI’s photos and nothing like what I observed on my visit to the site. It lacks the regularly space square holes by which these boards are fastened with long square pegs.
Due to the need to cut wood in order to fabricate a site, there ought to have been plenty of such evidence of fabrication in the photos and videos shown by NAMI. The complete lack of evidence of recent fabrication in the photos on the next page is one reason I instantly knew that the NAMI photos were showing some wooden structure that had long resided at just the place shown.
One of the most interesting parts of Price and Patton’s report is the section that the authors label ‘Missing Artifact from the Parasut/NAMI “Ark.”‘ The authors mention ‘the claim by Parasut that a large assemblage of pottery filled some parts of the Ark.’ Dr. Price ‘hoped these photos would provide proof of the antiquity of the structure. As an archaeologist, Dr. Price looked them over and also sent them to an expert in regional pottery in Eastern Turkey. His conclusion was that the pottery came from Iran, and Dr. Price, as well as two Israeli archaeologists who looked at the photos, agreed that many of the pieces where wheel-made, and therefore of a much later period than that of the biblical Ark.’
The authors do not mention the period that Price and his Israeli expert date this pottery. Clara Wei tells me, that Price informed her that the pottery was “Hellenistic.” That is from about 330BC-50BC. Whether from the site or from the real Noah’s Ark, it should not be surprising that the pottery might be related to types found in western Iran only about 12 miles from the site.
These are photographs of pottery that the authors acknowledge that Parasut showed them as evidence of having found the Ark.
According to the authors, ‘Clara said he admitted that these photos were taken inside the “Ark.”‘ In the eyes of this reviewer who understands the significance of this pottery, that is a wonderful admission! The authors further acknowledge: ‘Parasut also gave us in October 2008 photos of himself inside a wooden structure (some of the same photos being circulated by NAMI today).’ Price seems to have initially believed that these pictures are from the site, but because NAMI didn’t use them in the press release, Price reckons they must have been planted.
Now wherever this pottery came from, it isn’t Hellenistic but does appear to date precisely from the time of Noah, the Early Bronze Age. But Price cannot believe that because some of the pieces are wheel made. Now, massive amounts of wheel-made pottery dating from the Early Bronze Age, the time of Noah, are found all over the Ancient Near East. It might be difficult to understand why Price rejects this as being from Noah’s Ark owing to the fact that it is wheel made unless one understands that Price is a young earth Creationist. Young earth Creationists date Noah to a much earlier archaeological period, well before the era of wheel-made pottery.
The leading young earth Creationists date all human remains from after the Flood including the earliest human remains that appear during the Ice Age. Important to understand, young earth Creationists follow the standard relative archaeological dating with regard to human remains, though they see the absolute dating of all these remains as chronologically dating after the Flood (c.2350BC). They even reckon the Ice Age as having come after the Flood! In fact, archaeologists date all pottery from the Neolithic, well after the Ice Age. That explains why Price would see all this pottery as intrusive, possibly brought to the Ark, if this is the Ark, for some kind of ceremony. ‘The figurine may have been to commemorate the people or animals preserved on the Ark, and the pottery may have contained food offerings.’
Now pottery is the standard method of archaeological dating. If one doesn’t like the dates given by the pottery, he can suppose it intrusive, as Dr. Price probably did as explained above when he believed the pottery may have come from the site of what might be Noah’s Ark. But the pottery here is also giving the same dates as the NAMI’s published radiocarbon dating. Dr. Price was not aware of the method in which the boards on this site were fastened, a ship-building method that also dates to the era of Noah. But young earth Creationist theory notwithstanding, Noah and those with him who had the capabilities of building such a large ship, would surely have known how to make pottery vessels for eating. Those heavy stone dishes are not the kind of vessels that folks would carry up to such a high and difficult site.
It is important to understand that however much Dr. Price regards himself as the appropriate archaeological authority, his young earth Creationist way of dating isn’t accepted by mainstream archaeology. He could not authenticate this discovery in the eyes of a world that accepts mainstream archaeology even if he had the archaeological authority and permits to do so.
Analysis of NAMI Photographic Evidence
The authors relate what they see as 3 serious problems with the wooden structure portrayed in NAMI’s photos:
(1) The wood is not coated with “pitch” as the biblical text requires. Genesis says that all of the wood that made up the Ark was coated inside and outside with “pitch” (probably a tree resin). It may be argued that this only applied to the exterior of the Ark and that the “rooms” portrayed is the Ark’s interior, but there is no evidence in the photos that these are interior rooms and not the inside of the exterior which would have been coated with ‘pitch.”
