Full Moon over Noah’s Ark: An Odyssey to Mount Ararat and Beyond
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Mount Ararat is the most fabled mountain in the world. For millennia this massif in eastern Turkey has been rumored as the resting place of Noah’s Ark following the Great Flood. But it also plays a significant role in the longstanding conflict between Turkey and Armenia.
Author Rick Antonson joined a five-member expedition to the mountain’s nearly 17,000-foot summit, trekking alongside a contingent of Armenians, for whom Mount Ararat is the stolen symbol of their country. Antonson weaves vivid historical anecdote with unexpected travel vignettes, whether tracing earlier mountaineering attempts on the peak, recounting the genocide of Armenians and its unresolved debate, or depicting the Kurds’ ambitions for their own nation’s borders, which some say should include Mount Ararat.
What unfolds in Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark is one man’s odyssey, a tale told through many stories. Starting with the flooding of the Black Sea in 5600 BCE, through to the Epic of Gilgamesh and the contrasting narratives of the Great Flood known to followers of the Judaic, Christian and Islamic religions, Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark takes readers along with Antonson through the shadows and broad landscapes of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Armenia, shedding light on a troubled but fascinating area of the world.
clarity at first, but after “visitor” he forgot and reverted to French. “Chef,” he said, pointing to a restaurant and mimicking eating; “carte” when gesturing toward a water cooler that looked like it would be more at home in a modern office than bolted to this village sidewalk. He motioned to me to take advantage of this and fill my water bottle. I obeyed. Whenever he spoke, he gestured with both hands before the left one landed on the nook of his cane. The other clutched his bracelet of prayer
on. * * * Mount Ararat brooded. The clouds broke up now and then, revealing occasional stars. The moon, swallowed by a heavenly mist, cast a low glow toward the peak, or at least the angled view we took in. As we started to hike, the incline from camp covered ground we’d walked earlier in the evening, as our nerves settled. Large rocks and narrow footholds soon forced us to use our walking poles for leverage and balance. Our goal was to reach the summit before sunrise. That meant over a
us. “They have raging debate,” he said. “They left camp too quickly.” “Why the hurry?” Charlie asked. “Anybody can rush. It takes experience to go slow,” Ian said. Kubi said, “Ian is right. Some struggle soon on the ascent. Others want to continue. They are committed one to all. No one goes ahead unless everyone does.” “That we understand,” Goran said. “It is the same for the five of us.” Kubi caught his breath from his ascent, descent and ascent; even someone with so much experience on
they’d been taken from a vantage point a long hike from where we were, one I was confident we wouldn’t be taking. Walking toward the arched gate of Ishak Pasha Palace, I saw a table of trinkets, one of which was a woman’s powder makeup case that would fit in the palm of my hand. It bore an image of a full moon over Mount Ararat. It was the first such image I’d seen. As I purchased it, I could see the real Ararat in the distance, majestic and almost touchable in the clear air. The Ishak Pasha
soda popping up in tints of orange, green, and brown. The setting disassembled at once in a circular passing of platters. With the gregarious dining experience, my concern about offending them with my eating habits was unnecessary. A neighboring family joined us in the living room after we had eaten. It was a mother and father and their three children, although only the parents moved to sit down. But before they could seat themselves, even more visitors arrived at the front door. Without Dubba