Durupinar Debunked- the Claims of Ron Wyatt

Posted: September 22, 2016 by Maverick in Archaeology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So there are some Ron Wyatt supporters  who have commented that I didn’t give supporting evidence to debunk Wyatt’s claim of finding the Ark. My original talk in Lubbock was about the behind the film of Finding Noah & the group of intrepid explorers who climbed Mt. Ararat; not necessarily debunking  the Durupinar site specifically.

However, my comment regarding the Durupinar site was a logical & factual statement based on the empirical evidence; not one mans’ claims. So, in the interest of fairness, I have included some of Ron’s claims here along with the factual data. If you are a Ron Wyatt fan still supporting his claim of finding the Ark- read on.  For those who wanted sources, they are listed at the end of this post.

Claim: Metal detector surveys found a regular pattern of ‘hot spots’ which could be joined to reveal a regular pattern of ‘lines’ lengthwise and across the inside of the formation only.

Reality: A standard beach combing type metal detector (the type with a disc-shaped detector head on the end of a long pole) indeed found ‘hot spots,’ but these were randomly distributed and not in a regular pattern along lines.

Claim: The pattern of ‘iron lines’ that was located by the metal detecting surveys and marked out by plastic tape was duplicated and verified by other subsurface techniques including ground penetrating, or subsurface interface, radar surveys.

Reality: This claim is utterly false, yet it has been persistently used to give credence to diagrams purporting to show the internal structure of a boat, namely Noah’s Ark.

Metal detector surveys found a regular pattern of ‘hot spots’ which could be joined to reveal a regular pattern of ‘lines’ lengthwise and across the inside of the formation only. These ‘hot spots’ represent iron concentrations and could be traced by the metal detector along these interconnecting lines or ‘iron lines’.

A standard beach combing type metal detector (the type with a disc-shaped detector head on the end of a long pole) ‘hot spots’ were indeed found, but these were randomly distributed and not in a regular pattern along lines. Since this type of metal detector can only detect metal objects down to a depth of about 1 foot, these ‘hot spots’ can only represent objects with high metal concentrations buried in the surface mudflow material. Such a description perfectly fits the numerous basalt (a volcanic rock that is everywhere throughout the area) boulders found randomly buried in, and protruding from, the mud. The basalt boulders are often weathered but contain iron oxides that make the instrument respond positively in contrast to the ‘dead’ mud. Furthermore, this instrument did not detect ‘iron lines’ between the ‘hot spots’. That this distribution of ‘hot spots’ was random was confirmed by at least two such metal detector surveys.

Geophysicist Tom Fenner says, ‘I was surprised and dismayed to learn that Mr Wyatt was using my name as well as the name of Geophysical Survey Systems Inc. (GSSI) in order to lend credibility to his unsubstantiated claims concerning the so-called “Noah’s Ark site.”’ Fenner goes on to indicate that neither he nor GSSI believes the formation to be manmade. He writes, ‘In 1987 I performed an extensive GPR [ground-penetrating radar] study in an attempt to characterize any shallow subsurface features in the boat-shaped formation at the site… . A great deal of effort was put into repeating the radar measurements acquired in 1986 by Wyatt and Fasold… . After numerous attempts over a period of one and a half days we were unable to duplicate their radar records in any way…. I was never convinced the site was the remains of Noah’s Ark. In fact the more time I spent on the site, the more skeptical I became.’

Claim: In the walls that define the outline of the boat-shape is evidence of a former ship’s ribs, presumably the timbers that formed part of the original keel structure/hull.

Reality: These walls are simply hardened mud, containing boulders of the various local rock types. They contain no petrified wood holding in the mud in any way reminiscent of the outer planking of a wooden hulled vessel.

Instead of finding ‘walls’, Fenner’s 1987 radar survey indicated the presence of a shallow flat-lying reflector likely to be bedrock underneath the surface mudflow material. On the other hand, speaking of the data from the Wyatt and Fasold survey (which could not be duplicated, anyway) Fenner comments, ‘Their records showed point targets’, not ‘walls’. In other words, no boat structures (for example, ‘bulkheads’ or ‘gunwales’) were found in the survey that was conducted by a professional ground penetrating radar operator. Wyatt even claimed his radar scans showed stairs, which is absolutely unsustainable.

