Note to the Reader: An irony here is that Christians do not (at least they shouldn't) need proof that the ark existed to believe it existed--and on the other hand even if non-believers could take a tour inside they still wouldn't believe! These articles don't prove that the ark is on Mount Ararat--what they're seeing could be something else entirely--but it sure is interesting.
The CIA and Noah's Ark:
First Five Books of the Bible May Not Be That Bad As History
by Timothy Maier, Copyright November 2000,
See Also Article at Space.com
In the midst of a 1993 panel discussion in Palm Beach, Fla., about the Persian Gulf War, attorney Porcher Taylor fired away at the guest speaker of the evening, former CIA deputy director for national intelligence George Carver, who had just finished making a national-security speech to 400 serious-minded listeners.
Two views of the Ararat Anomaly
Dr. Carver, I'm a West Point graduate, Taylor began as a tape recorder rolled. Click and drag photo to resize. Script from The Java Script Source
While I was a cadet at the academy in 1973, there was a strong rumor going around that one of our military spy satellites was flying down the Russian/ Turkish corridor taking photographs of a Soviet missile site and, apparently accidentally, took photographs on the Turkish side of a large wooden object which apparently appeared to be a ship stuck in a glacier at about 14,000 feet on Mount Ararat.
Strong rumor going around the academy at the time was that apparently our intelligence people at the CIA might have classified photographs of Noah's Ark. I was wondering if you had any comments about that.
The audience erupted in laughter; such a question seemed out of place. But silence quickly fell over the room as the guest speaker responded.
Click and drag photo to resize. Script from The Java Script Source
Well, I don't recall the CIA working on Noah's Ark, replied Carver, who is the only person in the history of the agency to be awarded the distinguished Intelligence Medal. But I do remember that at the time there were some pictures taken and there were clear indications that there was something up on Mount Ararat, which was rather strange.
There were various archaeological expeditions that were mounted. The Turkish government was not too thrilled about supporting them because it was getting into an area that was politically dicey from the Turks point of view.
The famous intelligence expert paused. "You know," he said, "I haven't been up there; I don't think anyone has. But it certainly was eyebrow-lifting and it was certainly another indication that, despite its splendor as a work of poetry, the Pentateuch - the first five books of the Bible - might not be all that bad as history also.
No one was laughing anymore, and what he heard inspired Taylor to begin a seven-year project to obtain mysterious intelligence records dealing with Mount Ararat declassified. Jews and Christians shouldn't be the only ones interested in the Ark story, says Taylor.
The Koran also reports the Ark as history, as do about 160 cultures. Then there are the ancient historians as far back as 275 B.C. who refer to an anomalous ship high on a mountain in this remote northeast corner of Turkey.
While the Operation Desert Storm audience did not at first take Taylor seriously, that wasn't the case when the late Apollo astronaut Col. James Irwin announced that he planned to devote his remaining years to finding the great ship. As he explained, I thought the Lord wanted me involved in finding artifacts from the Genesis time that would be more important than the Genesis Rock we found on the moon.
Hundreds of explorers have entertained thoughts of similar missions, but none more famous than Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard, who has found ancient artifacts that may date back to Noah's time while probing the floor of the Black Sea.
So far he has found architectural remnants, pieces of ceramic and stone tools. Ballard also found evidence of a sunken coastline, appearing to confirm a theory proposed in the book Noah's Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman, senior scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. They speculated that saltwater from the Mediterranean burst into the Black Sea, then a freshwater lake, with such force that it completely flooded an area the size of Florida.
Click and drag photo to resize. Script from The Java Script Source
(Photo: Satellite courtesy of Insight Magazine)
Even the History Channel is getting into "Ark fever", searching Mount Ararat for a story to be told next year. And over the years there have been hundreds of expeditions in search of Noah's Ark - many detailed in world-famous linguist Charles Berlitz's book The Lost Ship of Noah and Ark searcher B.J. Corbin's book The Explorers of Ararat.
