(2008 Video Tape pro­duced by the BASE Insti­tute of Col­orado Springs, CO. $14.95.)

A review and cri­tique by Gor­don Franz, Bill Crouse, and Rex Geissler
Decem­ber 12, 2008


Adven­tur­er Robert Cor­nuke has pro­duced a new video which claims that rem­nants of Noah?s Ark have been found in the Elburz Moun­tains about 54 miles from Tehran, the cap­i­tal of Iran.

Cor­nuke is founder and CEO of the Bible Archae­ol­o­gy, Search and Explo­ration (BASE) Insti­tute of Col­orado Springs, Col­orado. In 2005 and 2006, Cor­nuke and select vol­un­teers, vis­it­ed Mount Suleiman in the Elburz Moun­tains look­ing for an object they sus­pect­ed might be the remains of Noah?s Ark. Pri­or to his claims about Mount Suleiman he was con­vinced that the Ark had land­ed on Mount Sabal­an in Iran (Cor­nuke and Hal­brook 2001). After his third trip to Iran in 2006 he post­ed arti­cles on his web­site detail­ing the rea­sons why he thought Noah?s Ark might have land­ed on Mount Suleiman, north­west of Tehran in Iran (some have since been tak­en down). Cornuke?s claims have been exam­ined and reviews have been post­ed on the web, and by mul­ti­ple authors. At the end of the reviews Cor­nuke was chal­lenged to pub­lish his find­ings from Mount Suleiman in a sci­en­tif­ic peer-reviewed pub­li­ca­tion but none have been forthcoming.

Cor­nuke, while couch­ing his claims in care­ful lan­guage, main­tains that he has dis­cov­ered the true Mount Sinai, the actu­al anchors from St. Paul?s ship­wreck, the loca­tion of the Ark of the Covenant, and now Noah?s Ark in Iran (2005). Now this mate­r­i­al is avail­able in a high qual­i­ty new video, the sub­ject of this review. Since evi­dence and claims are being made in this video which we believe do not estab­lish the case that Noah?s Ark has been found, or that it could have land­ed in Iran. How­ev­er, due to its excel­lent pro­duc­tion qual­i­ty, we are con­cerned once again that its sen­sa­tion­al claims will mis­lead the Chris­t­ian public.

Gen­e­sis 8:4 and the Moun­tains of Ararat

The video begins by argu­ing that Gen­e­sis 8:4 does not specif­i­cal­ly state that the Ark of Noah land­ed on mod­ern Mount Ararat in East­ern Turkey. That this Scrip­ture only gives us a gen­er­al loca­tion of the Ark?s final berth is one of the few points in the video with which we agree.

Main Premise of the Video

The main premise of the video, as stat­ed on the back cov­er of the video box, is that: ?Based on the tes­ti­mo­ny of the Bible, per­son­al inves­ti­ga­tion, exam­i­na­tion of evi­dence, and oth­er fac­tors, Cor­nuke points to Mount Suleiman in the mod­ern-day coun­try of Iran, as the most prob­a­ble rest­ing place for Noah?s Ark.? This premise, how­ev­er, col­laps­es on Bib­li­cal grounds and oth­er known facts.

Cor­nuke bases his con­clu­sion on five main assumptions:

  • The verac­i­ty of the Ed Davis tes­ti­mo­ny as to the loca­tion of the Ark
  • The region (coun­try) of Ararat (Urar­tu) extend­ed into the cen­tral Elburz moun­tain range in Iran
  • An inter­pre­ta­tion of Gen­e­sis 11:2 would mean that the Ark land­ed in Iran, east of Shi­nar (mod­ern-day, south cen­tral Iraq)
  • Oth­er ancient sources, for exam­ple Jose­phus, might extend the Land of Ararat east­ward into Iran
  • The rock out­crop they found on Suleiman is the Ed Davis object, is pet­ri­fied wood, and by impli­ca­tion, the remains of Noah?s Ark

Let?s look briefly at each of these assumptions.

