During October 1995, and again in October 1998, September 1999, October of 2000, and May of 2007, my travels took me to the Turkish military zone along the Iranian Frontier to investigate an interesting formation in the mountains of Ararat. Some 25 km south of Ağrı Dağı (Mt. Ararat) and about 2 km from the Iranian border lies a boat-shaped formation at an altitude of over 2,000 m. It is exactly 300 (Egyptian 20.6-inch) cubits in length. Ancient Babylonian texts refer to the deck area as being one “IKU” (from which we get our word “acre”). Dividing a deck area of one IKU by the 300 cubit length of the this boat-shaped object, results in an average width of 49.27 cubits-- correlating with the 300 X 50 cubit dimensions for the Ark as recorded in the book of Genesis. The notion that the Ark must have been rectangular with a constant 50 cubit width is not supported by any ancient writing, including the Bible.

The sides of the boat-shaped formation are an aggragate material which in places forms vertical “beams” seperated by deep stress fractures on the outside. Deposites of magnetic material have been measured throughout the object and ground penetration radar measurements indicate a regular internal structure of varying dielectric constant. Though this is probably not the Ark itself, it may be the “footprint” of the Ark or have somthing to do with it, based on objects found nearby and the names of places surrounding this particular site. Objects containing inked drawings and etchings pertaining to the Flood account have been found near the Durupinar formation (Shea, October 1998) and large inscriptions have been discovered on the formation itself (Patt, May 2001).

Twelve huge drogue stones (sea anchors), some weighing in excess of 20,000 lbs have been found “up stream” near the town of Arzap (Kazan). These stones are broad and paddle-shaped at one end, and are narrower and thick at the other. They each have a hole formed on a radius at the thick end.

Historians have noted the presence of the Ark of Noah in this region (The Chaldean historian Berossus, Nicholas of Domascus, and Jewish historian Josephus (Chapter XX of the “Antiquities of the Jews”)). These and others indicate that the Ark was visible in their day and was visited by pilgrims. It was not locked so high in a glacier on Mt. Ararat that only expert climbers with special equipment could view it.

The book of Genesis states that the Ark came to rest “in the mountains (plural) of (the region of) Ararat.” It does not state that the Ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat. Mt. Ararat is a volcano of recent origin. The Quran says that the Ark came to rest on “al Cudi” (pronounced “Judy” in Turkish ). Scholars of Islamic religion at Turkiye's Atatürk University have suggested that “al Cudi” actually refers to a region, not a specific mountain, in much the same way that the Bible refers to the mountains (plural) or Urartu (Ararat) rather than a single mountain (see Genesis 8:4). The object that I visited is clearly in the “mountains of Ararat.” It is near several currently unnamed peaks, one of which some claim to be al Cudi.

With special permission from the Governor of the province of Ağrı and the local military commander, Dr. Salih Bayraktutan (at the time, a professor of geology at Atatürk University) and I were allowed to venture into the military zone to inspect the site and surrounding areas leading up to the disputed borders of Iran. It was interesting to note that the area around the site is littered with marine fossils, but there were none found within the boat-shaped object itself. On the other hand, Mt. Ararat (so named in AD 1105) shows no evidence of ever being under water-- no marine fossils, no pillow lava, no flood-produced sedimentation.

The 2.7 by 3.2 kilometer permanent ice cap on the 17,000 foot peak of this volcano flows in the form of moving glaciers in most places. Were the Ark to have landed on Mt. Ararat, should we expect to find it intact? It would likely have been destroyed over the past 6 to 10 thousand years in the ice flows. It is interesting to note that the P-38s and bombers which landed on Greenland’s glacier only a half a century ago became entombed in over 80 meters of ice which upon their recent rediscovery showed severe distortion and crushing from the half century of glacial creep. What would have been left in more than 60 centuries!

In October 1998 I made a second trip into the military zone as a precursor to an international workshop that Dr. Bayraktutan and I organized. During this trip we uncovered ancient foundations and graves first observed in Turkish aerial photographs by cartoonist, Dave Deal, as well as artifacts that could belong to the first city after the flood, Naxuan  (GK: Noah’s Zion). Further investigation is planned as part of a program which was established during this 1998 trip. The workshop was held at Atatürk Univeristy, and outlined an international program named “SEPDAC” (“Search for Early Post Diluvial Anatolian Culture,” later renamed, “Scientific Enterprise in Pursuit and Discovery of Ancient Cultures” when incorporated in order to represent the organization’s wider scope). The goal of SEPDAC is to credibly and scientifically address some of the yet unanswered archaeological and geological questions of this region.

