A Closer Look at the Biblical Clues

“They’re looking in the wrong place!” exclaim Indiana Jones and his Egyptian friend in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, as they realize, rather gleefully, that the bad guys have misinterpreted a clue on the location of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. Similarly (maybe not as gleefully), I suggest that searchers for the remains of the other biblical Ark, that of Noah, have been looking hard in places not suggested by Scripture. Instead, the clues seem point to a location somewhere in the Zagros Mountains just east of southern Iraq.

You may wonder why I’m dubious about the traditional site, a spectacular 18,000-foot (5,500 m) volcanic cone called Agri Dagh, or “Mount Ararat” in English maps. It is in eastern Turkey, near the center of the old Roman province of Armenia.1 I have doubts for several reasons. First, many centuries of searching that mountain have yielded nothing more tangible than unverified verbal accounts, fuzzy photos of possible rock formations, pieces of wood of dubious age and sources, and a number of outright frauds. Second, several creationist geoscientists have said that “Mount Ararat” is a post-Flood volcano.2 That is, the cone rose up after the receding floodwaters gouged out local river valleys and established drainage patterns, therefore not being the place the Ark came to rest while the waters were receding. Third, its location, about 270 km (170 miles) north of the northern border of Iraq, through rough mountainous terrain, doesn’t seem to fit the biblical clues.

So what are the biblical clues? First, there is Genesis 8:4,

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat….

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