The Ed Davis Testimony

First, the main rea­son Cor­nuke began his quest to find Noah?s Ark in Iran, is based on the tes­ti­mo­ny of a World War II sol­dier who claims he was shown the Ark in 1943. In fact, we would be so bold as to say that with­out this tes­ti­mo­ny we sin­cere­ly doubt that Cor­nuke would have ever trav­eled to Iran. The sol­dier in ques­tion, the late Ed Davis of New Mex­i­co, claimed that while sta­tioned in Iran with the Army Corps of Engi­neers he was shown the sites of the Gar­den of Eden and Noah?s Ark (Shock­ey 1986). Ark researchers, includ­ing the authors, have spent many hours ana­lyz­ing this tes­ti­mo­ny (Crouse 1988; 1989; 1993).

The sto­ry Davis tells is rid­dled with con­tra­dic­tions and puz­zling prob­lems. For exam­ple, in his ear­li­est tes­ti­mo­ny he indi­cat­ed he was sta­tioned in Hamadan, Iran, (Per­sia at that time) and because of a favor he did for his friends, they took him to the Gar­den of Eden and Noah?s Ark. In the very first record­ing of his tes­ti­mo­ny he not­ed that his native friends were Lurs or Lourds, a pre­dom­i­nant eth­ic group in west­ern Iran (Luris­tan) near the Zagros Moun­tains. How­ev­er, zeal­ous Ark researchers cor­rect­ed him that they were Kurds since they are the major eth­nic group in the vil­lages at the base of Mount Ararat. Hence from then on Davis calls them Kurds.

In sub­se­quent debrief­in­gs, Ed not­ed oth­er details such as the fact that he and his friends went through the town of Qazvin on their way to the moun­tain, and that he could see the lights of Tehran from the Ark?s site. It was these two facts that led for­mer detec­tive Cor­nuke to con­clude that Ed must have been some­where in the Elburz Moun­tains north of Tehran. Cor­nuke and remote-sens­ing (satel­lite data) expert Ed Hol­royd then began look­ing at satel­lite data of the Elburz Moun­tains to find a con­fig­u­ra­tion of canyons that matched Ed?s detailed descrip­tion. They con­clud­ed that just such a for­ma­tion exist­ed on Mount Suleiman. In 2005 Cor­nuke made his way to Mount Suleiman and found a large black rock extru­sion he came to believe was what Davis was shown.

What we find inter­est­ing is that while Cor­nuke believes he has found the Ed Davis object he does not tell his view­ers the whole sto­ry. Davis also declared that the Ark was bro­ken into two pieces and that you could see com­part­ments inside. Because of the hol­low nature of the Ark, he claimed that his friends had shown him arti­facts that fell out of the bro­ken Ark includ­ing lentils, beans, hon­ey, hay, feath­ers, nuts, dried fish, oil lamps, tools, clay vats, pet­ri­fied shep­herd staffs and pet­ri­fied woven twig doors! Davis and his guides viewed this ?Ark? object from the edge of a cliff and were plan­ning to use ropes to get down to it the next day. None of this descrip­tion is shared in the doc­u­men­tary, nor does it square with the object shown in the video. There is no cliff and no ?com­part­ments? and no arti­facts shown at this rock out­crop­ping in the video.

Most Ark researchers, how­ev­er, do believe Ed Davis did have some kind of expe­ri­ence; his friends prob­a­bly did show him some­thing as he not­ed in the fly­leaf of his Bible. Inter­est­ing­ly enough, accord­ing to Lur tra­di­tion (and Ed Davis? friends were Lourds) both the Gar­den of Eden and the final rest­ing place of the Ark are in the region of Luris­tan. Accord­ing to Major Hen­ry Rawl­in­son, the Lur tra­di­tion puts the Ark?s final rest­ing place on a moun­tain called Sar Kashti, a moun­tain in the Zagros moun­tain range of West­ern Iran about a day?s dri­ve from Hamadan (1839: 100).

