How Long Was Noah on the Ark, and Was Noah’s Ark Location Ever Found?

By: Lilli Keeve | Last updated: Dec 07, 2023

Noah’s Ark is a biblical tale that is as old as time. The story centers around God’s decision to flood Earth entirely with rain, in order for it to return to its pre-creation state. Before going through with his plan, however, God saved Noah and instructed him to assemble an ark so that he, his family, and the animals from each pair could survive the flood.

Although many believe the Noah’s Ark story is simply an ancient myth and a foreboding warning about God’s wrath, a team of scientists embarked on a journey to see if the story may actually be rooted in truth and if the Ark ever existed.

How long did it take Noah to build the ark?

So, how long did Noah build the Ark? Well, the time Noah took to build the Ark is not explicitly stated in the Bible. According to Genesis 6-9, Noah received instructions from God to build the Ark in preparation for a great flood. Traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations often suggest a period of several decades.

Painting of Noah's Ark

Source: Kosov vladimir/Wikipedia

Some sources, like the Jewish Midrash, estimate about 120 years, based on interpretations of Scripture, particularly Genesis 6:3. This time frame is considered symbolic by many scholars, reflecting Noah’s persistence and the long-suffering nature of God’s patience.


Noah's Ark Is More Than a Story, According to Some Scientists

As with most biblical tales, the history of Noah’s Ark was thought to be a historical fact by many, up until the close of the 1700s.

Visitors viewing painting

Source: Flickr

The Earth’s creation story, as told in the Bible, has largely been denied as a factual explanation for how the Earth came to be. Even though this belief was floating around, a few dubious scientists have come to believe that Noah’s Ark may have actually been real and that it’s not just a fictional story.

How Big Was Noah's Ark?

The dimensions of Noah’s Ark, as described in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, are given in cubits, an ancient unit of length based on the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. According to Genesis 6:15, the Ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

Translating these measurements to modern units, this would be approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. The Ark was thus a large, rectangular, boxlike vessel, with these dimensions suggesting it had substantial space to accommodate Noah’s family, as well as various animal species and provisions for the duration of the flood.

The Story: How Long Was Noah on the Ark?

Noah’s time aboard the Ark, according to the biblical account in Genesis, lasted approximately one year. What year did Noah build the ark, exactly? While it isn’t specified, it supposedly took place during the events of the Book of Genesis. But what’s even more interesting is the reported answer to the question of, “How old was Noah when he built the ark?” The flood began when Noah was 600 years old, on the 17th day of the second month of that year. The Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th day of the seventh month, and Noah and his family continued to live on the Ark for several more months while the Earth dried.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

So, how long did Noah stay on the ark? He and his family eventually left the Ark on the 27th day of the second month of the following year, marking a total duration of about one year and 10 days from the start of the flood to their disembarkation. This account, found in the Book of Genesis, is a key narrative in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The Legend Behind Mount Ararat

As told in the Bible’s recounting of the famous flood, after the rainfall stopped and the water started to recede, Noah allegedly landed the Ark at the “mountains of Ararat.” To know if the water had settled down, he sent out a dove and raven.

Noah's Ark Mount Ararat

Source: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

After he was confident that the water had receded, Noah unlatched the doors of his Ark and set the animals free to thrive again in the new world. In 2009, with the location of Ararat in mind, an expedition team of scientists went to see if they could uncover any traces of archaeological evidence.


Mount Ararat Is a Respected Location

As one of the tallest peaks in Turkey, Mount Ararat is located in the east, close to its border with Iran and Armenia. Ararat is considered an honored and sacred mountain, seeing as its part of Turkey’s national symbol. It’s also an integral part of Armenia’s coat of arms.

mount ararat noah's ark

At a peak of 16,584 feet, the top of the mountain is engulfed with snow year-round. 1829 was the earliest recorded exploration.


Marco Polo’s Connection to Mount Ararat

The distinguished Venetian traveler and explorer, Marco Polo, wrote in his book, “The Adventures of Marco Polo,” how he scouted the “mythical” peak of Ararat. It wasn’t really until the 19th century that explorers started to do their own research and make observations about the mountain.

