Noah’s Ark – The Smithsonian and National Geographic 1968 (Part 1)

Uncovering evidence of the Smithsonian’s corruption and cover up of important information (see article here), sparked a memory of an interesting passage that I read about Noah’s Ark years ago in the late 1990s.  In the 1960s, The Smithsonian and National Geographic, working in collaboration, conducted several expeditions to Mt. Ararat in Turkey in regard to Noah’s Ark.  It is said that their scientists actually found the Ark, studied it, and removed artifacts from the site that were then analyzed by the scientists of the Smithsonian.

The book that I read and got me interested in this small piece of Ark history was The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark by Charles E. Sellier and David W. Balsiger.  I do recommend purchasing a copy (link to Amazon).

I spent some time researching this subject this year, and I will present my findings in future posts.  Very interesting!  Don’t dismiss this so quickly.  I am making this a multi part post because Part 1 is the story of what happened (as relayed by Sellier and Balsiger in their book) and Part 2 will be more findings.  I will be publishing Part 2 tomorrow.

Here are the relevant passages.  pp. 234-240

Man in a Box

Another mid-twentieth-century ark account nearly as dramatic as the Navarra wood recovery on Ararat unfolded in the life of David Duckworth, now a security guard in Farmington, New Mexico.  This unsolved mystery started in 1968, as Duckworth relates the story in his own words.

I was working at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1968 as a volunteer in the vertebrate paleontology section.  When I went to get some acetone to clean up a specimen I was working on one day, I noticed my immediate supervisor with a visiting scientist named Dr. Robert Geist.  They were both bending over a magnificient tripod viewer looking at some photographs.  I wandered over there and just asked what they were doing.  They told me to take a look myself, so I did.

What I saw was a composition picture of like for photographs put together to make one whole picture.  In the picture, there was an oblong object resembling a ship that wasn’t under the ice and snow but was semi-covered with it.  This object appeared to be broken in the middle with several feet separating the two halves, and one end definitely appeared to be smashed.

I asked my supervisor some more questions and he said the photos had been taken on a mountain named Ararat in Turkey and that the photos had been taken from a balloon suspended by cables with an airborne camera package.  You could see the shadow of the balloon on some of the pictures.

He said the film that I was looking at was a composite of infrared photographs.  So I looked at it and browsed through the pile of pictures next to it.  Some of them were just taken from different angles at different altitudes and some showed people on the ground looking at the ship.

There were some pieces of fossilized wood.  It was heavy wood, like stone, but it was wood.  You could see where it had been chopped and drilled, where it had been worked and the remains of wooden-like pegs in it.

Then, the next day, a friend of mine and I took a shortcut to the cafeteria.  You can either cut through the underground loading docks or through the visitors’s center, and we cut through the loading docks.  Anyhow, there were some boxes and crates on the loading dock.  My friend mentioned that they were from Ararat and they were going into his section, which was physical anthropology.

One of these, a box, was an oblong, sacrophagus-like  thing that I was told later was made out of alabaster.  It had a sliding panel on one end that slid down into grooves and locked with stone pins on the side.  It was on a pallet, and it was lashed down and everything.

Late on, this same fellow told me that they found the body of some fairly important personage from the Bible in it covered with resin.  They said they had reason to believe – and I don’t know why – but reason to believe it was Noah.

Now, there never was a gag order or anything from the Smithsonian like, “Don’t discuss this with anyone under penalty of law.”  It was just an understood thing at the time that, “What you see here, what you say here, what you hear here, you leave here,” and that was the understood thing.

So I didn’t tell anyone except my parents about it.  I told them because they had some interest in Noah’s ark after a pilot friend of theirs sad he saw something in the ice over there during the Korean War years.

Frankly, I didn’t think much more about it until I came out to Farmington, New Mexico, where a fell named Eryl Cummings called me about his book, Noah’s Ark: Fact or Fable?  I said, “Fable?  Well, that’s a strange title for the book since I’d seen it [the ark] four years before.”  That’s really about all I remember.

In Cumming’s second book, Has Anyone Really Seen Noah’s Ark?, Duckworth comments, “It [the ark] does exist, and it did happen.  If the government itself is covering it up… the people will be mad, or if the museum is covering it up, then the people and the government will be mad at them.”

Duckworth said he later again questioned his friend about who was really in the coffin box.  “Noah,” was the friend’s response.  “They found him in the wreck, preserved, and a tablet with him.”

When Duckworth asked Dr. Geist about the “man in the box” he was told it was “none of his concern.  If the religious fanatics ever found out who was in that box it would really cause trouble.”  Duckworth, being nineteen at the time, asked no further questions.

Whether the body aboard the ark was Noah would be open to debate as there is an allegedly authentic tomb of Noah in the Lebanon Mountains near the ancient city of Damascus.  Another possibility is that the body may have been that of Adam.  One of the books of the Apocrypha – those books early church fathers decided not to include in the Protestant Bible read today – indicates that Adam’s body was taken aboard the ark for preservation from the Flood.