The Bound­aries of Ararat/Urartu

The sec­ond major prob­lem with the Cor­nuke the­sis is that there is no evi­dence yet dis­cov­ered that indi­cates the region of Urartu/Ararat ever extend­ed as far north and east into Iran as he claims. In fact, in the video, Cornuke?s map doesn?t even cov­er the ancient cap­i­tal of Ararat/Urartu on Lake Van! This is a griev­ous error. What is at stake here is the inerran­cy of Scrip­ture. As far as these authors are aware, no Urart­ian schol­ar would put the King­dom of Urar­tu as far to the east as Cor­nuke claims even at the height of its empire in the 8th and 7th cen­turies B.C. At the most, it extend­ed only a few miles south and east of Lake Urmia. Most schol­ars are in agree­ment that when the author of Gen­e­sis referred to the moun­tain­ous region of Ararat in Gen. 8:4, he was mak­ing ref­er­ence to the region direct­ly north of Mesopotamia, cen­tered around Lake Van (Ziman­sky 1998: 2). The tribes and region­al kings of Ararat (Urar­tu) are first men­tioned in Assyr­i­an lit­er­a­ture in the 13th cen­tu­ry B.C. mean­ing it could eas­i­ly have been in exis­tence and known by Moses (Ziman­sky 1998: 6).

The Urar­tu archae­o­log­i­cal map) is extend­ed with more labels from not­ed Urart­ian archae­ol­o­gist Boris Piotro­vsky, who was Direc­tor of the Her­mitage Muse­um in St. Peters­burg and direct­ed the Urart­ian exca­va­tions at Karmir-Blour, one of the great­est fortress­es of Urar­tu (1969: back cov­er). In order to accu­rate­ly demon­strate how dif­fer­ent is Bob Cornuke?s map of Urar­tu shown in the video), the Piotro­vsky map of Urar­tu had to be com­plete­ly re-drawn (out­lined in blue) in order to add entire areas of land­mass to take into account Cornuke?s view of Urar­tu (out­lined in red and adapt­ed from the loca­tions shown on the video into a new map). Cor­nuke lit­er­al­ly leaves out 36,500 square miles of the accept­ed archae­ol­o­gists? view of Urar­tu. In addi­tion, it should be not­ed that Cor­nuke adds about 28,000 square miles of geo­graph­i­cal area to his map of Urar­tu with no archae­o­log­i­cal sup­port what­so­ev­er, allow­ing his map to include some of the north­ern and cen­tral Elburz Moun­tains close to Mount Suleiman.

The pre­sumed Ed Davis land­ing site on Mount Suleiman, north­west of Tehran, is far out­side the land of Ararat/Urartu (at least 250 miles as the dove flies from Urar­tu to Mount Suleiman), and deep inside the Land of Mada­ia of the Medes! This is a very cru­cial point to Cornuke?s claims. Is Mount Suleiman, north­west of Tehran, in the Bib­li­cal land of Ararat/Urartu or not? The BASE Insti­tutes case stands or falls on this ques­tion. Cor­nuke gives a vague, non-fac­tu­al answer to this ques­tion when he states:

When peo­ple talk about the bound­aries of Urar­tu — which is the Assyr­i­an des­ig­na­tion, Arme­nia, [the] more mod­ern des­ig­na­tion — They can?t be pre­cise. There is not a bound­ary that you can draw a line around. It expand­ed and con­tract­ed up to a thou­sand [1,000] miles based on war, or famine, or some kind of drought, very mer­cu­r­ial in the bound­aries. So we can say it?s just right in that area of Turkey, the area of Iran, the area maybe of Azer­bai­jan. It?s just right in that area of the world; we just can?t be pre­cise where in the area when we are talk­ing about Iran. It?s right where the Bible indi­cates it should be [12 min.:30 sec.-13 min.:08 sec. into the video].

How­ev­er, in the video, a spec­u­la­tive map of Ararat/Urartu graph­ic is shown that includes Mount Sabal­an and comes close to Mount Suleiman. Cor­nuke knows he must have the Land of Ararat/Urartu extend all the way over to the Elburz moun­tain range in order to give his dis­cov­ery any kind of cred­i­bil­i­ty. It is our judg­ment that this graph­ic is very inac­cu­rate and, in our opin­ion, decep­tive. As not­ed ear­li­er, this map does not even include the known his­tor­i­cal cap­i­tal and cul­tur­al cen­ter of Ararat/Urartu at Lake Van, nor does it include the Gordyene Moun­tains south of Van, the large Urartean site of Hakkari, nor any of Turkey or the tra­di­tion­al Hur­ri­an high­lands extend­ing west to Erz­in­can. How­ev­er, it does con­ve­nient­ly extend south to the cen­tral Elburz Moun­tains and the edge of Mount Suleiman where not one piece of evi­dence for Urart­ian pres­ence has ever been found.

