Archaeologist Counters Critics: Mount Ararat Discovery is a Prehistoric Site
Submitted by: Paleontological Research Corporation
(OPENPRESS) December 21, 2011 -- Harvard University educated archaeologist and director of the Paleontological Research Corporation, Joel Klenck, reported that there was archaeological merit to a large wood structure near the summit of Mount Ararat discovered by a Kurdish guide, Ahmet "Parasut" Ertugrul. An organization from Hong Kong, Noah's Ark Ministries International, reported the discovery as the remains of the legendary vessel. Conversely, Randall Price from Liberty University, Don Patton from Creation Ministries International and other flood geology creationists claim the site is a hoax. Price alleged Ertugrul and a ten-person team in 2007 built wood structures for the Chinese to discover and mislead believers. Patton photographed pieces of modern wood found in ice fissures that he claimed evidenced a fraud.
Klenck states, "Although the correlation between Noah's ark and the large wood structure on Mount Ararat is debatable, the site comprises a definitive prehistoric archaeological site of great importance." Denying claims of fraud, he states, "Patton, Price and others pay a tourism company, Murat Camping, large sums of money each year to search for the ark. Murat Camping and their American partner have a financial motive to discredit anyone that supports research at the archaeological site, while they retain income from ark search groups and mislead these teams." Ark searchers garner donations from churches and individuals for expeditions that are paid to Murat Camping. In addition, Klenck states, "There are personal rivalries between Murat and Parasut Camping so there are a lot of emotions associated with this discovery."
Regarding Patton's claim that modern wood in natural fissures on Mount Ararat provides proof of a hoax, Klenck counters, "Patton's findings were not near the research area and differ from the cypress timbers and planks, often weighing hundred of kilograms, associated with the ancient wood structure and its archaeological assemblage." Klenck remarks that Patton's "backpack-sized wood" was interred in natural ice fissures by those eager to discredit the archaeological site on Mount Ararat for financial and emotional reasons.
Concerning Price's allegation that Parasut and a small team built the structure on Mount Ararat, Klenck states, "That claim is incorrect." He states, "The site is large, perhaps over one-hundred meters in length, at least two floors deep, and buried under as much as fifteen meters of stones and ice." Klenck continues, "Parasut and his team did not build the features instead they removed ice and stones from previously excavated passages formed as late as the Bronze Age, as evidenced by a small bowl from this period, to access the site."
Carl Wieland, from Creation Ministries International, reported that straight, cross-grain marks on wood planks, appearing in several photographs from the Ararat site, were produced by a modern industrial planer. Klenck responds, "These same marks are found on other wood features in antiquity, particularly maritime constructions such as the Binissafuller from the sixth century A.D. in Minorca; the Fiumicino from the fifth century A.D. in Rome; the Kyrenia from the fourth century B.C.; and planks from the sixth century B.C. vessel found at Pabuç Burnu in Turkey. These marks are caused by stone and later metal adzes and other tools used to create smooth surfaces and the construction of futtocks or cross timbers. The wood planks at the Ararat site are most certainly of ancient construction."
Wieland also claimed that a large, five-meter high structure at the Ararat site does not comprise wood but a cave of columnar basalt. "Again, Wieland is mistaken," states Klenck, "there are two loci in the large wood structure with heights around five meters that were constructed using a series of vertical wood planks, some showing severe states of decomposition." He adds, "These two all-wood loci appear to have a different function than other areas of the edifice. Both loci have much botanical remains scattered on their floors."