(2) The wood has not been identified as to its type, and no point has been made of this by NAMI which should have been the case if this were ancient “gopher wood” which was a unique and now unknown type of wood.
(3) The entire structure is deep inside a “cave,” not simply collapsed rock and glacial ice over the structure. Parasut’s own testimony is that the Ark was in a “cave” and originally showed us photos (see above) of natural caves. Later the story changed to a structure “slanting downward” inside a cave, but it was still a cave. How could the Ark get inside the “cave,” and how could its remains have ever been witnessed by any of the scores of eyewitnesses who claim to have seen it through the years?
The authors then mention the 7 spaces in the wooden structure visited by NAMI, questioning the large room, which they suggest that NAMI never entered. They end their report by a reference to an analysis of NAMI’s photos by Dr. David Liang, former Head and Thrust Leader of Space Systems and Technologies within Canada’s Department of Defense, a “civilian scientist with equivalent military rank of one star General in charge of all research and development activities within Canadian Department of Defense for Surveillance of Space, Surveillance from Space, Ballistic Missile Defense as well as Nuclear radiation activities.”
The authors first question above seems to be based on the fact that not all the wood in NAMI’s photos were coated with the black substance as is the case with other boards, especially those on certain walls. Their peculiar reading of the Genesis text would seem to indicate that not only was Noah to coat with pitch the wood from the Ark that would be in contact with water, but interior walls, ladders, benches, cages and and feeding troughs.
Now it would be wise, as in the case of basement walls, to waterproof both the inside and outside of the hull of a wooden ship. The external coating would slow if not prevent water from penetrating the wood. But over the space of almost a year that the Ark would be in contact with the water, various hairline cracks and defects in the coating of pitch, perhaps due to flotsam in the water rocking against the Ark, would appear. In these cases, the internal coating would greatly assist in keeping the Ark dry, much as a similar process today helps keep basement walls dry. But why would they suppose these instruction might be intended for internal wood? Should the water reach this wood, its penetration there would be the least of Noah’s problems.
As to the second question, the authors are correct that NAMI has not identified the type of wood used to build the wooden structure. If this really is Noah’s Ark, that would answer a long sought question: what is gopher wood. They are also correct in summarizing that NAMI’s climbing permit does not allow for scientific testing or publishing the results of the same.
The authors’ third question indicates the difficulty the authors had from the beginning and as appears continue to have in understanding Parasut’s discovery. The very thing that initially impressed me concerning Parasut’s report appears to have but confused the authors. They wonder ‘How could the Ark get inside a “cave” and how could its remains have ever been witnessed by any of the scores of eyewitness who claim to have seen it over the years.’
As I reasoned, that could explain why no one of these ‘scores of eyewitnesses’ had any photos or could identify the location. But I knew that numerous artificial structures from ancient times, having been buried by natural processes, as also the case here, now appear as caves. The authors are of course thinking of natural caves. Parasut surely wanted these men who he discovered were working with his rivals to think in such a fashion.
The authors’ last question concerned the large room pictured below which NAMI only photographed and never entered. So? This room appears similar to some photos that I have seen that are from the site.
It is beyond the scope of my review of this Critique to address Dr. Liang’s many questions. I am not surprised that a systems developer like Dr. Liang would have many questions about NAMI’s photos. I am a systems developer. It is the job of systems developers to question, to be skeptical, and to gain understanding by doing so. As in the case of the authors of this Critique, Dr. Liang is offended that NAMI doesn’t answer his numerous questions. But Dr. Liang is neither an archaeologist nor an expert in wood fabrication. Even if he had such expertise, NAMI lacks the archaeological authority to obtain the answers to his many questions.
