Legends of Mount Ararat
"150 days later the water receded, and on the 17th day of the 7th month the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat."
~ Bible, Genesis 8:4
Legends of Mount Ararat have held a mysterious sway on the Armenian people since ancient times.
The mountain has long been honored, worshipped and believed to house the souls of brave individuals who protected it from invading armies. Due to the religious significance of Mount Ararat, for centuries Armenians were convinced that it was sacred and that mere mortals could not climb to its peak.
According to a local legend, Saint Jacob attempted to ascend the mountain three times in order to worship Noah's Ark, which some theologians believe moored atop Mount Ararat after the Flood. Yet each time, he fell asleep on the road and woke to find himself back at the bottom of the volcano. After the third attempt, an angel finally appeared to him and told him that mortals were strictly forbidden to climb Mount Ararat. Not surprisingly then, when the English explorer James Bryce claimed to have conquered its peak in 1876, many Armenians did not believe him.
The ark is a common subject of Jewish and Orthodox iconography, and its whereabouts have captured the interest of Christians around the world. In 1916, a Russian officer named Roskovitsky allegedly discovered Noah's Ark frozen into one of the glaciers at the top of the mountain, but unfortunately there is no evidence to verify his claims. In the 1970s, a group of Americans took detailed photographs of the volcano. After enlarging their photos, an object resembling Noah's Ark could be seen in one of the gorges, yet on follow-up expeditions the object itself was never discovered.
According to one of the Armenian folk legends of Mount Ararat, a local hero named Artavazd is still chained to Mount Ararat by evil spirits. Some Armenians believe that he will escape his imprisonment one day and conquer the world, at which time he will also return the beloved Mount Ararat to Armenia and its people.