Here is a brief sum­ma­ry of the region of Ararat/Urartu by not­ed expert Paul E. Ziman­sky and notice that none of the landmark?s he men­tions are deep with­in Iran. He states:

Urart­ian kings would have ruled all of the agri­cul­tur­al lands around Lake Van and Lake Sevan, and the south­west­ern shore of Lake Uru­miyeh. The upper Aras, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Armavir and Ere­van areas, was firm­ly in their hands, and con­quest took them as far north as Lake Cildir. Along the Murat, evi­dence for roy­al con­trol is sur­pris­ing­ly mea­ger, but suf­fi­cient to put the Euphrates at Izoli with­in the con­quered zone and the Elazig area in the nar­row­er sphere. Cam­paign inscrip­tions are found well to the east of Tabriz, but the near­est evi­dence for firm state con­trol in that direc­tion comes from Bas­tam, thir­ty-eight kilo­me­ters north of Khvoy. Miss­ing from this pic­ture are the large and fer­tile plains of Erzu­rum and Erz­in­can on the Kara­su, the north­west shore of Lake Uru­miyeh, the plain of Marand, and the mid­dle Aras from Jol­fa to the slopes of Mount Ararat. All of these are gen­er­al­ly assumed to be part of Urar­tu in some sense, and it is worth exam­in­ing oth­er forms of evi­dence to see if there might be some grounds for includ­ing them with­in the perime­ter of state con­trol (1985: 10).

Ziman­sky does not include the Elburz Moun­tains in the area of Urar­tu. Thus, it is NOT, as Mr. Cor­nuke claims, right where the Bible indi­cates it should be!

Gen­e­sis 11:1, 2, From the East

There is a third rea­son why we believe that Cor­nuke is wrong. The Gen­e­sis 11:1 and 2 pas­sage is too weak an argu­ment to use as a place ref­er­ence. The pas­sage states: ?And the whole earth was of one lan­guage, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they jour­neyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shi­nar; and they dwelt there? (KJV). The argu­ment goes like this: If you trans­late the Hebrew miqqe­dem mdqm as: from the east, as the KJV does, it would clear­ly seem to indi­cate that the Ark must have land­ed some­where to the east of his­toric Shi­nar (Mesopotamia), in mod­ern-day Iran since it is that coun­try that is direct­ly east of Shi­nar. How­ev­er, if you trans­late the miqqe­dem as east­ward, as the NIV does, then you have the migra­tion com­ing from the west toward Shi­nar. Else­where the miqqe­dem is trans­lat­ed in the east (NEB), that is: men moved in the east, then, the direc­tion­al point is much more indefinite.

Giv­en that this migra­tion occurred sev­er­al hun­dred years after the dis­em­bark­ing from the Ark from the pre­vi­ous con­text of chap­ter 10, it seems best not to push this pas­sage too much. Wen­ham favors in the east when the miqqe­dem is used adver­bial­ly as in 2:8; 12:8; and Isa. 9:12 (1991: 238). In addi­tion, Math­ews believes miqqe­dem marks events of sep­a­ra­tion, so it can also have a metaphor­i­cal sense (1996:1:478). If you do select the more spe­cif­ic, direc­tion­al inter­pre­ta­tion as Cor­nuke does (as in the KJV), and you believe the Ark land­ed in north­ern Iran, or north­east Turkey, it would have cer­tain­ly been more accu­rate for the writer to say they migrat­ed from the north. Nei­ther the Elburz Moun­tains, nor Mount Ararat is direct­ly east of Shi­nar. The Bib­li­cal moun­tains of Ararat (Urar­tu) are direct­ly north of the plain of Shinar.

The appar­ent con­flict between 8:4 and 11:2 is more eas­i­ly resolved with a more indef­i­nite inter­pre­ta­tion in our opin­ion. It should also be point­ed out that that there is least a 100 – 300 year peri­od between the land­ing of the Ark after the Flood (Gen. 8), and the Tow­er of Babel event (Gen. 11). The peo­ples could have eas­i­ly moved from where the Ark land­ed to oth­er loca­tions east or west of Shi­nar [Baby­lo­nia] before the Tow­er of Babel sto­ry took place.

