National Geographic Channel Investigates The Latest Clues And Competing Theories In The SEARCH FOR NOAH′S ARK
"There′s an Indiana Jones kind of quality to it - you′ve got a secret map for a priceless treasure."
It is a tale of divine punishment, human survival ...and historical truth? In one of the seminal stories of the Bible, Noah is handpicked by God to build an ark and save his family and the animals of the earth from a catastrophic worldwide flood meant to punish human beings for their wicked ways. Strikingly similar stories have been told for thousands of years in the Middle East and among North and South American Indian cultures. Is this a remarkable coincidence or a conceivable - and provable - historical fact?
On Sunday, September 24, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, investigate the latest clues and competing theories that attempt to confirm the biblical account of Noah′s ark and the flood when the National Geographic Channel (NGC) premieres SEARCH FOR NOAH′S ARK. From satellite imagery of mountaintops to underwater geological surveys, this one-hour special dissects the story′s timeline from God′s warning to Noah through the floodwaters receding.
Flood myths are prevalent in many cultures, but alleged evidence of the famed vessel from the Bible′s account has been investigated seriously since 1949, when a CIA photographic reconnaissance mission in Turkey turned up images of what was then called the "Ararat anomaly." A large Titanic-shaped structure submerged in a glacier sparked theories in the scientific and theological communities, and even gave rise to a new class of adventurers called "arkologists."
Conventional expeditions through the mountains of Turkey and other nearby countries are extremely difficult and have not yet yielded any irrefutable proof of Noah′s ark. But modern science has come up with a high-tech way around such dangerous missions: satellite archaeology. Examining high-resolution satellite images gives ark hunters a perspective and a wealth of information about possible sites that they never had before.
Porcher L. Taylor III, J.D., an associate professor at the University of Richmond, rigorously studied the old CIA photos of Ararat and commissioned new satellite photos in 1999 and 2003. He believes these rarely seen images may indeed show remnants of Noah′s ark - and proof of the epic flood.
"There′s an Indiana Jones kind of quality to it," he says. "You′ve got a secret map for a priceless treasure... We might really be on the verge of seeing something of biblical proportions on Mt. Ararat."
Featuring theologians, geologists and archaeologists, Search for Noah′s Ark examines the feasibility of building the largest wooden vessel in history with the primitive tools at Noah′s disposal; the location of the flood and where Noah would have landed; and whether the storm was global or perhaps a catastrophic localized event. Search for Noah′s Ark also presents a range of theories that could be the basis for the flood legends. Many experts suggest that the story of Noah′s ark took place during the third millennium, roughly around the end of the Ice Age when the polar ice caps melted. This would have caused a drastic rise in sea levels, and the neolithic people of that time could have been overwhelmed by the tremendous changes in climate and in their habitat.
There are also remarkable similarities found between Noah′s story in the Bible, the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh and the legends of some Native American cultures, which have led at least one expert to suggest that the cause of the flood came from outer space.
Dr. Bruce Masse, an archaeologist with the Los Alamos National Laboratory theorizes, "Based on the mythology, it′s very clear to me that we are looking at a comet hitting the ocean somewhere as the basis for the great flood."
Another theory emerged in 1996, when Dr. William Ryan and Dr. Walter Pittman, two geologists with the Columbia Earth Institute, mapped the underwater topography of the Black Sea and discovered evidence of beaches at the bottom. They theorized that the Mediterranean might have overflowed, dumping millions of tons of water into what is now the Black Sea. The early people living in the area at the time would have seen their world transformed by a seemingly endless flow of water.
"It certainly would have been a devastating flood that would have covered everything and everywhere," according to Dr. Farouk El-Baz, geologist, Boston University. "And it is probably the cause for the legends of the floods."
In addition to Taylor, Masse, Ryan, Pittman and El-Baz, experts featured in SEARCH FOR NOAH′S ARK include Haji Hassan Bey, guardian of the ark, Noah′s Ark National Park Museum (Turkey); Professor Eric H. Cline, archaeologist, George Washington University; Robert Cornuke, president, Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute; Dr. Alan Gishlick, geologist, National Center for Science Education; Dr. Frederik T. Hiebert, National Geographic archaeology fellow; Professor David Merling, archaeologist, Andrews University; Tom Vail, former evolutionist and now president of Canyon Ministries; and the Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade, retired rector, St. Alban′s Episcopal Church.