Furthermore, closer examination of the photographic ‘evidence’ of a ship’s ribs reveals that erosion gullies cutting into the walls at fairly regular intervals, mainly in one area, have given the appearance at a distance of thick beam structures; however, they are merely the hardened mud left behind between these erosion gullies.

As the burden of proof rests with those who claim that these are a ship’s ribs, one would have thought that they would have sampled this material and submitted it for scientific tests. However, there is no indication that it has ever been sampled by Wyatt or Roberts to see what they really are. On the other hand, all the other eye witnesses who have been to the site insist that they only ever saw mud, containing boulders (mudflow debris), forming these walls.

Claim: There are trainloads and boatloads of petrified wood out there and it is all in the boat structure.

Reality: No trained scientist of the many who have visited the site has ever seen any sign of these ‘trainloads’ of petrified wood.

No trained scientist of the many who have visited the site has ever seen any sign of these ‘trainloads’ of petrified wood. Geologist Dr Bayraktutan has collected one or two small fragments of semi-petrified wood which in his opinion have flowed on to the site within the mud from elsewhere. He confirms that none of the regular rock types of the site are petrified wood. Not one of the other scientists (including geologists familiar with petrified wood) has ever once seen any.

Both Wyatt and Roberts claim support for the identification of their rock sample by citing Galbraith Laboratories of Tennessee, yet the laboratory assay certificate shows that they only analysed for three elements-calcium, iron and carbon-no basis at all for calling the sample petrified wood! When telephoned, the laboratory was adamant that they were not asked to give an opinion on what the object was and they were unable to do so.

Claim: Soil samples from the site indicate the residue of a decayed wooden vessel with sophisticated metals used for bracing

Reality: It is true that the samples contained iron, aluminum, titanium and carbon, but such elements are always to be found in soils.

Two soil samples were indeed collected by Wyatt in 1979 and the assay results from Galbraith Laboratories were published by Dr William Shea. It is also true that the samples contained iron, aluminum, titanium and carbon, but such elements are always to be found in soils. Indeed, the assay results of these two samples are exactly what one would expect from soil developed from basalt-the iron, aluminum and titanium originally being present in silicate minerals within the basalt and not as exotic metal fittings as proposed by Wyatt.

Furthermore, the laboratory assayed only for carbon and did not specify that it was organic carbon, so Wyatt and others are wrong to claim that the carbon in these samples comes from decayed wood. On the contrary, most of the basalt boulders on and near the site (including samples collected by Roberts and submitted for scientific assessment) contain abundant calcite, a very common mineral composed of calcium carbonate; that is, it contains carbon in mineral form-not organic carbon. No soil or rock samples gathered at the site are supportive of Wyatt’s claims.

It is certainly true that samples found on the site has returned assays of around 90% iron oxides. One of these samples appeared to be roughly in the shape of a right angle and was initially conjectured to be the remains of an iron bracket. Baumgardner (he and Fasold each still possess half of it) now concedes that there is no evidence that it is a man-made item. The notable discovery of iron oxide (limonite) nodules in the surface mud is entirely consistent with the weathering of iron sulphide (pyrite) nodules and veins (which are found in the rocks of the area) and not in any way with the rusting of metallic fittings, brackets or artefacts.

Claim: A rusted metal bracket and other fittings and metal artifacts, including a ‘petrified rivet’ and ‘washer structures,’ have all been located ‘on the site.’

Reality: Results do not show any evidence of exotic metallurgy.

There is no evidence of any embedded metallic object. Furthermore, the assays from all three laboratories returned results consistent with the chemical composition of the major local rock type, basalt. The only metals present in any major amount were all reported as present in silicate minerals. In two of the three assays all the so-called ‘exotic’ metals were less than the detection limits, while in the third assay the quantities were totally consistent with a hydrothermally altered basalt. (*There were, of course, minor divergences between results, but this is hardly surprising given that at least one of the laboratories gave their results as semi quantitative only, with a plus or minus factor of 50%!)

