A team of Christian archaeologists says this rock outcrop on a mountain in Iran could be the remains of Noah's ark.
Layered patterns in the stone (inset) resemble petrified wood, the team says, but other scientists say the patterns are consistent with ordinary sedimentary rock.
Photographs courtesy BASE
High in the mountains of northwestern Iran, a Christian archaeology expedition has discovered a rock formation that its members say resembles the fabled Noah's ar
"I can't imagine what it could be if it is not the Ark," said Arch Bonnema of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (B.A.S.E) Institute, a Christian archeology organization dedicated to looking for biblical artifacts.
Bonnema and the other B.A.S.E. Institute members hiked for seven hours in the mountains northwest of Tehran, climbing 13,000 feet before making the apparent discovery.
"We got up to this object, nestled in the side of a hill," said Robert Cornuke, a member of the B.A.S.E. Institute. "We found something that has my heart skipping a beat."
At first, they didn't dare to hope it was the biblical boat.
"It wasn't impressive at first," Cornuke said. "Certainly didn't think it to be Noah's Ark. But when we got close, we were amazed. It looked similar to wood."
In addition, some B.A.SE. members say, their discovery didn't look very distinctive.
"It looked like the deck of any boat today," Bonnema said.
The Bible places the Ark in the mountains of Ararat, a mountain range theologians believe spans hundreds of miles, which the team says is consistent with their find in Iran.
The Bible also describes the Ark's dimensions as being 300 cubits by 50 cubits -- about the size of a small aircraft carrier. The B.A.S.E. Institute's discovery is similar in size and scale.
"It is provocative to think that this could be the lost ark of Noah," Cornuke said
Throughout history, people have been searching for the Ark to help prove God's existence.
"There's this idea, if we can prove that the ark existed then we can prove that the story existed, and more importantly, we can prove that God existed," said Bruce Feiler, author of "Where God Was Born."
Previous scholars have searched for the Ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey.
"Czar Nicholas, actually, in 1916 sent two expeditions to photograph it on top of Mount Ararat," said Feiler.
One former U.S. president, Feiler said, looked for it in the mountains of Iran.
"There is a story that Jimmy Carter, on his way to visit the Shah of Iran in 1977, purposefully flew over it," he said.
As recently as March, researcher claimed to have satellite photos that proved the presence of Ark remains. The B.A.S.E institute hopes the physical evidence they've brought back from Iran will hold the answer to this enduring mystery.
"People will always be looking for it, always be skeptical, always be excited of the search," Cornuke said. "But I think we found something here that's very notable."
The B.A.S.E. Institute's samples are being examined at labs in Texas and Florida. B.A.S.E officials concede that there would be no way to conclusively prove that their finding is actually Noah's Ark.
So the hunt goes on. The biggest hurdle in identifying Noah's Ark comes down to "gopher wood." The Bible says the Ark was made of gopher wood but no one knows what it is.