I have this black and white photo in my bookcase, in front of some books sitting there for over four decades now. The picture does not even have a frame. I tried to showcase the picture in a silver frame, but other than attracting some curiosity it did not look anything special. Yet, the picture is of immense value to me and especially to my wife and her family and I am sure it will be passed on from generation to generation, as a valuable gift from the past.
When you glance at the black and white picture whose colors are fading to a brownish gray, you probably will think that it is a picture from the moon landing . It looks like, lava is flowing from one side of the picture to the other side like a rive , or used to flow at one time and then dried up and formed some odd crater like shapes. Right in the center of the picture there is a very distinct shape, different from the rest because it almost perfectly symmetric, approximately one inch in length and one third of an inch in height.It looks like a canoe or a boat.
ORIGINAL PHOTO IDENTIFIED BY CAPTAIN ILHAN DURUPINAR IN 1959
The picture was taken in 1959 during a NATO mapping missionwhile flying over the 17 000 feet high Mount Ararat about two miles North of the Turkish-Iranian border, and about 17 miles from the peak of the mountain, within Turkey's territory. Captain Durupınar, a photogrametrist and map specialist in the Turkish army,who looked over thosands of pictures from the mission, thought the boat like shape resembled Noah's Ark which was described in the Books of all three religions|; Christians, Jews and Moslems. It's dimensions approximately corresponded the Biblical measurements of the Ark: three hundred cubits in length , the breadth of fifty cubits and the height of thirty cubits.*
The search of the Ark is nothing new. There is written history of several climbers and explorers of the summit since the early part of the seventeenth century. Even before that , Marco Polo mentioned in his of book of the late fifteenth century: The Travels of Marco Polo , the existence of Noah's Ark on the summit of a great mountain in Armenia.*
According to the Islamic belief the place of Noah's Ark was to be revealed on "The Day of Judgment" and may be because of that the Turkish authorities were always reluctant to explore the heights and the summit of Mount Ararat. Another reason for Turkish authorities unwillingness to explore the site was it's close proximatey to then USSR border and possible military confrontation with Russians during the cold war era. However starting from the seventeenth century on there were several expeditions or accidental contacts with the site during military missions by German, British, Russian and American explorers or pilots, some of them being joint ventures with the Turkish authorities. Most of these expeditions pointed out to a boat shaped area by the glacier between the two peaks of the Mount Ararat. This area was more visible during spring months when some of the snow started to melt and the boat shape became more distinct.
The locals who lived down the hills miles away from the site have always hesitated to climb to the area mostly because religious beliefs. Also they had listened to stories from their elders about people,mostly shepherds disappearing when they reached this forbidden area. Some thought people and animals reaching this area will get sick and eventually die. This belief probably originated from people who tried to explore the area and had difficulty in breathing because of the lack of oxygen at these high altitudes.
Some on the other hand were lucky came back from the site and brought pieces of wood from the Ark. Any little piece of souvenir brought from the Ark was thought to have some magical healing powers.
When Captain Durupınar brought the picture of the boat like shape to the Turkish authorities attention , they immediately formed an expedition team; but nothing came out of it. However they allowed Professor Arthur Brandanberger from the Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio, along with a team of other archaeologists, explorers , business people and select officers of the Turkish Cavalry regiment and Captain İlhan Durupınar to form a team and continue the search of the Ark. After extensive research in the area the expedition team did not find any evidence that the a ship's hull like shape was actually that of the Ark and concluded that it was a probably some lava formation in this once very volcanic area. Nevertheless the area from then on was called " The Durupınar" site in reference of the Turkish Captain who took the picture from the Airplane during the NATO mapping mission in 1959. Today, there are three different views about the site. The first view is formed by people who believe that the Durupınar site is the actual site where the Noah's ark landed after the great flood as mentioned in all three Books. This view was mostly supported by an adventurer and Seventh Day Adventists Ron Wyatt .The now deceased explorer at one point got in trouble with the Turkish authorities while he was trying to take some rock samples out of the country and got caught by the customs officers.The second view, believes that the Durupınar site is not the actual site where the Ark had landed, but rather where the Ark had stopped, after thousands of miles long slid from the summit of Ararat, caused by an geological action. When most of the researchers pulled their support from the site in the early 1990'ies because of lack of scientific evidence, the Seventh Day Adventists and Ron Wyatt followers started more and more leaning towards this new evolved view.**
Finally , there is the view, as explained by the Turkish Geologist Murat Avci and supported by the Turkish authorities as well as very reputable researchers and geologist that the Durupinar site is just a "freak of nature and nothing special."**
Whether the Durupınar site is a freak of nature or the actual area which contains Noah's Ark's debris, one fact remains: "Durupınar Site" will be debated for centuries to come and as long as the humankind exists. And, the name " Durupınar" will be eternally pronounced by believers as well as non believers.Now why is this so important for me and why will this photo taken by the Turkish Captain Durupınar will be passed from generation to generation to come in our family? The answer is a simple one. Before I married my dear wife some thirty two years ago , her name was Sitare Durupınar. Her last name was changed to Özmeral yet the name "Durupınar" remained in her family. You see, her father was a photogrametrist and map specialist in the Turkish Army before he moved his family to Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. His name is Tayfur Durupınar. Tayfur Durupinar has a brother and Sitare has an uncle living in Ankara Turkey: a retired Colonel and photogrametrist. His name, you guessed it right : İlhan Durupınar.
Februray, 8 2007
*The Lost Ship of Noah, In Search of The Ark At Ararat, Charles Berlitz, G.P.Buntham's Sons,1987.