To further establish the significance of the 1998 finds, a third self-funded trip to the Iranian frontier was conducted in September 1999 in which Michelson, Bayraktutan, Deal, and one other SEPDAC supporter revisited the “Naxuan” area for two and a half days with a Turkish regular Army unit and soldiers from the local Jandarma. During this trip further foundations and man-made structures were discovered and documented photographically just below what is thought to be the “Wall of Heaven” described in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

One outstanding find was a one meter diameter ossuarial burial urn containing bones and a protected incursion of soil. These bones (samples of what appear to be ribs have been collected), along with a quantity of the paleosoil and ceramic urn fragments can be cross-dated by at least four independent methods. Carbon dating of the bone, analysis of pollen in the paleosoil, as well as dating of the soil itself and the pottery, can provide an accurate dating of this burial. Carbon dating performed for SEPDAC at the University of Georgia's Center for Applied Isotope Studies has shown the bone samples to be from an individual who died approximately 900 years after the Flood, according to Biblical chronology (the uncalibrated date for the bone came out at a Libby Age of 3251 years before present (BP) +/- 33 years. The dendrochronologic calibration curve used was Intcal98 (based upon 14-C levels in tree rings). The calibrated two sigma dates spanned 1620 BC to 1430 BC. The one sigma dates spanned 1600 BC to 1450BC when taking isotopic fractionation into account). This data will help to establish the age of the cultural activity just below the escarpment thought to be the Wall of Heaven. It was near such an escarpment that the Ark is said to have landed, and the first post flood city established according to Babylonian accounts. The sun rises over the Wall of Heaven, and indeed, the sun does rise over this escarpment.

The things described above can be viewed in the video production called, “The Wall”. (Warning: this is a large film (11 MB)).

Presently, funding is being sought for thermoluminescent dating tests of the ossuarial urn and pollen/paleosoil that it contained. Serious sponsors interested in funding the SEPDAC program are encouraged to E-MAIL Prof. Robert Michelson for additional information.

The following section describes the goals of the SEPDAC program and the reasons it was established as the official entity through which coordinated research will be conducted in the region.


The time for lone wolf, half-baked “cowboy archaeology” has come to an end.

Merhaba, Nasılsınız! (Greetings, how are you!)



For years people have been intrigued by the ancient accounts of a massive flood and the people who survived it. These accounts appear in literature belonging to cultures from around the globe and contain many threads of similarity, so many in fact, that it would be difficult to dismiss them as coincidental. In the western world where Christianity dominates, the account of Noah and the Ark are widely known. In the middle east and Asia, a similar account is found in the Quran, with much earlier allusions to the flood being found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, and others. Even the Chinese word for “flood”, pronounced “hong”, if dissected into its constituent characters, means “eight [people] together [on the] water”.

Ancient writers such as the Chaldean historian Berossus described the Ark of Noah being extant in their time with people regularly making pilgrimages to the site to scrape amulets from its sides. Clearly these pilgrims were visiting something easily accessible to the common man. Later, Nicholas of Damascus (Herod’s historian) and the Roman historian Josephus recounted these stories. In addition, Moses of Chronensis and others described the first post-flood habitations: Naxuan (Noah’s Zion, or the capitol city of Noah), Seron, and Nasir.

With such a rich body of historical literature supporting the claims found in the holy books of several of the world’s major religions, it makes sense that some would attempt to validate these scriptures by finding physical proof of what is described. What if the Ark of Noah could be located, or the ancient city of Naxuan?

Unlike some religious books such as the Book of Mormon which describe cities, places, coins, and rivers which have never been found or produced by archaeologists, the Christian holy book (“the Bible”) for example, is clearly an historical reference. Most of the cities, places, coins, and rivers mentioned in the Bible are known today, and others previously unknown have been discovered recently. Further, the events described in the Bible are also corroborated in other secular literature. So why should there be no basis for the flood account and the man named Noah?


Unfortunately, a lot of the work done to date regarding the search for the Ark of Noah, has been based on unverifiable hearsay, and urban legends. Sightings are often reported, but how many times has the camera with the proof been dropped in a crevasse, or the pictures destroyed in the Russian Revolution, or the discoverer “dead” before his heirs reveal his astonishing story of walking its decks? The legends feed upon each other until it becomes sport for Humanists to concoct clearly ridiculous accounts (e.g., Sun Pictures) upon which the gullible Christians swallow hook-line-and-sinker, only to be made to look like fools when the hoax is finally revealed. Adding fuel to all of this is the group of “Indiana Jones wanna-bees” who claim that they have found the Ark prior to doing sufficient investigation to prove their case. These are followed by those who insist that the Ark must be on Mt. Ararat (a volcano of fairly recent origin) in spite of the fact that the Bible only states that the Ark came to rest “in the mountains (plural) of (the region of Urartu) Ararat”. So they go chasing shadows in the ice of Ararat’s glacier, armed with little more than a fuzzy photo taken from some distance away. When they are struck by lightning, they interpret this to be a sign from God that they are on the right track, when in fact nothing of substance is ever found.