The Ark searching rivalry in Dogubayazit
As the authors note in their introduction, Drs. Price and Patton are respectively the archaeologist and the geologist associated with Ark Search LLC Expedition to Mt Ararat. Though both NAMI and Parasut wanted an archaeologist on their team, Parasut’s discovery of the authors association with Ark Search LLC Expedition was his reason for refusing their participation in his discovery. Price claims that he joined the Ark Search LLC Expedition only after Parasut dismissed him from NAMI’s team in September, 2008. That happen after Dr. Price climbed with the Ark Search LLC Expedition. But Parasut tells me that he already suspected Price’s association with the Ark Search LLC Expedition even before he noticed one of that organization’s staff pick up Price at his hotel. In their Critique, Price mentions his first meeting with Richard Bright the head of the Ark Search LLC Expedition as occurring in January, 2008, even earlier than his brief association with NAMI later that year.
To understand Parasut’s concerns, one needs to understand the nature of the Ark Searching business in Dogubayazit, the town at the foot of the southern side of Mount Ararat where most expeditions to climb Mount Ararat begin. One might compare Dogubayazit to a 19th century town in the American West, though in Turkey frontier towns and economic development are in the far east of the country and there are more sheep, goats, and donkeys moving through the streets than cattle and horses more typical in the towns of American Westerns. The “Federal Calvary,” the Turkish Military are present in town as are “hostile natives” in surrounding mountains. There is a lot of traffic due to visitors going to and from Turkey to the nearby border of Iran, but one of the biggest business in Dogubayazit is mountain climbing and searching for Noah’s Ark. Currently, the two main Ark Searching enterprises in Dogubayazit are operated respectively by Parasut and by the former airline pilot Richard (Dick) Bright, Director of the Ark Search LLC Expedition.
The son of the superintendent of the scenic Isaak Pasha Palace that overlooks Dogubayazit and Mount Ararat, Ahmet Ertugrul, that is Parasut, was himself born in the Palace. From an early age, he met many famous Ark Searchers who frequented the restaurant at the Palace operated by his family, among them the astronaut James Irwin. He began climbing the mountain and taking climbing lessons from an early age. He would eventually found DAKUT, the Mount Ararat rescue organization. Parasut’s interest in searching for Noah’s Ark stemmed from stories that he learned from childhood from his mother’s family who lived on the mountain.
Richard Bright, an American, came to Dogubayazit to assist the Ark Searching of the late astronaut Jim Irwin. Bright strongly believes that Noah’s Ark is to be found on the northwest section of Mount Ararat. As a young man, Parasut served as Dick Bright’s guide. Parasut guided many Ark Searchers to sites on the mountain where they wanted to search for Noah’s Ark but had his own Ark Searching ambitions based on information passed down from family members who lived on the mountain. As depicted in Bruce Feiler’s New York Times bestseller, Walking the Bible, Parasut is often regarded as the unofficial mayor of Dogubayazit. He is certainly a respected member of the local establishment.
After Parasut and Dick Bright parted ways, Bright began using the services of Parasut’s rival, the Murat brothers who run a bar and campground in Dogubayazit. Through clients like Dick Bright, the Murat brothers bring a lot of money to the town and to local climbers, but have a reputation for violence and frequent encounters with the law. On the evening of my first visit to
Dogubayazit, I heard gunshots. The next morning my guide, who was not Parasut, informed me that someone was arrested for a shooting that night at Murat Camping.
NAMI employed Parasut as their guide in their search for Noah’s Ark. Randall Price came to Dogubayazit associated with another group led by Don Shockey who were searching for Noah’s Ark near the summit of Mount Ararat using information from satellite images. NAMI, Price, and Parasut sought to combine their Ark Searching programs, but Parasut grew suspicious that Price was working with his competitor. When Price actually climbed the mountain with Richard Bright, Parasut rejected him from participation in his new discovery.
The efforts of Richard Bright, Randall Price, Don Patton, and others to find Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat since the writing of this Critique were featured in the movie “Finding Noah,” released in October of 2015. The movie features the five-year search at two locations: near the summit where exist the anomaly that the authors mention in their Critique and in a glacier on the northwestern part of the mountain, perhaps near where Richard Bright believes the location of Noah’s Ark. The great hopes of these men of finding Noah’s Ark were chronicled, along with the great disappointed of their finding “not so much as a splinter” of wood on the mountain.
The movie ends with a note of despair that Noah’s Ark would ever be found. The narrative of ‘Finding Noah’ defends their quest as due to an ever present human longing to seek the unknown. Such a humanistic defense hardly builds confidence in the Bible. The sensation and excitement over their expedition chronicled in the beginning of the movie that ends with despair of ever finding Noah’s Ark would appear to create precisely the “Cry Wolf” syndrome as the authors warn in their Critique.
