The myth of a flood being sent by an angry god to punish humanity (by pretty much drowning all of them) appears in a surprising number of cultures, from the Gun-Yu of ancient China to the Babylonian myth that may have inspired the Bible.
Though possibly based on memories of ancient floods, the tales are very much not to be taken literally. The Bible's version, for instance, sees a man load up his boat with two of every animal (an astonishing achievement given how we will probably never discover all species on Earth) before surviving this recipe for a lion rampage, and repopulating the Earth in what presumably must have been quite a lot of incest in the first few generations at least.
Is Noah's Ark real?
Despite the implausibility of the tale (if it were to be taken literally), there remains a number of people, some of them with resources to look into it, who believe that Noah's Ark is real and that it could still be lying somewhere on land or in the ocean to be found, somehow avoiding weathering and erosion over thousands of years.
Where is Noah's Ark?
Christians who believe in the Ark tend to think it landed and remains on Mount Ararat in Turkey, where it remained undiscovered until they came along. Because people who truly believe in the Ark do tend to think they've found it quite frequently.
Found in 1900
One man – George Hagopian – claimed that he had discovered the Ark not once but twice, a whole one more time than is absolutely necessary. He claimed that as a little boy he had climbed to high sheep-grazing areas of Mount Ararat. Due to a drought of four years, he said that the Ark had been uncovered from its usual snowy grave, and he was able to climb up stairs on the outside of the ark, before walking on top. He visited the ship again, according to his own (unevidenced) accounts, and claimed that the wood was petrified.
"Found" in 1916
One story claims that a Russian pilot, Lieutenant Vladimir Roskovitsky, found the ark and explored its rooms and cages in 1916, before the details of his find were lost or suppressed following the Russian revolution. This turned out to be a hoax, perpetrated by a magazine in 1940, which pretended to interview a fictional Roskovitsky.
Search in 1973
Though he didn't claim to find it, astronaut James Irwin became a fervent Christian during his retirement and led several expeditions to Mount Ararat to search for it, all of which returned boatless.
"Found" in 1993
In 1993, CBS broadcast “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark", a program that featured a piece of wood that supposedly came from Noah's Ark. According to the man who found it – George Jammal – it had been brought back from the Ark as proof of its discovery.
Jammal, an out-of-work actor, later admitted that it was a hoax intended to show up poor research at the company that made the documentary. The "sacred" wood was actually from railroad tracks in Long Beach. He had not been to Mount Ararat, nor had ever set foot in Turkey.
Found in 2021
Ok, 2021 was something of a busy year, but you'd think you'd hear about it if the Ark had been found. But archaeologists at the Noah's Ark Scans project actually did claim that they had found Noah's Ark using 3D scans. The team believed that they had seen an object matching the descriptions laid out in the bible.
"Such parallel line and right angles below the surface is something you would not expect to see in a natural, geologic formation," researcher on the project Andrew Jones said at the time. "But these results are what you would expect to see if this is a man-made boat matching the Biblical requirements of Noah's Ark."
Geologists, meanwhile, believed it to be a rock.
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