By Gordon Franz
The “International Noah and Judi Mountain” symposium was held in Sirnak, Turkey, under the auspices of Sirnak University. One of the purposes of this conference was to set forth the case for Cudi Dagh, the mountain just to the south of Sirnak, as the landing place of Noah’s Ark in South East Turkey. This mountain is not to be confused with the (late) traditional Mount Ararat, called Agri Dagh, in northeastern Turkey.
Interestingly, at this conference I learned of another mountain that allegedly Noah’s Ark landed on. It is located at Mount Gemikaya in Azerbaijan. By my count, that is the sixth mountain vying for the honors of this historical event: two in Turkey, three in Iran, and one in Azerbaijan. The Iranian and Azerbaijani sites are far outside the Land of Ararat / Urartu, and in the case of the Iranian sites, deep inside the Land of Media. We can safely dismiss these mountains as the place where Noah’s Ark landed according to the Bible. To be truthful, Agri Dagh must be dismissed as well because it is a post-Flood volcanic peak in a plain, and not within the “mountains (plural) of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4).
The Setting of the Symposium
The symposium was held at the Sehr-I Nuh Otel (translation: Noah’s City Hotel) in Sirnak, just north of Cudi Dagh (Cudi or Judi Mountain). This mountain is within the “mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4) where Noah’s Ark landed. The facilities at the hotel were first class, the food was absolutely delicious, and we had a spectacular view of Cudi Dagh from the panorama view windows as we ate our meals.
Special thanks goes to Dr. Mehmet Ata Az, a philosophy professor at Sirnak University, for coordinating the speakers and making sure our needs were met. He truly has a servant’s heart and our best interest in mind. Thank you my friend!
Synopsis of Select Papers
The conference on Friday and Saturday (September 27 and 28, 2013) was well organized with sixty-six papers presented in two parallel sessions so I did not get to hear them all. There was simultaneous translation into Turkish, Arabic, and/or English. I learned much from each of the presentations that I attended.
Each paper was 15 minutes long. Much to my surprise, the moderators kept the conference on schedule! Unfortunately most of the papers were summaries of the presenter’s longer paper that will be published in the proceedings of the symposium. So I look forward to this publication with the papers published in book form so they can be studied in more detail. This volume should be published in a couple of months.
At least one-third of the papers were devoted to Noah, his Ark, and/or the Flood in the Qur’anic sources and Islamic theology. This was a surprise to me because I did not realize how much the Qur’an spoke about Noah. Thus it was helpful and of interest to me because I did not know the Arabic sources and it filled in some big gaps in my understanding. The Qur’an, as well as other ancient Jewish, Christian, and Pagan sources, places the landing site of the Ark on Cudi Dagh (Crouse and Franz 2006).
I will summarize and discuss several papers that I think might be of interest for those researching Noah’s Ark.
Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information ministry, was one of four plenary papers at the beginning of the conference. His paper was: “Five Reasons for Rejecting Agri Dagh as the Ark’s Final Resting Place and Five Reasons Why it Did Land on Cudi Dagh.” His five reasons for why it did not land on Agri Dagh, the traditional site of Mount Ararat, are: (1) The early ancient sources do not mention Agri Dagh as the landing site of Noah’s Ark, (2) Agri Dagh is a volcanic mountain and was never submerged under water, and thus it was formed after the Flood and could not be the landing site of the Ark, (3) Geographically, the peaks of “Greater Ararat” and “Lesser Ararat” are not located in the “Mountains of Ararat,” but rather, in a plain, (4) The “eye-witness” accounts are unreliable, and (5) Thus far, after 60 plus years of searching, nothing has ever been found there. The five reasons Bill believes the Ark landed on Cudi Dagh are: (1) There is a consensus of diverse ancient sources that place the landing site of the Ark in the area of Cudi Dagh, including pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources, (2) Diverse groups of pilgrims have visited the site for over at least two thousand years, (3) There are olive trees in the area of Cudi Dagh (cf. Gen. 8:10), but none in the area of Agri Dagh, (4) Possible archaeological remains have been discovered on the top of Cudi Dagh, including wood that has asphalt on both sides (cf. Gen. 6:14), 9-12 inch nails/spikes (cf. Gen. 4:22), and other objects found in the area of the landing site, and (5) Cudi Dagh is a much more accessible mountain for disembarking from the Ark. Bill’s presentation is on YouTube and can be viewed here:
After the first session, Bill was interviewed by Turkish national television. Also, the conveners of the conference are translating his paper into Turkish so that it can get a wider distribution in the Turkish language, giving Turks a better understanding of the issues relating to Noah’s Ark.