Marco Polo

Dr. Friedrich Parrot is the 1829 explorer who scaled the mountain. He explained that its sacredness is why “no human being is allowed to approach it.” Fifty years later, however, explorer James Bryce made an incredible discovery that changed everything.


James Bryce Tried to Summit Mount Ararat

In addition to being an explorer, Bryce was also an Oxford Civil Law professor, historian, statesman, and diplomat. He climbed the mountain in 1876, searching for physical evidence about the Noah’s Ark story from the Bible.

James Bryce Tried To Summit Ararat

Although Bryce didn’t reach the mountain’s peak, he did make it just above the tree line where he saw the snow slopes. That was where he made the accidental discovery that lent some proof to the Bible’s original story.


James Bryce Found a Wooden Beam on Ararat

Even though Bryce was clearly hoping to discover any evidence relating to the Ark, he wasn’t too confident about what he might find. However, what he did find left him speechless.

mount ararat noah's ark

He came across an ancient beam on the snowy slopes of Mount Ararat. It, quite possibly, could have been remnants of the Ark, but, much to his disappointment, the beam was much too big to have been transported all the way down the mountain. When he went back to England, the news of this discovery transformed into research madness.


James Bryce's Ark Evidence Was Unconvincing

While people were enthusiastic about Bryce’s discovery of the wooden beam, this evidence didn’t even scratch the surface of convincing experts that it was Noah’s Ark having been found. Additionally, other explorers claimed they found other forms or proof, even the entire boat, but there still wasn’t any tangible evidence.

Expedition photo

Source: Sun Classic Pictures/Getty Images

Another expedition was on the horizon in 1960. A man, Ron Wyatt, took a photo of an 18-mile area of the peak. In the image, there was something that slightly resembled a boat, so yet another expedition was in line.


Ron Wyatt and the Durupinar Site

According to the story of Noah’s Ark, the Ark supposedly rested in the mountains of Ararat. We should note, there isn’t one primary peak, many mountaintops. In addition, certain biblical scholars bantered that Ararat was the name of the whole region, not just the mountain.

mount ararat noah's ark

In eastern Turkey’s Durupinar site, a big structure can be found 18 miles south of the modern Ararat. Even more intriguing is that it seems that it could be an ark. Ron Wyatt wanted to prove that it indeed was.


Ron Wyatt's Ark Expedition

In 1985, Wyatt was joined in his expedition by David Fasold, an ex-United States Merchant Marine Officer and salvage expert. Geophysicist John Baumgardner joined them. Pretty convinced that the site was the precise location of the Ark, Fasold believed they would be able to discover it using a device called a “frequency generator.”

mount ararat noah's ark

The scan from the device detected that formation in the earth was about 538 feet, which was close to the estimated measurements of the biblical Ark (an estimated 515 feet using ancient Egyptian cubits).


Were There Anchor Stones at the Durupinar Site?

Fasold and Wyatt searched the area for any telling signs of the Ark, but they found something they weren’t anticipating. Boulders with ancient carvings were discovered, and, according to Fasold, the boulders were anchor stones (drogues) that may have been used to stabilize massive ships during a storm.

Holy Bible

Despite this exciting discovery, the boulders were found miles away from any bodies of water. Fasold still felt confident they found the Ark. However, many remained skeptical that the story was a mere myth and nothing more.


The Durupinar Site Was Rejected as the Ark's Resting Place

Even though Fasold and Wyatt’s case was compelling, some geologists, archaeologists, geophysicists, and other experts immediately denied their claims. That denial came as a response to the “frequency generator.”

Noah's Ark radar scans

Source: Ron Wyatt/

As many suspected, the generator was nothing more than a “sounding rod” with some additional equipment. They also stated that the drogue stones were merely local gravestones in the surrounding area. As a result, the theory about the Durupinar site was rejected and forgotten.


How Is Noah's Story Similar to Other Flood Tales?

The idea of a theoretically ancient flood is as old as human culture and still alive in different areas and religions. In the Babylonian “Epic of Gilgamesh” and Hindu “Shatapatha Brahmana,” Utnapishtim, and Manu both built boats after being warned about a catastrophic flood by the gods.

mount ararat noah's ark

There are similar stories in the Sumerian Epic of Ziusurda, Plato’s works, and Chinese and North American Hopi cultures. Even though the reason behind the flood varied depending on the culture, it was agreed upon that, at one point, the earth was covered in water.


