Pursuing a myth can be dangerous: a tragic news story

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By Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

Missionary is missing after searching for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat

Donald Mackenzie
Donald Mackenzie, missing on Mount Ararat

A Scottish missionary and member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Donald Mackenzie, was reported missing by a friend on 14 October 2010 after one of his many trips to Mount Ararat (Turkey) to look for remains of Noah’s Ark. He is a regular visitor to the mountain but was enthused by a story earlier in the year that a team from Hong Kong had discovered its remains on the mountain. The story is now known to be fraudulent, which makes Mr Mackenzie’s disappearance all the more tragic.

Although his mother was quoted by the BBC as saying that he got within fifty metres of the site, we have to ask how anyone could know this. The Chinese team perpetrated a hoax, so there was no “sdiscovery site” to be approached. In November 2010, his family expressed unhappiness with the Turkish government’s lack of response. However, a rescue expedition was mounted, although it was called off in December 2010 after it failed to locate him.

There seems to have been no further reporting on this story since 11 December 2010. Although the story has been repeated in various places since then, nothing new has been added and it appears that there is no further information.

This is a terrible story. Through following religious convictions that have no basis in reality, a man has probably lost his life on a mountain in a foreign land. His family must be devastated by the loss and all who think that going in search of Noah’s Ark is a noble cause should reflect on this story.

Postscript, March 2011

The story is still being kept in the news, with an article from World Net Daily, in which the missing man’s brother raises the spectre of “muslim fanatics” whom he suggests murdered him. There is no evidence for this beyond the failure to find Donald Mackenzie’s body. Mount Ararat is huge; much more so than Mount Everest, where it has proved difficult to locate missing explorers’ bodies, so locating one missing man is a task with little hope of a happy outcome. Over five months afterhis disappearance, it is now horribly clear that, even if the body is located, Donald Mackenzie has died a lonely death in pursuit of a mirage.


  1. What a tragic story. I can’t believe that this man would take such a risk with his life over a myth. I feel for his family. What does the Chinese team that perpetuated this lie have to say about this tragedy?


  2. Lets create a new location for the lost ark,obviously you’r in the know? where in Gods name could it be?Maybe it is in the South Pacific or reached Antartica ,and speaking from a sceptics point of view ….Did it ever exist …? Books to read …Aryans of the Pacific …Israel in the Pacific ..Uru.


  3. To me it seems as if he died in pursuit of happiness. It was his desire to know what was on that mountain, unfortunately he died iin that quest. However to be truly tragic for him would have been to never had gone. Nobody can call his desire to know more, tragic.


  4. As an “amateur reader” of archeological articles from Turkey, I found it very sad that a man – one with a humanistic smile and eyes eager to reach its goal of life – gone missing and probably died. That this happened in my country is of extra importance to me. The unfortunate spectre of the brother gives a clue of how the moral structure behind “bad archeology” can go hand in hand with prejudice about other cultures as well as the scientific method. (We never heard of “muslim fanatics” walking around in our mountains.) The Turkish guide from the mountain village, in whose house Donald Mackenzie stayed, tells that he went alone to mountain with supplies and did not come back. He could be safe if he preffered a scientific method, looked for proper ways for investigating that huge area and had a trained team with him. Anyway, I am sorry for the loss of his family and send my condolences.


  5. to any true christian there is no dought that noahs ark came to rest there the real myth is to dought the word of god


  6. It is a bit strange to read that Donald was a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. He was an adherent.


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