Searching for the Man Called Noah

What Can ‘Ark’-aeology Reveal About Him?

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One of the most intriguing clues to the holy tribes of deepest antiquity is their distinctive white hair. Probably the earliest scriptural mention of these milk-white tresses appears in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, where we learn of a prodigy born to Enoch’s grandson Lamech. The child was radiant, his flesh “white as snow and his long locks white as wool.” Startling and even alarming for his father, the infant rose from the hand of the midwife, opened his mouth, and praised the Lord of Righteousness. The babe’s name was Noah.

Of course, legends are legends, not necessarily facts; still, when you find a similar story line in other sources, it might lend weight to the narrative. This may be the case with the Persian version: Here it is Zal, born to the Zoroastrian patriarchs, who comes down the chute “white-headed,” his hair as pure as the driven snow. Like Lamech, Zal’s father is bewildered by the strange birth; he rashly abandons the boy on Mt. Elburz (Elb means “white”). Don’t worry; Zal, “a noble boy,” is saved and grows up to become the parent of Rostem, the hero of the great Persian epic, Shah Nameh.

Mt. Elburz, aka the Alborz Mountains, connects us back to Noah: these ranges in Iran, according to some biblicists, may be the resting place of the Ark. In fact, a team of fourteen American Christians hauled off to the Alborz Mountains in 2006, reporting back petrified evidence of Noah’s long-lost ark (though no independent confirmation exists). Iran’s sacred books do indeed have a story of the ark (vara)—only it was placed underground. Otherwise, the legend conforms to our own record of that epic event: a coming flood, the godly instructions to build an ark, the animals entering it, the perishing of all else, the messenger-bird at the end.

Probably based on Nuu, the Arabic flood hero, the name of the Persian flood hero, Nouh, is suspiciously like “Noah,” as is the Chinese hero of the Flood, Nu Wah. Nu figures also in North African mythology: In Dogon legend, the ancestor/teachers were called Nu-mmo, and they are consistently associated with water and birds; according to Laird Scranton, it is the same “nu” that, in Egypt and the Scottish isles, signified “fountain,” “spring,” and “fountainhead.” In Egypt, it had a particular reference to primeval waters from which everything sprang.

Yet another Ark-eolinguistic dig brings us over to North America where the Maidu Indians of California had a creation myth describing the First People as “white as snow.” The Okanagan on the Northwest coast had a legend of their lost land, Samahtumi Whoolah, “White Man’s Island” that lay in the middle of the ocean. The most prominent Amerind flood hero, Minabozho, was known as the Great White One. Some of those genes seems to have persisted up to the nineteenth century; for example, among the Mandans, a tribe who “from infancy to manhood… [had] hair of a bright silvery-gray, and in some instances almost perfectly white” (Donnelly, 1985, 186). The Mandans said Nu-mohk-muck-anah, the First and Only Man, was saved from a catastrophic flood of waters in the Big Canoe. The Sioux have a similar legend and so do the Navajo who recall that Grandfather survived a flood in the western sea, the birthplace of First Man and First Woman. The western sea? Well, yes, the Mandan also said that “their first ancestor was a son of the West” (Daniel Brinton, The Myths of the New World, 200), just as the Mexican annals of Cakchiquel say their ancestors arrived from “across the sea where the sun descends, the west.”

If these snippets of lore point us to the Pacific islands (“the western sea”), it might be of interest to learn the name of the Polynesian Noah: Nuu. “In the time of Nuu… the Flood came upon the earth” (Fornander, 1969, I, 94). Nuu Mehani, says Hawaiian tradition, escaped the Flood and repeopled the earth, that overwhelming disaster commemorated in the Hawaiian Kumulip Chant.

“Their legends say that the head and front and beginning of the Polynesians lay in a white (the Arian) race; and I found this… confirmed by referring to their language… as well as some customs and modes of thought… a chip of the same block from which the Hindu, the Iranian, and the Indo-European families were fashioned.” (Abraham Fornander, An Account of the Polynesian Race)

It was, say New Zealand genealogies, a white-skinned, fair-haired people who survived the Submergence. The Moriori of Chatham Island call their great ancestor Nu-nuku, while legends of the Maoris call these prehistorical whites Nu-kumaitore. There is also Lua Nuu, tenth in descent from the Polynesian Nuu, who is ascribed the custom of circumcision. Though we normally associate this practice with the ancient patriarchs, here it is in the heart of Oceania. If you ask the Marquesans, they say they got this custom from their ancestor A-pan-a.

Just as the far-flung Nu hints at an underlying mother tongue, the “pan” in Apana may suggest the name given to those lost lands in “the western sea”: the land of Pan. Among the hundreds of spin-offs from this name Pan (as documented in my new book The Lost Continent of Pan) is the Armenian word for ark: ta-pan. Andrew Collins, who favors Armenia’s Mt. Judi as the original Place of Descent, remarks that “today, only Christians believe that Mount Ararat is the site where Noah’s ark came to rest” (Collins, Gobekli Tepe, 317, 264). But not all the “candidates” (as the ark-hunter’s lingo dubs these various sites) are located in the Fertile Crescent and adjacent ranges. Indeed, surveying the flood literature, we find Mountains of Noah in just about every part of the world.

The people of India say the landing place was the Himalayas. Yemenites say the ark of Noah made landfall in the mountains west of Marib. In Ethiopia (where the oldest Book of Enoch was found) the ark is said to have landed on the Illubabut Mountains. In Greece it is Mount Parnassus, and in Samothrace—Mount Ida. In Indonesia it was Mount Pokis, and in Timur—Lakimola Peak; while the Taiwanese say the ark landed on Mount Ragasan, and Filipinos claim Mount Amuyao (or Mount Kalauitan) as the resting place.

Hawaiians say the ark came to rest on Mauna Kea Peak; even Native Americans have legends naming the Place of Descent: the Rocky Mountains, in the north; Culhuacan, in Mexico; Tiahuanaco, in Bolivia; Altiplano in Colombia; Mount Vilcacoto in Peru.

Speaking of Peru: Manco Capac is Peru’s ancestor of the Emergence and Cuzco’s heavenly founder, having arrived there after a great flood, which was described as “a terrible shock” in which the sea broke out of bonds and the mountaintops appeared like “a ship on the waves” (I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collison, 61). Some of Peru’s controversial Ica Stones map those submerged lands. Like other Noah types, Manco Capac instructed the indigenous people in the wonderful ways of civilized life. I was struck by William Ellis’ mention (in Polynesian Researches, 112) of a Manco Capac in the mythology of the Polynesians—cited as he who sired “the father and mother of mankind.” Interesting, too, is the long, white hair of some Inca mummies. No, not the white hair of old age, but the natural color of their forbears’ tresses—the same pure white locks seen in ancient North America.

A nineteenth century homesteader in Jennings County, Indiana, happened to be digging a cellar out of the hillside when he came upon the skeleton of a little child. The hair was white. The hillside was actually an “Indian mound,” but the child had obviously “belonged to a fair-complexioned race of people” (Richard Dewhurst, Ancient Giants Who Ruled America, 36). The Choctaw Indians had a name for these Long-Ago people with long white hair: Kwano-kasha; their name of their Flood hero was Oklatabashih.

So let’s cut to the chase: Many decades of fine scholarship—albeit off the grid—have given us to know that Mesopotamia could not possibly be the only cradle of culture, not to mention the jumping-off point from which all other people received the arts of civilization. Sure, a flood did submerge the Euphrates Valley some five thousand years ago. Though extensive, it was still local; such flooding was common in the region. Besides, the Sumerians themselves said high culture was brought to them by godlike beings from the sea (read: a holy people) who gave them laws, cities, agriculture, medicine, astronomy, and mathematics. Before then, as Berossus told it, men had lived as savages.

We hasten to add that this tradition is repeated in many other parts of the world; i.e., the sudden injection of culture by revered teachers, like the ancestor-teachers of the Dogon (above) who taught them agriculture and cosmology. How can we call some local inundation in the Fertile Crescent by the name of The Universal Flood when living traditions—Egyptian, Indian, Teutonic, Greek, Mexican, Algonquin—name the flood survivors as their very own ancestors? They were not stragglers or migrants from the Near East. The Egyptian “Noah” was Menes; in India, he was Manu; Teutonic: Bergelmir; Greek: Deucalion; Mexican: Tapi, or Nata; Algonquin: Minabozho.

And how can we assign the greatest antiquity to Mesopotamia when the megaliths of Western Europe and places like Tiahuanaco and Gobekli Tepe are older than the ziggurats along the Tigris-Euphrates?

Noachic orthodoxy notwithstanding, the bent of Protohistory has been to warrant a number of landing places, multiple Places of Descent. This means that there must have been “several arks… throughout the world” (Patrick Chouinard, Forgotten Worlds, 82), not just the single monster ship (100,000 square feet) envisioned by a literal interpretation of Genesis (Chapters 6 & 7), which also claims, counterintuitively, that Noah lived for 600 years.

The occurrence of an ark in the traditions of a deluge that are found in so many distant times and places favor the opinion of these being derived from a single source (Edward B. Tylor, Researches Into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization).

