Noah's ark was round – says British Museum curator

Posted Feb 12, 2014 by D.M. McGrory
In a new book, Irving Finkel, curator of the British Museum's clay tablets from ancient Mesopotamia, sets out to prove that the familiar story of the biblical flood was derived from stories originating thousands of years before the bible was written.
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Finkel’s findings, which centre on a small clay tablet dating from circa 1800BC with 60 tiny lines of script, known as the Ark Tablet, which relates part of the flood story. In an interview with the Guardian he notes that real-life detective story began around 30 years ago when a member of the public brought the tablet to him. He then spent 20 years translating its text and pitting it against other flood literature, legend and folklore.
In the book The Ark Before Noah: decoding the story of the flood Finkel's main hypothesis is that the original ark from Biblical legend had to be round. Which shatters our general impression of a neat, multi-decked, well, boat shaped structure topped with a house and filled with pairs of animals.
Among the tiny etchings on the Ark Tablet are detailed instructions on how to build an enormous round boat, 70ft across, six yards high, even down to the length of rope required to help it sail. Dr. Finkel worked with a mathematician to check measurements to ensure he remained correct to within one percent.
As well as covering this bombshell in his book, a documentary has been commissioned by Channel 4 in the UK which will see a round ark built to the specifications etched onto Finkel's tablet to determine if the structure can sail.
Hodder and Stoughton
At the world-renowned British Museum, Dr Finkel is the curator in charge of what are known as cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay — those are the tiny inscriptions indecipherable to most. The focus of his work is on tablets originating from Mesopotamia, an ancient region located in modern day Iraq. The Middle East department of the Museum houses the largest collection of these tablets in the world — around 130,000 pieces.
On the obvious question of whether the decoded inscriptions on the Ark Tablet mean that the story of Noah’s Ark is “real”, Dr Finkel notes “there must have been a heritage memory of the destructive power of flood water, based on various terrible floods.” Adding that there are "geological and archaeological suggestions that there was an especially cataclysmic flood around 5,000BC."