Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Instruction Manual

Lost Ark Instruction ManualEngland is currently in the middle of a natural crisis the likes of which it has not seen in a very long time. With flood water steadily creeping above doorstep, wellie-boot and even head height in some places, to say we’re a bit soggy would be the understatement of the century.

Trains nationwide have been delayed or cancelled (with Crewe station’s roof actually being blown off!), thousands of homes have been left without power, and for goodness sake, a seal was found splashing about in the water on the banks of the River Wye in Monmouth, Wales! We don’t know what we did to upset the big man upstairs, but one thing’s for certain – if there was ever a time to build an ark… this would be it.

So it’s pretty lucky that a recently translated Babylonian tablet has revealed the secrets to building an ark to rival even the great Noah’s, but with one key difference – it’s circular. Though it may look like some great floating spaceship, if you properly follow the instructions your DIY ark will hold all the animals you need. Measuring 3,600 square metres the equivalent of 2/3 of a football pitch it will be woven together like a gigantic rope basket, strengthened with wooden ribs, and waterproofed with bitumen both inside and out. Simple – or as they say in Ikea, Enkel!Irvin Finkel's Ark

But according to translator Irving Finkel we shouldn’t get carried away assuming the vessel described must be THE ark. In fact his statement “I am 107% convinced the ark never existed,” rather rains on our parade. He says this is just a giant version of the ship the Babylonians used daily to transport people and animals across rivers. Nevertheless Finkel still describes the tablet as “one of the most important human documents ever discovered.”

Located on the fertile crescent of land where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers converged, for people of the Mesopotamian civilisation, boats and rivers were an important aspect of life. We see many stories with very similar features to the Bible’s Noah story which predate it. In fact the great flood was a recurring motif in Mesopotamian literature, perhaps providing a way to deal with the yearly apprehension that would come each spring when the snow melted in the Taurus Mountains and led to the potentially catastrophic inundations of the Tigris and Euphrates. The ‘Flood Story’ is one such example which reminds us what a destructive force water was in the lives of these people, in which it wipes out the population leaving only the King Zi-ud-sura and his followers.

Even if it’s not the great Ark of the Bible just give us a couple of weeks then, if it’s still raining cats and dogs, at least we’ll have somewhere to put them!

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Written by Aisling Serrant

An all round museum educator and enthusiast, Aisling's the Family Festival Coordinator at the Museum of London Docklands.

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