Where Is Noah’s Ark? [Genesis Explained]


Noah’s ark is one of the most iconic structures in the Bible. It was 450 feet long (137.6 m), 75 feet wide (22.86 m), and 45 feet high (13.71 m). God commanded Noah to build an ark to save him, his family, and thousands of animals from the floodwaters he would send upon the earth to judge its wickedness. As a result, many people who are interested Genesis want to know where Noah’s ark is today.

Noah’s ark ran aground in the “mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4), not Mount Ararat, as some people think. Genesis reveals the vessel’s landing spot as a region, not a particular peak. Though the ark has never been found, many people think they know its location, and some even claim to have evidence.

What does Genesis say about the ark’s location? Where are the mountains of Ararat? Where is Mount Ararat? What claims have people made about discovering the ark? Will people ever find the ark, or is it impossible? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Mount Ararat
Where are the mountains of Ararat? See below

What does Genesis say about the ark’s location?

The flood story is the largest narrative in the first section of Genesis, filling of four (Ch. 6-9) of the first 11 chapters. Although the text provides details about the ark, like its length, width, and height (Gen. 6:15ff.), the information doesn’t comprise a blueprint, so certain aspects of the vessel are a mystery. What’s not a mystery is that the ark was real, functional, and life-saving.

Where did the ark land? In between passages that describe the cresting of the deluge and God’s promise never to flood the entire world again is a description of the ark’s landing spot. Genesis reads, “At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:3b-4, ESV).

Genesis 8:4Mountains of Ararat
Hebrew wordהַר
Pronunciationhar
Translationmountain, hill, hill country
Singular or plural?Plural; “mountains”
Plural “mountains”KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV, NLT
Singular “mountain”None among the top 30+ translations

Where are the mountains of Ararat? The mountains of Ararat are in the Middle East in a region of northeast Turkey. It borders Iran, Armenia, and Georgia to the east. It’s north of Iraq and Syria and south of Russia. The region is several hundred miles from east to west and north to south. It contains mountains, volcanoes, and a plateau covering approximately 20,000 square miles (50,000 km).

Genesis flood
What country is Mount Ararat in? See below

Where is Mount Ararat?

The area the Bible refers to as “the mountains of Ararat” contains a peak known today as “Mount Ararat.” The mountain is in the eastern part of the region, not far from the Armenian and Iranian borders. Mount Ararat is a stratovolcano. The mountain has two cones known as “Greater Ararat” and “Lesser Ararat.” The taller peak is 16,854 feet (5137 m) above sea level.

Some older Bible commentaries tend to identify the ark’s land spot as Mount Ararat. For example, the classic commentary named for its three authors Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, reads, “The mountain which tradition points to as the one on which the ark rested is now called Ara Dagh, the “finger mountain.” Its summit consists of two peaks, the higher of which is 17,750 feet and the other 13,420 above the level of the sea.”

In contrast, one modern Genesis scholar writes, “‘On the mountains of Ararat’ does not mean on a mountain called Ararat, but on the mountains in the area called Ararat. Ararat is the Hebrew term Urartu, a kingdom of northern Assyria (2 Kgs 19:37; Isa 37:38; Jer 51:27) later called Armenia, now part of eastern Turkey… But it should be repeated that the biblical text does not give a precise location.” [1]

Another writes, “‘Mount Ararat’ as a geographical designation comes from later tradition. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries A.D., it became the traditional site known as the place of Noah’s landing. Verse 4, however, does not specify the peak and refers generally to its location as the ‘mountains of Ararat.'” [2]

Noah's ark
Have people claimed to have discovered the ark? See below

What claims have people made about finding the ark?

Many people have claimed to know the ark’s location; some even believe they have found evidence. however, the majority of historians, scientists, and scholars, no matter if they are Jewish, Christian, or neither, reject such claims as not credible.

Some claims are genuine in their intent but incorrect in their conclusions. Other claims are filled with lies, deceit, fabrication, and greed. Below are two examples of claims.

The Ararat Anomaly

Some people believe that satellite images show an object buried near Mount Ararat that appears to resemble an ark. Skeptics say it’s just a rock formation. Nevertheless, its odd shape has led some to nickname it the “Ararat Anomaly.” Some, who are cautiously optimistic about the formation, suggest withholding conclusions until the Turkish government allows experts to study the area.

“The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark”

A television special called “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark” aired on CBS in 1993. The program included video footage from the 1950s, showing a man carrying a wooden beam down from Mount Ararat.

The show suggested to viewers that the wood was 5,000 years old, but tests later revealed that it was thousands of years younger. In later years, part of the production team even confessed to knowing that the wooden beam was bought and carried up the mountain before the filming started.

Hong Kong ministry investigation

In the 2000s, a Kurdish man claimed to have found parts of the ark. A Hong Kong-based ministry sent explorers to the location, but the Kurdish man didn’t let them visit the site. Scientists eventually concluded that some of the wood alleged to have come from the site and possibly from Noah’s ark was modern. Consequently, most analysts think the claim was knowingly false and suspect fraud.

Will Noah’s ark ever be found?

The Bible doesn’t say that the ark can’t be found. It’s possible that someone could find it; however, even the most optimistic and conservative scholars and scientists have their doubts it will be. Their reasons include:

  • The ark was made of wood and, therefore, subject to decay. ice has possibly preserved it for thousands of years, but many think it unlikely given the abundance of geologic activity in the area over the last few thousand years.
  • Some Bible scholars speculate that Noah, his family, and perhaps his descendants burned the ark for survival. Trees weren’t abundant immediately after the flood, and using the wood from the ark for practical purposes may have been necessary while new trees grew and matured.

References:
[1] Genesis 1-15 by Gordon Wenham. WBC. p. 185.
[2] Genesis 1-11:26 by Kenneth Mathews. NAC. p. 386.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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