Jan 18, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

Researchers Test Soil and Rocks from Mount Ararat for Minute Chemical Signs of Noah's Ark

The search for the biblical “holy grail” is perhaps the best known quest to find real evidence of objects, locations and events from the New Testament. As a result, it has become a metaphor for anything that is eagerly sought after. The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible has many more of these “holy grail” objects and quests, and biblical archeologists are continually finding hard evidence to support the stories. One which has resisted scientific or archeological proof is Noah’s ark – the wooden ship said to have been built by Noah to save the world’s animals and his family from a global flood. No evidence of either has ever been found, although there are some geological signs of major local floods that could have inspired the story.

A popular new technique for finding evidence of ancient humans is environmental DNA (eDNA) – environmental samples such as soil, seawater, snow or air containing microbial DNA from an individual organism. Could the soil in locations where the ark allegedly landed contain a from of environmental DNA identifying it? That’s the idea behind two universities collecting and testing of 30 rocks collected from various locations in a ques to find the remains of Noah’s ark. Is this the ark’s holy grail?

Proving that a gloal flood occurred will be difficult.

"We came out of a flood. Are there traces of them or not? We need to reveal this. Göbeklitepe was discovered, the history of the world was reset. I wonder if we can go on such a path with this discovery."

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Kumral, the Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Vice Rector and Dean of Mining Faculty, announced that he and Head of ITU Geological Engineering Department Prof. Dr. Emin Ciftci have established a research team to look for traces of Noah’s ark in 30 rock and soil samples collected from Mount Ararat – the dormant volcano in far eastern Turkey that is one of the leading candidates for where the ark landed – if it existed. The book of Genesis refers to the "mountains of Ararat" but biblical scholars differ on what that means.

"Ararat" is the Hebrew name of Urartu, the geographical predecessor of Armenia east of Turkey and some translations refer instead to the "mountains of Armenia." Mount Ararat is not in Armenia, but it figures prominently on the country’s coat of arms along with Noah’s ark. Needless to say, ownership of the ark is a huge prize for any country it might be found in. The research team agreed on a most likely spot on Mount Ararat based on past studies, obtained the proper government permissions and proceeded to collect samples for study.

"Macro and micro observations will be made. These will be subjected to chemical analyzes. In these chemical analyzes, that structure has a chemistry that is appropriate with the general mineralogy and the geology of that region. Isn't there a difference? Will this difference point to Noah's Ark?” (Google translation from Cumhuruyet)

Dr. Kumral explains the team is looking for anomalies in the soil using ultrasound tomography which can analyze “elements up to 1 in a billion.” they will be looking for traces of evidence pointing to a flood. Once they find that, they will look for traces of evidence of a wooden ark and the organic material which was on the boat and then disembarked from it – people and animals. Assuming the waters were still high but receding, Dr. Kumral speculates that Noah, his family and the animals made at least a temporary settlement in the area until they could safely move on. If they did that, they left more traces of their DNA.

“Afterwards, where did the people who unloaded the ship settled, will we have findings about this? Will we have findings? These will always be investigated in detail. The samples here were taken from different parts of that region. Rock samples, soil samples, systematic samples in the vertical direction were taken.”

“There was a life inside the ship. People lived in this ship, it will be examined whether there are remains of them or not.”

Kumral then pulls out the holy grail of Turkey – the Göbeklitepe. Dating back to around 9500 CE, the archeological site contains the world's oldest known megaliths and is considered to be the oldest human settlement in the world. Its discovery changed history – and Kumral believes the discovery of Noah’s ark will do the same. He calls this the “most comprehensive study ever done” of this nature in the search for Noah’s ark. Prof. Dr. Emin Çiftçi explained what is involved in the research. After looking for abnormal mineral structures and identifying whether they are artificial or natural, they will make detailed analyses of the natural ones.

“If there is such a ship remains, we wait for these woods to petrify, petrified It becomes wood. It has a texture. Microscope studies will show if there are such signs. Since it will be a study based on geochemistry and mineralogy, I hope that it will find incontrovertible results.”

Kumral and Çiftçi agree that they may not find solid evidence in the first round of investigation, which will take a month, but any anomalies will be used as justifications to narrow down the area for second, third or more samplings. This is the same process going on in caves in Siberia and China where eDNA has resulted in the discovery of the Denisovan people with hardly any remains. Could this same technique and similar technology find eDNA of Noah, the animals and the ark?

Can they really find eDNA of African animals in Turkey?

In a sense, this new research is far more scientific than previous searches for Noah’s ark based on speculation that a flat ledge on Mount Ararat was where it landed, or an unsubstantiated ship frame was found, or a shadow image of ship was seen from above. What Kumral and Çiftçi are leading is scientific research -- biblical science, if you will. The only non-scientific part is picking the location to collect the samples. If they find no anomalies, will they give up on that location? Probably. Will they give up on Mount Ararat? Possibly. Will they give up on Noah’s ark? Highly unlikely. Will a discovery change everything? Somewhat. However, it will take a lot of discoveries and eDNA to prove a global flood and a oat full of animals and people.

More biblical archeologists are proving biblical history every day. None are the holy grail … or the holy ark. Yet.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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