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Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.  THE CONSPIRACY JOURNAL DOES!  And once again it is here to confound your senses and honk off those who wish to keep everything a deep, dark secret. So sit back and relax, take your shoes off and read the secret news that you may not find in your local newspaper or see on the six o'clock news.

This week, Conspiracy Journal brings you such spine-cracking stories as:

- Russia May Send Spacecraft to Knock Away Asteroid -
- No Simple Flight of Fancy -
- Amazon Explorers Uncover Signs of a Real El Dorado-
- Loch Ness Monster Death Rumours Denied -
AND: Relic Reveals Noah's Ark was Circular

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

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- SOME THINGS BETTER LEFT ALONE DEPARTMENT -

Russia May Send Spacecraft to Knock Away Asteroid

Russia's space agency chief said recently that a spacecraft may be dispatched to knock a large asteroid off course and reduce the chances of earth impact, even though U.S. scientists say such a scenario is unlikely.

Anatoly Perminov told Golos Rossii radio the space agency would hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis. He said his agency might eventually invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency and others to join the project.

When the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid was first discovered in 2004, astronomers estimated its chances of smashing into Earth in its first flyby, in 2029, at 1-in-37.

Further studies have ruled out the possibility of an impact in 2029, when the asteroid is expected to come no closer than 18,300 miles (29,450 kilometers) from Earth's surface, but they indicated a small possibility of a hit on subsequent encounters.

NASA had put the chances that Apophis could hit Earth in 2036 as 1-in-45,000. In October, after researchers recalculated the asteroid's path, the agency changed its estimate to 1-in-250,000.

NASA said another close encounter in 2068 will involve a 1-in-330,000 chance of impact.

Don Yeomans, who heads NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, said better calculations of Apophis' path in several years "will almost certainly remove any possibility of an Earth collision" in 2036.

"While Apophis is almost certainly not a problem, I am encouraged that the Russian science community is willing to study the various deflection options that would be available in the event of a future Earth threatening encounter by an asteroid," Yeomans said in an e-mail Wednesday.

Without mentioning NASA's conclusions, Perminov said that he heard from a scientist that Apophis is getting closer and may hit the planet. "I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032," Perminov said.

"People's lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people," Perminov said.

Scientists have long theorized about asteroid deflection strategies. Some have proposed sending a probe to circle around a dangerous asteroid to gradually change its trajectory. Others suggested sending a spacecraft to collide with the asteroid and alter its momentum, or hitting it with nuclear weapons.

Perminov wouldn't disclose any details of the project, saying they still need to be worked out. But he said the mission wouldn't require any nuclear explosions.

Hollywood action films "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon," have featured space missions scrambling to avoid catastrophic collisions. In both movies, space crews use nuclear bombs in an attempt to prevent collisions.

"Calculations show that it's possible to create a special purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the collision," Perminov said. "The threat of collision can be averted."

Boris Shustov, the director of the Institute of Astronomy under the Russian Academy of Sciences, hailed Perminov's statement as a signal that officials had come to recognize the danger posed by asteroids.

"Apophis is just a symbolic example, there are many other dangerous objects we know little about," he said, according to RIA Novosti news agency.

Source: AP
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_RUSSIA_ASTEROID_ENCOUNTER?SITE=AP&SECTION=
HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2009-12-30-08-47-37

- I KNOW WHAT I SAW DEPARTMENT -

No Simple Flight of Fancy

It is now 50 years since a 31-year-old Australian Anglican missionary in Papua New Guinea, William Gill, and 37 parishioners and staff made the best attested and least explained sighting of unidentified flying objects in the long, otherwise kooky history of the genre.

The day before the celebrated encounter of a mystifying kind, Gill had written a letter to David Durie, acting principal of St Aidan's College, which trained teacher-evangelists at Dogura, then the headquarters of the church in PNG.

Gill, who was priest in charge at Boianai, a large village on the mountainous north coast of Milne Bay province, about 25km west of Dogura, told Durie of a UFO sighting by Stephen Moi, then an assistant teacher.

He wrote: "There have been quite a number of reports over the months from reliable witnesses.