The Sirnak Investment Support Office Coordinator, Faik Bugday, presented a paper on the “Relationship between Noah and Development.” I had dinner with him during the conference and he shared more about how they were planning to develop the region for tourism and to expand the economy. Some of the ideas include: A new airport that was recently built to the west of Cizre (also spelled Jizra) two months ago (summer 2013), and has three flights a week. It is called the Sirnak Airport by Turkish Air. As peace prevails and tourism increases, I’m sure the airline will add more service to this soon-to-be-important airport.
Some of the projects on the drawing board include a high speed rail service connecting Sirnak with other regional cities, several of which have connections with Noah’s Ark. This has the potential for individual tourists who want to visit the area to get around economically and fast.
Another project is a cable car (think ski lift) up to the top of Cudi Dagh from the area of Sirnak. Once Noah’s Ark has been excavated, this will facilitate tourists getting to the mountain to visit the remains of this Biblical object.
I can envision, when peace prevails in the region, a 12 day “Genesis / Revelation” Biblical study tour of Turkey, with some sites visited by the Apostle Paul thrown in for good measure. The Christian tourist would fly into Istanbul and transfer to a domestic flight to Sirnak Airport. A few days will be spent in eastern Turkey visiting Cudi Dagh and the landing site of the Ark; Shah and Hassana, where ancient Assyrian inscriptions were found; the Tomb of Noah and a museum in Cizre; the Monastery of Milatya and the church with the sarcophagus of St. Jacob in Nusaybin, the ancient site of Nisibis. The group would then fly to Izmir in Western Turkey and visit the Seven Churches of Revelation (chapters 1-3), as well as some of the sites visited by the Apostle Paul.
The local historian from Cizre, Abdullah Yasin, was scheduled to speak in the parallel session that was not being translated into English. He was moved to the other session, on-the-spot, so that the English speaking participants could hear him. He addressed some of the evidence found in the Cudi Dagh area for Noah’s Ark. It was also timely that his new book, Nuh Peygamber (a.s.) Tufani ve Cudi Dagi (ISBN: 978-605-5053-03-1), just saw the light of day. It is well illustrated but is only in Turkish. I hope that it will be translated into English soon. Abdullah Yasin has a small museum in Cizre dedicated to the archaeology of Cudi Dagh.
Anne Habermehl presented a paper on “The Role of Science in Determining the Resting-Place of the Ark.” One of the main points of her paper was that Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional site of the Ark landing was a post-Flood volcanic mountain and thus could not be the place of the Ark landing. This important paper had been peer-reviewed by two of the leading creation geologists before she gave the paper. This information should be seriously considered by the proponents of Agri Dagh. Anne’s paper and report from this trip are up on her website: http://www.creationsixdays.net/
My friend, Rex Geissler, gave a paper entitled: “Archaeology, Excavations, Historical Documents on Mount Ararat.” This was the only paper given at the conference that defended the traditional site. Other Agri Dagh proponents had been invited, but they declined for one reason or another. One point that Rex stressed was that there was no Urartean pottery ever found in southeastern Turkey, and thus the area of Cudi Dagh was outside “mountains of Ararat.” This statement is very misleading for two reasons: Few, if any, excavations have been made there, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Mark Wilson gave an excellent paper on “Noah, the Ark, and the Early Flood in Christian Literature.” Basically it was about what the New Testament said about Noah and the Great Flood. Timo Roller, a German researcher, gave a paper on “The German Explorers of Cudi Dagh: 114 Years of Examining the Real Landing Place.” He discussed the explorations by Johannes Lepisius, Friedrich Bender, the Hans Thoma team, and his own research with Google Earth. Timo had a collection of old photographs of Cudi Dagh and was able to identify exactly where each picture was taken on Google Earth and the direction the camera was pointing. This paper was very helpful in getting a good visual perspective on the mountain.
