Spy photos sharpen focus on Noah's Ark

Reported By: Weekend News Today
Source: The Washington Times

11/18/97 - Dino A. Brugioni, a retired CIA photographic specialist
who was directed to study the high-resolution photographs of the
unusual Mount Ararat site two decades ago, say soon-to-be-released
U.S. spy photographs of the odd formation high on Turkey's Mount
Ararat could reveal something far more explosive: the remnants of
Noah's Ark, the ancient vessel from the Bible that safely preserved a
pair of every creature on Earth in the midst of a global flood, The
Washington Times reported Tuesday. A series of images snapped by
a U-2 spy plane at the end of a 3,000-mile reconnaissance flight from
what was then the Soviet Union to Turkey caught the attention of a
photo interpreter in his section. For more than two decades,
highflying U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and satellites routinely
photographed the "Ararat Anomaly" site. But over the next few
months, the CIA will begin releasing more detailed high-resolution
spy pictures of the distinctive formation near the summit.

High-level U.S. government interest in the search for Noah's Ark led
to a study by the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center
(NPIC) of the Ararat Anomaly back in the 1970s, and the Defense
Intelligence Agency conducted a second, more recent analysis.

The Bible in Genesis tells of God's command to Noah to build an
ark 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. (A cubit is
an ancient measurement of about 20 inches, making the ark
approximately 500 feet long, 83.3 feet wide, and 50 feet high.) God
then made it rain for 40 days "and the waters increased and bore up
the ark and it rose high above the earth ... so mightily upon the earth
that all the high mountains under the heavens were covered," the
Bible says. According to the CIA, the U-2 photographs of the Ararat
Anomaly will be released in the next few months as part of a batch
of hundreds of thousands of spy photographs taken on U-2 and SR-71
spy plane missions between the 1950s and mid-1970s. CIA
spokesman Tom Crispell said the release of the U-2 photographs
will contain pictures of the Ararat Anomaly. But other photos taken
by KH-9 and KH-11 high-resolution spy satellites are not likely to be
made public any time soon, intelligence sources said.

World famous linguist Charles Berlitz's 1987 book "The Lost Ship of
Noah" describes several expeditions, including a 1916 discovery by
the Russian Imperial Air Force, which sent 150 men up the mountain
to explore a large object measuring as long as a city block. The ark,
the book said, was found to have hundreds of small rooms and
several that were quite large, as if designed to hold beasts larger
than elephants. It included a 20-square-foot doorway. Other rooms
were lined with tiers of cages and everything was heavily painted
with a waxlike substance resembling shellac.

The wood used throughout was oleander, a member of the cypress
family and the "gopher wood" of the Genesis account. Because of its
frozen condition under 50 feet of ice, the boat had been perfectly
preserved for several millenniums, the book reported.

Getting to the site on Ararat's southeastern slope is a mountaineer's
nighmare, as it takes three days to scale the 16,945-foot mountain, a
dormant volcano whose peak is usually hidden by clouds. Even in
peak climbing season during July and August, the remote mountain is
loaded with obstacles: winds reaching up to 150 mph, snow, mist,
wild animals, falling boulders and even bandits who prey on

The mostly Muslim Turks had long been reluctant to allow
exploration of Mount Ararat because a discovery of the ark would
not square with an account in the Koran which says the ark came to
rest on Mount Judi, 200 miles southwest of Ararat. Because the ark
is in a politically sensitive area bordering Russia and Iran, Turkish
authorities closed the area in 1990.

The search for the ark on Mount Ararat has been greatly
complicated after the Turkish government closed off the area to
visitors. The government cited problems with Kurdish rebels and
the site's proximity to borders with Iran and Armenia.