Insane cultists: Puyallup man leading long quest for Noah's Ark

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Creationist Cults

23 Jul 02
ROSS SAUER
Ark fundy in WA

Should we send this guy a bottle of teriyaki sauce?


The News Tribune - Tacoma, WA

Puyallup man leading long quest for Noah's Ark

Bill Hutchens; The News Tribune

A Puyallup Biblical researcher believes he has discovered the exact location of Noah's Ark on Turkey's Mount Ararat.

Edward Crawford, an archaeological field technician with a background in biblical languages, is leading a local research team that will travel to the mountain as soon as the Turkish government grants the necessary permits.

Crawford, 57, privately teaches Greek and has been studying Mount Ararat since he saw a 1977 slide presentation given by John Morris, a researcher who has written extensively about his own hunt for the ark.

Currently, Crawford is a teaching elder with the Evergreen Reformation in the South Hill area. The conservative Christian church formerly was associated with the Bible Presbyterian Church but split off because of doctrinal differences.

Crawford has traveled to Turkey 17 times and has been to Mount Ararat six times. He has spent 25 years and more than $75,000 on his quest, and says he has marked the location of a large rectangular structure buried in the ice at about the 14,700-foot level.

The ark has been the subject of many quests, and Crawford is one of several people who claim to have found it. While some researchers assert the ark's remains are strewn about Mount Ararat, others believe they are located far to the south.

According to the Bible and the legends of many cultures, the ark ran aground in the Ararat region as the waters of a cataclysmic flood receded thousands of years ago.

The Bible, in Genesis chapters 6 through 9, as well as the oral and written histories of many cultures, describes the ark and a great flood associated with it. A popular Bible story, the ark saga centers on Noah, a man charged by God with building a wooden boat big enough to house many animals. The Sunday School version of the story typically tells of male and female animals marching two-by-two into the ark.

The ark was to provide protection against a catastrophic flood that would wipe out humanity, which, the Bible says, had become evil. The Genesis account says Noah, his family and the animals weathered the flood in the ark for more than a year.

"This find intersects every area of human existence," Crawford said. It could alter much of what we think we know about human and geological history, he said. And the implications could run as deep as the debates between creationists and evolutionists about the age of the Earth and the origins of man, he said.

"It could mean a trillion books in a million libraries are obsolete," Crawford said.

David Huelsbeck, professor of anthropology and dean of social sciences at Pacific Lutheran University, said that while there is evidence of a massive flood in the Black Sea area near Turkey, there is no proof of a global flood.

"There's no way to prove there wasn't a person named Noah who built a big boat and saved a bunch of animals and his family," Huelsbeck said. "But in terms of the literal extent of the story of the flooding of the entire world...there is no geological evidence for it."

Crawford's work began with John Morris' slide show in Edmonton, Alberta. One slide showed an inscribed stone from Mount Ararat. Crawford said he recognized the symbols as symbols from an ancient alphabet from a time period that has long been linked to the stories of the Flood.

"I realized the inscriptions were the key to the whole mountain," he said.

Later that year, he purchased a satellite slide of the mountain from U.S. Geological Survey archives in South Dakota.

He said it wasn't until years later that he discovered his satellite slide showed one exposed end of the ark during a period of extreme melt in 1973.

During a 1983 climb, Crawford said, he found several inscribed stones in the Ahora Gorge about 2,000 feet below the spot he would mark as the location of the ark seven years later.

Crawford recognized the inscriptions as early Sumerian, from an ancient culture that flourished in what is now southern Iraq. The signs, he believes, represented a man and woman, the sacrifice of several animals, a rainbow and the command to go forward, reminiscent of biblical passages.

"He made a reasonable, good translation of the inscriptions," said Veysel Donbaz, a Sumerologist and chief specialist and curator of the Cuneiform Tablet Archives of Istanbul, a department of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

Donbaz said the mountain, the site of many ancient burials, could well be full of ark-related artifacts.

Winfield Swanson, a former managing editor of Research & Exploration: A Scholarly Publication of the National Geographic Society, published Crawford's account of his findings in the autumn 1994 edition of the reference periodical.

In a recent interview, she said Crawford's thesis was "a tad on the far- out side." No one else had interpreted the mountain's inscriptions at that time, she said.

She said Donbaz's assessment of Crawford's work was the only positive one she had heard.

In 1986, Crawford carefully examined his satellite photo and noticed an out-of-place object high on the north face of the mountain.

"I was presented with the unmistakable image of a man-made rectilinear structure protruding out of the ice," he said. "When I realized I had discovered a structure in that slide, every neuron in me was firing."

During a 1990 climb, he used the satellite slide for reference and pinpointed the place where the structure lay. There he found a rectangular depression in the ice that matched the length and width dimensions for the ark given in Genesis: about 475 feet long, 80 feet wide and 50 feet high. Crawford left a marker of discovery, a plastic pipe full of test tubes, at the south end of the buried structure.

In 1994, with the help of Scott Tipton, then an Air Force captain stationed at McChord Air Force Base, Crawford was able to overlay a map onto a blown-up image of his satellite slide. The latitude and longitude positions of the image in the slide, Crawford said, turned out to be the same as those for the rectangular depression he had seen and marked in the snow.

Tipton has since retired from the service and joined Crawford's team as a site surveyor.

In recent years, Crawford has returned to Turkey several times and has presented his research to Turkish government representatives and Air Force officers stationed in Turkey.

Maj. Gen. Phil Nuber said he met with Crawford in Ankara in 1999 and instructed him about making a presentation to the Turkish military.

"It's absurd to think that that would transpire if I hadn't gotten it right," Crawford said.

Crawford visited the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September 2001; a representative of the office said the ministry had a file on all of Crawford's work but would not comment further.

Crawford and his team have a 30-year site plan that calls for the meticulous study and preservation of the ark and its contents and surroundings as well as the inscriptions. He has sent a copy of the plan and a request for a technical research permit to the Turkish government.

According to the Web site of ArcImaging, another group of contemporary ark researchers, the Turkish government has denied Ararat research permits for 2002 because of military activity in the region.

But Crawford said he has yet to receive a written denial and remains optimistic.

"Now that I have been compelled to divulge these things publicly," he said, "the world is watching."

For more information about Edward Crawford's research on Mount Ararat, visit the Web site www.vonbora.org.

Tacoma News, Inc. is a subsidiary of The McClatchy Company

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