Friday, January 24, 2014

Was Noah's Ark Round?

The Daily Mail reports on recent translations of Babylonian flood stories that describe a round ark:
It tells a similar story, complete with detailed instructions for building a giant round vessel known as a coracle — as well as the key instruction that animals should enter 'two by two.'

The tablet went on display at the British Museum today, and soon engineers will follow the ancient instructions to see whether the vessel could actually have sailed.

... Finkel believes a round boat makes sense.

Coracles were widely used as river taxis in ancient Iraq and are perfectly designed to bob along on raging floodwaters.

'It's a perfect thing,' Finkel said. 'It never sinks, it's light to carry.'

Elizabeth Stone, an expert on the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia at New York's Stony Brook University, said it made sense that ancient Mesopotamians would depict their mythological ark in that shape.

The tablet records a Mesopotamian god's instructions for building a giant vessel, two-thirds the size of a soccer field in area, made of rope, reinforced with wooden ribs and coated in bitumen.

Finkel said that on paper (or stone) the boat-building orders appear sound, but he doesn't yet know whether it would have floated.

A television documentary due to be broadcast later this year will follow attempts to build the ark according to the ancient manual.

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