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!
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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