Famous in the Bible as the
final resting-place of Noah's
Ark, Mount Ararat has been wreathed
in legends for millennia.
Its two peaks, Great Ararat (Büyük
Ağrı, 5137 meters/16,854 feet)
and Little Ararat (Küçük
Ağrı, 3895 meters/12,779 feet)
were revered by the people of ancient Urartu (13th
to 7th centuries BC), who gave their
name (Urartu = Ararat) to the mountain.
The nearest town to the mountain
When permits are granted
for climbs up the mountain, the
depart from this town.
The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (c.
2000 BC) describes a great
does the later record of Berossus (3rd
century BC), and of course the Bible (Genesis
and Gospels) and the Kur'an.
In the story, a flood lasting 40 days
and nights wipes out all living things
except those in a boat or ark built,
on orders of God, to survive The
In the ark are male and female representatives
of each species, including Noah,
his wife and family.
Recent marine archeological research
in the chill, deep waters of the Black
Sea has revealed sunken cities on
the underwater slopes along the Turkish
Geological evidence supports the theory
that in ancient times the northern
end of the Bosphorus was
blocked by earth and rock. The Black
Sea had no outlet (like Lake
Van today), and its water level
was below that of the Aegean
Sea, the Sea
of Marmara, and the Bosphorus.
However, an earthquake destroyed
the Bosphorus blockage, releasing a
deluge of water from the Bosphorus into the Black
Sea, raising the water
level and flooding its coastal communities.
Were there characters like Noah who
saw the flood coming and built boats
to survive? We may never know. What
does seem far-fetched is that any of
the boats came to rest on the slopes
of Ararat, which is a long way from
This has not deterred ark-hunters,
who have trekked up Ararat over the
years in search of Noah's Ark.
The most famous expedition was that
led by ex-US Astronaut James Irwin in
In 1985 an expedition led by David
Fusold discovered a boat-shaped
stone formation on a nearby mountain
called Musa Dağı ("Mount Moses")
east of Doğubayazıt near
the village of Üzengili.
Using ground-penetrating sonar, Fusold
mapped the site and produced intriguing
but inconclusive evidence that the
stone formation was anything more
than a curious stone formation.
Want to go look for yourself? It's
not easy. Although guided treks up
Mount Ararat were allowed during
the 1970s, after several grim incidents
the government forbade them because
of very real danger from smugglers
and other outlaws, Kurdish terrorists,
severe weather and wild beasts.
Contact a Ministry
of Tourism office to find
out what the current permit situation