Volume 4, Issue 2
October 22, 2014
The New Beginnings Foundation Newsletter 
Opportunity to acquaint the world with the land of mankind's origins
(and give a home to Kurdish refugees)  
Dear friends,

Since my last newsletter on September 11th, the refugee crisis in Turkey has gotten into the headlines as we hoped would soon happen, even if that had to occur as a result of a new crisis on the Syrian-Turkish border. Pray that the refugees who escaped ISIS in Iraq and Syria get sufficient resources before snows prevents assistance from reaching those still camped in the mountains.

As Americans and the world get acquainted with this crisis involving the Kurdish refugees, I am shifting the focus of this newsletter and the Mount Ararat website to our Mount Ararat Peace (MAP) Project that is centered in the ancient Kurdish homeland. The aim of the MAP Project that is anchored by our scientific investigation of the Mount Ararat Discovery is not only to share the cultural heritage of the Mount Ararat region with the world, but to give hope and a future to the natives of this region including some of the refugees fleeing ISIS. Two refugee settlements in the Mount Ararat region are key elements of our MAP Project.

The world's long neglect of this region and its people may be for the same reason as for neglect of what has to be the greatest archaeological discovery of all time, only recently discovered (or perhaps just rediscovered) in this same region. Whatever archaeologists conclude about what appears to be a huge ancient wooden vessel buried under about 30 feet of volcanic rock and ice near the top of this 17,000 foot mountain, it is bound to revolutionize our understanding of the ancient history in this region, a history mentioned not just in the Bible but in accounts found written on clay tablets in Ancient Near Eastern ruins. The latter accounts include these peoples' memory of a great world-destroying Flood and of mankind's new origins from a remnant who spread from these mountains. For more on Ancient Near Eastern texts that tell of the world's oldest civilization possibly having its origins in the Mount Ararat region, read the article at right.

But why indeed is the archaeology of the Ararat region and Ancient Near Eastern texts that mention this region (as I relate in my columns at right and below) so infrequently mentioned by historians or archaeologists of the Ancient Near East? The Bible itself refers to this region. Why aren't even biblical scholars more interested in this region and its history, especially its history in the time before Abraham that is recorded in the Bible?

This may have less to do with modern unbelief as with limited Western access to this region, due not only to the earlier Islamic conquest of this area but also to later competition between European colonial powers that kept Western Europe away from the region. The same competition that limited Western access to the area continued through the Cold War. Current political alliances that spring from the end of the Cold War have continued to limit Western access to this region.

One should know that the history of nations taught at various times and places is greatly influenced by wars, politics, and chauvinist nationalistic culture. For example, Enlightenment historians taught ancient history in accordance with the provincial memories of the Greeks and Romans who they admired and wanted to use these ancient republics and democracies as patterns for their modern states. As did the classical pagans, Enlightenment historians neglected the history of the Ancient Near East in favor the mythical history remembered by the pagan Greeks and Romans. Following the ancient Stoics, many Enlightenment thinkers rejected the biblical notion of mankind as having a beginning, preferring to see the history of mankind as one of endless cycles. Scholars of that era who did value human history taught the 'Four Monarchy' view of the past in which the writing of history began with the Assyrian Empire, the earliest civilization known by the Greeks.

We may forget that the entirety of the archaeology and history of the Ancient Near East as we know today date only to the nineteenth century when the Western powers extended their influence over these areas. Contrary to popular myth, this archaeological investigation and the study of inscriptions and texts found in these ruins did not so much challenge as to restore scholars' confidence in the historicity of the Bible. The so-called 'higher criticism' that had challenged the historiography found in the Bible was not caused by the findings of archaeology but rather was rooted in anthropological theory based on studies of the modern(!) peoples who live in the biblical lands together with text composition history based on an anachronistic projection of the propaganda of modern nation building to create an imaginative revisionist view of Israel's past. Happily, the discoveries of archaeology have been preserving and restoring scholars confidence in the historicity of the Bible. Yet this process is not complete because the region of mankind's earliest history has yet to be investigated in any serious way.

Some are familiar with how the nineteenth-century archaeological discoveries in Egypt, in Mesopotamia (as Iraq was then known), and especially in Palestine (as Israel was then known) brought those ancient lands to the attention of the learned world. That is how we got our Bible maps, line illustrations, and photographs, together with biblical references and commentaries that inform and influence our current reading of the Bible. New discoveries made it clear that the Bible wasn't about ancient myths as many of the most learned were asserting by the early nineteenth century. Many of the same nations, persons, and important events recorded in the Bible were also mentioned in ancient texts that archaeologists found inscribed on stones or written in clay.

