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An audience of about 200 filled the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to hear an award-winning National Geographic Society archaeologist talk about his expeditions regarding Noah’s ark.

This sold-out event was part of the “Great Riddles in Archaeology” lecture series, which brings in archaeological experts from all over the world to discuss their expeditions involving mythological riddles, such as Stonehenge. The series precedes a museum exhibit, opening on May 5, that showcases excavations of archaeological riddles.

Fredrik Hiebert, the Archaeology Fellow for the National Geographic Society, delivered the lecture titled “The Quest for Noah’s Flood.” Hiebert received the Chairman’s Award for Research and Exploration from the National Geographic Committee and is a past Penn Museum curator.

Hiebert’s expeditions dealt with exploration of the Black Sea in search of the submerged landscape that was the original site of the Biblical flood. Through several projected slides of maps, pictures, diagrams and film clips — most of which were original footage from the expedition — Hiebert detailed the entire process. He had the audience laughing with his comparison of underwater SONAR observation to TV watching.

His findings have located submerged structures in the Black Sea’s deepest waters that mirror inland settlements, and the expedition is currently working on developing SONAR technology to fully access the structures. “We are hoping to resolve the mystery of this ancient flooded landscape, which can tell us more of the story of the great flooding that occurred there and its tie to the Biblical story,” Hiebert said.

The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session, in which Hiebert reaffirmed that his expedition was not looking for Noah’s ark, but rather Noah’s “house,” and answered questions about the technological, political and future aspects of his exploration.

Audience members seemed to appreciate both the energy and the knowledge of the speaker.

“I though it was great that the speaker was from the National Geographic Society and that he showed us actual footage from his expeditions,” College senior Caitlin Costello said.

Mark Nakahura, also a College senior, added, “I came because I am interested in archaeological methods and new findings, especially such pioneers in underwater archaeology.”

Penn Museum Williams Director Richard Hodges, coordinator of the event, said the evening exceeded his expectations. “You could see the audience was enthralled and this event was great for the University and the Museum. Now we just need more students to come.”

The next lecture in the series will be given in December by a professor from England’s Bournemouth University who will talk about his recent studies of Stonehenge.

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