The vice-rector of Sirnak University, Dr. Ibrahim Baz, gave an impressive PowerPoint presentation on “An Ancient Settlement on Judi Mount: Shah Village and Sheik Yahya Darshavi.” Sah is located at the western end of Cudi Dagh and had some Assyrian reliefs left by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and possibly other Assyrian kings. He had some spectacular pictures of Sah in the springtime with beautiful flowers in them. The Assyrian reliefs have been published, but further study is in order.
I was surprised to learn after talking with several Muslim participants at the conference that they believed in the Flood of Noah’s day, but they believed it was a local flood and not a universal flood. They hold to this view for theological reasons and not geological reasons. Dr. John Baumgardner, formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a paper on “Noah’s Flood: The Key to Correct Understanding of Earth History.” In the paper he discussed the R.A.T.E. (Radioisotope and the Age of the Earth) project he worked on with ICR. His main point was to show the scientific evidence for a young earth and geological evidence for a universal, world-wide Flood.
My paper (Gordon Franz) was entitled: “Did Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Worship Wood from Noah’s Ark?” This question was prompted by an account in the rabbinic sources that Sennacherib worshiped wood from the Ark. I answered the question in the affirmative because Sennacherib was on Cudi Dagh during his Fifth Campaign about 697 BC when he saw the Ark and brought wood back to Nineveh. He most likely learned of the history of the Ark from Israelites or Judeans with whom he came in contact. The wood he worshiped was in the House of Nisroch his god (2 Kings 19:36-37; Isa. 37:37-38). Nisroch means plank (of wood), or board.
It cannot be said with 100% certainty that Sennacherib worshiped wood from Noah’s Ark until the Temple of Nisroch is found and excavated, but it can be said that the “rabbinic legend” of Rabbi Papa in Tractate Sanhedrin is historically plausible, if not probable. This “legend” has its basis in historical reality. If that is the case, Sennacherib saw Noah’s Ark on Cudi Dagh, the Assyrian Mount Nipur, in the mountains of Ararat / Urartu, because he was never on, or in the area of, Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat!
The “Reader’s Digest” version of my paper is up on my website:
The final presentation of the conference was by the Rector (president) of Sirnak University, Prof. Dr. Ali Akmaz. In his summary of the conference he said that Sirnak University was going to start an Institute of Noah Studies and produce a documentary of the history and archaeology of Cudi Dagh. But the most important announcement was that they were going to excavate the site of the Ark Landing once they get a team of archaeologists and engineers in place and secure a permit from the Department of Antiquities. I wish them well in this important, and potentially history changing, endeavor.
I look forward to that cable-car ride up to the top of Cudi Dagh to visit the remains of Noah’s Ark!
Sight-seeing After the Symposium
The university had scheduled a trip for some of us by helicopter to the top of Cudi Dagh so we could view the landing site of the Ark, conditions permitting. As it turned out, on Sunday morning the army cancelled the trip because of problems in the area, including on top of Cudi Dagh. It was for the best. I appreciate the university’s concern for our safety, even though we were never in any real danger. “Better safe than sorry!”
Well, what do you do for three “free” days before your return flight? You know the old saying: “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!” Well, “Plan B” was instituted and we had a nice tall glass of cool lemonade that was very good! We took a taxi from Sirnak to Sanliurfa and spent the rest of our time there visiting the sites in the area. On the way we stopped at Nusaybin to visit the Church of St. Jacob and his sarcophagus in a vault underneath the church. St. Jacob of Nisibis is important for Noah’s Ark studies because he noted that the Ark was not on Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh) but on a mountain in the canton of Kortuk where we find Cudi Dagh.
On Monday we went to Gobekli Tepe to view its impressive prehistoric archaeological remains. Then we went on to Harran where Abraham once lived before he went to the Land of Cannan. It was thrilling to read the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) at Harran where it was first given!
On Tuesday we visited local sites in Sanliurfa, named in the Greek period by Alexander the Great as Edessa, after the well watered city of the same name in Macedonia. Wednesday we returned to the good ol’ US of A.
Thank you for reading this article. Feel free to pass it on to your family and friends.
Crouse, Bill; and Franz, Gordon
2006 Mount Cudi – True Mountain of Noah’s Ark. Bible and Spade 19/4: 99-113.
Reprinted from Life and Land.
UPDATE: As of 10 January 2015, everything is now on hold. As you’ve probably read in the paper the ISIS folks are causing trouble in that area. Until that problem is solved, nothing happens!