Hong Kong Evangelists Claim They “Ventured inside Wooden Compartments on Mount Ararat”

From the South China Morning Post:

New evidence, including wood specimens dating back 4,800 years, discovered by a Hong Kong-Turkish team 4,000 metres above sea level, may suggest the existence of the biblical Noah’s ark.

The team of 15, which included six Hong Kong evangelists and cameramen, said they had excavated and ventured inside seven large wooden compartments on snow-capped Mount Ararat in Turkey last October. The whole process was also videotaped for the first time.

The team, which announced the expedition in Hong Kong yesterday, brought back samples from the sites, including wooden specimens, white seedling-like particles and remains of rope, which they believe was used for keeping animals.

Yeung Wing-cheung, one of the team members, said a piece of wood 38mm long, obtained from the site, was dated as 4,800 years old by a carbon-dating method in Iran. This matches with the range of years stated in the Bible, suggesting when the vessel was built.

…One of the project participants, Dutch researcher Gerrit Aalten, said: “There is a tremendous amount of solid evidence that the structure found on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey is the legendary ark of Noah.”

Fellow researcher, Professor Oktay Belli, an archaeologist at the University of Istanbul, ruled out the possibility of human settlement because it has never been found above 3,500 metres.

Dr Ahmet Ozbek, geologist at Kahramanmaras Sutcu Iman University in Turkey, said the low temperature and environmental condition of glacier deposits and volcanic material helped preservation at the site.

The evangelists belong to groups called Noah’s Ark Ministries International (var. Noah’s Ark Ministry International) and The Media Evangelism, both of which are based in Hong Kong; Aalten has a YouTube channel here, although he hasn’t updated it for a while. And a documentary by Yeung is advertised here:

The Ark has been buried under the ice atop the perpetually snow-covered Mount Ararat. A secret has been kept by a Kurds’ family over 4 generations in respect of the location of the suspected Arks’ remain. In 2004, the first Chinese expedition led by The Media Evangelism Ltd entered the military base and filmed the Ark’s remain in close distance. The footage of the Ark’s remain, including the supernatural experiences of the crew on the elevation of 4,200 meters of Mount Ararat will be shown to the public through this documentary film coming to the local theatres this Easter.

To unveil the myths of the Great Flood and the Ark, the production crew had traveled to the USA, Canada, Israel, Australia, Egypt, Peru, Japan, and China to interview an array of Chinese and overseas scholars and experts. The crews have also made extra research attempts to Mount Ararat and its surrounding areas and have gathered a lot of relevant information.

In March, NAMI announced that

The “We Touched Noah’s Ark: The Search for A Carpenter’s Heart” Evangelistic Campaign was launched. Worldwide press conferences, exhibitions and sharing are carried out to spread the Gospel through the Noah’s Ark discovery.

The site also tells us that in August 2008  “they received a collection of photos which were suspected to have been taken inside the ark.” The NAMI website also has screenshots of a number of recent media reports (mostly in Chinese) on the supposed discovery, including a couple of photographs showing the inside some sort of (rather cramped) dwelling. There’s even some straw lying around.

The site also carries a triumphant announcement: “Turkish government officials to apply for UNESCO World Heritage Listing”.

This is not the first time the team has publicised their discovery; a press conference was reported in 2008:

A panel of experts, comprising Turkish authorities, veteran mountaineers, archaeologists, geologists and members of Hong Kong-based Noah’s Ark Ministries International, also displayed an almost one-metre-long peice of petrified wood before the media and specially invited international experts.

The experts claimed it to be a part of a long structure they had unearthed during their February-August 2007 exploration. “It is for the first time in the history of the Ark search that an exploration team is getting a material evidence and graphic documentation. This makes it not only a the significant breakthrough in the Ark-search, but one that is supported with the most substantial evidence in recent history,” the panel said.

“The structure was discovered in the interiors of an unusual cave. The11.5m wide and 2.6m high white wooden texture was revealed after removing thick layers of volcanic ash on the cave wall,” panel members said at a press conference.

The exact location remains secret, for reasons of “preservation”.

NAMI also runs a Noah’s Ark theme park in Hong Kong, which includes a full-scale ark built to Biblical dimensions; the project was financed by Hong Kong’s “three billionaire Kwok brothers”, who own Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. The Media Evangelism, meanwhile, is advertising some sort of exhibition entitled “Lost in the Noah’s Ark” with this bizarre poster.