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2 Jan, 2010 13:05

Noah's Ark was circular

Noah's Ark was circular

Noah's Ark did not look like a ship in the traditional sense, but was a giant circular raft made of reeds, claims Irving Finkel from the British Museum.

The scientist came to the conclusion after being able to read the description of the ship, fleeing from the flood, on a Babylonian clay tablet, the estimated age of which is approximately 3,700 years, The Guardian newspaper reports.

"In all the images ever made, people assumed the ark was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed bow and stern for riding the waves – so that is how they portrayed it. But the ark didn't have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well. It's still sometimes used in Iran and Iraq today, a type of round coracle which they would have known exactly how to use to transport animals across a river or floods," Irving Finkel told the newspaper.

The plate, with about 60 lines of cuneiform writing, was discovered by amateur historian Leonard Simmons back in the 1940s. And Finkel got the tablet from Simmons’ son.

According to the researcher, dozens of cuneiform tablets describing the history of the flood exist. It is these which apparently became the basis for the biblical legends. However, the one found by Simmons is the first to depict the appearance of the vessel.

The plate throws light on the familiar Mesopotamian story, which became the account in Genesis, in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that saved him and his family from the waters which drowned every other living thing on earth.

In Finkel’s translation, the god who decided to spare just one man, tells Atram-Hasis (a Sumerian king who lived before the flood and who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story) to destroy his house, give up all his possessions and “and save life!”

“Draw out the boat that you will build with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same."

Than the tablet goes on to command the use of plaited palm fibre, waterproofed with bitumen, before the construction of cabins for the people and wild animals.

Meanwhile, Genesis describes the shape of the Noah’s Ark in a different way – it was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits in height (with one cubit equaling approximately 0.5 meters).