Noah's Circular Ark?

Why not? Makes sense to me that the thing only had to float, not navigate. I like this story

According to newly translated instructions inscribed in ancient Babylonian on a clay tablet telling the story of the ark, the vessel that saved one virtuous man, his family and the animals from god’s watery wrath was not the pointy-prowed craft of popular imagination but rather a giant circular reed raft.

The now battered tablet, aged about 3,700 years, was found somewhere in the Middle East by Leonard Simmons, a largely self-educated Londoner who indulged his passion for history while serving in the RAF from 1945 to 1948.

The relic was passed to his son Douglas, who took it to one of the few people in the world who could read it as easily as the back of a cornflakes box; he gave it to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines of neat cuneiform script.

There are dozens of ancient tablets that have been found which describe the flood story but Finkel says this one is the first to describe the vessel’s shape.

“In all the images ever made people assumed the ark was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves – so that is how they portrayed it,” said Finkel. “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.”


About Elizabeth Scalia
  • hatless in hattiesburg

    A circular ark might make “logical” sense, but not “literal”. Read Genesis 6:15:

    “This is how you shall make (the ark): the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.”

    300×50 would make it a rather skinny ellipse, at best.

    Putting a large door in the side of a wooden boat (see verse 16) isn’t terribly “logical” either, btw…

  • Bender

    Whatever the true historical aspect of the ark is, that kind of misses the point of the event and story.

  • Irenaeus of New York

    Isn’t that really the story of Gilgamesh? Not Noah…. not sure, but I have a recollection of Gilgamesh on cuneiform

  • Irenaeus of New York

    sorry, did not see the link

  • The Watcher

    Going beyond hatless’ point above, I’d say that a round boat with no rudder would end up spinning like a top. Imagine a shipload of seasick animals – not a pleasant mind-picture.

  • DThomas

    Round boat, rectangular boat, what I want to know is where did all that water go?

  • Mark L

    Well the Imperial Russian Navy made a circular warship in the 1800s. Google “Novgorad warship” or go to here to see a picture of a model of it.

  • RB


    “I have a recollection of Gilgamesh on cuneiform”

    How old are you?

    “This is how you shall make (the ark): the length of the ark three hundred cubits…”

    The man who designed the “Great Eastern” (the world’s first modern cargo ship) in the 19th century based the dimensions on the Ark, figuring that God knew how to design a boat and so it ought to work now as well as then.
    He did, and it did.

    “Whatever the true historical aspect of the ark is, that kind of misses the point of the event and story.’

    The ark came to rest on the 17th day of the 7th month; which was then [omitted here a lengthy discussion] the 17th day of Nisan, the same day as the Resurrection. (i.e., mankind is saved).

  • Bender

    RB — I will assume that you are right, but I meant the eschatological significance of the Flood and Ark.

  • DThomas

    The story of the Flood is just that, a story meant to convey that there comes a time when God judges. Things will not go on indefinitely. Though it may seem so, and that the particulars of daily life go on as always (ie. marrying and giving in marriage, eating, making a living…etc), do not be fooled! One day God will enter the stage. At that point the play is over!

    There really is no archaelogical evidence (much less geological evidence) for a universal Flood. It’s simply a story…a parable.

  • Bender

    As many stories as there are out there from that region of a flood, I don’t doubt that there was an actual historical large, catastrophic flood, which quite possibly covered the entire known world. Did it cover the entire geographical world? Like I said, that is really beside the point. Maybe it did, maybe it did not, but either way, the purpose of the story is true, that is, the point that God is telling through the story is true.

    The story is not meant to be history, but theology placed in an historical context — the destruction of sin by the Flood/waters of Baptism, and the salvation of the people of God in an Ark/the Church at the end of the world/the Flood — just like the Creation accounts are not meant to be strict history (much less cosmological science), but are instead theology placed in a historical context.

  • Sean Fitzpatrick

    There is evidence for a historical flood, if not a global one. During ice-age glaciations, sea levels drop, exposing continental shelves, the Bering land bridge, and closing the Dardanelles-Bosporus straits between the Mediterranean and Black seas; the Black Sea becomes an inland lake. As the glaciers melt (starting about 12,000 ybp, most recently), sea levels rise, and among other effects, the Black Sea is reconnected to the world’s oceans.
    The Black Sea has no thermal turn-over. The lower layers are dead zones, both mechanically and biologically inactive. Recent research has found wind-blown dunes on the sea bottom, water ripples in the sand, sea-shore huts, and a huge channel starting from the foot of the now underwater cliff at the Bosporus–evidence of the huge cataract that poured water from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea basin. Geological dating indicates the flooding happened about 5500 BC.
    There are plenty of references on Google and Amazon, including here and here.

    [Edited to insert links. As I have said about a million times, if you leave a comment with unembedded links, you'll go to the spam filter 9 times out of 10. Helpful tutorial on how to make links, here. If I can do it anyone can. -admin]

  • Jayhawk

    DThomas, Sean Fitzpatrick, The ark landed on Mt. Ararat which is taller than any mountain in Colorado. Can it be that Mt. Ararat was covered by water and not the whole earth for almost a year ? I agree there should be evidence, of one or of the other. I believe the OT, though, where did the water go ? Into the sky? The first rainbow. Help someone. I don’t want parable/story. Archeology has repeatedly proven the OT reliable. Help !!