MOUNT ARARAT and NOAH’S ARK
Conspiracy theorists believe that Nicholas II of Russia sent an expedition party to Mount Ararat in 1917 to investigate reported remains of Noah’s Ark. The Russian Imperial Air Force is reputed to have sent up to 150 men up the mountain to examine an ‘anomaly’ after ‘a Russian pilot flying over the area reported a dark structure about the size of a battleship with a rounded-over top’. The odds are stacked against this particular tale, as Nicholas abdicated during the February Revolution of 1917, meaning it is unlikely that the expedition was ever sent. Some investigators have claimed that the expedition actually set off in 1916 and that after finding the ‘ark’ a number of photographs were taken. Unfortunately, in true conspiracy-theorist style, the photographs mysteriously disappeared after Leon Trotsky discovered their existence. Subsequent expeditions have been unable to find the colossal structure. In an unfortunate case of failing to check the date, a number of papers picked up on the Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung story on Noah’s Ark. A number of pictures accompanied the 1933 article, showing a huge boat resting on a mountainside, which were duly reprinted across the globe with translations of the article. On April 8 1933 the Cologne-based paper admitted its tomfoolery, but even though the tale was unquestionably false, that didn’t stop an intrepid group of Ark-hunters in 1972 basing their search for the lost vessel on the original article. When French explorer Fernand Navarra announced that he had found a five-foot section of the Ark on the slopes of Mount Arat, people were, it seems, justifiably sceptical of his claims. The Forestry Institute of Research and Experiments of the Ministry of Agriculture in Spain dated the wood at 5,000 years old, seemingly vindicating Navarra’s claims. However, it was later discovered that the samples are actually only between 725 and 535 years old and that Navarra had in fact simply bought the wood from a nearby village. George Jammal claimed in 1993 that he had found a section of ‘sacred wood from the Ark’ in a CBS documentary. The expedition, according to Jammal, was long, arduous and even claimed the life of his friend Vladimir. In fact, the entire story was a deliberate hoax designed to fool the media, at the centre of which was a lump of timber that had actually been lifted from Californian train tracks.