LAND INFO International, LLC, a producer of international mapping and geospatial products, has offered its services to Porcher Taylor, a U.S. intelligence expert leading an effort to identify an anomaly on Turkey’s Mt. Ararat. Near the top of the mountain, sits a 600-foot rectangular-shaped object, which many believe is the remnants of Noah’s Ark. The “Anomaly” was first discovered and photographed by U.S. Air Force pilots during a routine mission in 1949. Since then, numerous U.S. spy satellites have confirmed that the object does not naturally fit into the mountain’s landscape. Further heating the argument, several CIA imagery analysts have speculated that the object appears to be nautical in structure. The subject remains a mystery because all but four of these photos have been declassified for researchers and the international public. Now, with the evolving capabilities of commercial GIS and remote-sensing technologies, including LAND INFO’s three-dimensional terrain modelling, the convincing proof may be just weeks away.
All three major religions, Christians, Jews, and Muslims accept the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark, the great flood, and the boat’s landing somewhere in the “mountains of Ararat”. The controversy surrounds the fact that no one has ever produced conclusive, scientific proof that the Ark ever existed. Over the past 50 years, dozens of private expeditions have climbed the mountain seeking proof. The primary challenge is navigating Ararat’s rough terrain to get to the Anomaly site. The closest any one has come is about a mile and a half from the site. The Anomaly is on the northwestern side of the mountain, at a lofty 15,500-foot elevation, approximately 2,000 feet below Ararat’s summit. Weather conditions have also hampered search efforts. The Anomaly is submerged in a permanent glacier, and frequently covered in deep snow. Heavy cloud cover, snow, and glacial conditions dictate how much the satellites can photograph. Successful imagery missions and on-site expeditions must be timed with minimal cloud cover and heavy glacial melting.
Since 1993, Porcher Taylor, III, has led the fight to unravel the mystery of the Ark. Taylor is a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington D.C. think-tank. He is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Taylor was responsible for getting the government to declassify the four 1949 photos. However, these photos are just a handful of hundreds of classified photos of the Anomaly area. Taylor continues to seek declassification of all available photos. Simultaneously, Taylor has turned to commercial GIS technology in his pursuit for the truth about the Mt. Ararat Anomaly.
In 2000, Space Imaging’s Ikonos satellite captured several shots of the Anomaly over Mt. Ararat. However, the imagery did not conclusively end the mystery. Taylor is now working with DigitalGlobe, and its new 2-foot resolution satellite, to acquire new photos. Clear photos at this resolution would be a major stepping-stone for the project.
Taylor’s work also involves other support GIS datasets. He contacted LAND INFO International to support his analysis and presentational needs. LAND INFO produced a high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) of Mt. Ararat.