by Gordon Franz
Robert Cornuke has Made Five Sensational Discoveries, but where are the Scientific Peer-Reviewed Publications of These Discoveries?
Bob Cornuke claims to have found the real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia, the real mountains of Ararat in Iran and what he thinks might be the remains of Noah’s Ark, the anchor stocks from Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, and the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. He promotes an inscribed object that he claims has the name of the Lord, “Yahweh,” on it from Jebel al-Lawz where he locates Mount Sinai. Yet he has not followed the standard protocols of the scientific community in order to gain credibility and respect for any of his discoveries by publishing the results of his explorations in scientific, or archaeological, peer-reviewed publications. He seems to be following in the footsteps of the late Ron Wyatt, another adventurer making claims of sensational Biblical discoveries.
The “Yahweh” Inscription
In 2007 Cornuke presented the claims of an inscribed stone, allegedly found at “Mount Sinai,” with the name “Yahweh,” the name of the Israelite God, on it at the summer Promise Keepers events. When my critique of this inscribed stone appeared on the Internet (October 2009), Dr. Miles Jones came forward and identified himself as the one who translated the inscription. Jones asked Dr. Bryant Wood, the director of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), for permission to write a rebuttal to my article and post it on the ABR website. Dr. Wood advised him that what was needed was a scholarly publication of the inscription that included the provenance, proof of authenticity, translation, and proof of date (Phone conversation between Wood and Jones, October 23, 2009). Jones said he would do this. In 2010 a self-published book written for a popular audience appeared on the market entitled The Writing of God, but it was not a scholarly, peer-reviewed publication. In it, however, he attempted, but failed, to refute my critique of Cornuke’s claims. As of October 2012, almost three years later, no scholarly, peer-reviewed article has been published.
For my original critique of the forgery on this inscribed stone, see:
Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!
For a follow-up article on the forgery, see:
Where are the Tests Results from “Noah’s Ark”?
In June 2006 Cornuke led a team to Iran in order to locate the remains of Noah’s Ark on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran. The team came back with “petrified wood” and geological samples that allegedly contained animal hairs of various kinds, bird follicles, savannah grass, seeds, insects, and even “animal waste that contains butterfly wings, hair from tigers who lived in India, lions who lived in Africa, and DNA from several animals that live all over the world” (Church 2010:3).
In an interview on the “Prophecy in the News” broadcast (edited in Church 2010:3-7, 38), one of the team members, Arch Bonnema, recounts the conference phone call that the 14 explorers of Mount Suleiman had with the scientists from the five labs that tested the rock samples they brought back from the mountain. According to Bonnema, this conference call lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. At the end, he asked the lab scientists what they thought the team found on Mount Suleiman. According to Bonnema, they said: “Mr. Bonnema, we’ve been talking about this for months and we don’t see how it can be anything but Noah’s Ark, but don’t use our names.” (2010:38).
Bonnema said they spent a lot of money on these tests (Church 2010:7). Normal lab procedure is to give a written report to the client submitting samples for analysis. Cornuke and his team should have at least gotten a written report from each of the labs. As far as I am aware, none of the test results from any of the five labs have ever been published. Nor do we know what labs actually did the testing.
It is Cornuke’s responsibility, as the expedition leader, to see to it that these results are published in a timely fashion in a peer-reviewed scientific publication. In the scientific reports, the scientists do not have to draw any conclusions as to whether the samples came from Noah’s Ark or not. All they have to report is the raw data with pictures and analysis. Cornuke can then add his interpretation of their data at the end of the report. But he is responsible to see to it that the material from the tests results are published so the scholarly community can see the results and draw their own conclusions. Six years after the expedition was conducted in June 2006, no analysis of this material has been published in any reputable scholarly publication.
Following in the Footsteps of Ron Wyatt?
The late Ron Wyatt claimed to have found ninety-two (92) Biblical objects or places, yet, like Cornuke, he never published a single object or discovery in a peer-reviewed scientific publication (Standish and Standish 1999). The only “discovery” of Wyatt that was ever published in a peer-reviewed journal was by his exploration partner, David Fasold, in an article entitled “Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure” (Collins and Fasold 1996: 439-444). The word “bogus” best summarizes Wyatt’s claim to have discovered Noah’s Ark.
A Negative Answer is Still an Answer
Wyatt also claimed to have discovered the Ark of the Covenant at the Garden Tomb, north of Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem. In fact, he also claimed that Jesus was crucified above the cave where he found the Ark and at the death of Jesus, the earthquake split the rock and blood flowed down through the cracks and covered the mercy seat. Wyatt allegedly took some blood samples from the mercy seat and sent them to a DNA lab for analysis. The alleged report came back with the information that the blood had only 24 chromosomes. Normally human beings have 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. Wyatt concluded that this was proof of the virgin birth of Jesus. There were 23 chromosomes from the virgin Mary and one presumably from the Holy Spirit! Of course, no lab report has ever been produced with pictures of the 24 chromosome.
After Wyatt’s death, some of his followers wanted to confirm Wyatt’s statements about the Ark of the Covenant and rediscover the Ark for all to see. They conducted four seasons of excavations under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2005 (Permit no. A-4549*), 2006 (Permit no. A-4673*), and 2007 (Permit no. A-5222). The Israeli archaeologist in charge was Yehiel Zelinger. The reports of these excavations were posted on the IAA website.
For further analysis on this issue, see:
Wyatt never had a permit from the IAA to excavate at the Garden Tomb, nor did he have an archaeologist on-site when he did excavate, and he never filed a report with the IAA when his excavation was complete (Levine 2003). Now that the area where Wyatt excavated has been exposed in a controlled archaeological excavation by professional archaeologists, it can be conclusively stated that Wyatt never found the Ark of the Covenant in the Garden Tomb area of Jerusalem. A negative answer is still an answer.
The Conclusion of the Matter
It is critical and imperative to publish the findings from any archaeological discovery in a timely fashion in a scientific, peer-reviewed publication. This allows scholars to review the report and critique the methodology, data, and conclusions. That is the nature of scholarship. If the proper procedures are followed and the results hold up to close scrutiny, than congratulations are in order.
I hope that Cornuke will not follow in the footsteps of the late Ron Wyatt and that he will publish all the material from his “discoveries” in peer-reviewed scientific publications. This will go a long way to establishing credibility for his discoveries which is lacking now. Or, the discoveries can be positively ruled out as not being what Cornuke claims they are. Scholarly integrity demands nothing less.
For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:
Church, J. R., editor
2010 Has Noah’s Ark Been Found at Last? The Evidence is Overwhelming! Prophecy in the News 30/6 (June): 3-7, 38.
Collins, Lorence; and Fasold, David
1996 Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure. Journal of Geoscience Education 44: 439-444.
2003 On the Trail of Jeremiah and the Smuggled Holy Ark. Jerusalem Report (September 8).
Standish, Russel, and Standish, Colin
1999 Holy Relics or Revelation. Rapidan, VA: Hartland.
About the author
Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.