But to this day, there have not been similar archaeological investigations and searches for ancient inscriptions and texts in the place that the Bible gives as the region of mankind's origins. This area includes Eastern Turkey, Armenia, formerly Soviet Georgia, Azerbaijan, Nakhivan, the western edge of Iran, northeastern Syria, and the far north of Iraq. It is the ancient land of Urartu (see article below right) where the Bible gives as the landing place of Noah's Ark. Here lie the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and paths where the Bible tells us that the mighty hunter Nimrod traveled to establish settlements in the plains of Shinar (Babylon) and the city Nineveh (present day Mosul), what would become Assyria.

One reason for the lack of investigation into those lands first mentioned in the Bible might be that however important, and though not just in the early chapters of Genesis as many suppose, only small sections of the Bible refer to these areas. That is not surprising due to the fact that the major events in this region predate the calling of Abraham. Yes, these are parts of the history in the Bible that most scholars suppose as myth. They said the same of the biblical account of ancient Israel before the middle of the nineteenth century when the archaeologists begin making so many discoveries that confirmed the biblical account of Israel's past.

As I relate above, a more important reason for the neglect has been the political and social isolation of the people in this area. Western scholars and archaeologists rarely visit this area. Much of the area is the land of the Kurds, a people whom the governments of this region have preferred that Western archaeologists and scholars neglect. As I explain in the article below left, the Kurds had no government to represent them in world affairs. News from the region rarely make western papers.

But surprisingly, as conflict in other regions of the world intensify, even in the southern parts of this area that is displacing the refugees, the Kurdish people are getting more of the world's attention while peace seems to be coming to the Mount Ararat region. There is at last an opportunity to visit the region, to make archaeological and culture studies, and to visit and get to know this ancient land and its people. Our Mount Ararat Peace (MAP) Project that you can preview on our website is a map to show the way.

Regards to all,

Philip Williams

New and old recipients

Reflecting our current focus on the Mount Ararat Peace (MAP) Project, the Christian Leaders & Scholars Newsletter has been renamed for its parent organization, the New Beginnings Foundation. If this is your first newsletter, or even if it's not, you may find some interesting articles in our: 

archive of earlier newsletters.

In this issue
° Acquainting the world with the land of mankind's origins
° The Sumerians and Arrata
° Who are the Kurds?
° The land of Urartu (biblical Ararat)

ANE texts that point to the origin of the world's oldest civilization in mountainous Arrata

Some scholars believe that Arrata (mentioned in Ancient Near Eastern texts as the homeland of the Sumerians) lies in the mountains of Ararat

From Ararat to Nineveh (Iraq Kurdistan)
The most ancient texts ever discovered that can still be read were written in the language of the Sumerians, a people long believed to have been the world's oldest civilization. It is widely supposed that the Sumerians were the original people in the land between the two rivers that the Greeks called Mesopotamia which we know as present-day Iraq. But the Sumerians might not have been the first to live in their land.

The great Sumerian scholars Arno Poebel and Samuel Noah Kramer believed that the Sumerian name derived from the same root as Shem, one of Noah's sons as given in the Bible. Perhaps, as in the case of the table of nations in Genesis chapter 10, the term referred to peoples living in this area assumed by the ancients as descended as Shem. For sure, the Sumerians own history discovered in Ancient Near Eastern texts tell of people who lived there before the Flood.

Even more interesting, these texts tell us that the Sumerians themselves came from the land where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers begin. The Sumerians called this land Arrata, To get to Arrata one had to cross seven mountains. To guess where ancient Arrarta may have been, take a look at the map above that shows the place where the Tigris River flows from the mountains. The Sumerians ancient homeland of Arrata would have been ancient Urartu (see article below right), what is now called Ararat.

Indeed, there are many parallels between the historiography found in the Bible and that of the peoples of the Ancient Near East. We learn from both sources about (1) an ancient world-destroying Flood; (2) new origins of mankind from the mountains of Ararat; (3) an ancestor (like Enoch of the Bible) who ascended to Heaven without actually dying; (4) texts that speak of all mankind once having the same language (as in the biblical account of Babel).

Indeed scholars have long been long aware of the connection between the creation account in the Bible and those of other peoples in the Ancient Near East. The common assumption today is that the creation and origin accounts in the biblical text are borrowed from Ancient Near Eastern "myths." But what on earth could have inspired such a widespread sharing of myth! The gospel of Jesus Christ is just now reaching all the peoples of the earth. What great event could have inspired so many ancient nations to retain a common memory of the past?

A simpler assumption is that all the peoples of the Ancient Near East as well as the many peoples from every continent and land who share elements of a similar historiography (i.e. Creation, world-destroying Flood, re-population of the world through the salvation of a saved remnant) might be sharing core elements from their actual history, the ancient history of all mankind.

The Kurds and their origins

Where Kurdish speaking peoples are in the majority

When President Woodrow Wilson saw the denial of a people's right of self determination as a chief cause of wars, the Kurds were one such people that he had in mind as he proposed his famous 14 Points. Unfortunately, the colonial powers of Europe ignored the American President in the Treaty of Versailles, splitting the political influence of the populous Kurds by assigning their lands to numerous states. Sadly, as a populous minority in the states to which they were assigned, the Kurdish people were inevitably to have conflict with those who ruled them. The colonial powers may be gone, but if Woodrow Wilson was correct, the colonial states remain as a cause of conflict and wars.

