Amateur Noah's Ark explorer Ronald Wyatt dies at 66
By Susan Taylor / Tennessean Staff Writer
In this 1989
photo, Ronald Wyatt holds what he believed to be a plank from Noah's
Ronald Eldon Wyatt, 66, an amateur archaeologist and adventurer who
spent 22 years exploring sites in the Middle East that he believed were
the remains of the biblical Noah's Ark, died yesterday in Baptist Central
Hospital in Memphis, of cancer.
After more than 30 trips to the region of Mount Ararat in eastern
Turkey, Mr. Wyatt was convinced that he had found the remains of the Ark.
Many of the artifacts he said were petrified timber from the Ark were
brought to America and displayed in Wyatt's museum in Cornersville, Tenn.
Mr. Wyatt, an anesthetist at Nashville's Summit Medical Center, made
claims that both outraged and fascinated his Ark-seeking colleagues.
Since the 1980s he was convinced that he had found the Ark encased in a
boat-shaped mound in Turkey. He produced lab results for carbon, iron
oxides and metal alloys at the site and subsurface radar suggesting a
structural pattern of a rib-like outline and compartments.
Others who sought the Ark discounted his claims, but Mr. Wyatt
tolerated their doubts. In a 1997 interview he said, "They have a bit
of a problem with me finding things that have been right under their
noses. The only people I get static from are those who wish they'd found
He believed that his archaeological revelation was discovered with
God's help and that it was God's way of revitalizing faith in the
scripture and divine conviction.
"I personally believe that he has the divine providence of the
Almighty, because nobody has done what he's done," said a friend,
Claude Cockrell Jr.
Cockrell, who said he had known Mr. Wyatt for 20 years, recalled
watching his friend field questions about the Bible and answer them
flawlessly. "I've never known a man to know the Bible like he
Mr. Wyatt's convictions were tested in 1991 when he and a team of four
other Ark-searchers were kidnapped by Kurdish rebels in the Ararat
mountains. The group was released after about three weeks.
Services will be 2:30 p.m. tomorrow AUG6 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral
Home in Columbia, Tenn., with burial in Polk Memorial Gardens. Visitation
with the family will be 4-8 p.m. today AUG5 at the funeral home.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Nell Sharpe Brunotts Wyatt, Spring
Hill; a daughter, Michelle Brown, Madison; a stepdaughter, Amanda Brunotts,
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; two sons, Daniel, Hendersonville, and Ronald E.
Wyatt III, Goodlettsville; his parents, Hobert and Lottie Wyatt,
Livingston, Ky.; five sisters, Freda Osgood, Indiana, Carol Niswonger,
Redding, Calif., Geneva Rucker, Centerville, Tenn., Ruth Rogers,
Chillicothe, Ill., and Rita Carpenter of Livingston, Ky.; three brothers,
William, Edelstein, Ill., Ralph, Salem, Ore., Earl Wyatt, Livingston; and
Memorials may be made to Wyatt Archaeological Research, 3413 Green's
Mill Road, Spring Hill, Tenn. 37174.