When we think of the story of Noah, many imagine a giant boat that managed to hold two of every animal species on Earth. And that giant boat is typically “pointy”.
Apparently the image had by many was completely wrong. According to a recently deciphered 4,000-year-old clay tablet, the boat was round in shape.
“It’s a perfect thing,” says Irving Finkel, the assistant keeper of the Middle East at the British Museum where the tablet is currently on display. “It never sinks, it’s light to carry.”
Finkel was lucky enough to get a hold of the rare artifact when a man brought in the then badly damaged tablet, which his father had came by in the Middle East during WWII. The tablet, which is said to be roughly the size of a mobile phone, would turn out to be, “one of the most important human documents ever discovered.”
The tablet is the detailed record of a Mesopotamian god’s instructions for building a giant vessel. Some believe that the tablet, found in what is now Iraq, and other writings were stories that were passed on to Jews that were held captive in Babylon thousands of years ago. These tales were then thought to have found their way into Jewish folklore.
Finkel’s enthusiasm over the ancient text is hardly surprising and according to other experts, to be expected.
The British Museum had made an “an extraordinary discovery,” David Owen, professor of ancient Near Eastern studies at Cornell University.
While Elizabeth Stone, who is an expert on the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia at Stony Brook University in New York, was enthusiastic about the discovery, she didn’t appear willing to rule out the more familiar boat shape.
“People are going to envision the boat however people envision boats where they are,” said Stone. This meant that if round boats are the norm in a certain part of the world, it makes sense that the text’s author would visualize Noah’s Ark as round.
“Coracles are not unusual things to have had in Mesopotamia.”
What do you think? Would Noah’s Ark have been round or pointed? Was there even an ark at all? Share your comments below!
Image via Wikimedia Commons