Was the Ark’s landfall in Turkey or Tadzikistan?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted September 12, 2016

Most readers of the Bible and many people who have never read the Bible believe that they know where Noah’s ark is supposed to hand landed after the flood – Mount Ararat in Turkey. The problem here is that they have missed two important clues in the Biblical text and thus misplaced the ark’s landfall. The point is important because the position of the landfall governed the nature of the post-flood migrations via which mankind dispersed across the globe.

Voyage of the Ark (2321-2320 BC)

The Flood started when Noah was 600 years old, on the 17th day of the 2nd month of the year.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened (KJV Genesis 7:11).

The Flood ended when Noah was 601 years old, on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the year – that is, just 1 year and 10 days after it began (or 360 + 10 = 370 days later).

According to my chronology, Noah was 600 years old in 1656 AM = 2321 BC, and thus the voyage of the Ark lasted just over a year, from 2321 BC to 2320 BC.

The Ark’s Landfall (2320 BC)

Genesis 8:4 states, “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 11:2 states, “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found the plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.” There are two problems here.

First, the ark’s landfall was east of the Land of Shinar. Shinar is another name for Mesopotamia, which includes the lands of Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumer. Yet the Mount Ararat that we know today is in eastern Turkey, at the conjunction of the Turkish, Armenian, and Iranian borders. It is therefore west of Shinar. To travel from Mount Ararat to Shinar is to travel eastward, not westward as Genesis 11:2 maintains.

Second, the text does not say that the ark rested upon the mountain (singular) of Ararat, but rather upon the mountains (plural) of Ararat. Ararat must have been, not a singular peak, but a mountainous region.

Thus, the ark must have landed in a mountainous region east of Shinar.

Samuel Shuckford points out that a number of scholars have sought to identify this region in which the Ark landed.[1] For instance, Portius Cato placed it “in the same latitude with Bactria (now eastern Afghanistan), between the Caspian Sea and Imaus (now the Tian Shan Mountains on the western border of Sinkiang, the westernmost province of China), north of Mount Paraponisus.”[2] Shuckford himself placed it “on the hills beyond Bactria, north of India,”[3] between the headwaters of the Oxus River (now Amu-Darya) to the northwest and the Indus River to the southeast.

These “hills beyond Bactria,” would be the mountains at the northern end of the Hindu Kush. From there, Noah’s descendants would have traveled westward to Shinar (Mesopotamia), as Genesis 11:2 maintains. In my opinion, the three likeliest candidates for the mountain on which the Ark landed are Kungur (25,825 ft.) and Mustagh-Ata (24,400 ft.) to the east (just over the border with China), and Pik Komminizma (24,590ft.) to the north, but there are also two lesser possibilities: Khan Tengri (22,949 ft.) further to the north and K2 (28,250 ft.) to the southeast, although neither can be regarded as between the Oxus and Indus rivers.

Initial Settlement (c. 2320-2295 BC)

Now I speculate: After being submerged for over a year and then being scoured by runoff from high-ground to low-ground, the land must have been a sea of mud, and the Ark’s inhabitants must have lived initially in the Ark and local caves. With the return of grass, shrubs, and trees to the land and the re-population of the local territory with animals and birds, they probably left the Ark and caves and created a settlement in the vicinity of the Ark’s landfall consisting of buildings, barns, water reservoirs, gardens, grain fields, etc. It probably took about 25 years (2320-2295 BC) to construct. There Noah, who was roughly 625 years old and therefore not fit for the rigors of traveling through virgin territory, probably remained for the rest of his life. His sons, who were roughly 125 years old, may have done so as well, although I believe that Seth probably migrated as far as Mesopotamia. Staying in the Initial Settlement would not have been an option for most of Noah’s grandchildren, some of whom would have been in their early twenties by 2295 BC. They would have been restless and ready to explore the unknown lands that lay over the horizon. Thus, although Noah remained mankind’s titular leader until his death in 1971 BC, he and his sons must have increasingly taken on the aura of legend, and leadership in practice must have passed to the leaders of the migrating groups.

Initial Migrations (c. 2295-2220 BC)

The initial, post-flood migrations occurred over the next 75 years (2295-2220 BC).

Although I am deeply indebted to Henry Morris[4] for his discussion of the Table of the Nations, I differ with him on the geographic origin of the initial, post-flood migrations. As I have just explained, I believe these migrations originated in eastern Tadzikistan, not eastern Turkey. Thus the paths that Morris and I trace for these migrations differ. The destinations, however, remain the same.

I speculate that, once the initial settlement was built and fully functioning circa 2295 BC, Noah’s grandchildren began migrating to the four points of the compass:

Northward into the great Siberian Plain between the Enisej River to the east and the Ural Mountains to the west, and from there fanning out in all directions.

Eastward into Sinkiang (northwest China), and from there to the Pacific coast from Siberia and the Koreas in the north to Indochina in the south.

Southward into the Indus Valley (Pakistan and India), from the Punjab in the north to Mohenjo-Daro in the south, and from thence across India to Bengal in the east and Tamil Nadu in the south.

Westward through Afghanistan and Iran into Iraq (ancient Mesopotamia), and from there north into Georgia, south through Palestine and into Egypt, and west across Asia Minor to the Balkans.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] Samuel Shuckford, The Sacred and Profane History of the World Connected, Volume 1, 5th edition (1819), Tolle Lege Press, Whitehall WV, 2009, pages 87-92.

[2] Shuckford, Volume 1, page 89. The Paropamisus Mountains extend from the southwestern end of the Hindu Kush across northern Afghanistan to the border of Iran in the west, but modern maps do not show a Mount Paraponisus. It may have one of the peaks at the northeastern end of the Hindu Kush. Only the area north of there (eastern Tadzikistan) lies north of India, between the Oxus River and the Indus Rivers.

[3] Shuckford, Volume 1, page 92.

[4] Morris, Henry, The Genesis Record (1976), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, 1980.

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