Mount Ararat
(Turkish: Ağrı Dağı; Armenian: Մասիս, Արարատ, Kurdish: Çîyaye Agirî ) is a snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone in Turkey. It has two peaks: Greater Ararat (the tallest peak in Turkey, and the entire Armenian plateau with an elevation of 5,137 m (16,854 ft)) and Lesser Ararat (with an elevation of 3,896 m (12,782 ft)).

Mount Ararat is located in the Iğdır Province,[1] the easternmost province of Turkey's Eastern Anatolia Region. Its summit is located some 16 km (10 mi) west of the Iranian and 32 km (20 mi) south of the Armenian border. The Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan is also in close proximity to the mountain. The Ararat plain runs along its northwest to western side.

The Ararat massif is about 40 km in diameter.[2] The Iran-Turkey boundary skirts east of Lesser Ararat, the lower peak of the Ararat massif. It was in this area that by the Tehran Convention of 1932 a border change was made in Turkey's favor, permitting her to occupy the eastern flank of the massif; This flank had in the past been used by Kurdish tribes to organize uprisings against Turkey.[3]

Mount Ararat in Judeo-Christian tradition is associated with the "Mountains of Ararat" where according to the book of Genesis, Noah's ark came to rest. It also plays a significant role in Armenian nationalism and irredentism.

Names and etymology

  • Ararat - The Bible does not refer to any specific mountain or peak, but rather a mountain range, "the mountains of Ararat".[4] Nonetheless, one particular tradition identifies the mountain as Mount Masis, the highest peak in the Armenian Highland, which is therefore called Mount Ararat.[4] (As opposed to the Armenian and European tradition, Semitic tradition identifies the mountain as Judi Dagh located in Turkey near Cizre.)[5] According to the medieval Armenian historian Moses of Khoren in his History of Armenia, the plain of Ayrarat (directly north of the mountain) got its name after King Ara the Handsome[6] (the great grandson of Amasya). Here the Assyrian Queen Semiramis is said to have lingered for a few days after the death of Ara.[6] According to Thomson, the mountain is now called Ararat (Armenian: Արարատ) by confusion with Ayrarat, the name of the province.[7] Influenced by Biblical tradition, Ararat is also used in many other languages.[8]. The association of the mountain with the story of Noah is however comparatively recent in Armenian culture, according to Murat (1900) not pre-dating the 11th century. The historical name of the peak in Armenian is Masis or (in the plural, referring to both peaks) Masik’ (see below).[9]
  • Masis[10] (Armenian: Մասիս) - is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural Masikʿ (Armenian: Մասիք) may refer to both peaks.[4] [10] The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after his own name.[11]
  • Mountain of Ağrı - Turkish: Ağrı Dağı[12][13] The Ottoman Turkish name was Aghur Dagh اغـر طﺎﻍ‎‎. Since Ağrı literally means "pain" in Turkic languages such as Azeri and Turkish, the toponym has been popularly rendered as "Painful Mountain"[14][15] -- due to the difficulty of its ascent.[16] Template:Lang-az (Mountain of Ağrı). Ağrı is also a city and province in the Eastern Anatolian Region of Turkey, near Mt. Ararat. During the Ottoman Empire era the Ağrı provincial area was originally called Şorbulak. Kurdish: Çîyaye Agirî (Fiery Mountain)[17]
  • Mountain of Noah: Persian: کوه نوح من (Koh-i-Nuh) [18][19], also influenced by the flood story, this time via the Islamic view of Noah.


Mount Ararat is divided between two Turkish provinces: Around 65% of the mountain is located in the Iğdır Province, while the remaining 35% is located in the Ağrı Province of Turkey.[1]


Ararat is a stratovolcano, formed of lava flows and pyroclastic ejecta, with no volcanic crater. Above the height of 4,200 m (13,780 ft), the mountain mostly consists of igneous rocks covered by an ice cap.

A smaller 3,896 m (12,782 ft) cone, Little Ararat, rises from the same base, southeast of the main peak. The lava plateau stretches out between the two pinnacles. The bases of these two mountains is approximately 1,000 km2 (386 sq mi).

The formation of Ararat is hard to retrieve geologically, but the type of vulcanism and the position of the volcano raise the idea that subduction relation vulcanism occurred when the Tethys Ocean closed during the Neogene, as recently occurred along the borders of the Eurasian, African and Arabian plates from Cabo de Gata to the Caucasus.


