Monday, 2 February 2015
Noah’s Ark Was Not Round
Just over a year ago, Irving Finkel published his book The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood. This was followed more recently by a documentary that describes what he thought Noah’s Ark was like.
Dr. Finkel, an Assyriologist at the British Museum, thinks that an old Babylonian tablet describes the real dimensions of Noah’s Ark. The Mesopotamian ark appears to be circular, with a diameter of approximately 68 metres (220 feet). As such, it was a lot more seaworthy than the cube-shaped Gilgamesh ark that would hardly have withstood the flood.
But it was a lot smaller and unlike the Ark described in Genesis, it could most probably not have survived a yearlong flood.
As coracles or round river boats were widely used in ancient Mesopotamia and the local flood hypothesis is so widespread in liberal circles, this might explain why Finkel and some others were so eager to associate the tablet with Noah’s Ark.
It all boils down to presuppositions. Those who assume that the Mesopotamian stories predate Genesis will claim that the writer of Noah’s account used extra-biblical sources to write Genesis.
However, the ark described in Genesis is a more credible vessel. There are flood legends in almost every culture, which suggests that the flood was a real global event.
The most logical solution to the ark dilemma is that the Mesopotamians copied the Genesis account and not vice versa. In doing so, they got the shape of vessel wrong.
Finkel, Irving. 2014. Was the ark round? A Babylonian description discovered. The British Museum Blog (24 January).