In other words, the results do not show any evidence of exotic metallurgy. Any proper scientific assessment of this sample must involve a microscope thin section being cut so that the minerals in the sample could be identified and any evidence of metals be subjected to microscopic analyses using an electron microprobe analyses. Such is not possible so long as Wyatt refuses to allow sectioning of the sample and consistently violates proper scientific protocol/procedures for verification.

As for the report of the Turkish archaeologists, finding eight pairs of long forked metal rods, etc., the only source of that story is Wyatt himself. It appears that the Turkish authorities sent in their own teams of scientists in September 1985 after Wyatt and his team had left the site and the country. Wyatt claims to have gone back to Turkey in October 1985 and to have seen the field notebooks of the archaeologists, read them and interviewed the archaeologists. Thus the claim about these long forked metal rods, etc. is only as reliable as Wyatt himself .

Supposed Drogue Stones

A number of large rock slabs found across the valley within sight of the boat formation are so-called drogue stones which were used to steer or anchor vessels. Their proximity to the site suggests that they could well have been giant anchor stones used by Noah to steer the Ark and keep it facing the wind. The stones have carefully made holes and these would have been where ropes were attached. Furthermore, some of these rocks have eight crosses carved on them, one being larger than all the others, representing an iconographic depiction of Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.

Wyatt, Roberts, Fasold and Shea all make much of these large rock slabs, with photographs and drawings. They measure up to three metres high and each weighs several tonnes. Wyatt on his video says these ‘anchor stones are made of a type of granite that is accessible in Northern Michigan’, whereas both Roberts and Shea insist that they were cut from basalt, a volcanic rock of which there are copious amounts in the area (both Greater and Lesser Mount Ararats are volcanoes). Noah would scarcely have used as anchor stones slabs of rock indigenous to the area where the Ark came to rest after the Flood. If we are to believe that these could have been Noah’s anchor stones, then the onus is on Wyatt and his colleagues to prove by scientific means (chemical and isotopic analyses and mineralogical determinations) that these rocks are entirely exotic to this area, which consists of late Flood and post-Flood strata.

Now it is claimed that between eight and ten of these stones have been found in an area 10–14 miles (16–22 kilometres) from the boat-shape formation, although one was reportedly found in a gully 100–200 metres up slope from it. One would think that the considerable distance of these claimed anchor stones from the boat-shape itself must diminish somewhat their significance.*
(*In any case, one wonders why Noah needed such anchor or drogue stones on and with the Ark. They are certainly not mentioned in the Scriptures, where there is in fact no mention of any kind of steering mechanism given in God’s instructions for the building of the Ark. Indeed, we are told repeatedly that God was in total command of the situation. For example, we are told that God shut Noah in the Ark. Then when he and his family were inside the Ark they were totally at the mercy of God Who was providing for their safety in the Flood Waters.)

Wyatt, however, counters by suggesting that as the Ark neared dry land at the end of the Flood, Noah simply cut the ropes leaving the anchor stones behind and allowing the Ark to run aground. This, of course, is mere speculation and implies that Noah had something to do with the destiny and direction of the Ark, contrary to the thrust of the scriptural account.

Besides, if these were anchor stones, the holes were carved too near the edges of the rocks. Because of their sheer weight the rock around the holes would have too easily broken off. Indeed, there is no sign of any wear of the rock surface around the top side of these holes, which one would expect if ropes had been tied through them to drag these heavy stones around in the water for up to a year.

In any case, there is a far better explanation for these giant stones. To begin with, the number of crosses on them varies from three to 20, the number eight being conveniently overplayed for the purposes of building a connection to Noah and his family. In Wyatt’s book where he has drawings of some of these claimed anchor stones, one of them is shown with 20 crosses. The same stone is shown photographed in the field by Roberts and Shea, in the latter case with Wyatt himself alongside, and again the 20 crosses carved into it are clearly evident.


