Explorer Marvin Steffins was the focus of international attention recently when news reports said he found Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. Steffins, president of the Louisiana-based International Expeditions, attributed the widespread reports to an “imaginative press” on a “slow news day.”

Steffins denies that he said he discovered the ark. But he adds that there is a strong possibility that the boat-shaped formation he and a half-dozen others examined in August does house the remains of the ark.

Ron Wyatt, an explorer from Nashville who led the team to the site, told the Turkish press that the formation is “definitely a boat” and that he believes it is Noah’s ark. Wyatt brought back to the United States something he describes as “decayed and oxidized metal and some decayed and partially petrified wood.” He believes the object is part of a rib timber from the ark.

At press time, the material was being analyzed in a laboratory whose location Wyatt declined to reveal. He says scientists will try to determine the kind and possibly the age of the wood and metal that was found.

The unusual formation, located some 5,200 feet up the southwestern side of Mount Ararat, has been known to explorers since 1959. But Wyatt says a hasty excavation done there in 1960 convinced most people that it had no archeological value.

Wyatt’s interest in the site escalated in 1979 after analysis of soil samples from the formation revealed high contents of carbon and ferric oxide. This, Wyatt says, indicated there was wood and metal in the mountain. Because Genesis 4:22 describes Tubal-cain as “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron,” Wyatt believes Noah had access to metal, and would have used it.

On his recent trip, Wyatt took a metal detector to the site and got positive readings at nine-foot intervals the entire length of the formation. Astronaut James Irwin, who accompanied Wyatt on part of the expedition, says the metal readings are significant. However, he does not think the formation contains Noah’s ark. He says the land formation, near well-traveled highways, could not have kept the ark hidden from people through the years. Irwin says the formation might contain a replica of the ark, believed by some to have been constructed some 1,700 years ago.

Steffins says he hopes to get permission from the Turkish government to excavate the site. He has expressed concern that in the meantime, a poorly executed venture could hinder the site’s potential as an archaeological treasure. But Wyatt says Turkish officials are capable of protecting the site from looters. Wyatt stresses that further excavation and analysis “should be pursued with the best scientific methology available.… There is no room for fantasizing.”

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