Mount Ararat

The summit of Mount Ararat

The summit of Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat is rightly famous for being the place where Noah and his relatives left the Ark. The Turks call this volcano Ağrı Dağı, the Kurds call it Çiyaye Agiri (“fiery mountain”), and hotel owners in the neighborhood do not hesitate to say that this is the Mount Ararat. And it is easy to believe them, because the snow-capped mountain is the largest and most impressive of all summits in eastern Turkey. The problem is – it can not be the place where Noah disembarked.

The Bible does not refer to a summit called Ararat, but to “the mountains of Ararat”, and this proper name refers to the ancient kingdom of Urartu (cf. Jeremiah 51.27). Ancient Jewish authors and early translators of the Bible were well aware that there was no mountain called Ararat. The author of the second-century BCE Book of Jubilees (5.28, 10.15) states that the Ark landed on “Mount Lubar” in “the land of Ararat”, and the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus knew that “Ararat” referred to a summit he calls “Baris”, which is in a country north called Gordyene (Jewish Antiquities, 1.93). Josephus adds that in his days, bitumen could still be found near the site of the Ark

Babylonian sources concur. In his account of the FloodBerossus mentions the presence of bitumen as well, the Epic of Gilgameš also refers to mountains in what is now Kurdistan, and the Quran speaks of Al-Gudi. The author of Jubilees, Flavius Josephus, the Babylonian writers, and the Quran have retained an older tradition, which puts the Ark’s landing site between Lake Van and the Tigris. This must be the site which the ancients believed was the location of the final act of the story of the Flood, where the hero disembarked and sacrificed.

It may perhaps be identified with a summit northeast of modern Cizre called Cudi Dağı (satellite), where eastern Christians, who were unaware of the identification of Ararat with Ağrı Dağı made in the Medieval West, and Muslims still venerate the tomb of Noah.

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