Sadly, the authors’ charges of fraud against NAMI and Parasut defended in this Critique were also mentioned in the movie. However brief that mention, it was immediately followed by an interview with the brother of the Scottish missionary who disappeared trying to seek the site of NAMI’s announcement. The placement of this interview in the movie suggests that NAMI and Parasut were responsible for his disappearance and likely death.
The issue of anonymous accusers
There are two authors of this Critique. According to Clara Wei, she has emails from Dr. Price seeking to be part of the NAMI team almost to the day of the April 28, 2010 announcement. An email from Clara that Dr. Price himself published on his website seems to indicate that he is indeed seeking to remain on the team, but NAMI is rejecting Dr. Price’s offer.
It is at this point when Dr. Price realizes that he will never be part of the NAMI announcement or team that Dr. Price sees it as his duty to mention to his supporters that he has heard rumors that about this discovery being based on a hoax. He did not intend for his email to become public, but someone sent it to the scholar Dr. Michael Heiser who posted it on his Paleobabble blog site. The Christian Science Monitor newspaper picked it up from Heiser’s blog site and broke the story about a possible hoax.
The slant appearing in most news reports was that an archaeologist who actually believed in the historicity of Noah’s Ark had rejected his involvement with the NAMI announcement based on ethical concerns with the announcement team. If such a believing archaeologist with close and prior knowledge of this discovery rejected the honor of being involved with such an historic announcement, why would anyone else trust it? In the media, Dr. Price became the authority on this discovery as he reckons himself to be and so desires. Dr. Price received the media attention that he was seeking, though not for his search for the Ark as he intended but as the supposed authority on NAMI’s announcement.
Now the media are not to rely on anonymous sources for serious accusations, especially when coming from a rival of the accused. They are also expected to vet their stories, but the esteemed Christian Science Monitor is a trusted paper. Moreover, as I explain in the next section, this announcement sounded “too good to be true,” thus it must be another one of those Noah’s Ark announcements or hoaxes that regularly appear. Few in the media mentioned that Dr. Price was a rival Ark Searcher and was refusing to disclose the source of his accusation.
One must understand that Dr. Price truly believes or else hopes in the instruments that have found an “anomaly” near the summit of Mount Ararat. One would expect Dr. Price to spend all his resources on investigating his anomaly and ignore the hoax from his rivals, but Dr. Price realizes the seriousness of his accusation. He understands that he is going to need more information to support his charge. Hence the expensive even illegal expedition to NAMI’s site and their 35-page Critique. The problem is that this Critique continues to rely on an anonymous source.
Using anonymous sources as the basis of serious accusations, as do the authors of this report is acceptable in totalitarian countries, with the readers of gossip tabloids, and in the Spanish Inquisition. For the accused, it is a cruel fate. Even the cruel Romans required that the accused be allowed to face his accuser (Acts 25:16)
Since Dr. Price continue to use an anonymous source in this Critique, on Nov 29,2010, I wrote the officials of Liberty University where Dr. Price serves as adjunct professor to find out whether they regarded this as acceptable. I received from their Dr. Reginald Hawkins, the following letter dated December 8, 2010.
The authors’ forged affidavit
Whether due to pressure from his university, within weeks Randall Price posted the following letter on his World of the Bible website, with a translation from the Turkish just below the letter.
The brothers acknowledge working with Parasut making a film set on the mountain, but only learned from television and the newspapers that it was “Noah’s Ark” they were building. After leaning of this, they no longer work with him. They are very sorry about the false news. Thus they write this letter to Randall and friends.
Strangely, the brothers’ names and signatures have no last names. But Parasut does have two brothers Davut and Ergan Gimril who are loyal and trusted workers, the only two brothers in Turkey with those names who are licensed mountain guides. Within days these brothers appeared on NAMI’s website showing that the signatures in the letter to not match the signatures on their Turkish identification cards. They are angry and upset that someone has forged their names to a letter they did not write.
