Printer Friendly

Ancient Tablet Provides New Shape to Noah's Ark Story.

By theage.com/au

According to newly translated instructions inscribed in ancient Babylonian = on a clay tablet telling the story of Noah=92s Ark, the vessel that saved o= ne 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 battered tablet, which is about 3700 years old, was found somewhere in = the Middle East by Leonard Simmons, a largely self-educated Londoner who in= dulged his passion for history while serving in the Royal Air Force from 19= 45 to 1948.

The relic was passed to his son Douglas, who took it to one of the few peop= le in the world who could read it as easily as the back of a cereal box - I= rving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines of neat = cuneiform script.

There are dozens of ancient tablets that describe the flood story, but Fink= el said this is the first to describe the vessel's shape. =93In all the ima= ges 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 po= rtrayed it.

=93But the ark didn't have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the in= structions are for a type of craft which they knew very well. It's still so= metimes used in Iran and Iraq today, a type of round coracle which they wou= ld have known exactly how to use to transport animals across a river or flo= ods.=94

Finkel's research throws light on the familiar Mesopotamian story, which be= came the account in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that saved his m= enagerie from the waters that drowned every other living thing on earth.

In his translation, the God who has decided to spare one just man speaks to= Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who lived before the flood and who is the Noa= h figure in earlier versions of the ark story. =93Wall, wall! Reed wall, re= ed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice that you may live forever! Dest= roy your house, build a boat; despise possessions and save life! Draw out t= he boat that you will build with a circular design; Let its length and brea= dth be the same.=94

The tablet goes on to command the use of plaited palm fiber, waterproofed w= ith bitumen, before the construction of cabins for the people and wild anim= als. It ends with the dramatic command of Atram-Hasis to the unfortunate bo= at builder whom he leaves behind to meet his fate, about sealing up the doo= r once everyone else is safely inside: =93When I shall have gone into the b= oat, caulk the frame of the door.=94

Fortunes were spent in the 19th century by biblical archaeology enthusiasts= hunting for evidence of Noah's flood. The Mesopotamian flood myth was inco= rporated into the great poetic epic Gilgamesh, and Finkel believes it was d= uring the Babylonian captivity that the exiled Jews learned the story, brou= ght it home with them, and incorporated it into the Old Testament.

COPYRIGHT 2010 Electronic World Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Jan 7, 2010
Words:538
Previous Article:Israel Begins Airport Fingerprint Security.
Next Article:Israeli Researchers: =91Beware Vitamin E=92.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters