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Published by The Tennessean, Thursday, 8/5/99


Amateur Noah's Ark explorer Ronald Wyatt dies at 66

In this 1989 photo, Ronald Wyatt holds what he believed to be a plank from Noah's Ark. (File)
By Susan Taylor / Tennessean Staff Writer

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 it."

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 did."

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 six grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Wyatt Archaeological Research, 3413 Green's Mill Road, Spring Hill, Tenn. 37174.

Copyright 2001 The Tennessean
A Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper

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