Noah's Ark or "Stories that never die"

Arthur V. Chadwick (
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 10:07:17 -0800

>Subject: Noah's Ark
> Published in Washington, D.C. 5am -- November 18, 1997
>CIA spy photos sharpen focus on Ararat Anomaly
>By Bill Gertz
> In the secret world of intelligence, it goes
>by the bland name of the "Ararat Anomaly."
>But former intelligence officials say
>soon-to-be-released U.S. spy photographs of the
>odd formation high on Turkey's Mount Ararat
>could reveal something far more explosive: the
>remnants of Noah's Ark, the ancient vessel from
>the Bible that safely preserved a pair of every
>creature on Earth in the midst of a global
> "The pictures are real clear. You see the
>whole summit and lots of rock formations," said
>Dino A. Brugioni, a retired CIA photographic
>specialist who was directed to study the
>high-resolution photographs of the unusual
>Mount Ararat site two decades ago.
> A series of images snapped by a U-2 spy
>plane at the end of a 3,000-mile reconnaissance
>flight from what was then the Soviet Union to
>Turkey caught the attention of a photo
>interpreter in his section.
> "We measured things, but none of them fell
>within the dimensions given in the Bible," he
>said. "If you didn't have the biblical
>dimensions in cubits, you could pick up those
>pictures and say they look like a ship. But
>when you measure it, it doesn't come out right.
>... At no time did we say we saw an ark."
> For more than two decades, highflying U.S.
>reconnaissance aircraft and satellites
>routinely photographed the "Ararat Anomaly"
>site. But over the next few months, the CIA
>will begin releasing more detailed
>high-resolution spy pictures of the distinctive
>formation near the summit.
> High-level U.S. government interest in the
>search for Noah's Ark led to a study by the
>CIA's National Photographic Interpretation
>Center (NPIC) of the Ararat Anomaly back in the
>1970s, and the Defense Intelligence Agency
>conducted a second, more recent analysis.
> The Bible in Genesis tells of God's
>command to Noah to build an ark 300 cubits in
>length, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. (A
>cubit is an ancient measurement of about 20
>inches, making the ark approximately 500 feet
>long, 83.3 feet wide, and 50 feet high.)
> God then made it rain for 40 days "and the
>waters increased and bore up the ark and it
>rose high above the earth ... so mightily upon
>the earth that all the high mountains under the
>heavens were covered," the Bible says.
> According to the CIA, the U-2 photographs
>of the Ararat Anomaly will be released in the
>next few months as part of a batch of hundreds
>of thousands of spy photographs taken on U-2
>and SR-71 spy plane missions between the 1950s
>and mid-1970s.
> CIA spokesman Tom Crispell said the
>release of the U-2 photographs will contain
>pictures of the Ararat Anomaly. But other
>photos taken by KH-9 and KH-11 high-resolution
>spy satellites are not likely to be made public
>any time soon, intelligence sources said.
> Getting the public to see the photographs
>of Mount Ararat has been a four-year quest for
>Porcher L. Taylor III, a University of Richmond
>professor who first heard rumors about the spy
>pictures of Noah's Ark as a cadet at West Point
>in 1973.
> "Although it is remote that the Ark could
>survive for 4,500 years in a moving glacier,
>some CIA photo interpreters have not ruled this
>out," Mr. Taylor said.
> "It doesn't really matter what the anomaly
>may be," he added. "The CIA has photographic
>evidence that can shed light on the enduring
>mystery of Mount Ararat, and it has a duty to
>the public, archaeology and the scientific
>community to release all of its Ararat Anomaly
>file, be it photos of a bunch of rocks or a
>nautical structure of unknown origin."
> Jews and Christians shouldn't be the only
>ones interested, the professor said. The Koran
>also mentions the Ark, and several ancient
>historians, dating back to 275 B.C., have
>written of a vessel and timbers from a ship
>being spotted near the summit.
> Mr. Taylor said his interest in the
>formation increased when the late George
>Carver, a respected top CIA official, told a
>gathering in Florida several years ago "that
>there were clear indications that there was
>something up on Mount Ararat which was rather
>strange," according to a transcript of his
> Since then, Mr. Taylor has mounted a
>concerted campaign to win the release of the
>aircraft and spy satellite photos under the
>Freedom of Information Act.
> The effort bore fruit when the Defense
>Intelligence Agency in 1995 released aerial
>photographs of the curved formation located
>about 1 and a half miles below the western
>summit of the almost 17,000-foot peak. The
>photos were taken by an Air Force plane on June
>17, 1949.
> The DIA also produced an analysis of the
>anomaly for Mr. Porcher using the images and a
>composite "stereo enlargement." The report
>described the unusual site as a combination of
>shadows, ice and snow.
> "The accumulated ice and snow along this
>precipice obviously fall down the side of
>mountain at frequent intervals, often leaving
>long linear facades," the report says. "It
>appears that the 'anomaly' is one of these
>linear facades in the glacial ice underlying
>more recently accumulated ice and snow.
> "Further, the tone and texture of the
>'anomaly' and avalanche debris immediately
>below are consistent with that of the shadowed
>snow, ice and debris prevalent along the face
>of the precipice."
> But other former intelligence officials
>said later photographs, including those
>produced by the KH-11 series of spy satellites,
>provide better views.
> A former high-ranking U.S. intelligence
>official who has seen a satellite photograph of
>the site produced around 1973 said analysts at
>the time were surprised when close-ups revealed
>what looked like three large curved wooden
>beams -- resembling part of the hull of a boat
>-- protruding from the snow.
> "They sort of curved over and formed up
>what would have been the bow of something or
>other poking out of the ice," the former
>official said, speaking on the condition of
> Enlargements of the spy photographs also
>produced what appeared to be "striations" on
>the formation that gave the appearance of what
>was once wood, he said.
> One analyst wanted to believe "very badly"
>that the structure in the photographs was
>Noah's Ark, but other interpreters prevailed in
>concluding "it was just rock," he said.
> "I was skeptical on the advice of my
>experts," he added. "But I have felt from the
>beginning the thing ought to be looked at more
>carefully. It's worth looking into."
> The search for the ark on Mount Ararat has
>been greatly complicated after the Turkish
>government closed off the area to visitors, Mr.
>Taylor said. The government cited problems with
>Kurdish rebels and the site's proximity to
>borders with Iran and Armenia.
> In 1991, five archaeologists near the
>mountain were kidnapped by Kurdish rebels --
>the same year the Turks closed Mount Ararat to
>outside visitors.
> The mountain is permanently snow-capped
>and is often covered in clouds. The peak rises
>16,945 feet and is located not far from the
>Armenian and Iranian borders.