In 2000 an Iranian researcher claimed that he had found the place where Noah had been laid to rest. Although his research drew a lot of attention abroad, his assertion went largely unnoticed at home. It came despite the fact that if his story had proven true, the discovery could have given Iran’s tourism an unprecedented shot in the arm. To know more about Ali Akbar Afrasiabpour’s research which has spanned 15 years and involved evidence collected during the course of centuries, an August 4th issue of Mardomsalari Newspaper featured an interview with Afrasiabpour (Ph.D.), who is a member of faculty at Shahid Rajaei University and is the managing editor of Islamic Mysticism Quarterly and the editor in chief of Central Research Culture. Afrasiabpour has been teaching at centers of higher education for 20 years and has released 18 books and 80 articles in the process. The following is an excerpt of the interview:
Why did you choose to focus on Noah?
The first book I penned was called The Chronicle of Nahavand, which is about my ancestral hometown. In the process of writing the book, I tried to determine why the city was called what it was called. So I studied the works of prominent geologists of the Islamic era. What I came across was that all of them had described Nahavand as Nooh-Avand, which means the city of Noah in modern-day Farsi. […]
For instance, in Mojmal al-Tawarikh va al-Qasas (The Collection of Histories and Tales), the author suggests that Noah built a town and named it Nooh-Avand after himself and that city is the modern-day Nahavand. […] Dehkhoda [a very famous Persian] dictionary, too, asserts that Nahavand has been built by Noah. […] There are scores of documents in this regard, almost half of them in Arabic and the other half in Persian. Some are in European languages and in Indian. […]
What is your claim that you have found Noah’s tomb based on?
There is a mountain range in the vicinity of Nahavand called Garrin. One of its peaks is called Sar-Keshti, which is said by locals to be the place where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the Deluge. I studied the site and found ample evidence that suggested Noah had been there. I collected the documents and handed them to a publishing house which has yet to publish the book I want to be called Discovery of Noah’s Grave. […]
At the peak of the mountain, I found two very old graves one of which is referred to as the Grave of Big Father in history books. Local people too use the same name to refer to that grave and pay frequent pilgrimage visits to it. I built on the evidence I had at my disposal to suggest that the grave in question belonged to Noah. After the release of my paper, a couple of foreign teams visited the site. Unfortunately, three years ago, when I visited the site, to my surprise, I found the Grave of Big Father sign replaced. […]
Pilgrims were as stunned as I was when they laid their eyes on the new site. When I inquired as to what had happened to the old doors and the tomb, the custodian of the site said, “Forget those splintered doors, I have ordered top-quality metal doors for the site.” My protests led nowhere, but I had filmed the site before it underwent transformation. I still have that film. […]
Six countries claim that the Ark has landed somewhere in their territory. Why do you say Nahavand is the site the vessel has come to rest?
The evidence I have put forth in my book is compelling. Those countries have no convincing reason to present. For example, Turkey says the Ark has come to rest in Anatolia and Yemen claims the resting place of the ship is somewhere along the coast of the Yemen Sea. One of the reasons I am building my case on is that in Mesopotamia winds always blow in the direction of the east, they never have blown in a northerly or southerly direction to have pushed the ship to those places. […]
You have looked at the Deluge from three different angles. Tell us about these three angles.
The first angle is religious. The holy books of Christianity, Judaism and Islam have all made reference to the Deluge. The second angle is mythology. The Deluge has been mentioned in the myths of Mesopotamia, Persia, China and Tibet and even in the mythical stories of Native Americans. The third aspect is scientific. There is geological evidence that such a flooding has definitely taken place.
Has the holy Koran made any mention of Nahavand or any mountain in its vicinity?
Verse 44 of Hud, a Surah in the Koran, states that the Ark landed in the vicinity of Mount Judi. In my studies I found out that a tribe called Judaki, also known as Judi, still lives near Nahavand. […]
How can you scientifically prove that the Deluge is a historical reality rather than a myth?
The scientific evidence that the Deluge has taken place is so compelling one can hardly doubt this historical fact. In my book, I have built on the research of a geologist which proves massive floods and or monster surfs have once swept across the area. In my studies I have also tried to prove that geological realities do not run counter to what is mentioned in religious scriptures. […]
Noah, a recent Hollywood release, has drawn criticism from the Vatican which alleges that the movie fails to take account of the Scripture. What’s your take on that?
I have watched that movie. As I said one can look at the Deluge from three angles. The movie is based on the mythical angle of the story. The script has turned a blind eye to the religious aspect of the story. That a movie is based on a myth rather than religion is acceptable, but in such movies myths should not be pitted against religion. Noah has done that and has drawn flak from the Church. […]
How was your discovery received when you made it public 12 years ago?
Just like any other discovery it first met with silence. Some tried to ignore it. When they found out that their approach was not effective, they turned to indirect denial. They translated an article from Turkish suggesting that what remained of the Ark had already been found in Turkey. Some suggested that from a scientific perspective such a thing is impossible. And finally they tried to remove the physical evidence that was instrumental in substantiating my theory. For instance, they renamed the local grave that has been mentioned in books and dates back centuries. They also persuaded my publishers to put the project on the shelf. […]
My prediction is that if I present more hard evidence some time down the line, they would argue that the finding is nothing new and that they have known about it for decades. That is a routine we are accustomed to.
What are your plans for the future?
The theory I presented was a scientific case I wanted international scientists to know about. For more than a decade I have been denied the chance to put it under the international spotlight. A US and a British delegation came here to investigate my claims, but I was not allowed to present my evidence to them.
A number of European and American scientists have shown interest. They have told me that if I managed to prove my theory, this region would become the biggest tourist attraction in the world. As many as two billion followers of the Christian faith and other religions would want to visit Noah’s burial site. Unfortunately the Tourism Organization has ignored my theory and some people systematically cast doubt on it without letting me prove it. Is this the way you treat a researcher?