Within hours, the obviously forged letter was removed from the World of the Bible website. It was replaced by a note promising that the source of the letter was being investigated. The authors not only refuse to identify the sources of their accusation, they post accusations from a source who even Randall Price does not know. Even this note promising to investigate the source soon disappeared from Dr. Price’s website. (See Appendix A for a mention of the note from a website friendly to Dr. Price.) More information on the source of the letter however was posted to Dr. Patton’s website, along memes taunting NAMI (which I delete from the portion of Dr. Patton’s website that I highlight below in blue below and on the next page):
So it was Richard Bright, Director of the Ark Search LLC Expedition team to which the authors belong, who provided the letter. I am inclined to agree with Don Patton’s assertion that Randall Price had nothing to do with forging the letter except perhaps for pressure he placed on his partners in Turkey to get some names for his anonymous source so that he might share with his university and the public.
Dr. Price’s partners, including the co-author of this Critique, are now providing him with three new stories for Davut and Ergan’s earnest and angry testimony concerning the letter with their forged names. It was all Parasut’s fault. Either (1) Parasut had forged the letter and provided it [to Richard Bright(!)?] in an attempt to entrap Randall Price so as to create a smokescreen away from NAMI and their participation in Parasut’s fraud; (2) the letter wasn’t a forgery and Davut and Ergan were innocent victims whose testimony on NAMI’s site denying their authorship Parasut had forced at gunpoint; or (3) Davut and Ergan weren’t innocent victims but were bribed by Parasut.
Dr. Price seems to have chosen the second story for interviews with various Christian media that follow this incident. He suggest that Parasut forced Davut and Ergan to deny their authorship of the letter by threats to their lives. In the same interviews, Price expresses fears for his own safety. Price understands that Parasut has reasons to be angry with him concerning
these accusations. But over the next few years, Price will bravely return to Dogubayazit and even climb the mountain in the very town where Parasut has such great influence.
The authors defense of their use of anonymous witnesses to the hoax has has changed from their initial one of not compromising their expedition to ‘witness protection.’ Those concerns should be addressed with the proper law enforcement authorities, but whatever his claims, the anonymous witness will be in no danger in Dogubayazit where helpful suggestions to encourage a client are expected from rival climbers and rival campgrounds. Likely, the witness protection sought here is to prevent the witness from answering questions, from getting cross-examined about his claims, and from becoming even more unpopular with the residents of Dogubayazit.
Davut and Ergan were certainly not forced to disavow the letter that had forged their names. I have myself gotten to know Davut and Ergan. I visited their home in January, 2013, taken to their home in Ararat Village by Mehmet, one of Parasut’s competitor guides. During this visit, Parasut remained in Istanbul. I found the brothers to be close and trusted members of Parasut’s team. When Parasut confronted them with the letter signed with their names, they knew nothing about it. But they were most upset that someone had forged their names on a document with false information concerning their activities.
Davut and Ergan also accompanied me on my visit to the buried wooden structure on Mount Ararat, November 8-9, 2014. Though their grandmother passed away just after I arrived, these brothers risked their lives to make sure my visit was safe. As they were preparing for my visit on the mountain, a surprise wind and snow storm arose during the night, destroying the mess tent where they were sleeping. These climbers had to keep running down the mountain in the dark hours of the early morning just to keep from freezing.Parasut woke me to tell me that he had to make an emergency trip to the mountain to rescue these climbers.
I have a special affection for Davut who saved my own life when I was too stricken with altitude sickness to get off the mountain before darkness set in and the same death by freezing. As the others climbed down the mountain to safety, Davut patiently encouraged my every step between long periods of resting. Further down the mountain, Parasut was desperately seeking a horse by which to rescue me. I will never forget Davut’s encouraging words about the possibility of horse coming and the sweet sight when at last the horse arrived. Ergan, this reviewer, Davut, and Mehmet my guide at the Gimril’s home My photograph of Davut as he photographs the buried wooden structure.
Root of the skepticism: “Too good to be true!”
Ark Searching, like truth searching, is a painful enterprise. The truth may not be what we wish. The authors were trusting that they had found Noah’s Ark on the summit of Mount Ararat, or if not there, on the northwest side of the mountain where Richard Bright thought it could be found. They were intrigued by NAMI’s confidence in Parasut, but Parasut having rejected them, they hoped that this discovery would not eclipse their many years of work. After their rejection, they wanted to believe their source who claimed that the NAMI announcement was based on a hoax.
However understandable that he might wish the announcement from a team who had rejected him might be but a hoax, Dr. Price should not have reported gossip to his supporters. But Dr. Price did not intend that his suspicions be made so public, to go viral. When that happened, he found himself in an embarrassing position, though he also acquired considerable fame. Sadly, these false charges and Dr. Price’s fame came at the expense of suffering and sorrow to NAMI, to Parasut, to Clara Wei, to Panda Lee and to believers all over the world who have great hopes in this discovery.