Sadly, when something is found, egotistic people scramble to publically lay claim to every discovery they can, because this is their “five minutes of fame” in an otherwise unnotable life; while others hoard their information for fear that someone else will discover the greater prize (the Ark) before they do and receive all the glory. Most of what has gone on in the realm of “ark hunting” has been done in the name of God, but for the glory of man.

In spite of all the “bad science” which has gone on, some teams searching the mountain have used logic to survey those parts of the glacier that are not in motion (i.e., over caldera), and though finding nothing, still credibly removed some areas from further consideration. Aerial surveys of the mountain have been done from a helicopter using stereo cameras to gage the depth and breadth of objects on all sides. Few Ark hunters have ever referenced this body of material while others are content to revisit surveyed areas.

Is it any wonder that the scientific community at large dismisses the entire subject? But the body of literature and verifiable circumstantial evidence cries out for an answer. Is it possible to define a research program to scientifically investigate various sites of interest and gather corroborating data that can identify the origin of each site as “naturally occurring”, “man made”, or “a natural artifact of a man made structure”?


To this end, Dr. Salih Bayraktutan of Atatürk University in Erzurum Türkiye and I have discussed ways to conduct “good science” in the region of Ağrı Dağı (Mt. Ararat, so named in AD 1105). Dr. Bayraktutan is designated as the official over this region for geological and archaeological studies. In 1995, I met with Dr. Bayraktutan and traveled to the region to see the boat-shaped object (known to some as the “Durupinar” site) which has dimensions corresponding to the plan form of the Ark as described in the book of Genesis and Babylonian writings (300 Egyptian 20.6" cubits in length, almost 50 cubits average width based on a deck area of 1 IKU). During that visit we discussed how advanced techniques could be used to noninvasively glean more data from the site and the surrounding area.


In the intervening time, we decided that it would be useful to host a workshop to discuss how good science could be done in the region to answer a number of the questions raised by the ancient literature, and by more recent accounts in which claims have been made regarding sightings of the Ark on the slopes of, or in the glacier of Ağrı Dağı. The workshop was entitled (as translated from Turkish), “The First International Workshop on the Noahic Flood and the First Settlement in the Ağrı Mount Region”.


A planning session was held on Monday October 5, 1998 to decide what sites should be inspected during the field trip to the Iranian Frontier on the 6th through 8th of October. This field trip was designed to better inform the participants about the region and some of its accessible sites prior to the workshop on Friday October 9.


During the field trip, those participating stayed in Dogubayazit and made daily excursions to the Durupinar site, locations suspected to be the ancient cities of Naxuan and Seron (based on aerial reconnaissance photographs from 1959), and Arzap with its giant anchor (drogue) stones which may have association with the Ark. Also the southern side of the Ağrı Dağı volcano and its line of cinder cones to the East was visually available for all to inspect, though no approval was granted to venture upon the mountain. Due to terrorist activity in the area, and the fact that we were entering into the military zone right up to the border of Iran, we also at times had a contingent of machine gun-bearing soldiers as accompaniment.

Scientific Enterprise in Pursuit and Discovery of Ancient Cultures (SEPDAC)

Members present at the workshop represented the countries of Türkiye, the United States, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. At the Friday workshop, presentations on each of the interest areas were restated including the Durupinar site, Naxuan/Seron, and locations on and around Ağrı Dağı including the ruins of Korhan, Eli, the Caves on Ararat, and the Stones at Arzap.

Those present decided to name the project SEPDAC: Search for Early Postdiluvian Anatolian Culture. We also defined tasks, personnel categories, numbers of personnel, science equipment, logistics, initial project duration (Phase I), and a budget. (Subsequently, when SEPDAC was incorporated as a non-profit corporation, the name was changed to “Scientific Enterprise in Pursuit and Discovery of Ancient Cultures” in order to recognize its wider scope.)