"The peculiar thing about these most recent reports is that the UFOs seem to be stationary at Boanai or to travel from Boianai," a beautiful location brilliantly captured by pioneer Australian photographer Frank Hurley in 1921. "I myself saw a stationary white light twice on the same night on April 9 . . . the assistant district officer, Bob Smith, and Mr Glover have seen it. I do not doubt the existence of these things, but my simple mind still requires scientific evidence before I can accept the from-outer-space theory. I am inclined to believe that probably many UFOs are more likely some form of electric phenomena or perhaps something brought about by the atom bomb explosions etc.

"That Stephen should actually make out a saucer could be the work of the unconscious mind, as it is very likely that at some time he has seen illustrations of some kind in a magazine.

"It is all too difficult to understand for me; I prefer to wait for some bright boy to catch one to be exhibited in Martin Place.

"Yours, Doubting William."

The following day, he wrote again: "Dear David, life is strange, isn't it? Yesterday I wrote you a letter, expressing opinions re the UFOs. Now, less than 24 hours later I have changed my views somewhat.

"Last night we at Boianai experienced about four hours of UFO activity, and there is no doubt whatsoever that they are handled by beings of some kind. At times it was absolutely breathtaking. Here is the report.

"Cheers, Convinced Bill.

"P.S. Do you think P. Moresby should know about this? If people think it worthwhile, I will stand the cost of a radio conversation if you care to make out a comprehensive report from the material on my behalf!!"

What had Gill and his parishioners seen?

The notes he made following his encounter describe a bright white light appearing in the northwestern sky, approaching the mission station, then hovering about 100m in the air.

Gill, Moi, another teacher, Ananias Rarata, and 35 other people who all later signed a confirming document, watched what they described as a large, disc-shaped, solidly constructed object, with a wide base tapering up to a higher deck, and with what appeared to be four legs beneath, and four brightly lit panels in the side.

It occasionally emitted a shaft of blue light at a 45 degree angle.

Then what they described as men emerged on to a deck on the top, four at most, but in various configurations. Clouds, which were at about 600m, then eventually obscured the vessel as it drifted higher.

It had been stationary through most of the 25 minutes of this encounter.

Gill then wrote his letter to Durie. That evening, the visitation returned in an extraordinary manner. He first saw it at 6.02pm, as the sun was setting.

Gill's account states: "We watched figures appear on top - four of them - no doubt that they are human.

"Two smaller UFOs were seen at the same time, stationary. One above the hills west, another overhead.

"On the large one, two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the centre of the deck . . . were occasionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or setting up something (not visible).

"One figure seemed to be standing looking down at us (a group of about a dozen). I stretched my arm above my head and waved. To our surprise the figure did the same.

"Ananias waved both arms over his head then the two outside figures did the same.

"Ananias and self began waving our arms and all four now seemed to wave back. There seemed to be no doubt that our movements were answered. All mission boys made audible gasps (of either joy or surprise, perhaps both).

"As dark was beginning to close in, I sent Eric Kodawara for a torch and directed a series of long dashes towards the UFO. After a minute or two of this, the UFO apparently acknowledged by making several wavering motions back and forth.

"Waving by us was repeated and this followed by more flashes of torch, then the UFO began slowly to become bigger, apparently coming in our direction. It ceased after perhaps half a minute and came no further.

"After a further two or three minutes the figures apparently lost interest in us for they disappeared below deck. At 6.25pm two figures reappeared to carry on with whatever they were doing before the interruption. The blue spotlight came on for a few seconds twice in succession."

The situation remained unchanged, so Gill returned to his regular routine and went to have his dinner at 6.30.

By 7pm, the main object had moved slightly away and the observers went into the village church for evensong, as usual.

By the time they emerged, at 7.45pm, visibility had become very limited with the sky covered in cloud. At 10.40 pm, Gill wrote, an "earsplitting" explosion woke up the mission-station inhabitants. Gill said it did not feel like a thunderclap.

Later, Gill said, he was always asked why he had reverted to his usual routine when there was a flying saucer apparently hovering overhead. This was partly because, he said, "there was nothing eerie or other-worldly about any of this. It was all so ordinary, as ordinary as a Ford car.

"It looked a perfectly normal sort of object, an Earth-made object. I realised, of course, that some people might think of this as a flying saucer, but I took it to be some kind of hovercraft the Americans or even the Australians had built. The figures inside looked perfectly human."

