Monday, April 26, 2004

A Roman Catholic entrepreneur from Honolulu is funding a $900,000 expedition to find Noah’s Ark this summer, after a record heat wave last year revealed what could be a large man-made object on the northeastern slopes of Turkey’s Mount Ararat.

Daniel P. McGivern, 64, told reporters yesterday he was sending a team of 30 American and Turkish scientists, forensic specialists and archaeologists to the site, revealed in recent satellite photographs, in the hopes of fostering belief in God and a worldwide religious revival.

“The discovery of Noah’s Ark [would be] the single greatest event since the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Mr. McGivern said, “and it — I know — will change the way science currently thinks about the Earth,” in reference to the Bible’s account of a global flood.

Mr. McGivern said he is interviewing potential team members for the expedition, which will be from July 15 to Aug. 15.

The northeastern slopes of the 16,854-foot mountain are treacherous and steep. The location of what the U.S. Air Force used to call the “Ararat anomaly” also contains 11 glaciers, hundreds of feet thick. The spot where Mr. McGivern said the ark may be is on a 45-degree slope.

Last summer’s heat wave in Europe — thought to be the most extreme in 500 years — caused a record “melt back” of ice covering the object. Mr. McGivern asked Digital Globe, a Longmont, Colo., company that specializes in satellite imaging, to photograph the area in August and September.

The result, he said, are photos that show a definite dark patch in the middle of a glacier on the edge of the 800-foot-deep Ahora Gorge. A close-up of the patch shows what looks like three beams and a cross beam.

The leader of this summer’s expedition, Ahmet Ali Arslan, who grew up in a village 12 miles from the summit, said he has climbed as close as 660 feet to the object, which until last summer was encased in an ice cap.

Mr. Arslan, a college professor at Selcuk University in Konya, Turkey, and a former correspondent for Voice of America, said he has climbed the mountain 50 times in 40 years.

According to biblical records, Noah’s Ark would measure about 75 feet wide, 450 feet long and 45 feet high. Mr. McGivern estimates the boat had three decks, “and we expect that we’ll find compartments and cages.”

The object on the satellite image is at least 50 feet by 70 feet, he said. There is some speculation that the object, if it is the biblical ark, has broken into three pieces.

The account of the ark, which is in Genesis 6:9, places its construction about 6,000 years ago.

Tuluy Tanc, a spokesman for the Turkish Embassy, confirmed that Mr. McGivern’s group met yesterday with Osman Faruk Logolu, the Turkish ambassador, who invited them to apply for permits to make the climb.

“If it’s a serious excursion, I can’t see much problem in getting them,” he said.

Mr. McGivern, who headed the Hawaii Christian Coalition in 1998, owns a Honolulu-based marketing firm and said he has incorporated Shamrock — the Trinity Corp. in Delaware to fund projects such as this.

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