Biblical Paleoarcheology

Did the Ark land on Mount Cudi?

Article #22
Mount Cudi (pronounced “Judi”) is my second choice for the landing place of the Ark, which came to rest five months after the beginning of the Flood. Most theologians seem to agree that the resting place of the Ark was a high mountain surrounded by lower mountains. The lower mountains became visible about 74 days later. Most people therefore look for the highest mountain in a range, surrounded by lower mountains.

How do we determine which of the six primary mountains or mountain ranges was the true landing place of the Ark? The best proof would be to find the Ark on one of the mountains, but no one has. It is unlikely that anything identifiable would remain after over 43 centuries.

Traditions could also identify the location, and traditions exist for four of the six sites that we discussed in article 21. The oldest written document about the landing place of the Ark, The Epic of Gilgamesh, dates from the 18th century BC. A six hundred year gap between the event and the written description of the event greatly weakens the credibility of the witness. In spite of an enormous number of people groups around the world that describe the Flood, the details are contradictory. The mountains of Ararat are commonly identified by the strongest traditions.

Archeology could be more conclusive than traditions are, if we could identify the oldest settlements and link them with one of the possible mountains. As far as I have been able to tell, this approach has never been used before, at least not in a rigorous manner. I’m therefore hopeful that those who value the place of the Ark in history will adopt this line of research as a noble pursuit for the future. Settlement mounds can provide solid evidence of the sequence of people groups, while many new studies now focus on the movement and migrations of these people.

Mount Cudi has the advantage of being located within the area of the Fertile Crescent, on the rainy slope of the mountains. Many early settlements with farming, animal husbandry, housing, and pottery are located within 200 miles of the mountain. Noah’s children could have quickly and easily spread out east and west along the corridor that contained the richest farmland. Since civilization began in the Fertile Crescent, it would make sense that the Ark landed there. On the other hand, if the Ark landed elsewhere, explorers could have searched and found the Fertile Crescent in a short time.

One theory that I read about places Babel in the Fertile Crescent rather at Babylon or Eridu, both of which are in Sumer, in the South. This reconstruction would place all the world’s population in the Fertile Crescent for the first century, then quickly migrating out from there. This idea has several problems. First, it ignores the fact that there really was a Babel-like civilization in Sumer, which is a cognate to the Biblical word Shinar. Secondly, it ignores the fact that dozens of settlements existed from the earliest time, rather than just one big city. Thirdly, it doesn’t leave enough time between Babel and Abraham to account for all the migrations and cultural periods that must have taken place. The century of time that existed between the landing of the Ark and Babel must be reflected in real settlement patterns.

The map above indicates some of the earliest stable communities. Farming began in these villages. Cayonu and Nevali Cori, for instance, had similar rectangular stone buildings, and flint. Cayonu also had obsidian, cereal, livestock, and pottery. These were definitely very early. Tell Brak has a rare superposition of strata, as seen in the table below, that allows us to assign relative dates to succeeding cultural periods. Periods B through D were contemporary with Eridu/Babel in the South. Period A was the earliest. On the other hand, archeologists don’t know where the people originated who built these villages. Where were the earliest post-Flood settlements and migrations?

The Mount Cudi solution is interesting but leaves many questions unanswered. Why would so many people travel 600 miles, uphill and over rugged mountains to inhabit the Caucasus Mountains in the North, if they were not already there? Why would they go over the Zagros Mountains to lands in the East so early, since the mountains were mostly impassible? Migration would have taken place down the Euphrates River from Kagizman/Ararat rather than going 600 miles against the current.

We can be sure that the Ark did not land on Mt. Ararat, because the volcanic mountain did not exist at the time of the Flood. Mt. Cudi is an interesting but unlikely choice for the landing place, because so many early settlements were in the Caucasus and the East. These can be explained if the Ark landed in the Kagizman Range. Next week, let’s examine my first choice for the Ark. I don’t expect anyone to find the wood from the Ark there, although that might be nice. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could put conjecture to rest and have some degree of certainty about where God allowed life to begin again in the New World!

Reference Notes
http://www.noahsarksearch.com/NoahsArkPaper.pdf
http://www.cudi.info/html/02-noahs-ark-1a.html

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