There is an inkling of that “single source” (from which a multitude of ships departed) in the annals of the Chaldeans themselves: “The lands we live in are surrounded by the ocean, but beyond that ocean there is another land… and in that land Man lived in paradise. During the Deluge, Noah was carried in the Ark into the land his posterity now inhabit” (quoted in Raymond Drake, Gods and Spacemen of the Ancient East, 148). Tweak this a bit and you could say (of Noah’s sons): Shem was carried in his ark, Ham in his, and Jaffeth in his. But from whence? Was it the land of Pan—James Churchward’s Mu? If the legends are indeed about the escape from a sunken land, the survivors might well have scattered to the four winds—Shem landing in Western Asia, Ham in Africa, Jaffeth in the Far East. It would have been the greatest diaspora of all time. The familiar account of those Sons of Light may appear in other bibles, yet in modified form:

The Lord said: I will name the five fleets of my chosen, and their names shall be everlasting on the earth. And the Lord named them Guatama, Shem, Jaffeth, Ham and Yista… The Lord said: From these, my seed, I will people the earth over in all its divisions. (Oahspe, The Lords’ First Book 1.48-9; Guatama signifies America and Yista signifies Japan.)

This five-fold classification seems to dovetail with the analysis of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, known as the father of physical anthropology: Blumenbach divided the human race into five types: American (Guatama), Caucasian (Shem), Mongolian (Jaffeth), Ethiopian (Ham), and Malayan (Yista).

Along the same lines are myths with recollections of five rafts, or five “clamshells” (dug-outs?), or five eggs appearing suddenly on a mountaintop. Do they symbolize the diaspora? Are the five fleets personified by the Malekulans of Melanesia who attribute their megalithic-building tradition to five culture-bearing brothers, white men with aquiline noses? In India as well, the Pan-davas are five heroic brothers (in the Mahabharata), their name presumably based on Sanskrit pan-du, meaning “white, yellow-white pale.”

Most notably, the Irish Book of Invasions records a legend of five brothers who brought order, justice, and prosperity to Ireland. These people arrived in “thirty-four [e.a.] ships that traveled the open sea in search of new lands.” A “noble, sacrosanct, worthy people,” they arrived in Ireland some time after the forefathers of the Tuatha de Danaan, a “divine” (i.e., priestly) race. Elsewhere we hear an echo of this reckoning: “By the will of God, the ships were congregated into fleets; thirty-four [e.a.] ships into each fleet” (The Lords’ First Book 1.47).

Spend some time with the many Flood legends of the world’s people and one thing, at least, becomes clear: whoever the survivors were, they ‘sapienized’ the earth. On every hand, they are reckoned the tribal initiators, the founders of post-cataclysmic civilization, bringing not only industry, science, tools, and skills but also temples, wisdom, and the arts of peace. They were, in short, the chosen people; just as the biblical Noah was esteemed the only blameless man (read: tribe) of that day. But all this is based on traditions. What about science and scholarship?

These are shifting sands. The current fad in Paleoanthropology, for one, posits Africa as the homeland of homo sapiens sapiens and indeed the single jumping-off place of all modern humanity. This model (with which I disagree) is generally known as Out-of-Africa, but insiders have a pet name for it: “The Noah’s Ark” model!

“Our origins may more reasonably be located in the Polynesian culture of the Pacific than in Africa”—Buckminster Fuller (Thomas Zung, Ed., Buckminster Fuller).

Then of course we have the faith-based Noachic family spreading out to all the world from their supposed landing perch on the impossibly inhospitable slopes of Mount Ararat (the ancient Urartu), with enough red herrings of an ark-sticking-out-of-the-glacier to throw a gala fish festival.

Nor is there any shortage of scribblers who have gone to great lengths to prove that we owe our sapience and superiority to cosmic visitors, advanced beings from Elsewhere, ETs, Space Brothers, ancient astronauts—what have you. Most of these were angelic presences (not physical beings); but, given our lingering love affair with scientific materialism, I am afraid this is a subject that will have to hide in the wings, waiting for the day when science and spirit come into balance, as they surely will.

Finally, humanity’s alpha dogs are thought to have come from a lost continent, with a very sizable literature on Atlantis, and a small but re-awakening one on Pacifica aka Mu aka the lost continent of Pan.

The mists will clear. The past is poised to reveal her secrets. Even now, better judgment tells us that the Song of the Flood is too universal to be mere myth. (I have heard that Graham Hancock collected no less than 500 such accounts.)

At the same time, we are already in position to acknowledge the Flood and Lost Continent as one and the same thing, two aspects of the very same event that have somehow drifted apart but are bound to come together in our understanding. The hidden root of Protohistory inches its way closer to the surface with each new generation, and it is only a matter of time before the Great Ancestor, in his true proportions, heaves into view. Let the skeptic scorn and the dogmatist deride; the once and future golden age is surely within our grasp.

By Susan Martinez, Ph.D.