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Daniel McGivern, a 64-year-old Roman Catholic entrepreneur from Honolulu, says he is "90 percent sure" he knows the location of Noah's ark. And he's putting his money where his mouth is. He is investing $900,000 to send a joint U.S.-Turkish team of 30 explorers to Mount Ararat in mid-July for a monthlong investigation into a boat-shaped structure on the difficult-to-reach northeastern slope of Mount Ararat. McGivern's organization, Shamrock—The Trinity Corporation, becomes the latest in a long line of Ararat explorers, stretching back centuries.

The Bible actually says Noah's ark came to rest on "the mountains of Ararat" (Gen. 8:4), suggesting an obsession with the one large mountain of that name may be misplaced. Nonetheless, the tradition persisted through the centuries, possibly fed by the existence of a dark spot near the peak of the perpetually snow-covered mountain. It was visible to the naked eye for miles. One ark expert says the dark spot was finally determined to be an outcropping of basalt, when explorers in a helicopter got an up-close look at it.

Satellite photos taken during last summer's record heat wave in Europe have spurred McGivern's mission. The mild temperatures melted large amounts of snow and ice covering Ararat's highest elevations. McGivern said a close-up of a dark patch in the middle of a glacier shows what looks like three beams and a crossbeam.

The 17,000-foot Ararat has remained a difficult challenge for explorers. Near the sensitive intersection of borders with the U.S.S.R. and Iran, it was largely inaccessible during the Cold War. But suspicious-looking objects in aerial photos from World War II pilots, and later satellite photos, generated additional interest.

Previous expeditions, including ...

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Explorers of Noah's Lost Ark
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July 2004

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