Ronald Eldon Wyatt (Born::1933 - Died::August 4, 1999) was an anesthetist by profession, but best known for his work as in Biblical archeology. Opinions of Wyatt's work vary greatly and he was probably one of the most controversial apologists of modern times. There are some who hold him to be a great archaeologist and loving man of God, while others like Ken Ham and Carl Wieland assert outright that he is a fraud. Richard Rives, who accompanied Wyatt on several expeditions to the Middle East, described Wyatt as a sincere man who was warm to his friends, but could be stubborn, ornery and disagreeable to those who tried to interfere with his work.
Wyatt was a member of the Seventh Day Adventists, but later disassociated from the denomination. His interest in archaeology began, when he was a teenager and saw a picture in a 1960 issue Life magazine of a boat-like shape on a mountain near Mount Ararat. The resulting wide-spread speculation in evangelical Christian circles that this might be Noah's Ark started Wyatt on what eventually become his career as a self-styled archaeologist. From 1977 until his death in 1999 he made over one hundred trips to the Middle East, his interests widening to take in a wide variety of references from the Old and New Testaments.
Wyatt raised his funding through his work as a part time nurse anesthetist at several hospitals. In his presentations and some of his writings he described his personal research, which included book work and prayer leading him to his discoveries. Wyatt died in 1999 and is survived by his wife Mary Nell Wyatt and two sons.
Most Creationists are familiar with Wyatt's claims concerning the discovery of Noah's Ark at the Durupınar site; but he also claimed to have discovered several other Biblical sites of great importance.
By the time of his death in 1999 Wyatt claimed to have located:
- The true site of Noah's Ark (the Durupınar site, near but not on Mount Ararat)
- Anchor stones (or drogue stones) used by Noah on the Ark
- The post-flood house and tombs of Noah and his wife
- The location of Sodom and Gomorrah
- The site of the Israelites' Red Sea Crossing (which Wyatt located in the Gulf of Aqaba)
- The true site of the biblical Mt. Sinai (located by Wyatt in Saudi Arabia at Jabal al Lawz)
- The Golden Calf Altar near Mt. Sinai
- The Rock of Rephidim
- The Cave of Machpelah in Hebron (The tomb of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob)
- A chamber at the end of a maze of tunnels under Jerusalem containing artifacts from Solomon's temple
- The site of the Crucifixion
- The Ark of the Covenant (in a cave beneath the site of the Crucifixion)
- Main Article: Durupinar site
Wyatt's first expedition was to examine the Durupinar site in Turkey that he had seen photographs of in a 1960 issue of Life Magazine. Wyatt and David Fasold made expeditions to the site in the 1970's and 1980's and popularized the idea in American evangelical circles that they had discovered the ark's resting place.
Wyatt claimed to have recovered metal rivets, metal slag, petrified wood, animal hair and coprolite from the site. He also made a site survey using metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar instrument and claimed the results showed a regular grid of metal objects.
While the Turkish government built a visitors center at the site, a full excavation has not been performed. As would be the case with his later discoveries, Wyatt concluded that this was the site of Noah's Ark without completing a full investigation.
Twenty years later, the site has still not been excavated, probably due to the periodic violence that has erupted in the form of Kurdish uprisings in the area. Morris and Shea have suggested that the site was a volcanic mudflow. However, atheist archaeologist Ekrem Akurgal claimed the site is that of a ship. John McCoy, a supporter of the site and author of several rebuttal papers, has produced a series of videos of metal detection work done at the site. Until a professional excavation is made, it is probably premature to completely dismiss this site. However, the evidence that Wyatt claimed to have found could just as easily be evidence of an ancient settlement on the site, or even an ancient religious community with a belief, similar to Wyatt's, that the formation was the remains of Noah's Ark. However, if the site is truly Noah's Ark, it surely will be claimed as one of the greatest missed opportunities in the known Christian world.
The Cave of MachPelah
Wyatt located a cave in the backyard of an Arab family in Hebron and obtained their permission to open the entrance with a backhoe. Having gained entrance, the cave was empty. According to his wife Mary Nell, Wyatt declared that God had told him this was the cave and the reason it was empty was that the patriarchs buried in it were raised in the first-fruits resurrection at the time of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection. Thus Wyatt claimed the lack of evidence as evidence in favor of his identification.
The Ark of the Covenant
In Jerusalem, Wyatt dug on the property of the Garden Tomb Association near the area of Zedekiah's quarry and believed he found the site of the crucifixion. He gained entrance to a tunnel system and claimed to have discovered the Ark of the Covenant beneath the crucifixion site. He also claimed to have seen and taken a sample of the dried blood of Jesus that had dripped down through a crack into the chamber and onto the mercy seat of the Ark.
The Garden Tomb Association of Jerusalem state in a letter they issue to visitors on request:
The Council of the Garden Tomb Association (London) totally refute the claim of Mr Wyatt to have discovered the original Ark of the Covenant or any other biblical artifacts within the boundaries of the area known as the Garden Tomb Jerusalem. Though Mr Wyatt was allowed to dig within this privately owned garden on a number of occasions (the last occasion being the summer of 1991) staff members of the Association observed his progress and entered his excavated shaft. As far as we are aware nothing was ever discovered to support his claims nor have we seen any evidence of biblical artifacts or temple treasures.