Gill's report caused quite a sensation at the time, when PNG was an Australian colony. A Liberal federal MP from Western Australia, E. D. Cash, asked the then air minister questions in parliament, without receiving a substantive answer.

The Defence Ministry deployed two RAAF officers to investigate. Although they found Gill "a reliable observer", they attributed the sightings to "natural phenomena", the result of cloudy, thunder-prone weather and light refraction from Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

Gill was educated at Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, then studied theology at St Francis College, Brisbane, and education at the University of Queensland. He was ordained as a priest in 1950, then worked in PNG in parish work and as a teacher and education administrator. In Port Moresby, he also did some radio broadcasting.

After returning from PNG, he taught at Essendon Grammar, Camberwell Grammar and St Michael's Grammar, all in Melbourne, and undertook sociological research at La Trobe University. He died at age 79 in 2007.

Gill appears an exceptionally unlikely figure to have been readily caught up in the flying saucer craze, at its most intense in the 1950s. Few phenomena would have appeared more remote to high-church Anglican missionaries in PNG, many with considerable educational attainments.

Among those most intensely interested in the sightings was Englishman Norman Cruttwell, an outstanding exemplar of the long tradition of priest-botanists, who discovered and named - after his mother Christian - a rhododendron in PNG and had an orchid named after him in tribute.

Gill wrote to Cruttwell, who was also running a parish in northern Milne Bay: "Here is a lot of material the kind you have been waiting for, no doubt; but I am in some ways sorry that it has to be me who supplies it. Attitudes at Dogura in respect of my sanity vary greatly, and like all mad men, I myself think my grey cells are OK."

Among the hypotheses later considered to explain Gill's sightings was that he was pulling Cruttwell's leg. But, if so, when Cruttwell became excited, and helped inform the world about the events, Gill might then have been expected to stay quiet and wait for the embarrassment to pass. Instead, Gill accepted invitations to speak widely about what he had seen, with no apparent reluctance.

Australian author Randolph Stow, who worked at an Anglican mission station for Aborigines in northwestern Australia, then as assistant to the government anthropologist in PNG, where he was based in Milne Bay, framed an acclaimed novel in 1979, Visitants, around the Boianai sightings.

"Be not afeard," Stow cites from Shakespeare's The Tempest: "The isle is full of noises . . ."

The writer knew both Cruttwell and Moi - by then a priest - when he worked in PNG.

Cruttwell famously missed out on a sighting of bright lights over his own mission station because he was ensconced in the "smallhaus". The following day, he had the roof replaced with a clear glass panel, just in case . . .

Source: The Australian
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/no-simple-flight-of-fancy/story-e6frg6z6-1225815076210

- WHERE LEGENDS WERE MADE DEPARTMENT -

Amazon Explorers Uncover Signs of a Real El Dorado

It is the legend that drew legions of explorers and adventurers to their deaths: an ancient empire of citadels and treasure hidden deep in the Amazon jungle.

Spanish conquistadores ventured into the rainforest seeking fortune, followed over the centuries by others convinced they would find a lost civilisation to rival the Aztecs and Incas.

Some seekers called it El Dorado, others the City of Z. But the jungle swallowed them and nothing was found, prompting the rest of the world to call it a myth. The Amazon was too inhospitable, said 20th century scholars, to permit large human settlements.

Now, however, the doomed dreamers have been proved right: there was a great civilisation. New satellite imagery and fly-overs have revealed more than 200 huge geometric earthworks carved in the upper Amazon basin near Brazil's border with Bolivia.

Spanning 155 miles, the circles, squares and other geometric shapes form a network of avenues, ditches and enclosures built long before Christopher Columbus set foot in the new world. Some date to as early as 200 AD, others to 1283.

Scientists who have mapped the earthworks believe there may be another 2,000 structures beneath the jungle canopy, vestiges of vanished societies.

The structures, many of which have been revealed by the clearance of forest for agriculture, point to a "sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society", says the journal Antiquity, which has published the research.

The article adds: "This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads. The 'geoglyph culture' stretches over a region more than 250km across, and exploits both the floodplains and the uplands … we have so far seen no more than a tenth of it."

