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William A. Shea
Biblical Research Institute
Ron is an SDA [Seventh Day Adventist] nurse anesthetist in Nashville, TN, with a strong interest in various archaeological projects in the Middle East. Some of these projects have some validity to them and others do not necessarily have any factual basis to back them up. Thus, each one of his projects needs to be judged upon its own merits.
The one project that is most possible is the one with regard to the arkshaped formation in the Tendurek mountains of eastern Turkey. It is located at the 6300 foot level in those mountains about 20 miles away from the volcanic peak that is known as Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat. During the last four years (and for many years before that) quite a number of expeditions have gone up the mountain in search of the Ark but no one has ever brought down any convincing evidence for its existence there. Indeed it would have been a poor place for it to have been preserved because it is a volcanic peak and the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes on that mountain could well have destroyed any evidence for the ark if it landed there. Some wood has been brought down twice from that mountain, in 1955 and 1969, and that radiocarbon dates to the ninth century A.D. so there is little likelihood that it comes from the original ark.
The Bible does not say that it landed on that peak, it only says that it landed in the mountains of Ararat. That includes a much larger territory and it also includes the location across the valley where the shipshaped formation is located. It was discovered first in 1960 by aerial photography as read by some members of the Turkish military for NATO. Elder George Vandeman led a group up to see it at that time but because it did not meet their expectations of what the ark would look like at that stage they did not pursue it further. After looking at the aerial photographs of it in 1975 I wrote an article on it published in 1976 suggesting that this might be the remains or not [sic] the full intact ark. In 1977 Ron Wyatt began his explorations there and the two main contributions that he has made have been to take soil samples (which show twice as much organic carbon as the field outside the formation) and to go over it with surface instrumentation, mainly subsurface radar. This type of equipment tends to show a subsurface pattern in a crisscross direction–long lines along the length of the formation, and cross lines across them. If these lines detected beneath the surface do have something to do with the ark then they might represent the petrified timbers of the hull of the vessel. The process of petrification deposits minerals in the wood which might give these readings. That is one possibility anyway.