In 2005 and 2006 Wyatt Archaeological Research (WAR) contributed funding and labor to a professional and licensed excavation of the alleged crucifixion site and discovered two large circular cisterns with six foot walls of unknown date. After evaluating the results, WAR removed from their website the claims concerning Wyatt's discovery of the Ark. However the excavation did reveal evidence of Wyatt's previous excavation, verifying at least his claim to have entered an underground tunnel there.
Wyatt claimed to have discovered a series of sites along the route of the Israelite's journey out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai, including the Red Sea Crossing, The Rock of Rephidim, Mt. Sinai, and the Golden Calf Altar.
Of all of Wyatt's claimed discoveries, those relating to the Exodus route have the most substantial evidence. In 2003 the Swedish molecular biologist, Lennart Moller, published the book, The Exodus Case, examining several of Wyatt's claims, mainly on the Exodus route. The book includes photographs of bones of men and horses recovered from the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba near Nuweiba, Egypt. The book also includes photos of several objects on the seafloor claimed to be chariot wheels, one of which appears to be plated in gold.
Later, Lennart Moller put out a DVD with Questar about his finds. Examples of what can be seen on this video are here:
Side note: If you subscribe to netflix, this documentary movie is being shown in the watch now section. Which means it can be viewed over the Internet in its entirety. It has a 3.75 rating out of 5. Very few movies get a 4 and above.
The strongest piece of evidence for Wyatt's Exodus claims, however, is the altar he found at the base of Jebel el Lawz (Jebel Musa) in Saudi Arabia, a short distance from the alleged crossing site. The altar is a megalithic construction of several boulders ten tonnes or larger and is covered with petroglyphs and hieroglyphs depicting the worship of the Egyptian apis cult - the cult of the bull. Moller agreed with Wyatt's conclusion that this was the site of the Golden Calf apostasy initiated by the Israelites while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the ten commandments. The Saudi Arabian government has protected this site with a fence and armed guard, visible in the photographs in Moller's book, as well as in satellite photos publicly available on Google Earth.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Moller also examined the site claimed by Wyatt to be Sodom and Gomorrah and conducted a small excavation in which he documented burned human bones and melted iron. His book also shows photographs of gypsum balls with sulphur cores recovered from the site and matching Josephus' description of ash "fruits" at the site of the destroyed cities.
The Tower of Babel
Wyatt claimed to have seen the Tower of Babel from an airplane while landing in Southern Turkey on the way to the Ararat area. The site was subsequently flooded by the completion of the Ataturk Dam and Reservoir. However others have visited the site in the past decade and claim that the top of the ruined brick tower protrudes above the water at the end of the dry season. Since the site has never actually been excavated, Wyatt's theory has neither been confirmed nor disproved.
Due to his lack of academic training and the phenomalistic culture of his religious community, Wyatt's claims and writings tended to immediately call his credibility into question amongst Christian scholars and scientists. The primary problem with Wyatt's claims, from a scholar's perspective, was his habit of arriving at sweeping conclusions based on little or no evidence. That is to say, he quickly jumped from hypothesis to unquestionable religious conviction. Two of the wilder examples were his claim to have found the Cave of MachPelah in Hebron and his claim to have found the Ark of the Covenant in an underground tunnel in Jerusalem. His claims led to severe criticism, most notably from Christian circles, his lack of formal training in archeology notwithstanding. His Christian roots were inseparable from his theories about specific sites, which he often held to with intense emotional attachment. When he held to his theories despite evidence against them, it may have led some to conclude that his claims were fraudulent.
Dr. Jim Fleming, founder and former director of the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies (located at Tantur) and an editorial advisor to Biblical Archaeology Review stated that while at a dig at Mount Calvary he observed at close hand Wyatt's methods, claiming in one incident that he had discovered the Ark based on nothing more than the reading of an ordinary metal detector. Others have noted similar instances; John Woods, a Christian pastor, said “I saw him explaining to a group that a piece of metal embedded in the face of the Garden Tomb was part of the seal Pilate had placed upon the tomb. In fact it was a piece of shrapnel from the war (the Six-Day War of 1967).
Wyatt, however, has found academic support from scholars, including the late Ekrem Akurgal, known for his research on the Hittite empire. While some of Wyatt's claims seem outlandish and unsupported, for others there is substantial physical evidence that has been documented by other researchers in the last decade.[Reference needed] A more charitable assessment might be that Wyatt was sincere, and even brilliant, but also severely limited by his background and culture from being able to objectively evaluate his work.
- Discovery Wyatt's Newsletter Archive
- My Friend Ron Wyatt by Richard Rives, Wyatt Archaeological Research.
- Maintaining Creationist Integrity: A response to Kent Hovind by Carl Wieland, Ken Ham and Jonathan Sarfati. Answers in Genesis. 11 October 2002
- Ark of the Covenant Excavation Update Wyatt Archaeological Research
- Noah's Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, and Ron Wyatt by Linda Gunderson by by Linda Gunderson, Twin Cities Creation Science Association. Accessed August 10, 2010.
- Has the Ark of the Covenant been found? And Noah’s Ark? Pharaoh’s drowned army? What about the Garden of Eden? Creation 21(2):10–14 March 1999.
- From a letter to Gordon Franz from Reverend John Woods, Executive Director, The Gospel Mission of Washington, D.C., February 4, 1994