Tuesday, July 26, 2005


New Brunswicker joins Noah’s Ark expedition to Mount Ararat


Christian Week
By Diane Trail
July 14, 2005

MONCTON, NB—At his desk in front of a myriad of cords and server engines that are the computer nerve center for Atlantic Baptist University (ABU), David Graves seems an improbable candidate for an archaeological expedition in search of Noah’s Ark. He is the sole Canadian on the 18-member team with ArcImaging, an evangelical Christian archaeological research group preparing to scale Mount Ararat in Turkey this summer.

Graves, director of computer services and a part-time faculty memberat ABU, is more than a little excited about the prospect of climbingMount Ararat. He is working on his doctorate in Biblical Studies fromthe University of Aberdeen and Highland Theological College inScotland, and teaches archaeology as part of an ABU-Oxford program inEngland.The 48-year-old has visited many archaeological sites in Israel,Turkey and Egypt, but this will be his first "dig." Graves' main taskon the mountain will be to run the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) tomap slices of everything beneath the ice to the mountain's volcanicsurface. Ararat is 17,274 feet high -- the highest mountain in Turkeyand the largest mountain in the world by mass. The mountain's peakabove 15,000-foot elevation is under an icecap of 200-300 feet."When [Rex] Geissler asked me if I would consider joining him on theexpedition, I said 'Let me think about it. Yes!'" says Graves,sporting a shy smile and spiked white hair.Geissler is president of ArcImaging (Archaeological Imaging ResearchConsortium), based in Colorado. Geissler and Graves only met in Marchof this year when they were together on a tour of archaeological sitesin Egypt."We just hit it off," says Graves. "We have a lot in common with ourbackgrounds in computers. He owns a database company. We were bothvery interested in Turkey and archaeology . . . Next thing I knew Iwas director of operations and logistics for the expedition and incharge of the GPR for the site."Graves is undergoing rigorous physical training to improve stamina andcardiovascular fitness in preparation for the climb. He also hopes thetraining will help him avoid altitude sickness, a potentially fatalrespiratory illness associated with oxygen-thin mountain air. Otherhazards of the climb and mountaintop work site include lightning; notrees to protect from sudden snowstorms; steep, icy cliffs; plus wilddogs and scorpions at lower elevations.Graves is also endeavouring to raise $14,000 for his winter clothing,specialized ice-climbing equipment, training and general expenses.As a biblical scholar, Graves believes the _biblical narrative_(http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=genesis%206-9&version=31)of the Great Flood, which says that Noah's Ark went aground in MountArarat region. Faith and science can co-exist, he says and he believesthis expedition is about seeking scientific proof for biblical fact.In defence of their search for Noah's Ark, ArcImaging's websitestates, "Liberal scholars [have] criticized many things throughout theBible. Archaeology has shown many of these criticisms to be wrong,from Genesis 12 through Revelation. But Genesis 1-11 is still viewedas myth. If part of Noah's Ark were substantiated, it would supportthe Bible and Noah back to Genesis 5 . . .Noah's Ark would actually give support for all three major [Abrahamic]world religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.""This [expedition] is much more about adventure and raw research. It'snot a holy pilgrimage," says Graves.ArcImaging is the first organization to receive permission from theTurkish government to survey Mount Ararat since 1981. The archaeological organization conducted previous research in 2001 on one part of Ararat. The group is conducting its search in co-operation with the Archaeology Department of _Ataturk University_(http://www.atauni.edu.tr/english/english.htm) and the Turkishministries in Ankara.

"ArcImaging does the research, but the artefacts remains in Turkey,"says Graves. "If we find something, we melt a tunnel and takesamples.

"The team hopes the Turkish government will grant research visas forthe trip. The threat of military manoeuvers -- the cause of visa refusals for the last couple of years -- may prove their biggest obstacle. Mount Ararat is on the border of Iraq and Iran, with Middle East tensions posing danger to outsiders.

Although Graves is inexperienced in some ways, Geissler has greatconfidence in him.

"What stood out was his organization and computer skills, and hisability to put together plans," Geissler told Times-Transcript byphone from Colorado.

"He exhibited a real sense of excitement about the project as well,and that's one thing that attracts me to people when they're excitedabout being a part of it and helping out with it."

"He becomes one of most valuable members of our team because of his[GPR] training," Geissler said.

The international team, including nine Christian archaeologists, glaciologists, experienced Ararat climbers and photographers, is beingrecruited to investigate the site sometime between July 15 and August15.


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