Turkish and Chinese explorers from a group called Noah’s Ark Ministries International made the latest discovery claim Monday in Hong Kong, where the group is based.
The team claims to have found in 2007 and 2008 seven large wooden compartments buried at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, near the peak of Mount Ararat. They returned to the site with a film crew in October 2009.
Many Christians believe the mountain in Turkey is the final resting place of Noah’s ark, which the Bible says protected Noah, his family, and pairs of every animal species on Earth during a divine deluge that wiped out most of humanity.
“The structure is partitioned into different spaces,” said Noah’s Ark Ministries International team member Man-fai Yuen in a statement. “We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts.”
The team says radiocarbon-dated wood taken from the discovery site—whose location they’re keeping secret for now—shows the purported ark is about 4,800 years old, which coincides roughly with the time of Noah’s flood implied by the Bible.
Even if the Noah’s Ark Ministries International team did find a wooden structure or even a boat on Mount Ararat, there are other explanations for what the structure might be.
For example, it could be a shrine constructed by early Christians to commemorate the site where they believed Noah’s Ark should be. Even in that speculative case, it wouldn’t be 4,000 years old. The Bible hadn’t even been written yet.
Bible scholar Sasson said he thinks biblical writers intended the story of Noah’s ark to be allegorical, not a true recounting of historical events. By presenting a scenario in which humanity is punished for its wickedness.