The structures were created by a network of trenches about 36ft (nearly 11 metres) wide and several feet deep, lined by banks up to 3ft high. Some were ringed by low mounds containing ceramics, charcoal and stone tools. It is thought they were used for fortifications, homes and ceremonies, and could have maintained a population of 60,000 – more people than in many medieval European cities.

The discoveries have demolished ideas that soils in the upper Amazon were too poor to support extensive agriculture, says Denise Schaan, a co-author of the study and anthropologist at the Federal University of Pará, in Belém, Brazil. She told National Geographic: "We found this picture is wrong. And there is a lot more to discover in these places, it's never-ending. Every week we find new structures."

Many of the mounds were symmetrical and slanted to the north, prompting theories that they had astronomical significance.

Researchers were especially surprised that earthworks in floodplains and uplands were of a similar style, suggesting they were all built by the same culture.

"In Amazonian archaeology you always have this idea that you find different peoples in different ecosystems," said Schaan. "So it was odd to have a culture that would take advantage of different ecosystems and expand over such a large region." The first geometric shapes were spotted in 1999 but it is only now, as satellite imagery and felling reveal sites, that the scale of the settlements is becoming clear. Some anthropologists say the feat, requiring sophisticated engineering, canals and roads, rivals Egypt's pyramids.

The findings follow separate discoveries further south, in the Xingu region, of interconnected villages known as "garden cities". Dating between 800 and 1600, they included houses, moats and palisades.

"These revelations are exploding our perceptions of what the Americas really looked liked before the arrival of Christopher Columbus," said David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z, a book about an attempt in the 1920s to find signs of Amazonian civilizations. "The discoveries are challenging long-held assumptions about the Amazon as a Hobbesian place where only small primitive tribes could ever have existed, and about the limits the environment placed on the rise of early civilisations."

They are also vindicating, said Grann, Percy Fawcett, the explorer who led an expedition to find the City of Z but the party vanished, bequeathing a
mystery.

Many scientists saw the jungle as too harsh to sustain anything but small nomadic tribes. Now it seems the conquistadores who spoke of "cities that glistened in white" were telling the truth. They, however, probably also introduced the diseases that wiped out the native people, leaving the jungle to claim – and hide – all trace of their civilisation.

Source: The Guardian (UK)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/05/amazon-dorado-satellite-discovery

- PLANES CHECK IN, BUT THEY DON'T CHECK OUT DEPARTMENT -

Mystery of the Nevada Triangle

A mysterious area of Nevada where thousands of planes have disappeared without trace may finally have given up its secret.

So many aircraft have vanished there that it has been nicknamed the Nevada Triangle, echoing the so-called Bermuda Triangle, an ocean zone infamous for the loss of ships and planes.

No one knows exactly how many flights have vanished inside the Nevada Triangle over the past 60 years.

Crash sites are seldom discovered in the remote wasteland of desert and mountain, which stretches across more than 25,000 square miles of virtually-uninhabited country.

But speculation is that the total is more than 2,000.

Conspiracy theorists have long claimed the reason so many flights have disappeared is connected to the presence in the area of America’s most guarded tract of landscape – Area 51, the top secret air base where it has been claimed the bodies of alien pilots from crashed UFOs are kept in deep-frozen storage.

The US Air Force also tests its most secret prototype aircraft, including the mysterious superfast Aurora, inside Area 51 protected by squadrons of fighter aircraft primed to shoot down any suspicious intruders.

The truth about the crashes however is far more prosaic.Record-breaking aviator Steve Fossett vanished inside the Nevada Triangle in September, 2007.

At first, theories surrounding millionaire Fossett’s disappearance included the idea that he had faked his own death, the suggestion that he had been shot down by top secret aircraft inside Area 51 or even the claim he had been abducted by aliens.

But when Fossett’s aircraft was eventually discovered more than a year after it disappeared, experts were able to piece together the most likely reason for the crash.
    
A new Channel Four documentary explores what apparently happened to the pilot after he set off on in a single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon on what friends thought was a short joy flight. He was never seen alive again. Far from being the victim of aliens or super-secret aircraft, the cause of his death and of the inordinate number of crashes in the area was simply freak weather.

The Triangle’s strange geography and climate create unique atmospheric conditions which can rip aircraft from the skies.

