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Noah's Ark

Hollywood resurrects Noah's Ark, but did they get it right?

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The new film Noah starring Russell Crowe as the man chosen by God to collect pairs of animals on Earth and gather them into a massive ark has just hit cinemas around the world. But has Hollywood got it right? 

The movie features a great rectangular-shaped vessel some 50 feet tall and 500 feet long and made of wood. According to film director, Darren Aronofsky, the inspiration for the design came by "going back to what God tells Noah in the Bible". The problem is that Aronofsky may have been using the wrong instruction manual when designing the Biblical blockbuster.  

Last year, translation of an ancient instruction manual for building an ark written on a clay tablet dating back 3,700 years turned the common depiction of Noah's Ark on its head. Far from describing a traditional wooden ship that would float on flood waters with animals peering out through the windows, the ancient text described a ship that was in fact a circular disc shape.

A traditional depiction of Noah's Ark as a typical wooden ship.

For years, archaeologists have scoured the world for factual evidence for the Bible story of Noah's flood, but due to lack of scientific proof, many believe the story to be an Old Testament myth.

However, linguistic expert Dr Irving Finkel firmly believes that Noah’s Ark and the ‘flood myth’ describe real events that took place, and he bases this belief not on faith, but on archaeological evidence coming from a 3,700-year-old clay tablet. The tablet was found in the Middle East by Leonard Simmons, who served in the RAF during the 1940s. However, the ancient artefact wasn't subject to any research until Simmons's son Douglas took it to the British Museum in 2008.

As an expert in deciphering cuneiform script and assistant keeper of the ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures department at the British Museum, Finkel was able to translate the text on the clay tablet, leading to a new interpretation of the ark story.

The tablet described a Mesopotamian story, which became the account in Genesis in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that saved every animal species from the flood waters.  The text describes God speaking to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story.

He says: 'Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions and save life! Draw out the boat that you will build with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same.'

The ancient Babylonian text describes the ark as a round 65-metre diameter coracle with walls 6 metre high, spread over two levels. The craft was divided into sections to divide the various animals into their own sections. The 60 lines of text, which Dr Finkel describes as a “detailed construction manual for building an ark”, claims the craft was built using ropes and reeds before being smeared with bitumen to make it waterproof.

An ancient clay tablet describes an ark that is circular in shape. Image source.

Scholars have always assumed that the ark was an ocean-going boat with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves, but according to Finkel, the ark didn’t have to go anywhere, it just had to float.

The story of Noah’s ark is described in dozens of ancient texts and is told in three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  According to the story, God flooded the world as punishment for its corruption and told Noah to build an ark and fill it with a male and female of every breed of animal. Once the flood receded, the ark came to rest on a mountain. Many people believe that the story is historically accurate and that this mountain was Mount Ararat in Turkey, the region's highest point. Other's believe that the flood myth was simply a creative story passed down from generation to generation.

Featured image: Noah's Ark under construction in the new film 'Noah'. Photo credit: Paramount 

By April Holloway



This would make sense that it would be a circle as opposed to a traditional styled ship.. I first had to imagine what that would be like to get pre warning and then to think of all the stuff to pack. I can get more cubic feet out of a circle than I could a block. This is because of PHI and because the radius is squared. It would make sense that it would need to have a low center of gravity and would need to have enough space for animals. I think the shape is logical. 

Troy Mobley

Anyone considered the possibility that there were ‘several’ flood survivors and not just one? Of course not. I vote for the Sumerians!


I've seen so many stories over the last year of thousand year old building, complexes & walkways far underneath water. Perhaps they were once above water & a flood covered them forever.

Wow, it seems like everyone has a dog in the fight. I wonder what the facts tell us. Well, the facts tell us that someone wrote about a big round boat.

A boat would suggest two things:
1. Warning or foreknowledge.
2. Fast moving water.

When I think of "Floods" I think melting ice. It seems that there was a Late Glacial Maximum about 13k years ago that would have caused a lot of liquid water to be added to the system.

Now we need to see that water moving faster than melt rates to require a boat. Why not just walk away? Unless the sea level rise is too quick? Two theories I've heard seem to fit. One is the glacial lake of melted water released when the last ice barrier breaks. The other is that the slowly rising waters broke or breached a land barrier causing areas to flood rapidly. Both seem plausible.

Also, the story may be only partially true, in that the water did rise, but fictional in the need for a boat. Eliminating the fast flood theory in place of steadily rising water levels and making a warning unnecessary.

My "dog" in this fight is that I don't want the date any later than possible. I like the breaking glacier theory, because it provides an earlier date for a flood.

I recommend that all the contributors here find their "Dog" and leash it. I want civilization to be older than the commonly accepted dates provide for, I know that this is my desire, the weakness in my judgement, so I check my thinking constantly to leash the dog of my imagination as much as possible.


Mount Ararat in Turkey ....please look at what Mount Ararat is ? volcano ! a later than the time frame of the flood the mountains of Ararat ...ancient kingdom area .....a lot was said about the ark by others of old ,damn just the facts again ......please study real history and facts ...damn dark age agenda !


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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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