Monday, December 10, 2007
Finding Noah's Ark: Looking in the Right Place
Despite claims that Noah’s ark has been found in Turkey, Noah’s boat has never been found. In fact, every claim of publicity seekers concerning the boat shaped forms on Greater Mount Ararat have been shown to be false. Noah's ark just isn't there.
The ark has never been found because people have been looking in the wrong place. Instead of searching the mountains of Turkey or Armenia, they should be looking in the region of Mount Meni in Central Africa (Latitude: 14 03' 00'' Longitude: 22 24' 00''). This is the homeland of Noah.
As can be seen from the image above, Mount Meni is almost exactly in the center of Africa. Today it stands at about 4000 feet. According to David M. Westley, PhD, Director of the African Studies Library at Boston University, "From the center of the Chad Basin to Mount Meni is about 230 miles."
In the time of the Guirian Wet Period when Mega Chad extended many hundreds of miles beyond its present basin, there may have been water up to Mt. Meni in what is today Niger. I believe that is where Noah's ark landed. (For more on this, go here.)
"Ar" and "har" sound the same in Hebrew. "Ar" means city and "har" means mountain. Ar-arat could mean Mount "arat", but what does "arat" mean? The word isn't found in the Indo-European languages, so Ar-arat is not an Indo-European name. The word "arat" is found in the Southern Ethiopic languages and means "and" in Amharic. Ar-menia could mean "city of Meni" or "mountain of Meni". In 1874, Godfrey Higgins, in his monograph Anacalypsis: An Inquiry into the Origins of Languages, Nations and Religions, noted that "Armenia" could mean "mount of Meru… that is, Ar or Er-Meni-ia, the country of mount Meru or Meni."
Higgins was tracking something significant. He noted the conflation of the names Meni and Meru. Here is another indication that the legend of Noah developed beyond Central Africa among the Afro-Asiatic peoples as far as India. Over many millenium, the legend of Noah's mountain became the Sacred Mountain of Meru in Hinduism and Buddhism. It takes many centuries for a myth to become as elaborate as the Meru symbology, so we know that this is much later than the events described in Genesis 6-9.
In the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism's later texts, Lord Krishna says, "Among the mountains, I am Meru", that is the spinal cord of the world. The Vishnu Purana (from about 200 BCE) details how there are seven continents ringed by seven oceans: "The central continent has Meru at its core, bounded by three mountain ranges to the north and three to the south. One of these ranges is the Himalayan barrier, interposed between Meru and ‘Bharatha’, the Indian subcontinent. Meru itself stands eighty-four thousand leagues high, with four faces of crystal, ruby, gold and lapis lazuli. Ganga falls from the heavens on Meru’s summit, circles the mountain and then divides into four mighty rivers which flow to the four quarters of the earth." According to Buddhist tradition, the island of Sri Lanka broke off from Meru. Many Hindu temples, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia, have been built as symbolic representations of Meru Mountain.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is a Mount Meru in Africa. Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth highest mountain, is located in northern Tanzania. It stands at 15,000 feet and is 42 miles west-southwest of Mount Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. It is an extinct volcanic crater. The land at the base is rich volcanic soil. As one ascends the mountain, there are forests with fig and Acacia trees. Mahogany, olive, and date palm trees grow on the drier crater walls. There are so many species of animals living in the Arusa region that the Kenyan tourist agencies refer to Mount Meru as "Noah’s ark."
Is this the mountain of Noah? Possibly. Given that Lake Chad in the time of Noah's flood was the size of the modern nation of Sudan, it is possible that his boat came to rest in northern Tanzania. However the satellite photos of the Mega-Chad basin indicate that the water extended west as well as east. Also, Mount Meru is a favorite spot for climbers from around the world. Given that Mount Meru has been well explored, someone would have discovered evidence of an ancient ship, were the evidence there. So, I place my money on Mount Meni in Chad. The region around Lake Chad is called "Bornu" which means the Land of Noah. This is the only place on the earth's surface which claims to be Noah's homeland, so the evidence points to Noah being a chief in that region.
Then there is the similarity between ar-meni and ar-arat. The conjunction "meni" in the Afro-Asiatic languages means "then, after that" and may refer to the time after the flood. Ar-meni (mountain of "then, after that") and Ar-arat (mountain of "and") convey the same concept of continuation. We might translate both words as "mountain of life after."
The word "meni" appears only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 65:11, where it is paralleled with the word gad, meaning good fortune. I suspect that there is a connection between meni and the ancient practice of worship on mountain tops because where the word "gad" appears there is often a contextual reference to sacrifice or praise offered on mountains. We recall that Noah offered burnt sacrifice on the mountain in thanksgiving for his deliverance (Gen. 8:20) and that God established a covenant with Noah and his descendents.