Others have claimed the excellent preservation and spider webs at the Ararat site suggest photographs of a modern building or ship at a lower elevation. Klenck remarks: "These claims are also incorrect. All the features of the Ararat sites are at elevations above 4,200 meters in a confined area. Different features in the large wood structure show different states of conservation, with the smaller loci in the interior of the large wood structure exhibiting the best preservation." He continues, "The vegetal material demonstrates superior preservation because these remains are encased within structures, in the interior of the larger wood edifice, which is itself buried under tons of ice and rocks." Regarding the site's superior preservation, Klenck asserts, "Many people are familiar with the baby woolly mammoth found in 1977 in the Kolyma River, Siberia, or the hunter recovered in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps. The Ararat archaeological features have better taphonomic factors since these loci are preserved in multiple layers of rocks, ice, and wood, the archaeological equivalent of a Russian matryoshka doll." With regard to the spider webs, Klenck states, "Insects are evident today at comparable elevations on Mount Ararat along with birds. Also, spiders are found at much higher elevations than Mount Ararat, at 6,700 meters above sea level. It is reasonable and expected that arachnids would enter this site during ancient periods."
Andrew Snelling, of Answers in Genesis, claims the parameters of the initial calibrated radiocarbon dates from the Ararat structure, between 9,858 B.C. and recent times, suggest a hoax. Klenck counters, "The initial C-14 dates from the edifice reflect the phenomena at the site: The origin of the structure during the Late Epipaleolithic Period (13,100-9,600 B.C.) as evidenced by the majority of the artifacts; periodic visitations to the site as shown by artifacts from later Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods; and the entry into the site and uneven sampling techniques by the recent discoverers." He continues, "Additional archaeometry work needs to be completed to ascertain the dates the site was built and briefly occupied during later periods. However, the parameters of the initial calibrated radiocarbon dates are consistent with the archaeological data and observed phenomena at the site."
In addition, Klenck adds, "Snelling and the other critics are trying to advocate flood geology creationism claims and assume the Noachian deluge formed most geological strata in one year, all archaeological remains represent post-flood artifacts deposited around 5,300 years ago, and the deluge destroyed any continuity between the pre- and post-flood earth. Snelling and his peers argue that the beginning of the post-flood earth correlates with the Cretaceous / Tertiary boundary, conventionally dated around 65 million years ago, with radiocarbon dates they allege between 45 and 21 thousand years ago. These claims are rejected by most scientists."
He continues: "The large wood structure on Mount Ararat with its assemblage and earliest C-14 date parameter, from the Late Epipaleolithic Period (13,100-9,600 B.C.), contradicts most flood geology claims and suggests to this group that pre-flood processes caused geological strata; all Paleolithic cultures were from pre-flood periods; and there was significant geographical continuity between the pre- and post-flood earth."
Flood geology creationists assumed that a large wood object on Mount Ararat would support their theories; the reverse has occurred. Klenck remarks, "Instead of modifying their views like secular scientists, these critics are attempting to vilify the site as a hoax." He laments, "For these critics, flood geology theories have become their central belief and they are now disparaging the one object they most desired to discover. Worse still, they have followed Murat Camping, who has taken their money, lied to and misled them, and is waging a campaign to discredit the site and archaeologists advocating research at this locale."
Further, he states professional secular archaeologists do not realize the bias of the critics trying to disparage this archaeological site. Klenck states, "Archaeologists have followed the claims of flood geologists without realizing these adversaries are trying to discredit an actual archaeological site either because the data threatens their theories, they object to the scientific discipline of archaeology, they acquire significant monies from alleged ark expeditions, or a combination thereof."
Turkish geology and archaeology professors, Ahmet Özbek and Oktay Belli, cite the excellent preservation and comprehensive archaeological assemblages within the edifice on Mount Ararat. Klenck agrees with both Turkish scholars: "This discovery is very special because it exhibits an assemblage of great antiquity with superior conservation." He adds, "The large wood structure and a nearby cave have similar assemblages and contain stone bowls, lithic tools and debitage, bowls made of an organic material, seeds such as those of chickpea, wood artifacts, bone tools, flax fibers and cords, pieces of fabric and many other artifacts."
He notes, "Archaeological theories are based on facts and evidence and not on beliefs. The archaeological sites on Mount Ararat are remarkable discoveries and require intensive research and conservation efforts." Klenck concludes: "I congratulate Parasut, the Ertugrul family, Chinese team, Turkish scholars and government officials that discovered and defended the efficacy of these remarkable prehistoric sites."