A combination of fast-moving Pacific winds and steep mountainsides produces a phenomenon called the Mountain Wave, a roller-coaster effect that can send aircraft soaring up and then bring it crashing down to earth.

With much of the Sierra Nevada over 5,000ft and some peaks reaching 14,000ft, air-fuel mixture can also become so thin that engine power fails even in low-level flight.

In Fossett’s case it is thought climatic conditions had created a 400mph downdraft. His aircraft could climb at a maximum speed of only 300mph. The difference meant he was doomed.

Air accident expert Craig Fuller says besides hundreds of vanished light aircraft, the area has also seen crashes involving many military warplanes like B-24 Liberators, B-17 Flying Fortresses and P-38 Lightnings.

Fuller, who works for the voluntary Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research group, cannot say how many aircraft have gone missing while flying over the area.

“I cannot give you exact numbers. No one knows, not even the government agencies,” he said.

But he has visited more than 75 crash sites and with the help of air historian John Lopez he has been able to study many of flights that went missing in the same area as Fossett’s plane.

One of the stories regarding the Triangle dates back to 1943 when a B-24 bomber crashed in the mountains. Co-pilot Lieutenant Robert Hester’s father, Clinton, was determined to find the plane.

“He basically spent every summer in the Sierras looking for his son,” Fuller said.

Clinton died without having found any trace. But in 1960, a year later, a survey team found the bomber in a remote lake. It’s now known as Hester Lake.

Fuller cited another example, that of Lt Leonard C Lydon who parachuted to safety in 1941 after his Army fighter squadron got lost over the mountains.

He saw his P-40 fall within a mile of where he landed in the remote Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

But to this day the wreckage has never been found.

Source: Daily Express
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/149355/Mystery-of-the-Nevada-Triangle/

- HAVE YOU SEEN ME DEPARTMENT -

Loch Ness Monster Death Rumours Denied

The head of the Loch Ness monster's fan club has denied suggestions that the animal is dead following just one credible sighting last year.
 
A new documentary examines the possibility that the monster might be extinct as its reported appearances become increasingly rare.

Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, said only one sighting, made just off the Clansman Hotel on 6th June, 2009, was judged by him to have been a credible report.

And according to Mr Campbell such reports are increasingly rare.

He said: ""That's why were so relieved to have heard about this sighting.

"In June, when it was reported, nobody had seen anything for a year. If it hadn't been for that one, we would have been really, really worried.

"There is an embarrassment factor to seeing Nessie. The first thing people say to you is, 'Had you had a drink?'

"Ten years ago we had a lot of good sightings, but in the last two or three years, they have tailed off."

He added: "What we regard as a dependable sighting is very much down to the person who sees it.

"This was a local chap who knows the things that Nessie isn't - boat wakes, debris on the loch or seals in the summer. A local person will know what these things look like."

However, there were a number of "more dubious" sightings over the course of 2009. These included a sonar contact witnessed by "'Allo,'Allo" star Vicki Michelle and other cast members from the stage version of the popular BBC sit-com when they took a pleasure cruise on Loch Ness in May during the play's week-long run at Eden Court.

Their boat, the Jacobite Queen, picked up five mysterious arch shapes on its sonar between Dores and Urquhart Castle.

Also claiming a possible Nessie picture was data analyst Ian Monckton from Solihull who used his car headlights and the flash from his camera, to take a picture of what he thought could be the elusive monster while driving to Invermoriston late at night.

The 2009 episode "Death at Loch Ness" of the documentary series "MonsterQuest" looked at the theory that the Loch Ness Monster might be extinct.

In this programme researcher Robert Rhines' claim that Nessie, if it existed, may now in fact be dead and its corpse is lying somewhere at the bottom of Loch Ness is investigated.

To prove this theory wrong, Mr Campbell hopes new witnesses might come forward.

"If people start to believe this, it might start to affect tourist numbers.

"Whether you believe in Nessie or not, the Loch Ness Monster is one of the most important tourist attractions we have.

"Perhaps, though, the answers are to be found underwater instead of on the loch's surface.

"Unknown sonar contacts happen all the time.

"Maybe Nessie is just keeping her head down."