An elevation of 5,165 m (16,946 ft) for Mount Ararat is still given by some authorities.[20][21] However, a number of other sources, such as public domain and verifiable SRTM data[22] and a 2007 GPS measurement[23] show that the alternatively widespread figure of 5,137 m (16,854 ft) is probably more accurate, and that the true elevation may be even lower due to the thick layer of snow-covered ice cap which permanently remains on the top of the mountain. 5,137 m is also supported by numerous topographic maps.[24]


It is not known when the last eruption of Ararat occurred; there are no historic or recent observations of large-scale activity recorded. It seems that Ararat was active in the 3rd millennium BC; under the pyroclastic flows, artifacts from the early Bronze Age and remains of human bodies have been found.[25]

However, it is known that Ararat was shaken by a large earthquake in July 1840, the effects of which were largest in the neighborhood of the Ahora Gorge (a northeast trending chasm that drops 1,825 metres (5,988 ft) from the top of the mountain). An unstable part of the northern slope collapsed and a chapel, a monastery, and a village were covered by rubble. According to some sources, Ararat erupted then as well, albeit under the ground water level.[25]

Climbing Mount Ararat

This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Mount Ararat. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.
Date Person(s) climbed Comment
October 9, 1829 Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot and Khachatur Abovian First ascent of the summit of Mount Ararat[26]
August 5, 1834 Kozma Spassky-Avtonomov Fedorovich

(Козьма Спасский-Автономов Федорович)

K. Spassky-Avtonomov was a member of the Russian Geographical Society[27]
August 8-9, 1835 Karl Behrens


Imperial Russian Georgraphical Society attested to the expedition
Hune 25, 1845 Hermann Abich Armenian guide led him up the southeastern face from Sardar Bulak, a Cossack station with a well, located in the middle of the wide semicircular valley or sloping plain between Greater and Lesser Ararat[28]
1846 Henry Danby Seymour With 2 Armenians and a Cossack officer[28]
August 1-9, 1850 Iosif Khodko Ivanovich

Иосиф Ходько Иванович, P.H. Moritz and many others[30]

Ascended from Sardar Bulak. Six days were spent on top of Mt. Ararat[28]
June 29, 1856 English Major Robert Stuart With major Alick J. Fraser, Reverend Walter Thursby, James Theobald, John Evans of Darley Abbey
August 31, 1876 James Bryce He was alone. And he founded a timber at 3965 m (13,500 ft)[28]
August 13, 1888 Yevgeniy Markov


With Ivan Kovalewski and Mosokevich
October 1893 H. F. B. Lynch With Rudolph Taugwalder[28]
1897 A. Oswald


First recorded ascent in modern times

Dr. Friedrich Parrot, with the help of Khachatur Abovian, was the first explorer in modern times to reach the summit of Mount Ararat, subsequent to the onset of Russian rule in 1829.[32] Abovian and Parrot crossed the Aras River and headed to the Armenian village of Agori situated on the northern slope of Ararat 4,000 feet above sea level. Following the advice of Harutiun Alamdarian of Tbilisi, they set up a base camp at the Monastery of Saint Jacob some 2,400 feet higher, at an elevation of 6,375 feet.[26] Abovian was one of the last travelers to visit Agori and the monastery before a disastrous earthquake completely buried both in May 1840.[26] Their first attempt to climb the mountain, using the northeastern slope, failed as a result of lack of warm clothing.

Six days later, on the advice of Stepan Khojiants, the village chief of Agori, the ascent was attempted from the northwestern side. After reaching an elevation of 16,028 feet they turned back because they did not reach the summit before sundown. They reached the summit on their third attempt at 3:15 p.m. on October 9, 1829.[26] Abovian dug a hole in the ice and erected a wooden cross facing north.[33] Abovian also picked up a chunk of ice from the summit and carried it down with him in a bottle, considering the water holy.[26] On November 8, Parrot and Abovian climbed up Lesser Ararat.[26] Impressed with Abovian's thirst for knowledge, Parrot arranged for a Russian state scholarship for Abovian to study at the University of Dorpat in 1830.[34]

Later ascents

Years later, in 1845, the German mineralogist Otto Wilhelm Hermann von Abich climbed Ararat with Abovian. Abovian's third and last ascent to Ararat was with the Englishman Henry Danby Seymour in 1846.[26]

In 1856 a group of five explorers led by Major Robert Stuart climbed Mt. Ararat.

Climbing routes

The climb is long, but there is a fairly easy route from the south in late summer for climbers who are familiar with the use of axe and crampons. Snow covers the last 400 m (¼ mile) year-round. There are two possible campsites on the mountain, and the glacier begins around 4,800 m (15,750 ft).

Climbing permits and guides

The Turkish government requires a climbing permit and use of a certified Turkish guide. Arrangements can take two months to complete..

Ararat PIA03399 modest.jpg
A three dimensional model that shows both peaks.

Political boundaries

Mount Ararat forms a near-quadripoint between Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Its summit located some 16 km (10 mi) west of both the Iranian border and the border of the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan, and 32 km (20 mi) south of the Armenian border

The Turkish-Armenian-Azerbaijani and Turkish-Iranian-Azerbaijani tripoints are actually some 8 km apart, separated by a narrow strip of Turkish territory containing the E99 road which enters Nakhchivan at 39°39′19″N 44°48′12″E / 39.6553°N 44.8034°E / 39.6553; 44.8034.

The international boundaries as described have been in effect since the 1991 independence of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, but they have a longer history, having been drawn in 1923 after the conflicts of World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire that affected the region, in particular the Armenian–Azerbaijani War of 1918 to 1920, and the creation of the Republic of Turkey in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 regulating the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. From 1923 to 1991, the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan was an internal border within the Soviet Union, between the Armenian SSR and the Nakhichevan SSR, the tripoint between Turkey, Iran and the Soviet Union from 1923 to 1991 corresponding to the current Turkish-Iranian-Azerbaijani tripoint. Prior to World War I, the area had been part of the Ottoman Empire, deriving from the conquests of Suleiman the Magnificent from Safavid Persia in the 1540s to 1550s.

Because of the political instability in Southeast Turkey, Ararat has been a militarized zone for much of the 20th century and was opened for tourism only in 2001. Since 2004, Ararat has been part of a natural reserve.

Significance in Armenian nationalism


Mt. Ararat view from Yerevan.

Ararat dominates the skyline of Armenia's capital, Yerevan.[35] Mount Ararat has been revered by the Armenians as symbolizing their national identity and their irredentism. Ararat is the national symbol of the 1991 Republic of Armenia, being featured in the center of its coat of arms.[36] In 1937, a coat of arms was adopted. This coat of arms descends from that of the Armenian SSR, which featured Mount Ararat along with the Soviet hammer and sickle and red star behind it.[37] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a slightly modified version of the Democratic Republic of Armenia's coat of arms was adopted and has remained in place ever since.[38][39] The 2002 film Ararat by Armenian-Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan features Mt. Ararat prominently in its symbolism.

In Armenian mythology Mt. Ararat is the home of the Gods, much like Mt. Olympus is in Greek Mythology.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ağrı Dağı - Jeolojik Yapısı". Governorship of Iğdır Province, Turkey. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Ararat". Jewish Virtual Library. 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  5. "Against the Armenian (and European) tradition that makes Masis the landing place of Noah, the Semitic tradition associated this landing with the mountain called Judi Dagh (earlier called Ararad or Sararad) located in Kurdistan northeast of Mosul.", Hewsen, p. 15Hewsen 2001
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomson, p. 98.Thomson 1978
  7. "Masis:' the Armenian name for the mountain south of the Araxes now called Ararat (by confusion with Ayrarat, the name of the province). (The Primary History, Sebeos, p. 10, offers a different etymology, from the personal name Marseak.)". Thomson, footnote on p. 91.Thomson 1978
  8. L'Harmattan Publishers, Paris, 1999, p.36, ISBN 2738476228.
  9. Friedrich Murat, Ararat und Masis, Studien zur armenischen Altertumskunde und Litteratur, Heidelberg, 1900. (Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare in a 1901 review states that "To anyone acquainted with Armenia, to speak of Ararat as a mountain is as if you spoke of Wales as such."
  10. 10.0 10.1 Thomson, p. 91.Thomson 1978
  11. Thomson, pp. 90-91.Thomson 1978
  12. "...Mount Ararat, or Ağrı Dağı as it is known in Turkish"
  13. (see meaning of Ağrı)
  14. Shockey, Don, 1986. Agri-Dagh, Mount Ararat: The Painful Mountain, Fresno, CA: Pioneer Publishing, ISBN 1572584122.
  15. "...see why the Turkish word for Mount Ararat is Agri Dagh or the 'Mountain of Pain!'"
  16. Hewsen, p. 15Hewsen 2001
  17. "Ararat/Ağri Daği". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  18. "MSN Encarta: Ararat (mountain". Archived from the original on 2009-11-01. 
  19. Great Adventures: Mount Ararat Expedition
  20. NASA - Earth Observatory (2001). "Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), Turkey". NASA. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  21. Encyclopædia Britannica: Mount Ararat
  22. SRTM data for Mount Ararat
  23. 2007 GPS measurement for Mount Ararat
  24. Detailed topographic maps of Mount Ararat
  25. 25.0 25.1 Template:Cite gvp
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 Ketchian, Philip K. (December 24, 2005), "Climbing Ararat: Then and Now", The Armenian Weekly 71 (52),, retrieved 2008-07-11 
  27. (Russian) Research Computing Center of Moscow State University
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 Mount Ararat Search Expeditions & Early Ascents in
  30. (Russian) Архив событий in Беларусское время
  31. Потоп - седьмая страница in Великие Загадки Истории
  33. Guest, 188
  34. Bardakjian, 255
  35. "Ararat, Mount :: Mount Ararat — Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  36. "Armenia: Coat of arms". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  37. "Armenia in the Soviet Union". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  38. "End of the Soviet Union". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  39. "Government of Republic of Armenia - THE NATIONAL COAT OF ARMS OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 

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