But Dr. Price is not to be signally blamed for what happen. He did from the beginning mention that his suspicions were based on a rumor. He never made a secret of the fact that he was involved with a rival search for Noah’s Ark and that his witness(s) remained anonymous. Thus, why did a great scholar like Dr. Michael Heiser report gossip coming from a rival Ark Searcher based on an anonymous source? It is inexcusable that a venerable newspaper like the Christian Science Monitor would break a story like that without an investigation. At this reviewer’s request Dr. Price’s own Liberty University do appear to have pressured their professor concerning his anonymous witness. As a result, Dr. Price himself became the victim of a hoax.
But the blame and the pain are far wider than those so directly involved. Every news source that reported the story should have noticed these facts. Likewise all who took the cynical view about this discovery despite the powerful evidence that NAMI presented share responsibility. NAMI’s pain, Parasut’s pain, Clara Wei’s pain, and Panda Lee’s pain were shared by their families and by every believer throughout the world who entertained great hopes for this discovery.
Dr. Price’s original charges that the NAMI’s announcement might be based on a hoax ended with this statement:
Therefore, the only public statement he [Dr. Price] wishes to make at this time is that he believes that the greater the claim the greater the evidence needs to be to support it ….
Price is quoting the great skeptic David Hume writing in 1748 who applied his maxim to Jesus’s resurrection and all other miracles of the Bible. A problem with Hume and Price’s maxim is that all evidence of extraordinary events get dismissed before they can accumulate for the simple reason that it is evidence for the extraordinary. Jesus’ resurrection and the account of Noah’s Ark are surely among the most supernatural, most extraordinary events recorded in the Bible.
The enemy’s of Jesus’s resurrection were also involved in a fraud to claim that the resurrection confirmed by an empty tomb was a fraud. (Matt 28: 11-15). But the disciples of Jesus had plenty of ‘convincing proofs’ that Jesus was still alive (Acts 1:3). The discovery that is the subject of the authors’ Critique also has more witnesses than those mentioned in the authors’ critique,
including this reviewer. Though I had a few doubts concerning the authenticity of the discovery, I was able to visit the site as part of my own investigation. Though the passage I entered was dark and narrow, it appeared that I was walking along what appeared a bowed wall about 15-
feet high, with evidence of levels below and above me. A full report on that is beyond the scope of this review, but I can attest here that my eyes have seen, my camera has recorded, and my hands have touched the wooden nails that held this ancient wooden structure.
In Hume’s day, Christians lacked the many archaeological confirmations of what is recorded in the Bible that are now available to believers. They believed then based on the writings that had been passed down to them by the church fathers. It is ironical, that skepticism of the Bible has developed over the same era as so many archaeological confirmations of what is recorded there. One reason is that the public is so unaware of so many surprisingly wonderful discoveries that support the biblical testimony. The neglect of this might not affect those of strong faith, but it does affect their children and love ones who lack such strong faith.
But the greater problem is that the early chapters of Genesis upon which the message of the entire Bible depends have received very little confirmation and that cloud hangs over the truth of the entire Bible. The many years of work by the authors of this Critique demonstrate how they understand the importance of archaeological confirmation of early Genesis. Of course everyone should understand that archaeology can never ‘prove the Bible’ for the very reason that nothing from the past can be absolutely proven. Faith will always be required. But biblical faith has its basis in historical facts such as Jesus’s resurrection and God’s judgment on the world in the case of Noah’s Flood, together with salvation of the faithful through Noah’s Ark. Reasonable doubt can be cast on matters from the past for which there is no evidence, especially concerning Noah’s Flood where there should be plenty of archaeological evidence. The promise and perils of the truth of the discovery that is the subject of this Critique are exceedingly great.
But no one should be discouraged over the controversy that surrounds the discovery that is the subject of the authors’ Critique. If we consider such great discoveries as the Moabite Stone and the Dead Sea Scrolls, controversy has always engulfed the greatest discoveries. One recent controversy concerns a stone burial box, an ossuary whose sides are inscribed with ‘James, son of Joseph and brother of Jesus.’ Everyone agrees that this ossuary dates to the time of Jesus. Brothers are almost never mentioned on such inscriptions unless they are very famous. If the inscription is authentic, this is likely the burial box of James, the brother of Jesus, the first archaeological confirmation of the believers mentioned in the New Testament.