The Turkish authorities really began to get interested in this site after the Wyatt team’s August 1985 work, when the team left the site marked out with bright yellow plastic tape in square grids. Evidently, three independent research teams of Turkish scientists were then sent to the site in September 1985. Some digging was done, but no artefacts were found. Two of the teams were from Ankara, and both returned with a negative report.

In conclusion, Dr Bayraktutan, a leading member of one of these Turkish investigation teams, not only most emphatically does not support this and other claims, but is at pains to dissociate himself from almost all of Wyatt’s claims about the site, expressing grave doubts about how much of Wyatt’s ‘evidence’ actually found its way on to the site.

Other Claims: 

Claim: Some pitch has been found (pitch was used to cover the inside and outside of the Ark’s wooden structure) at the site.

Reality: No sample containing pitch has been openly produced and submitted for proper scientific analyses.

Claim: Rocks found within the formation have a high manganese content and an appearance that suggests that they were probably ‘tailings’/’slag’ from metal smelting/refining production by Noah and family.

Reality: No microscope thin section has been produced to show whether the samples collected and claimed to be slag do in fact have the internal texture and mineral composition of a true slag.

Claim: Positively identified animal coprolite (fossilized animal dung), animal hair, and ‘animal antlers’ are all reported from the site and are thus further confirmation that this site contains the remains of Noah’s Ark.

Reality: The finding of such animal residues in association with the site is hardly surprising when one considers that animals are likely to have roamed across these Turkish hillsides for thousands of years.

Dr William Shea

Formerly Professor of Old Testament at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, he is now Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute in Silver Springs, Maryland. He has promoted interest in the site, drawing attention to it in articles published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Origins and Archaeology and Biblical Research. He finally visited the site in 1986. While intrigued by the boat-shape, he has no faith in Wyatt’s claims about artefacts from the site, and once received a ‘petrified wood’ sample from Wyatt which turned out to be basalt. He totally dissociates himself from all of Wyatt’s other claimed archaeological finds, and appears not to trust Fasold. He indicates he would be equally happy if the site was confirmed as a natural geological formation, which he concedes is certainly suggested by the evidence.

Tom Fenner

Geologist/geophysicist/applications engineer with Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc., who originally went to Turkey to do radar scans on the site for Wyatt in 1985, and who is often quoted as concluding from Wyatt and Fasold’s 1986 radar survey that the site is a man-made boat. However, he eventually went to the site with Baumgardner in 1987 to conduct his own full-scale radar survey with equipment he has professionally used in various parts of the world for many years. He says, ‘With the available scientific evidence to date, my opinion is that any statements claiming the authenticity of this site as Noah’s Ark or it being a man-made formation by individuals knowledgeable of these studies is at best wishful thinking and at worst an outright deception.’

Dr John Morris

With a Ph.D. in Geological Engineering and Administrative Vice-President of the Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, John has made 13 trips to Turkey in search of the Ark. He has twice visited this Durupinar site and come away convinced that it is not the Ark. His attention understandably has been focused on Greater Mount Ararat because of all the eyewitness testimonies. He has freely given advice and support to other groups, no matter where they wanted to search in the area.

Dr Salih Bayraktutan

Geologist and Director of the Earthquake Research Centre at Ataturk University, Erzurum, and a member of the Noah’s Ark Commission of Agri Province, he has repeatedly investigated the site since 1985, including geophysical surveys and core drilling in 1987 and 1988 in a joint project with Dr John Baumgardner and others. He has cautiously kept his options open, but has definitely not concluded the formation to be Noah’s Ark. He disputes such claims made by others, suggesting that not only are they are exaggerating, but some have even used false samples.

Dr John Baumgardner

With a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of California (L.A.), John works in the Theoretical Fluid Dynamics Research Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. John was quite positive about the site after his initial visits there with Wyatt, but after conducting professional geophysical surveys there in 1987 and 1988, and particularly after considering what the core drilling revealed in 1988, he eventually very definitely changed his mind and now is convinced that it is a natural geological formation.