Gilgamesh’s Search for Eternal Life

The 4,000-year-old poem “Epic of Gilgamesh” contains one of the oldest legends about an ancient flood. The poem was inscribed on stone tablets and was about King Gilgamesh’s search for eternal life.


On his journey, he faced men, monsters, gods, and, most profoundly, Utnapishtim, an elderly man, who claimed he had found the secret to everlasting life. Desiring to learn the same secret, Gilgamesh enveloped himself in listening to Utnapishtim’s tale.


Utnapishtim Warns Gilgamesh

Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh that the god, Ea, wanted to flood the earth to halt humans from overly replicating. The god instructed Utnapishtim to construct a large boat. Utnapishtim listened to his advice.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

On the boat, he brought his family, and helpers, as well as “all the animals on the field.” Apparently, not too long after Utnapishtim finished the project, the sky opened up and produced a storm that cleared away everything in its path. Despite this, Utnapishtim stayed alive.


The Gilgamesh Flood Story Is Similar to Noah's

As the storm battered around them, Utnapishtim and his family stayed safe on the ship they had been instructed to build. When the rains finally let up, Utnapishtim opened a hatch and released a dove and raven to see if any land was close. Utnapishtim eventually landed his ship on the side of a mountain.

lightning strike flood

This tale was inscribed on stone tablets, and even though the physical ones had been missing for millennia, it remains popular across Babylon and other parts of the world.


Primary Differences in Noah's Flood Story

While the tale of the Great Flood has been retold and recounted throughout history in different cultures, specific details vary in each take. Sometimes, even within the same story.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

In the biblical passage, for example, Noah is apparently instructed to bring a pair of each animal onto the Ark. In another passage, it claims that Noah was supposed to take “seven pairs of every kind of clean animal” and “one pair of every kind of unclean animal,” and “seven pairs of every kind of bird.”


The 2007 NAMI Trek on Ararat

A joint Turkish-Hong Kong expedition happened in 2007. Members of the Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI) made the journey up Ararat to find the lost Ark.

mount ararat noah's ark

Obviously, this was a treacherous adventure given that Ararat’s snowy hillsides and exposed landscape made the climb much more difficult. Plus, the conditions and weather weren’t the only two issues that the climbers faced. Mount Ararat is also located at the heart of a military zone.


Why Explorers Need an “Ararat Visa”

Mount Ararat is not only considered to be of grave military importance in terms of strategy, but it’s also very high up and near Turkey’s border with Iran, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. You can’t even visit the mountain if you’re an expert; you must have military clearance to enter the zones.

Many foreigners have an “Ararat Visa” to enter the mountain. Even if you receive a special badge, you’re still only allowed to travel certain paths, which—if you wander away from them—can be deadly.


The NAMI Expedition Battled Weather

One NAMI team got their Ararat Visas and began their trek up the side of the mountain with the aid of a skilled local guide. The team was aware they would face dangerous weather conditions, and that’s what happened.

real noah's ark pictures

Despite the harsh weather, some adversity didn’t stop them. They were determined and convinced to find evidence of the Ark, so they kept going until they did.


The NAMI Team Found Noah's Ark Evidence

The expedition team trudged through seven horrendous days of trekking, enduring miserable weather conditions and running into some militants. Amazingly, they finally reached a whopping 4,000 meters.

At that height, they discovered something remarkable—a cave. The cave wasn’t even the best part of the discovery; it’s what resided in it. The team had maybe thought that they had finally come across what they’d been looking for! Did they find Noah’s Ark?


The NAMI Team Found a Wooden Structure

Much to their astonishment, the team did indeed find something rewarding after all they had been through. They had found a wooden structure.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

Man Fai-Yuen, one of the NAMI experts, said at a Hong Kong news conference, “We believe that the wooden structure we encountered is the same structure recorded in the historical accounts and the same ancient boat indicated by the locals” (via WND). After processing the structure, they estimated it was around 4,800 years old.


Was the NAMI Expedition Discovery a Hoax?

