SIGHTINGS


 
Italian Explorer Says He
Has Found Noah's Ark
12-27-98
 
GALLARATE, Italy (Reuters) - Nestled on the snowy cap of Mount Ararat, lodged in ice, lies the shadowy form of a boat the size of a battleship.
 
``Hallelujah,'' cried a triumphant Antonio Palego as he set eyes on the legendary vessel after trekking up the mountain for days on foot and donkey. ``It's Noah's Ark!''
 
Skeptics may dismiss Noah and his Ark as a childish myth of a white-bearded old man saving animals and mankind with his homemade boat, but explorer and Bible scholar Palego says he has found the real thing perched on Mount Ararat in Turkey.
 
Using intricate calculations based on the story in the Bible's Book of Genesis, the Italian explorer says the ark has been preserved in ice for over 4,000 years.
 
Laying out a series of grainy photos on his kitchen table back home in northern Italy, the 63-year-old former chemist points out the form of the huge boat estimated to be 512 feet long, 82 feet wide and 50 feet high with enough space to fit 800 trains.
 
A small piece of wood found in the same area by a French explorer friend and authenticated as dating from the time of the flood is physical evidence of his find, he says.
 
Palego isn't the first to claim to have found Noah's Ark.
 
Assorted ark hunters including scientists, archeologists and geologists also say they have unearthed the famous craft in various locations.
 
In Australia, two scientists sued creationist Allen Roberts for misleading and deceptive conduct after he claimed to have found scientific evidence of Noah's Ark 20 miles southeast of Mount Ararat. A judge dismissed the case.
 
The CIA believed it had stumbled on evidence that the Old Testament's evocative fable was true when a U.S. spy plane bound for military bases in the former Soviet Union took photographs of what appeared to be a vessel on the mountain.
 
Some ark hunters have even gone on to build their own replicas. A pastor in the United States has been busy rebuilding the ark since he said he had visions from God.
 
``Many explorers, especially American, say they have found the ark, but their sightings do not correspond with the Bible's coordinates,'' Palego said. ``The CIA decided not to publish their photos after we highlighted that their vessel was not the right size.''
 
According to the Book of Genesis, Noah built an ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high and loaded two of every species on board. A cubit equals about 20 inches.
 
The Bible says: ``God said unto Noah the end of all flesh has come before me...make thee an Ark of gopher wood.''
 
Noah set sail and after 40 days and nights of rain that flooded the world, the waters receded and the vessel came to rest on Mount Ararat in northeastern Turkey.
 
Skeptics say Noah would have needed to load 460 organisms a second into the Ark to get two of each species on board within 24 hours, not to mention the tons of urine and excrement.
 
But creationists say there is circumstantial evidence to back the story.
 
A group of scientists found evidence of an enormous deluge with 200 times the force of Niagara Falls roughly 7,000 years ago, as glaciers melted causing a huge plug of silt separating the then freshwater Black Sea from the Mediterranean. But this predated the Biblical myth.
 
While meteorologists have found no trace of a worldwide flood, they suspect it could have been a local incident, confined to the region around the eastern Mediterranean.
 
Indeed, another team of geologists found evidence of a flood about 4,000 years ago during excavations of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur near the Euphrates river in Iraq.
 
In terms of hard evidence, a group of geologists exploring Mount Ararat found rocks with holes in them resembling ``drogue stones'' which were dragged behind ancient ships for stability.
 
Palego says he just needs to get to his site to collect more evidence. So far, he has only seen it from a distance during his 13 expeditions to the mountain.
 
The explorer has yet to get authorization from Turkey to take a helicopter, which an Italian television station has agreed to pay for, into the highly sensitive military area where he was once taken hostage by Kurds.
 
``We've asked the Turkish government to let us go in and I won't give up until I get there,'' said Palego. ``This is my mission.''





SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE