Defending Ron Wyatt
If you search the web you will find many sites attacking the discoveries of Ron Wyatt as well as many endorsing them. What is the truth? Wyatt has criticized by some for not having appropriate qualifications. He can been condemned by others as a liar and an outright fraud. Let me take a few moments to answer each of these objections.
God does not require professional qualifications in order for someone to serve him. Among the apostles, only Paul was a "professional". Indeed, Jesus himself was at times ridiculed by the pharisees because he had not received the training they thought necessary. Why should God not then choose to use an ordinary believer like Wyatt? Archaeology is an inexact science because of the difficulties of accurately interpreting the evidence. Wyatt himself was not a trained archaeologist, but if he really found the objects he photographed in the locations he claimed, then in my judgment it is likely he has found such sites as the Red Sea crossing and Mount Sinai.
The Red Sea photos and artifacts are particularly impressive. Most professional archaeologists digging in the Middle East have spent decades have found relatively little in comparison. I find the coral-encrusted chariot axles and wheels convincing. Whether or not you accept that the Nuweiba Beach site as the place of Israelite's crossing, this is an exceptional find. Apart from one palace in Egypt, I know of no other remains of chariot wheels. As far as I know, Wyatt's find is the only marine discovery of chariot wheels in the Middle East. If you begin to suspect some professional jealousy in the criticisms of Wyatt, you are probably right!
As for Mount Sinai, Wyatt was the first westerner to identify the mountain as Jebel El Lawz on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba. His photographs include a significant number of natural features and man-made structures corresponding to descriptions in the book of Exodus. The local Arabs have long held this mountain as the place where the ten commandments were given. Now with every passing year, the number of christians who accept Jebel El Lawz as the true site, continues to grow. Wyatt's exploration of Jebel El Lawz was followed ten years later (1988) by an expedition by Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams, who took similar photos and confirmed the discoveries. The latter pair found the site previously identified by Wyatt as the golden calf altar. Since Wyatt's expedition, the Saudi government had erected a fence around it, marling it an archaeological site. You can see the altar and the fence for yourself on Google Earth at coordinates 28 34 52.7N, 35 23 46.22E.
As to the claim that Wyatt is a fraud, let me start by explaining that my assessment of evidence is prayerful process which begins with the factual arguments for and against the acceptance of a proposition, but like a jury in a criminal case, it places significant weight on an assessment of character. The argument here is not really about Wyatt's archaeological training. It is a question of whether he is telling the truth. On August 9, 1999, shortly after Wyatt's death from cancer, David Bresnahan published the last interview with Wyatt in WorldNetDaily. Wyatt was asked to confirm the details of each of his claimed discoveries. He stood by his testimony. Since his death, Wyatt's family has maintained a repository for his photos and artifacts at Wyatt Archeological Research.
Having read his story as told now through his colleagues and family members, I believe him to be a humble man with a passionate faith in the reliability of the scriptures, and a real desire to serve God, even at a cost to himself. It is a fact that Wyatt's claims were rejected by some of the leaders in his own church, the Seventh Day Adventists. However, Wyatt was a dissenter, and that church does not tolerate dissent. They also have much to lose theologically if his claims about the ark of the covenant are true.
I do not give Wyatt a blanket endorsement. I don't believe his claim to have found Noah's Ark, having always believed it was a geological formation. But I believe he was genuinely mistaken. He did not have either the permission or the resources to excavate the site.
So what do I think is appropriate way to evaluate Wyatt's discoveries? My advice is not to prejudge the man. Acknowledge his good character and his sound christian faith. Also accept that he was human, and capable of honest mistakes. Then evaluate each of his discoveries on its merits. Start with the Red Sea crossing and the real Mt Sinai, for which there is considerable objective evidence. Then move on to Wyatt's excavation at Golgotha, and judge the photos and artifacts for yourself. If you find these plausible, you could finally check out the ark of the covenant claim, which largely rests on Wyatt's testimony.
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