Information Sources

•Baumgardner, Dr John—circularized family letters dated October 1985, July 3,1987, and August 19,1988.

•Baumgardner, Dr John and Bayraktutan, Dr Salih, 1987. July 1987 geophysical investigation of Noah’s Ark (Durupinar site) Mahser Village, Dogubayazit, Agri. Report submitted to the Governor of Agri Province as Chairman of the Agri Province Noah’s Ark Commission. Bayraktutan, Dr Salih-numerous telephone conversations, 1992. —unpublished 1988 seismic survey data.

•Burdick, Dr Clifford, 1976. The elliptical formation in the Tendurek Mountains. Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 13(2), pp. 96 98.

•Collins, Lorence G.   “Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure. Journal of Geosciences Education.   V. 44, 1996   (pp. 439-444).

•Crouse, Bill, 1988. The Durupinar site. Ron Wyatt. Are his claims bona fide? Ararat Report, No. 17, Christian Information Ministries International, Texas.

•Fasold, David, 1988. The Ark of Noah, Wynwood Press, New York.

•Fasold, David, 1992. The Noahide Society’s Ark-Update, Issue No. 5 (January/February, 1992).

•Fasold, David, 1992. The Noahide Society’s Ark-Update, Issue No. 6 (March/April, 1992).

•Fenner, Thomas J.-telephone conversations, 1992 -faxed letter, July 22,1992.

•Lang, Walter, 1990. The Ark Today, January-February, 1990, p. 11.

•Lang, Walter, 1991. The Ark Today, January-February 1991, pp. 3-6.

•Mackay, John B., 1992. Creation News, vol. 6(2), p. 4.

•Mackay, John B., 1992. Brochure advertising Wyatt’s Noah’s Ark video.

•Morris, Dr John D., 1990. That boat-shaped rock . . . Is it Noah’s Ark? Creation Ex Nihilo, vol. 12(4), pp. 16-19.

•Morris, Dr John D., 1990. The boat-shaped formation. Ararat Report, September-October 1990, pp. 3-5.

•Morris, Dr John D., 1992. The search for Noah’s Ark: Status 1992. Unpublished manuscript.

•Morris, Dr John D.-face-to-face conversations, June 2016

•Roberts, Dr Allen S., 1992. Noah’s Ark Research Project (Ark Search) Newsletter, No. 2.

•Roberts, Dr Allen S., 1992. Documents openly shared from his evidence files at a meeting on June 11, 1992, including the various laboratory reports on rock samples and assay results, plus the Madison, Tennessee newspaper clipping.

•Roberts, Dr Allen S., 1992. Noah’s Ark Research Foundation Project, Lecture 1992. Video recorded by Ark Search at the Prince Alfred College Auditorium, Adelaide.

•Shea, Dr William H., 1976. The Ark-shaped formation in the Tendurek Mountains of Eastern Turkey. Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 13(2), pp. 9095.

•Shea, Dr William H., 1981. A review of recent data from the region of the Ark-shaped formation in the Tendurek Mountains of Eastern Turkey. Origins, vol. 8, pp. 77-92.

•Shea, Dr William H., undated. The present status of surface and technological study of the ship-shaped formation in the Tendurek Mountains of Eastern Turkey. Unpublished manuscript.

•Shea, Dr William H., 1988. Noah’s Ark? Archaeology and Biblical Research, vol. 1(1), pp. 6-14.

•Stark, Reinhard, 1992. In search of Noah’s Ark: An interview with Dr Allan (sic) Roberts. Nexus, January-February 1992, pp. 37-40.

•Steffins, Marvin, 1984. Has Noah’s Ark been found? Christian Inquirer, November 1984, pp. 1, 7.

  1. nadine gregg says:


  2. I have seen a video of the wooden members of a structure on Aryat within an ice field, It is far above any tree line. The wood did not “flow” there from elsewhere, and the structure did not assemble itself.