Cover Up?

To check out Duckwoth’s story, Cummings daughter, Phyllis Watson, contacted S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, who had this to say in a letter dated December 12, 1976:

I want to assure you that the Smithsonian Institution has never been involved in a search for the remains of Noah’s ark in any manner.  None of our staff has participated in such an expedition, nor have we solely or jointly been involved in supporting or financing such a project, nor have any artifacts recovered from such an enterprise been seen by our staff…

Still further emphasizing Secretary Ripley’s firm insistence that “the Smithsonian Institution has never been involved in such a search” was an almost identical statement by Dr. Henry Setzer, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian.  He said that he had even gone so far as to question “the Research Committee of the National Geographic Society” on the subject and had, in turn, been assured that “the Society has never mounted an expedition to search for the ark, nor had they even contributed toward such an expedition.”

In spite of these official denials, it was later learned through Ralph Crawford, president and founder of the SEARCH organization, that the National Geographic Society had, after all, contributed to “an expedition to search for the ark”; that, an in fact, in 1969, they had “contributed” to an expedition they themselves had not “mounted” by supplying “thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of free (and the finest type of) film” to the Navarra-SEARCH expedition to Ararat to search for the ark!

Renee Noorbergen, a hard-hitting veteran news-man, war correspondent, and author of The Ark File, at that time was the public relations director of SEARCH, and he confirmed Crawford’s statement.  “The National Geographic,” he said, “had reserved first rights to the photographs in the event of a possible discovery…”

Also, Noorbergen related that he met a “man at a legal meeting who mentioned to him that he had been involved in an expedition to Mount Ararat in 1968, at which time they had, among other activities, shot infrared photographs of an object they believed to be Noah’s Ark.  “Can’t talk about it any further though,” the spokesman apologized.  “I’ve already said too much.”

“During the course of Noorbergen’s personal sleuthing (as reported to Cummings in April 1972), he had learned of a man who had ‘sat in’ on some kind of meeting in 1970 in which these two institutions (Smithsonian Institute and National Geographic Society) allegedly discussed a ‘joint expedition’ and its discovery – and decided not to reveal it!”

Additional corroborating information came from two chaplains in the U.S. Air Force in Turkey and three other officers.  Sometime during autumn of 1964, a group reportedly “identifying themselves as members of a National Geographic expedition returning from Mount Ararat” stopped at the U.S. Air Force base in Trabzon, Turkey.  This significant event is carefully recounted in a letter dated November 12, 1973, from Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Rogers H. Pearson, in response to a letter from Dr. Charles Willis, an ark expeditioner from Fresno, California.

Excerpts from Chaplain Pearson’s letter are as follows:

Sometime in late 1964 a group of people stopped at Trabzon [Turkey] and asked for overnight lodging.  They drove a Land Rover and I believe there were four individuals in the group.  I could be mistaken, but my recollection is that one of them was a woman, the wife of one of the men in the party.  They identified themselves as members of a National Geographic expedition from Mount Ararat… When I asked him almost jokingly if they had discovered the ark, he said “Chaplain, you wouldn’t believe what we found!”  He went on to explain that he couldn’t talk about what they had found, but gave the impression that they had made a discovery of tremendous significance.  I was impressed so much that for about a year I kept checking issues of National Geographic for information.  When I saw nothing about it, I assumed they hadn’t discovered anything, and stopped looking for an article about it…

In another letter noted by Cummings from Chaplain (Capt.) Clair Shaffer to Dr. Willis dated September 4, 1973, he writes:

A team had stopped and spent the night at our base [Samsun, Turkey].  This was a National Geographic expedition which had been to eastern Turkey and to Mount Ararat and was on their way home.  When asked the expected question, “Did you find the ark?” they answered, “We cannot answer that question now, but may we say that we have made the greatest discovery in the history of man!

Three other substantiating letters were received by Dr. Willis, reinforcing statements of both Pearson and Shaffer that a group identifying themselves as affiliated with the National Geographic Society did stop at both Trabzon and Samsun en route from Mount Ararat, where they admittedly had been interested in a search for the ark.

So, the plot thickens… Who is lying about the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian involvement in an ark expedition and why?

We do know from the last chapter that military man Lester Walton was informed in 1946 by the “higher ups” that the National Geographic Society was going to undertake an expedition to investigate the boatlike object photographed by them while testing the Fairchild bombsite camera.  According to the testimonies of eyewitnesses, the National Geographic Society conducted expeditions to Mount Ararat in 1958, 1964, and 1968, and the Smithsonian was involved in the analysis of the Ararat findings.”

Other Sources: 

Violet Cummings, Has Anybody Really Seen Noah’s Ark? (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1982), pp. 201-203, 206-207.

Tim LaHaye and John Morris, The Ark on Ararat (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1976), p147.

About Daniel Silas
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1 Response to Noah’s Ark – The Smithsonian and National Geographic 1968 (Part 1)

  1. Ellen Mooring says:

    It is so exciting!

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