One such expedition involved an alleged discovery by the Russian imperial air force, which is supposed to have sent 150 men up Mount Ararat in 1916 to explore a large object said to be as long as a city block. If so, no records ever were produced to verify the account.
In 1955, French explorer Fernand Navarra reported finding a 5-foot wooden beam on Mount Ararat some 40 feet under the Parrot Glacier on the northwest slope and well above the treeline. The Forestry Institute of Research and Experiments of the Ministry of Agriculture in Spain certified the wood to be about 5,000 years old. However, Navarra's guide later claimed the French explorer bought the beam from a nearby village and carried it up the mountain.
A year later, Ark fever hit a new high as U.S. military spy planes began photographing the area, perhaps because the Soviets were building a missile base 40 miles away. An Insight review of declassified records and interviews with senior intelligence officials confirms the CIA has a long paper trail concerning the "boatlike structure" on Mount Ararat.
What does the CIA know? Quite a bit. It was all stamped "Secret" and tucked away in what the agency calls the "Mount Ararat Anomaly" file. Taylor kept insisting that it be released. He even reached the level of Vice President Al Gore, who handed it off to senior intelligence agencies -some of which consider Taylor a national-security threat for digging into sophisticated spy imagery.
In 1994, Taylor caught the ear of former CIA director James Woolsey, who tried to get his agency to conduct a comprehensive analysis but decided against it for cost reasons, according to declassified CIA memos. Woolsey declines to comment about the anomaly but acknowledges he tried to help Taylor.
Memos to Woolsey from his staff indicate the CIA had Mount Ararat imagery from 1990 and 1992 as well as three decades of documents on the anomaly. According to declassified CIA records, Woolsey was told it would take four to six weeks of work and six months for an imagery expert to analyze all the data.
Dino Brugioni, the retired founder of the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center, reviewed one still-classified 1956 U-2 photo of the anomaly when it was brought to his attention.
Did Brugioni see the Ark?
Oh, it looked like a bow of a ship stuck in the mountain, Brugioni tells Insight. But it did not conform with the Bible dimensions. It was much too large. We had a good dimension of what the Ark was in meters and the anomaly was too big.
Trouble is that some scholars note the biblical measure used to describe the Ark - a cubit - may be anywhere between 18 inches and 3 feet, which might make the Ark bigger than the Titanic.
Analysts who reviewed a 1973 KH-9 satellite photo of the anomaly say it resembles one end of a possible ship, recalls a senior intelligence source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The image was an enlargement of objects protruding from the snow on Mount Ararat, the source says.
These objects appeared to be portions of large, rectangular slabs which might have been wooden beams, or might have been large segments of rock, the source says. Two of these slabs met at one point and appeared to curve away from the point in a way similar to beams that might form the bow of a large ship. A third slab joined the other two and also curved away from the point in a way suggestive of the stem or keel of a ship.
Click and drag photo to resize. Script from The Java Script Source
(Photo:Descent of Noah from Mount Ararat (1889)by Hovhanes Aivazovsky, National Gallery of Armenia)
The source continues, A CIA photo interpreter says he believed the objects were man-made and that they gave the appearance of massive beams at the prow of a ship. And we all agreed they certainly did; however, given the nature of other objects visible in the area, the objects seemed at least equally likely to be slabs of rock. We discussed the matter for perhaps 15 minutes, and the consensus of the more experienced photo interpreters was that the objects were indeed natural rock slabs and not man-made beams of wood.
The younger analyst was keenly disappointed because he had thought that he might have discovered the bow of Noah's Ark. The more senior imagery specialists present remained skeptical and said that without higher-quality imagery we could not be sure; and, since neither the Ark nor that particular area were on any of our target lists, we should not pursue the matter further - and we dropped it.