The Ancient Sources

Fourth, one of Cornuke?s experts in the video, Frank Turek, briefly dis­cuss­es the ancient sources. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the edit­ing in the video is bad at this point. Only the last part of a longer state­ment about Jose­phus and Nico­las of Dam­as­cus is giv­en that seems to sug­gest that Ararat/Urartu extend­ed fur­ther east than pre­vi­ous­ly thought.

Let?s exam­ine one pas­sage in Jose­phus. In Antiq­ui­ties of the Jews 20:24, 25 (LCL 10:15), Jose­phus recounts the sto­ry of Monobazus, the king of Adi­a­bene and the hus­band of Queen Hele­na, who want­ed to see his son Izates before he died. The cap­i­tal of Adi­a­bene was Arbela in north­ern Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). When Monobazus saw his son, he gave Izates the dis­trict of Car­ron. The land of Car­ron is described as a place with ?excel­lent soil for the pro­duc­tion of amo­mum in the great­est abun­dance; it also pos­sess­es the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood, remains which to this day are shown to those who are curi­ous to see them.? The land of Car­ron must be in the moun­tains just to the north of Mesopotamia. These moun­tains would be in present day south­east­ern Turkey, but they were nev­er con­sid­ered to be part of what is now present day Iran!

Pet­ri­fied Wood?

The fifth line of argu­ment may be the weak­est of all. In the video there are claims that the rock that was brought back from Mount Suleiman was pet­ri­fied wood and that it con­tained ani­mal hairs of var­i­ous kinds, bird fol­li­cles, savan­nah grass, seeds, insects, and oth­er such things. This mate­r­i­al should have been pub­lished first in a sci­en­tif­ic peer-reviewed pub­li­ca­tion, either archae­o­log­i­cal or geo­log­i­cal, so that the schol­ar­ly com­mu­ni­ty could see the doc­u­ment­ed evi­dence and ana­lyze it. The review­ers seri­ous­ly doubt that this rock out­crop is any­thing but a solid­i­fied vol­canic lava extru­sion. This can look exact­ly like pet­ri­fied wood in the way it frac­tures and can even have cel­lu­lar struc­tures when seen under a micro­scope. The view­er should be very care­ful about tak­ing this evi­dence at face val­ue until fur­ther doc­u­men­ta­tion is avail­able. For a dis­cus­sion of the geol­o­gy of Mount Suleiman, see: Ganss­er and Huber 1962: 583 – 630.


On the sleeve of the video case it states that this video is a Dove Fam­i­ly Approved doc­u­men­tary. It is our opin­ion that this should not have been approved because the video, in our opin­ion, does not accu­rate­ly present the facts as rec­og­nized by experts in the field, i.e., the map with the sup­posed bound­aries of Urar­tu. In addi­tion, it is fac­tu­al­ly inac­cu­rate and based on a ques­tion­able eye-wit­ness. Also, in the cred­its at the end of the video one of the authors of this arti­cle (Bill Crouse) is list­ed as an advi­sor. This was not autho­rized and he in no way wish­es it to be seen as an endorse­ment of the material.

We have also not­ed how care­ful­ly at times state­ments are word­ed in the video. On the cov­er of the video box and the begin­ning of the video, they build up the fact that they are look­ing for Noah?s Ark. By the end of the video, they don?t claim they found Noah?s Ark, but rather the Ed Davis object. One won­ders if this is a very clever change in case some­body chal­lenges the con­tent of the video. Our opin­ion is that they have found neither.

We would cau­tion those who read this: If you are con­sid­er­ing for­ward­ing this review to anoth­er Chris­t­ian who is enthused about this so-called dis­cov­ery, as well as oth­ers from the BASE Insti­tute, we pray that you do it with a sen­si­tive and kind spir­it. It might be good to pref­ace the review with a ques­tion: Have you con­sid­ered, or would you be inter­est­ed in read­ing a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive about these discoveries?

