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Noah's Raft

Few years back there was a PBS documentary titled Walking the Bible, which was based on Bruce Feiler’s book. In the documentary Feiler climbs Mt. Ararat in Turkey in search of Noah’s Ark: Bible literalists believe that an actual Ark came to rest on top of this mountain.

The Noah’s Ark story is of course an adaptation of the Sumerian epic – the Atra-Hasis.

In this epic, the gods want to destroy humans because they have become noisy and the gods can’t get sleep. They try various tricks – plague, famine, and, drought; nothing works. The gods then take the draconian step of unleashing a flood. Again the dossier containing the plan gets leaked to Atra-Hasis by one of the gods, Enki. Thus Atra-Hasis builds a boat, carries animals and survives the flood which lasted seven days. [Noisy Epics]

If you want to see how Noah’s Ark looked like, here is a replica built by some folks in Netherlands. Here is a cartoon version and here is another. The Ark is imagined to be a large ship since as per Genesis 6:13-16, it 300 cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.

A new translation of a 3700 year old tablet tells a different story about the Ark – the one in Atra-Hasis: It was not a boat, but a circular raft.

“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.” [Relic reveals Noah’s ark was circular]

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6 Responses to Noah's Raft

  1. Kedar January 13, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    I wonder how Vaivasvata Manu’s boat looks like…

  2. Lekhni January 14, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    There was even an article in the Smithsonian magazine sometime back about whether the Ark now resides in present-day Ethiopia. It’s interesting that the Smithsonian should have chosen to publish this.

  3. Lekhni January 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Gosh, I hadn’t even realized there were two Arks 😮 Thanks for the enlightenment !

  4. Kaffir January 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Lekhni, the ark you mention was the one that Indiana Jones (along with the Nazis) was after, in the first film. :)

  5. Kk January 22, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    The version of the flood myth in the epic of Gilgamesh has the name of Atra-Hasis as Uta-Napishtim from the translation here: http://sacred-texts.com/ane/eog/eog13.htm

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