    • Maverick says:

      The Durupinar site is not on Mt. Ararat. I have been to this site as well. It is some 15-20 miles from the mountain very near the Iranian border on a hillside with plenty of trees around the area. However, there are no “wooden members” of a structure anywhere at the Durupinar site. If you are referring to the Mt. Ararat site on Greater Ararat- there are no associated “wooden members” there either. You may be referring to the NAMI video that was released back in 2010 on the internet showing the Chinese entering into a wood beam area. That was indeed a hoax led by a local Kurdish man who was found to be a fraud. Thanks for your comment.

      • Well, that’s a different site than the one the video shows. This is a wooden structure. You can see the right angles and fitted joints. And it is encased in ice, so that one must dig down into the ice to access the encased space where there is some ability to move laterally through the structure.

      • Also, I guess I should have addressed your point about a hoax. The video I’m referring to was taken by an associate of mine — an archaeologist — not some produced piece. It has not been circulated.

    • David says:

      saludo, sorry to inform you, but this has been THOROUGHLY debunked. there is no boat, no wood, no flood. end of story. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”-Abraham Lincoln.

      • Maverick says:

        When the Bible refers to a worldwide Flood in Genesis 7–8, that’s exactly what it means. Take a look at the evidence right beneath your feet.

        Evidence 1: Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level due to the ocean waters having flooded over the continents
        We find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents. For example, most of the rock layers in the walls of Grand Canyon (more than a mile above sea level) contain marine fossils. Fossilized shellfish are even found in the Himalayas.

        Evidence 2: Rapid burial of plants and animals
        We find extensive fossil “graveyards” and exquisitely preserved fossils. For example, billions of nautiloid fossils are found in a layer within the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon. This layer was deposited catastrophically by a massive flow of sediment (mostly lime sand). The chalk and coal beds of Europe and the United States, and the fish, ichthyosaurs, insects, and other fossils all around the world, testify of catastrophic destruction and burial.

        Evidence 3: Rapidly deposited sediment layers spread across vast areas
        We find rock layers that can be traced all the way across continents—even between continents—and physical features in those strata indicate they were deposited rapidly. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon can be traced across the entire United States, up into Canada, and even across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The chalk beds of England (the white cliffs of Dover) can be traced across Europe into the Middle East and are also found in the Midwest of the United States and in Western Australia. Inclined (sloping) layers within the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon are testimony to 10,000 cubic miles of sand being deposited by huge water currents within days.

        Evidence 4: Sediment transported long distances
        We find that the sediments in those widespread, rapidly deposited rock layers had to be eroded from distant sources and carried long distances by fast-moving water. For example, the sand for the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon (Arizona) had to be eroded and transported from the northern portion of what is now the United States and Canada. Furthermore, water current indicators (such as ripple marks) preserved in rock layers show that for “300 million years” water currents were consistently flowing from northeast to southwest across all of North and South America, which, of course, is only possible over weeks during a global Flood.

        Evidence 5: Rapid or no erosion between strata
        We find evidence of rapid erosion, or even of no erosion, between rock layers. Flat, knife-edge boundaries between rock layers indicate continuous deposition of one layer after another, with no time for erosion. For example, there is no evidence of any “missing” millions of years (of erosion) in the flat boundary between two well-known layers of Grand Canyon—the Coconino Sandstone and the Hermit Formation. Another impressive example of flat boundaries at Grand Canyon is the Redwall Limestone and the strata beneath it.

        Evidence 6: Many strata laid down in rapid succession
        Rocks do not normally bend; they break because they are hard and brittle. But in many places we find whole sequences of strata that were bent without fracturing, indicating that all the rock layers were rapidly deposited and folded while still wet and pliable before final hardening. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone in Grand Canyon is folded at a right angle (90°) without evidence of breaking. Yet this folding could only have occurred after the rest of the layers had been deposited, supposedly over “480 million years,” while the Tapeats Sandstone remained wet and pliable.

        “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” -John Adams

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