As the floodwaters subsided, the Ark drifted across northern Iraq. Finally, with a crunching jolt, it hit dry land. Its timbers had scraped the peak of a mountain range called Sinjar. Water began to pour in. Fortunately, a black serpent, its coils as thick as an arm, moved to plug the breach. The Ark did not sink. Noah, his family, and all the various animals on board survived to repopulate the earth. This story, so familiar, so strange, can be seen illustrated in a shady courtyard that also boasts, just for good measure, the very spot where Adam is claimed to have been fashioned from dust. Lalish, a magical compound of domes, towers and stairways, stands in a valley in Iraqi Kurdistan.
To the Yazidis, a religious minority whose population straddles both the Kurdish region of Iraq and, to the south, the plain of Nineveh and the peaks of Sinjar, it is quite simply the holiest place in the world.