At the workshop, Dr. Bayraktutan revealed his discovery of a grave with old datable dirt inside and human remains (also datable) in a Turkish patrol road cut along the Iranian border in “Naxuan”. Samples of bone and pottery were taken back to Atatürk University for analysis. In addition on the first day at “Naxuan”, I found a site which appeared to be an ancient cairn burial (per Dr. Shea) or perhaps an ancient carved hearth. This was later uncovered to reveal a base which was lined with cut lime stone blocks on the sides. The base was approximately one meter by 2 meters. Other graves/artifacts were found and documented photographically without disturbing them. GPS coordinates were taken at various prominent locations visible in the 1959 aerial reconnaissance photographs, as well as several of the grave sites. In addition, a number of rectangular building foundations were identified and documented photographically. Dr. Shea discovered an ostracon (a pottery sherd with etchings or writing; often used as a teaching tool) with an inked drawing of a man releasing birds, and one returning with a leafed branch in its beak. The other side has been deciphered to show an etching of a man wearing a crown and hammering a stake or nail into a structure (the Ark?) with a large hammer. This was found a number of meters to the west of the Durupinar site.


During the Friday meeting, methods of inspecting objects beneath the ice on the Argi Dağı glaciers were discussed. Some of these can be deployed remotely from an autonomous DGPS-registered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and monitored by telemetry without risking anyone on the mountain. This UAV has been the subject of design studies by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology for the past four years, and a camera-bearing prototype air vehicle (scaled version) has already been constructed. This would be especially useful were permissions to climb the mountain not forthcoming any time soon. Other aerial techniques discussed were TV, IR, and high resolution still photography.

Further, we discussed methods of using satellite uplinks to get new information onto the internet for researchers around the world to analyze in near real time. This is an exciting new way to get more researchers involved without incurring the expense to bring them on site. For example, newly discovered inscriptions can be photographed with high resolution digital cameras and uploaded to the world wide web in minutes. Experts in ancient languages could then attempt to decipher the inscriptions and provide rapid and valuable feedback to the on site team (via the internet).

Ground penetration radar surveys are also planned, though these are not practical from an aerial platform. Ground surveys would be conducted at various sites (Ağrı Dağı, Korhan, Eli, Naxuan, Seron, Durupinar) to help define the history of the region in order to better interpret archeological findings.

Ground surveys would include:

tectonism (paleoseismicity)/dating
sedimentation analyses
remote sensing

Geophyisics surveys include:

Ground Penetration Radar (GPR)
ground resistance
acoustic seismology
satellite photo analyses

Anthropological interests include:

  1. Linguistic Translators

      (from Istanbul Museum, the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere),

  2. Anthropologist

      (perhaps someone from Ankara who is versed in “neolithic through early bronze age”)

  3. Metallurgist

      (to analyze any metal artifacts located at any of the sites)

  4. Historian

      (to understand and correlate the early writings describing any particular site of interest. Some of our present members are already versed in this area)

  5. Other skills/services that will be required include:
    Excavational archeologists
    Data Acquisition experts
    Documentation specialists
    Logistics managers (various)
    Security (military)
    Archeological preservation experts


We are establishing collaborative ties between Turkish universities, the Turkish Government, Turkish industry, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Regarding approvals to climb Ağrı Dağı, Dr. Bayraktutan pointed out that when the mountain opened up last time, a number of people went up and were killed. This prompted the military to close the mountain again. The lesson is: Even if the mountain is declared to be open, you may forfeit your life in proving that the Turkish military analysts over-estimated their control of the region.


All involved should recognize the unique opportunity afforded each invited workshop participant– specifically to be able to go into the Iranian Frontier under government sanctioned military and secret police surveillance and at times with an armed security force. This is as good as it gets. In the future, people operating outside of this overarching research alliance (SEPDAC) will be on their own with respect to security and will likely find permissions difficult to obtain. Undoubtedly there will still be “cowboys” who want to do it the hard way, but I think that we stand at the verge of a new era of Diluvial research. The next round of serious research will employ new sophisticated tools and coordinated scientific methods.

Cok teşekkür ederim! (Thank you very much)

Sayğılar, selamlar! (With all respect and peace!)

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Durupinar Boat Shape Drogue Stones of Arzap/Kazan Pottery Sherds Graves of 'Naxuan' Foundations of 'Naxuan' 1998 SEPDAC Workshop Survey Team
Use menu at the top of the page to view the Bayraktutan/Michelson SEPDAC movie (3 MB) or the movie: “The Wall” (3 MB).

COPYRIGHT 1995 - 2013, SEPDAC/R.C. Michelson

Robert Michelson
Principal Research Engineer, Emeritus - Georgia Tech Research Institute
Adjunct Associate Professor (Ret.) - Georgia Institute of Technology
President - Millennial Vision, LLC
President - SEPDAC, Inc.