From +quot;Sunday Times+quot; Perth Western Australia, Sunday, January 30th, 1994. Excavat

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From "Sunday Times" Perth Western Australia, Sunday, January 30th, 1994. Excavation pictures may reveal Noah's Ark ----------------------------------------- by Andrew Turner ADELAIDE: An archaeologist has released graphic photos of the excavation of a vessel believed to be Noah's Ark. Mr Jonathan Gray says the latest discoveries at the site near Mt. Ararat on the Iran-Turkey border confirm it is one of history's most significant archaeological finds. And the vessel's measurements are believed to conform almost exactly with the 300 by 50 by 30 cubits (a cubit is about 50cm) specified by God when he gave the building instructions to Noah in chapter 6 of the book of Genesis. The Turkish government, which ordered the excavation of the site, is taking the find so seriously it is constructing a viewing platform and a four-lane highway in preparation for the predicted tourist boom. Mr Gray, who has returned from the site, became involved in the excavation about two years ago. "There were some people who tended to suggest that it was just a freak of nature, a big rock formation." he said. "I am a sceptic by nature. two years ago, I was a big sceptic but I wanted to satisfy myself about this as I am so interested in archaeology. "There is enough evidence for anyone who really wants the truth. But we hope to be able to excavate enough of the remains to convince even the most hardened sceptic." According to the Bible, the craft was built after Noah was chosen by God to perpetuate the human race after floods devastated the earth. Mr Gray says the flood occured about 2345 BC. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wifes and male and female specimens of animals were said to have been at sea for 13 months before floodwaters receded enough for them to return to land. Mr Gray is set to return to the site later this year when underground investigation begins. Originally he was called in to confirm that the relic was archaeological and not natural. This week he released detailed pictures of the site and relics discovered during the latest dig, which concluded late last year. In modern-day dimensions, the three-storey "ark" is about 150m long, 30m wide and 15m tall. Mr Gray said the vessel, found about 2000m above sea level, was covered by about 2.5m of mud, caused by a volcanic eruption. Earthquakes in 1958 and 1977 had forced it to the surface, enabling detailed investigations to begin. Mr Gray said radar tests on the site had revealed a structure in the ground, animal remains, rivets and other outlines. The body of the "hull" has been lifted out of the ground about 6m and the structure extends about 8m underground. "It has all the characteristics of the ark as described in the old records," Mr Gray said. "The structure shows rooms and passageways and doors and ramps." Hunter says his cynicism is gone -------------------------------- Jonathan Gray was sceptical when he was told archaeologists had discovered what they believed was Noah's ark. After 26 years in the field, he joined American ark hunter Ron Wyatt. Mr Gray said his cynicism vanished. "There is enough evidence for anyone who really wants the truth. But we hope to be able to excavate enough of the remains to convince even the most hardened sceptic." No more work will be carried out on the Mt Ararat site, about 2000m above sea level, until May when a thick layer of snow has melted. Mr Gray says that when a collection of metal rivets, timber samples and animal remains appeared after 1991, archaeologists knew they had "the real thing". Subsequent testing confirmed the age and composition of the relics. The hull's 7m ribs and detailed room structures and animal remains were found during an expedition led by Mr Gray from October to December last year. One of the most startling discoveries was part of a pair of deer antlers. "There is a base of one," Mr Gray says. "It would indicate that there was an animal inside that boat-shaped, man-made object that shed its antler during the time it was in that vessel." regards, mick vege@omen.it.com.au

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