Although Woolsey picked up the mystery in 1994, it was Carver's interest and Taylor's insistence that prompted the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to declassify photograph frames taken from a motion-picture camera on June 17, 1949, by a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance flight over Mount Ararat.
Carver died before he could see the fruits of his labors with Taylor. The DIA declassified its first photograph of the anomaly in 1995. However, a review of DIA records collected by Taylor shows that the agency was far from forthcoming.
For example, in 1995, after releasing a single photo to Taylor, the DIA stated there were no more photos. Taylor filed another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and, four months later, DIA released a second image.
After Taylor filed a third FOIA, the DIA released five additional frames three months later, in addition to providing three blown-up images of three of the frames. Flying at about 14,000 feet parallel to Mount Ararat, which is about 18 miles south of Russia and 12 miles west of the Iranian border, the Air Force cameras had zeroed in on a strange boxlike object. The anomaly was protruding from the glacial ice cap at 15,500 feet at the northwest edge of the nearly mile-long Western Plateau. It was about 1.3 miles west of the summit.
The DIA refused to release the entire film, claiming no other shots were taken of Mount Ararat. But since it released photos identified by the Air Force as frames two, four, five, six, seven and 23, it stands to reason that there are at least 18 more shots available.
For example, what is on frame 22 Of those snaps, only frame seven is not of the anomaly but of a volcanic crater. The five others are of the anomaly but from different angles. Frames two and 23 are a panoramic view of the front side or southwestern view of the mountain, which the DIA enlarged for Taylor. Frames four, five and six are of the back side or north view of the mountain and were not enlarged.
The DIA also released the photo frames to Insight but, again, declined to provide the entire film or imagery from the KH-9 or KH-11 satellites. Robert P. Richardson, FOIA officer for the DIA, tells Insight the agency "lost" the satellite imagery.
The DIA's ruling is on appeal. Insight also requested all documents of the Ararat Anomaly from the U.S. Air Force, the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office and, of course, the DIA.
So far none of the other agencies have released the imagery - despite Executive Order 12958 requiring the mandatory release of historical records, including satellite imagery, 25 years old or older.
We couldn't release it because of the resolution and because it shows what we were targeting, says a senior intelligence source. The target, which is not the Soviet missile base, is thought by Turkish authorities to be CIA listening posts buried in the ice that once were used to track Soviet missiles.
The CIA will not confirm or deny this, but an intelligence source tells Insight, We had listening posts on the mountain, but I don't know why or if they are still up there.
The DIA did conduct an analysis in 1995 in response to Taylor's personal request. This unprecedented decision to analyze the 1949 photos for a private citizen resulted in a declassified two-page report. According to this report, the DIA didn't rule out the possibility that it was a man-made structure but stated the anomaly shown in frames two and 23 "appears" to be one of these linear facades in the glacier ice underlying more recently accumulated ice and snow.
The ever-optimistic Taylor tells Insight, "I'm encouraged they say appears," but he says he remains frustrated. The DIA refused to offer analysis for frames four, five and six, which show a pair of three prongs or symmetrical beams protruding from the mountain. Taylor had those frames enlarged by DNA Electronic Imaging Specialists in Hollywood, Fla.
Roman Gomez, an imaging specialist then at DNA, analyzed the photos. He noted there is nothing else like that anywhere else on the mountain. Retired senior physicist and satellite-imagery analyst for the U.S. Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center Clifford Paiva also says, Preliminary assessment of the anomaly's parallel and orthogonal lines of symmetry, as well as curved and circular lines of symmetry, indicate cultural 'man-made' etiology.
Taylor says he understands the reluctance to declassify satellite imagery, but what about that low-level 1949 Air Force motion-picture film? "If DIA is correct and it's a rock, then tell me why they classified a rock as "Secret"" for 51 years Taylor asks. Maybe it was more than just a routine mission. Maybe they knew what they were doing.?
A Followup to this story and additional satellite photos is located on Page 4 of this section