Speaking to a group of archaeologists and scholars, the eminent Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay lectured on ten reasons that should be used for judging the validity of the discovery. One reason he gave for not dismissing such a discovery as the James Ossuary concerns the old axiom “too good to be true.” Barkay had in mind a discovery that he himself had made, silver scrolls that his team discovered in Jerusalem with the earliest archaeological evidence of the Torah, dating from before the destruction of the First Temple built by Solomon. This discovery refutes the widely held view that the Torah was composed in Babylon during the exile of the Jews following the destruction of the Temple. It also refutes the composition criticism that critical scholars have long used to explain away the history recorded in Genesis. ‘Too good to be true’ is no reason for questioning Parasut’s 2008 discovery that NAMI announced in 2010.
The authors’ critique of the claim of NAMI’s discovery of a wooden structure on Mount Ararat touches the many issues involved with Ark Searching on Mount Ararat.
1. As key members of a rival Ark Searching group, the authors’ critique can hardly be the independent investigation the authors correctly point out is needed to assess NAMI’s claim.
2. This critique and the investigation it reports were motivated by Dr. Price’s widely publicized suggestion that the NAMI announcement was based on a hoax. Far from an objective investigation, the authors were seeking evidence that NAMI’s claim was based on a hoax.
3. The authors are deeply offended that NAMI did not include their geological report in the analysis of a purported wooden sample found in a cave on Mount Ararat. The authors do appear to have found minor mistakes in NAMI’s paper published on this discovery. Whatever the truth, it was not the basis of NAMI’s important announcement.
4. The authors did not disassociate themselves from NAMI’s team due to suspicions that the NAMI announcement was based on a hoax but because the discoverer Parasut dismissed them from the team due to their new associations with a rival Ark Searching team.
5. Dr. Price sought to be the archaeologist in charge of this discovery and was deeply offended that didn’t occur. But even if NAMI and the discoverer Parasut had not rejected his involvement, Dr. Price would violate Turkish laws because he lacked the archaeological authority and permits. As an archaeologist, Dr. Price could work on this discovery under the authority of Dr. Belli, the Turkish archaeologist most qualified for this investigation.
6. The same antiquities laws prevent the archaeological investigations required to answer the many questions asked by the authors and others interested in this discovery, a problem that this reviewer’s Mount Ararat Discovery Foundation has been established to solve.
7. The site investigated by the authors was lower on the mountain and far from the location of the discovery that was the basis of NAMI’s announcement.
8. The authors’ report on what they believe is NAMI’s site contains numerous contradictions, including assertions from their anonymous source that the site is built annually in stages or their own conclusion that it is destroyed each year by a glacier.
9. The authors’ continue to keep their source(s) of contradictory information concerning the purported hoax anonymous, violating ethical standards and the rights of those accused.
10. When carefully examined, nothing in the authors’ investigation or their critique of NAMI’s announcement suggests any hoax or fraud on the part of NAMI or Parasut.
11. Dr. Price was himself victimized by at least 3 hoaxes: (1) the claim of his anonymous witness concerning the location of NAMI’s site; (2) how this site was supposed to have been fabricated in the manner of a board that someone, possibly involving one of the authors of the Critique, did fabricate; (3) a letter claimed to have been written by two brothers who worked with Parasut but in fact written by someone who forged their names.
12. Though based on hoaxes likely originating from the authors’ anonymous sources, the charges of fraud in the authors’ Critique have been detrimental not just to Parasut and NAMI but to the hopes of believers everywhere that Noah’s Ark may have been found.
13. Whatever the discovery, there is nothing in the authors’ Critique to suggest it is a recent fabrication. Those who study this ancient wooden structure should do so in such a way as to test whether the structure might be the greatest archaeological discovery of all time and possibly linked to some very important event in ancient human history.
Appendix A: Reference to forged letter
Web reference to removal of a forged letter from Randall Price’s World of the Bible website and note concerning “pending further investigation of its source.” See Observation 4. below.
Note that this Bible Places blog is sympathetic to Randall Price and hostile to NAMI.
Appendix B: References to NAMI’s Announcement on World of the Bible website