CIA to release photos of "Ararat Anomaly"

Copyright 1997
Copyright 1997 Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON (November 18, 1997 6:29 p.m. EST - The
Central Intelligence Agency is planning to release photographs of an
odd-shaped formation on Turkey's Mount Ararat, where some religious
historians believe Noah's Ark landed, The Washington Times reported

The U2 and SR-71 spy plane photographs were taken from 1950 to 1970 and
show what the CIA has labeled the "Ararat Anomaly."

But despite historians' excitement about the possibility that it could
be the biblical ark, CIA photographic specialists charged with studying
the anomaly said the measurements don't add up.

"We measured things but none of them fell within the dimensions given in
the Bible," said Dino Brugioni, a retired CIA photo specialist.

The release of the pictures comes after years of pressure from Porcher
Taylor, a professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Taylor first learned about the pictures in 1973 and then became
intrigued when a top CIA official told a gathering in Florida that
"there are clear indications that there is something up on Mount Ararat
which is rather strange," the professor said.

In 1995, the Defense Intelligence Agency published photographs of the
area taken in 1949 that show a curved form about two kilometers (1.2
miles) from the summit of the 17,000-foot mountain.

A report on the photographs tried to debunk any speculation that it
might be the ark described in the Old Testament as carrying a pair of
each species of animal to safety during a 40 day deluge.

"The accumulated ice and snow along this precipice obviously fall down
the side of mountain at frequent intervals, often leaving long linear
facades. It appears that the 'anomaly' is one of those linear facades,"
the report said.

But a former intelligence official told the Washington Times experts
studying a 1973 photograph of the site were surprised when a close-up
showed what appeared to be three large curved wooden beams.

One analyst "very badly" wanted to believe it was Noah's Ark but other
said it was just a rock, the intelligence officer told the newspaper.

But Taylor has not given up hope. "Although it is remote that the ark
could survive 4,500 years in a moving glacier, some CIA photo
interpreters have not ruled this out," he told the Times.

Turkey closed off Mount Ararat to foreigners in 1991.