Hence in modern times, the Kurdish have never had a government to represent them or a specific country to call their own. Their lack of state representation of their language and culture explains why Kurdish history is not well known. Scholars and native Kurds have a few theories about the origin of the Kurdish name. We do know that the Arabs who invaded these lands during the time of the Islamic conquest referred to the shepherds and herders who lived in these mountains as Kurds. Their language, still spoken by numerous peoples in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Soviet Georgia, Azerbajan, is known as Kurdish.
Kurdish is not a Semitic language as are Hebrew, Arabic, ancient Akkadian, and ancient Egyptian. Rather, it belongs to what we now call the Indo-European languages, the same family of languages to which English and German belong. The Kurdish language has similarities with other Indo-European languages in their region such as Iranian (Aryan) and Indian Sanksrit. Likely these closely-related language derive from the official language of the ancient Persian Empire. One can understand how the Great Persian Empire established by Cyrus the Great would have given these people a common language and one from which these modern languages may derive. (Just as Italian, Spanish, and French derive from ancient Latin spoken in the Roman Empire.)

The Kurdish peoples today live in the ancient land of the Medes, the ancestors of Cyrus who combined the Median Empire of his father with that of the Persians who lived further East and South of the mountain-dwelling Medes. It is a good guess that the Kurds are direct descendents of the Medes. Notably, the Bible tells us that the Assyrians exiled captives from the northern Kingdom of Israel to the land of the Medes. Were one to suggest a place and people to search for what are called the 'lost tribes of Israel,' (exiles from the northern Kingdom of Israel who never returned from captivity during biblical times) the Kurds would have to be at the top of the list.

ArchaeologicalEvidenceThe Archaeological Evidence
Click to purchase
Many believe that no evidence of a worldwide Flood or a new dispersion of mankind exists in the archaeological evidence of ancient man. But has anyone ever looked carefully at the evidence?

Click for this interview with the author of

The Archaeological Evidence
of Noah's Flood

The book, whose Epilogue covers author's connection to the Ararat Discovery, is available from online booksellers. For an author signed hard copy of this textbook style publication, choose from our website which can be accessed by clicking the book icon above right.

S & H:    4.00  (US addresses)  
Tax:       2.70  (NC residents only)
Ancient Urartu (biblical Ararat) 
The ancient country of Urartu (Ararat)
The land translated in most of our English Bibles as Ararat is the land of Urartu (the name as appears in the Hebrew text), a country well known to the people of the Ancient Near East. This land appears not only in the Bible as being the landing place of Noah's Ark (Genesis 8:4), but also as the place where the sons of the Assyrian king fled just after they murdered their father. (Isaiah 37:38) This was the same Assyrian king who had placed a siege on Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah. Lying just north of the country of Assyria, Urartu appears frequently in Assyrian texts dating from the most ancient biblical times.

I refer to Urartu as a land or country instead of as a nation or people because modern scholars inspired by German nationalism* have come to identify nations and peoples by the native language of the people. Hence, whenever these scholars  discovered some new languages written in ancient texts of clay or stone, they invented a new Ancient Near Eastern nation. In truth, in ancient times as today, many nations may speak the same language. Nations or peoples also change their language or speak or write more than one language. Their new language may be from an altogether different language family. This may be the chief reason why the nations of the Ancient Near East that have been identified by scholars do not completely match the peoples and nations as recorded in the Bible.

Another language found written on texts in the land of Urartu and in diplomatic texts found in other lands was probably  spoken by the people who live in Urartu. Scholars call this language and the people who spoke it Hurrian. Hurrian is unlike what are now called the Semitic family of languages that include Akkadian, Canaanite, biblical Hebrew, and Arabic.

The great William F. Albright who pioneered studies into the historiography and archaeological cultures of the Ancient Near East noticed similarities in customs between the Hurrians and the Hebrew patriarchs. In fact names found among the early Israelites have Hurrian roots. The Hyskos who ruled in ancient Egypt, whom the Jewish historian Josephus identifies as Israel from the time of Joseph, also spoke what is called the Hurrian language. Thus, the Hebrew spoken by Abraham and named for his ancestor Eber may not have been the Western Canaanite language that the Israelites later spoke and that would be used for writing the Bible. Ancient Hebrew may in fact have been very similar to the Hurrian language spoken in the land of ancient Urartu.

*The nineteenth century German scholars who are responsible for the modern historiography of the ancient world may have identified ancient nations as different languages discovered in ancient inscriptions and texts due to the fact that Germany was perhaps the first and only state in human history formed (from numerous small central European states) on the basis of a particular language.

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