In this review we want it to be per­fect­ly clear that in no way is this review intend­ed as a per­son­al affront, either about Bob Cor­nuke, or any­one who appears in the video. Our sole con­cern, at this point, is to review the infor­ma­tion and make informed com­ments. If it was the motive of the pro­duc­ers to instill con­fi­dence among believ­ers that the Bible is true this in our opin­ion sets a poor prece­dent, and could have the oppo­site result. Even worse, it may be a poor tes­ti­mo­ny to unbelievers.


Corbin, B. J.
1999 The Explor­ers of Ararat: And the Search for Noah?s Ark. 2nd ed. High­land Ranch, CO: Great Com­mis­sion Illus­trat­ed Books.

Cor­nuke, Robert
2005 Ark Fever. The True Sto­ry of One Man?s Search for Noah?s Ark. Wheaton, IL: Tyn­dale House.

Cor­nuke, Robert; and Hal­brook, David
2001 In Search of the Lost Moun­tains of Noah. The Dis­cov­ery of the REAL Moun­tains of Ararat. Nashville, TN: Broad­man and Holman.

Crouse, Bill
1988 Is the Ark in the Aho­ra Gorge? Ararat Report #14 (Jan.-Feb.).

1989 The Ed Davis Tes­ti­mo­ny: An Adden­dum. Ararat Report #20 (Jan.-Feb.).

1993 Mod­ern Eye­wit­ness­es: Are They Reli­able? Ararat Report #32 (May).

Crouse, Bill; and Franz, Gordon
2006 Mount Cudi ? True moun­tain of Noah?s Ark. Bible and Spade 19/4: 99 – 113. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/publications/BAS19_4.pdf

Ganss­er, Augus­to; and Huber, Heinrich
1962 Geo­log­i­cal Obser­va­tions in the Cen­tral Elburz, Iran. Schweiz­erische Min­er­al­o­gis­che und Pet­ro­graphis­che Mit­teilun­gen 42: 583 – 630.

Geissler, Rex; Basaran, Cevat; and Keles, Vedat
2006 Mount Ararat Archae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. Bible and Spade 21/3: 70 – 96.

1965 Antiq­ui­ties of the Jews. Book 20. Vol. 10. Trans. by L. H. Feld­man. Cam­bridge, MA: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. Loeb Clas­si­cal Library 456. Reprint­ed 1981.

Math­ews, Kenneth
1996 Gen­e­sis. Vol. 1. Nashville, TN: Broad­man and Holman.

Piotro­vsky, Boris B.
1969 The Ancient Civ­i­liza­tion of Urar­tu: An Archae­o­log­i­cal Adven­ture. Trans. by James Hog­a­rth, from Russ­ian. New York: Cowles Book.

Rawl­in­son, Major Henry
1839 Notes on a March from Zohab, at the Foot of Zagros, along the Moun­tains to Khuzis­tan (Susiana), and from Thence Through the Province of Luris­tan to Kir­man­shah, in the Year 1836. Jour­nal of the Roy­al Geo­graph­i­cal Soci­ety of Lon­don 9: 26 – 116.

Shock­ey, Don
1986 The Painful Moun­tain. Fres­no, CA: Pioneer.

Wen­ham, Gordon
1991 Word Bib­li­cal Com­men­tary. Gen­e­sis 1 – 15. Vol. 1. Mil­ton Keynes, Eng­land: Word (UK).

Ziman­sky, Paul
1985 Ecol­o­gy and Empire: The Struc­ture of Urart­ian State, Chica­go: Uni­ver­si­ty of Chicago.

1998 Ancient Ararat: A Hand­book of Urart­ian Stud­ies. Del­mar, NY: Car­a­van Books.

About the authors:

Gor­don Franz is Bible teacher, and an archae­ol­o­gist on the staff of the Asso­ciates for Bib­li­cal Research http://www.biblearchaeology.org, http://lifeandland.org

Bill Crouse is a researcher and pres­i­dent of Chris­t­ian Infor­ma­tion Ministries
Chris­t­ian Infor­ma­tion Min­istries | Defend­ing His­toric Chris­t­ian Faith in a Post­mod­ern World

Rex Geissler is a com­put­er spe­cial­ist, pub­lish­er, Ark researcher, and the pres­i­dent of Archae­o­log­i­cal Imag­ing Research Con­sor­tium (ArcImag­ing) http://www.arcimaging.org