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Noah's Ark Aided Armenian Independence Initiatives in the Nineteenth Century

Archaeologist details how the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian (1820-1907) used Noah’s Ark to support Armenian independence initiatives against the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the nineteenth century.


Istanbul, Turkey -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/06/2021 --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 how the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian employed Noah's Ark as a source of capital and political support to achieve Armenian independence from the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Klenck states, "The rediscovery of Noah's Ark is a fact and the greatest archaeological site in history. The structure on greater Mount Ararat is 100% a maritime barge and exhibits bulkheads, ballasting features, mortise-and-tenon joinery, thousands of animal pens and cages, entire midden floors covered with cryodesiccated animal waste, and the interior and exterior of the vessel covered with sealants made of bitumen or resin. Moreover, the site matches non-Biblical descriptions of Noah's Ark."

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. Also, the archaeologist 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 more than 2,000 years ago until today.

Noah's Ark became the domain of the Catholicos, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church. To summarize the history of the Christian church in Armenia, two disciples of Jesus Christ, Nathaniel and Jude, were the first to spread the Gospel in Armenia. In 301 AD, the Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion under the rule of King Tiridates III. Tiridates made Gregory the Illuminator (AD 257-331) the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church. Another Catholicos, Sahak I, commissioned Mesrop Mashtots to write an Armenian translation of the Bible, which was completed in AD 406. During these events, the Catholicos guided the rediscovery of the Noah's Ark and became responsible for the concealment and protection of the vessel. The Catholicos' responsibility for the Ark continued through the nineteenth century until today.

Klenck remarks: "While it was extremely rare to have non-Armenians visit Noah's Ark, this practice changed when Mkrtich Khrimian was elected Patriarch of Constantinople in 1869 and Catholicos in 1892. Khrimian is a popular figure in Armenian history and is referred to as Khrimian Hayrik (Papa Khrimian). Khrimian was born in Van, on April 4, 1820, 124 miles south of greater Mount Ararat. In 1847, Khrimian made his first pilgrimage to Noah's Ark on greater Mount Ararat through payments by his uncle, who was a prominent merchant. In 1854, Khrimian became a 'vardapet' (celibate priest) after his wife and daughter died. Khrimian also studied antiquities in Jerusalem, Anatolia, and Armenia.

In 1869, Khrimian was ordained as the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Here, he began to petition the Catholicoi George IV (1866–1882) and Magar (1885–1891) to allow more Armenians and foreigners to visit and worship at Noah's Ark, to increase the monies for the Armenian Apostolic Church. As Khrimian lived in Ottoman Turkey, he established the foreign visitor vetting and payments of the modern currency equivalent of $150,000 per person for Ark sojourns. Patriarch Khrimian also directed guides, from villages at the base of greater Mount Ararat, to improve the pathways on Mount Ararat and construct or repair reliquaries at entrances to Noah's Ark to prevent visitors from damaging the interior of the vessel and its artifacts. As monies rapidly increased due to Noah's Ark visits, Khrimian used these funds to pay the debts of the Catholicos, aid Armenian peasants and refugees, and renovate Armenian churches and monasteries.

After becoming the Catholicos in 1892, Khrimian was progressive favoring education and voting for women. However, Khrimian was also an Armenian nationalist, who promoted independence through armed revolutionary struggle. Khrimian regaled the wars of independence in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro against the Ottoman Empire and desired similar initiatives in eastern Turkey that Armenians referred to as western Armenia. As such, a portion of the new monies from visits to Noah's Ark were used to pay Armenian militias that attacked Ottoman forces. These Armenian militias included the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun or Dashnak), Black Cross (Sev Khach) and Defenders of the Fatherland (Pashtpan Hayreniats). With financial aid from Khrimian, these Armenian nationalist groups formed powerful 'fedayi' or militias.

Khrimian publicly supported and advised Armenian militias utilizing 'deror' or terror tactics to execute Ottoman officials. Armenian militias also assassinated Armenians they considered traitors that allegedly cooperated with Ottoman forces. For example, Khrimian told leaders of the Pashtpan Hayreniats not to write the name of their members on cards. The leaders ignored Khrimian. Ottoman police or gendarmerie soon obtained the cards, researched the names, and arrested Pashtpan Hayreniats members.

The archaeologist concludes: "Noah's Ark was partially used to raise funds for Armenian independence initiatives. To preserve the high prices for visits to Noah's Ark and fund the Armenian revolutionary struggle against Ottoman Turkey, the concealment of the vessel was vital. However, as this struggle failed, the final orders of Khrimian ensured Noah's Ark remained a secret."

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