In 2010, nearly three years after NAMI explorers returned from their Ararat expedition, they released footage of their experiences there. It was suspected they did this to show the public before any formal publication was released. So, was Noah’s Ark found?

Snow expedition

The documented footage of what the explorers witnessed on the mountain caused significant conversations. International experts examined the video, and it wasn’t long before people had serious doubts about what they had seen. Many people called the whole thing a giant hoax.


The NAMI Team Backs Up Its Claims

The NAMI team wouldn’t brush the issue aside, so they confronted it head-on. On their website, they divulged that they consulted with the Director of Cultural Ministries in Agri Province, Muhsin Bulut, about the accusations that the wood had been brought from elsewhere.

where is Noah's Ark

Bulut responded that it would be impossible to carry the timber to that location. “People believed that it is Noah’s Ark,” Bulut said (via CNA). “I believe the team has finally located this ancient boat, and I believe it is Noah’s Ark.” Regardless of this statement, it would take a lot of hard evidence to convince a large part of the scientific community.


The Problem with NAMI’s Findings

With biological research, there’s a big problem with NAMI’s findings. The problem is the myth about a boat in one location releasing all of the world’s surviving animals while humans were still quite primordial.

The Problem with NAMI’s Findings

Since biologists heavily rely on DNA codes and sequences to track changes and compare them to fossils, the discovery of a global wipeout, along with the re-emergence of plants and wildlife, would mean that every single aspect of biology that we know to this day would be erroneous.


The Consensus: Where Is Noah's Ark?

National Geographer Explorer Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, weighed in on the search for the Ark for National Geographic in 2022. “Archaeology is not treasure hunting,” she says. “It’s not about finding a specific object. It’s a science where we come up with research questions that we hope to answer by excavation.”

mount ararat noah's ark

The Ark came to rest “upon the mountains of Ararat” in the ancient kingdom of Urartu. However, Magness asserts: “There’s no way we can determine where exactly in the ancient Near East it occurred.”


Will Noah's Ark Never Be Found?

Eric Cline, a National Geographic explorer at George Washington University, added his expert opinion. Together with Cline, they assert that even if artifacts from the Ark have been (or will be) found, there’s no possibility they could be linked to historical events.

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

Magness said, “We have no way of placing Noah, if he really existed, and the flood, if there really was one, in time and space.” The only actual way to determine these factors is if there was “an authentic ancient inscription.” This inscription would have to point to another Noah or a different flood.


Same Evidence, But Varying Conclusions

Secular archaeological evidence is utilized by some groups to enhance their literal interpretation of Scripture and to disregard or attempt to disprove any evidence that is contrarian. Andrew A. Snelling, a geologist and Director of Research for Answers in Genesis, told National Geographic, “We do not expect the Ark to have survived and been available to find after 4,350 years.”

Andrew A. Snelling speaking

Source: Answers in Genesis/YouTube

Snelling’s viewpoints about why the Ark’s remains will never be found is not the same of archaeologists. Offering his own opinion, Snelling said, “With no mature trees available for Noah and his family to build shelters after they got off the Ark, there is every reason to expect they dismantled the Ark (which they didn’t need anymore) to salvage timber from it.”


Why Do We Care So Much about Noah's Ark?

Snelling told National Geographic he believes that Ark-seekers’ claims are “questionable.” They “blunt the potential impact of a true discovery.”

How Long Was Noah on the Ark and Was Noah's Ark Location Ever Found?

Magness has another intriguing perspective on the search for Noah’s Ark. She believes that it not only confuses the masses but lessens the excitement over true archaeological discoveries. This includes findings that support certain parts of the Bible (like the House of David’s existence).


One of the Many Problems in the Noah's Ark Search

Cline asserts one of the many problems with the search for the Ark. The public holds unrealistic expectations about the discipline of archaeology, and social media typically puts a spotlight on the chase rather than substantial archaeological knowledge. It’s also important to keep in mind the lack of any real pictures of Noah’s Ark.

Noah's Ark Painting

Source: Wikipedia

“We’re not like Indiana Jones,” he told National Geographic. “It’s a scientific procedure. It’s painstaking. But what excites us does not necessarily excite other people.” Cline has placed his attention and efforts elsewhere, concluding: “People are gonna believe what they want to believe.”