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Hiding Noah's Ark: Armenian Motives and Methods in the Modern Era

Archaeologist reports on Armenian motives and methods, from the nineteenth century until today, to conceal the Ark of Noah, in the southern gorge of greater Mount Ararat. Armenians desired that Noah’s Ark remain a secret, despite the vessel’s accessibility, due to the Ark’s cultural and religious importance for Armenians.


Istanbul, Turkey -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/05/2021 --Harvard University educated archaeologist, former maritime executive, Chairperson and Senior Lecturer of the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Department at the National University of Samoa, and current president of the applied archaeology firm, PRC, Inc., Joel Klenck, describes the motives and methods Armenians employed, since the nineteenth century, to conceal Noah's Ark and misdirect foreigners away from the ancient vessel. Although Noah's Ark is relatively easy to access, in the southern gorge of greater Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, Armenians hid the ancient vessel because of its cultural and religious importance.

The archaeologist states, "The rediscovery of Noah's Ark is a fact and the greatest archaeological site in history. The Ark is close to 150 meters in length, fragmented in two sections, at elevations between 3,900 to 4,700 meters above sea level. The structure is buried 4 to 11 meters below surface in the southern gorge of greater Mount Ararat. The architecture and earliest artifacts, from the interior of the vessel, conventionally date to the Late Epipaleolithic Period (13,100-9,600 BC) and earlier.

Klenck is adamant, "The structure on greater Mount Ararat is 100% a maritime barge and exhibits angled hulls, patches of the hull's exterior with crustaceans, large sloping ramps, furniture fixed to walls, three decks, interior stairwells of notched logs, and large cargo holds covered with legumes such as bitter vetch, pea, and chickpea."

The archaeologist met with the heirs of Armenian guides that led foreigners to Noah's Ark in the late nineteenth century and the descendants of Armenian interrogators that worked for the Soviet state during the 1930s. Klenck has studied the artifacts and features from the Ark for ten years sending numerous reports to the Turkish government. The descendants and archaeological data provide insight to the reasons and methods Armenians employed to conceal Noah's Ark from the nineteenth century until today.

Non-Armenians such as modern searchers for Noah's Ark failed to comprehend how important the Ark was to Armenians and that Armenians would conceal and misdirect foreigners away from the Ark. The Ark was the sacred unifying symbol of the Armenian people. Armenians protected their national treasure more than 2,000 years using misdirection and concealment and these methods were refined in the nineteenth century and continue today.

The archaeologist reports: "To conceal Noah's Ark from visitors, the Armenian guides practiced several measures. These tactics applied from 1890 to 1907, but most of these methods were employed in earlier periods. The Catholicos, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and his staff thoroughly vetted Armenians and later exceptional foreigners, who were invited to witness the Ark. The qualities the Catholicos considered were the rank of the person in Armenian society, whether the person would keep the Ark confidential, their health and ability to climb to the Ark, and their service to the Catholicos, Armenian Apostolic Church, and Armenian people. In the late 1800s, an additional requirement for exceptional foreigners, mostly from Tsarist Russia and the United States, was their ability to pay around 6,000 Russian Rubles or 5,000 U.S. Dollars, respectively. Further, these foreigners had to demonstrate a prolonged service to the Armenian people and included diplomats, educators, and medical doctors. Factoring in inflation to today's currency, foreign visitors paid at least $150,000 dollars per person to witness and worship at Noah's Ark. For Armenians, the expected donation to worship at the Ark varied according to their position in Armenian society such as in the church, business, or militias, and their income.

After vetting visitors, the Catholicos or priests administered an oath to visitors not to reveal Noah's Ark, and after collecting monies, the Catholicos instructed priests to notify guides to take the visitors to Noah's Ark. Priests then led the visitors to Armenian guides living in villages at the base of Mount Ararat, who would accompany the visitors and guide them to Noah's Ark. Although most of the monies were collected by the Catholicos, the guides were also paid as much as $10,000 in the modern currency equivalent per person, forming a productive Armenian middle class at the base of Mount Ararat.

The Armenian guides led sojourners to the Ark in snowstorms, fog, or at night to inhibit visitors from seeing where the Ark was in the southern gorge of greater Mount Ararat. If the visitor was strong, the guides led them to the Ark using circuitous routes, to prevent the invitee from knowing the location of the Ark. If the visitor was weak, the guides carefully led them near the Ark and set up camp, until fog or a light snowstorm set in, then guides led the visitor to Noah's Ark.

Once visitors reached Noah's Ark, the guides led the guests to underground reliquaries, prepared enclosures near entrances to the Ark, where the visitor would worship and leave votive objects such as a jar of wine, bowl of grain, or a clothing item. Here, visitors could look inside Noah's Ark but were prevented from going inside the vessel to prevent damage. Guides permitted this worship only for a short time, around fifteen minutes, to prevent the weather from clearing and the visitor from noting the location of the Ark.

After witnessing the Ark, the guides led visitors down the mountain and back to Armenian priests, who reminded the visitors of their oath not to reveal the Ark. The priests then accompanied the visitors to the train station or point of departure."

Klenck concludes: "We are beginning to understand the role that Noah's Ark played at the turn of the nineteenth century for Armenians and in modern Anatolian history. In 2021, Noah's Ark will be revealed to the public but it is important to understand the cultural perspectives of those that wanted to conceal this ancient, iconic archaeological site and religious shrine."

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