An archaeologist who visited Mount Ararat with the Chinese and Turkish expedition team that now claims to have found the remains of Noah's Ark says he has more reasons to believe that the "discovery" is fake than the team has proof that it's real.
Among them are photos that he has of the inside of the "so-called Ark" that show cobwebs in the corners of the rafters – "something just not possible in these conditions."
"To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake," reported Dr. Randall Price, president for World of the Bible Ministries, in an e-mail to his ministry's supporters following last week's Ark announcement.
Last Sunday, an expedition team from Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) that explored Mount Ararat announced that the wood specimens they had retrieved last year from the "large wooden structure" they discovered more than 4,000 meters above sea level were found to be 4,800 years in age – a figure that would go back to the time of Noah, based upon a literal reading of the Bible.
Backed by Turkish government officials and his group's own set of experts, NAMI representative Man-fai Yuen said, "We believe that the wooden structure we entered is the same structure recorded in historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals."
Dr. Randall Price, however, says he was informed by a local partner in the village at the foot of Mount Ararat that ten Kurdish workers were hired by the expedition team's guide in the late summer of 2008 to transport and plant large wood beams at the Mount Ararat site from an old structure in the Black Sea area.
That same guide had showed the team a cave in 2006 that was thought to contain wood but, upon inspection by Price and a team of geologists, actually contained volcanic rock.
Price had planned to check out the latest site in 2008 but did not get to for reasons not clearly reported.
"During that expedition, the guide … who claimed to have found the Ark, was constantly drunk and after one month sitting in a hotel waiting, the expedition never happened," he informed ministry supporters.
Though many have concluded from Price's leaked e-mail that the Christian archaeologist believes the Kurdish guide and his partners were merely extorting money from the Chinese evangelical Christians belonging to NAMI, the ministry leader stopped short of affirming the conclusion, saying only that he believes that the greater the claim, the greater the evidence needs to be to support it.
"While he (Price) has reservations about the nature and procedure of the Chinese-Turkish expedition and the artifacts related to it, he believes that a decision concerning this matter must wait until independent examinations of the site and the structure can be made and published," Price's ministry stated this past week.
On another note, Price had informed supporters in his e-mail that he plans to check out another site this summer with a man who has climbed Mount Ararat 33 times and claims to know the location of a piece of the Ark.
"Last year we had a good expedition to a higher site (the satellite site) and this summer we will excavate the shepherd's site and have every reason to expect success," he reported.
In addition to being the president and founder of World of the Bible Ministries, Price is the executive director and distinguished professor of Judaic Studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Price has degrees from Texas State University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Society for Biblical Literature, and The Near East Archaeological Society.