Source: The Telegraph (UK)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6936872/
Loch-Ness-monster-death-rumours-denied.html

- JUST PUTTING IT OUT THERE DEPARTMENT -

Relic Reveals Noah's Ark was Circular

That they processed aboard the enormous floating wildlife collection two-by-two is well known. Less familiar, however, is the possibility that the animals Noah shepherded on to his ark then went round and round inside.

According to newly translated instructions inscribed in ancient Babylonian on a clay tablet telling the story of the ark, the vessel that saved one virtuous man, his family and the animals from god's watery wrath was not the pointy-prowed craft of popular imagination but rather a giant circular reed raft.

The now battered tablet, aged about 3,700 years, was found somewhere in the Middle East by Leonard Simmons, a largely self-educated Londoner who indulged his passion for history while serving in the RAF from 1945 to 1948.

The relic was passed to his son Douglas, who took it to one of the few people in the world who could read it as easily as the back of a cornflakes box; he gave it to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines of neat cuneiform script.

There are dozens of ancient tablets that have been found which describe the flood story but Finkel says this one is the first to describe the vessel's shape.

"In all the images ever made people assumed the ark was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves – so that is how they portrayed it," said Finkel. "But the ark didn't have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well. It's still sometimes used in Iran and Iraq today, a type of round coracle which they would have known exactly how to use to transport animals across a river or floods."

Finkel's research throws light on the familiar Mesopotamian story, which became the account in Genesis, in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that saved his menagerie from the waters which drowned every other living thing on earth.

In his translation, the god who has decided to spare one just man speaks to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who lived before the flood and who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story. "Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions And save life! Draw out the boat that you will built with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same."

The tablet goes on to command the use of plaited palm fibre, waterproofed with bitumen, before the construction of cabins for the people and wild animals.

It ends with the dramatic command of Atram-Hasis to the unfortunate boat builder whom he leaves behind to meet his fate, about sealing up the door once everyone else is safely inside: "When I shall have gone into the boat, Caulk the frame of the door!"

Fortunes were spent in the 19th century by biblical archaeology enthusiasts in hunts for evidence of Noah's flood. The Mesopotamian flood myth was incorporated into the great poetic epic Gilgamesh, and Finkel, curator of the recent British Museum exhibition on ancient Babylon, believes that it was during the Babylonian captivity that the exiled Jews learned the story, brought it home with them, and incorporated it into the Old Testament.

Despite its unique status, Simmons' tablet – which has been dated to around 1,700 BC and is only a few centuries younger than the oldest known account – was very nearly overlooked.

"When my dad eventually came home, he shipped a whole tea chest of this kind of stuff home – seals, tablets, bits of pottery," said Douglas. "He would have picked them up in bazaars, or when people knew he was interested in this sort of thing, they would have brought them to him and earned a few bob."

Simmons senior became a scenery worker at the BBC, but kept up his love of history, and was very disappointed when academics dismissed treasures of his as commonplace and worthless. His son took the tablet to a British Museum open day, where Finkel "took one look at it and nearly fell off his chair" with excitement.

"It is the most extraordinary thing," Simmons said of the tablet. "You hold it in your hand, and you instantly get a feeling that you are directly connected to a very ancient past – and it gives you a shiver down your spine."

The human fascination with the flood and the whereabouts of the ark shows few signs of subsiding.

The story has travelled down the centuries from the ancient Babylonians and continues to fascinate in the 21st century.

Countless expeditions have travelled to Mount Ararat in Turkey, where Noah's ark is said to have come to rest, but scientific proof of its existence has yet to be found.

Recent efforts to find it have been led by creationists, who are keen to exhibit it as evidence of the literal truth of the Bible.

"If the flood of Noah indeed wiped out the entire human race and its civilization, as the Bible teaches, then the ark constitutes the one remaining major link to the pre-flood world," says John D Morris of the Institute for Creation Research.

"No significant artefact could ever be of greater antiquity or importance."

In the Victorian era some became obsessed with the ark story. George Smith – the lowly British museum assistant who, in 1872, deciphered the Flood Tablet which is inscribed with the Assyrian version of the Noah's ark tale – could apparently not contain his excitement at his discovery.

According to the museum's archives: "He jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement and to the astonishment of those present began to undress himself."

Source: The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/01/noahs-ark-was-circular

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