Archeologists Believe They’ve Located the Remains of Noah’s Ark

By: James Dorman | Published: Jul 02, 2024

The story of Noah’s Ark is perhaps one of the most universally known Bible tales. The biblical patriarch used his enormous eponymous vessel to allow his family and a menagerie of animals to survive a great flood and repopulate the earth in its aftermath.

Researchers examining a peculiar geological formation in modern Turkey believe they may have in fact found the remains of Noah’s Ark, which would shine a whole new light on our understanding of the ancient world.

Biblical Flood

The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the more memorable tales from the Bible. Ahead of a great flood, God chooses a man and instructs him to build an enormous boat and populate it with two of every animal, alongside his family.

An ornate bible is open on a table in a reading stand. Gold candle holders and a gold crucifix are also on the table.

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The story goes that God observed man’s corruption, violence and weakness. Abhorred by the actions of his creation, God looked to wipe the slate clean with a cleansing flood and restore man’s goodness.


Hunt for the Ark

The story is known all around the world. Many view it, along with other stories in the bible, as simple metaphor and myth, perhaps inspired by some natural calamity like a devastating flood of some kind. 

An enormous wooden boat with a wooden support structure beside it.

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Others believe the event occurred exactly as described in the Bible, and finding the remains of the Ark would prove their stance correct. Scholars, archaeologists and even amateur adventurers have tried, and failed, to locate the Ark over the years.

The Ark’s Location

The Bible states that the Ark arrived on Turkey’s “mountains of Ararat” after the 150-day flood sent by God. Since 2021, archaeologists have been working at a geological formation in the Doğubayazıt district of Ağrı in eastern Turkey, which aligns well with the description in the Bible.

Snow-topped mountain against a pint sky. In the foreground are brown hills with a smattering of livestock.

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The Durofeiner formation looks, from above, to have a boat-like outline. Some suggest this could in fact be the fossilized remains of the Ark.

Noah’s Ark Research Team

Many have believed Mount Ararat to be the Ark’s final resting place for some time now. Recent work at the Durofeiner site has been carried out by a collaboration between Turkish and American universities, the “Mount Ararat and Noah’s Ark Research Team.

The painting “Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat” by Simon de Myle depicting a large wooden boat in a mountainous region unloading a variety of animals.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have taken samples from the rock formation, and tests revealed seafood, clay and marine materials. Some claim this as evidence of human activity in the region.

Age of the Site

The 500-foot-high rock formation sits just 3 miles from the Turkey/Iran border. It’s composed primarily of limonite.

Over-the-shoulder view of a person holding a book - the Bible. Their right hand is holding the top corner of a page as they turn the page.

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Researchers have determined that test samples from the site are around 3,500 to 5,000 years old. Biblical archaeologists and scholars put the time of the 150-day flood from the Noah’s Ark tale at around 3,000 BC, meaning the samples align well with this time frame.


Human Activity in the Region at the Time of the Flood

Dr. Faruk Kaya of the Agri Ibrahim Chechen University claims the data gathered from the samples is proof of human activity in the area during the period following the biblical flood.

A person in a white lab coat and blue gloves holds a test tube in their left hand and a pipette in their right. They’re pipetting colored liquid into the tube. A row of test tubes, some with colored liquid in them, sits on the table in front of them.

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In her words: “According to the preliminary findings of our research, we believe that human activity occurred in this region during the Chalcolithic period (Stone and Copper Age), specifically between 5,500 and 3,000 BC.”


Too Early to Draw Conclusions

Dr. Kaya was careful to stress that while these findings are promising for Ark hunters, they are far from conclusive, and it’s too early to tell whether they could lead to the discovery of Noah’s Ark.

A man in a shirt holds a pen in his right hand, writing on a piece of paper on top of a pile. The left hand holds the paper steady.

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In the same study, Dr. Kaya says: “Noah’s flood is believed to have taken place 5,000 years ago, and our findings indicate the presence of life in this region during that time. However, it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.”


Dispute of the Findings

Not everyone supports the suppositions of the Mount Ararat team, and many geologists in particular have pushed back against their claims. Far from being evidence of human activity, they believe the formation at the Durofeiner site is simply ancient rocks.

A woman with her hair in a ponytail wearing blue gloves and a white lab coat looks into a two-lensed microscope.

Source: Trust “Tru” Katsande/Unsplash

It would take something far more substantial than the current findings to convince many in the geological community that researchers have found the fossilized remains of Noah’s Ark.


Flood Myths and Actual History

Many ancient cultures share narratives of massive, cataclysmic floods. They likely represent a shared symbolic representation in mythical narratives of survival, rebirth and intervention of the divine.

Grayscale photo of fast-running water forming multiple waves.

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These stories may indicate how ancient cultures responded to natural disasters. If we examine flood myths alongside geological evidence, we can start to get an idea of what actually happened and what is mythical embellishment.


Future Research

Through multidisciplinary research of things like the Durofeiner site by archaeologists, Bible scholars and geologists working in tandem, we may be able to start to recontextualize the myth of Noah’s Ark into an established, historical narrative.

A pair of glasses and a pen sit on an open notebook with writing in it. In the foreground is an open laptop.

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Researchers are far from done with the Durofeiner site and are planning excavations to conduct detailed analysis and hopefully uncover new artifacts. They hope to get greater insight into the history of the region, particularly ancient civilizations in the area, and hopefully firmly establish the existence of Noah’s Ark.


Transparency Is Key in Future Research

Whatever the findings at the Durofeiner site ultimately mean, future research is probably warranted. It will be crucial to keep this research transparent, though, so that it’s properly framed.

An open Bible with the gold leaf trim of the pages visible. A green plant is out of focus in the background.

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Things can sometimes get contentious when science meets faith. Having a multidisciplinary team can help to give findings proper context without a skewed narrative one way or the other. If findings don’t completely support the myth of the great flood and Noah’s Ark, there is still meaningful significance to finding proof of human activity in an area of biblical importance.