A 4000-year-old tablet from ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) contains the specifications for an ark pre-dating the story of Noah (suggests Ark was circular).
It describes a circular vessel known as a coracle, not the rectangular vessel of modern mythology.
The 4000-year-old clay tablet containing the story of the Ark and the flood stands on display at the British Museum in London.
The tablet records a Mesopotamian god’s instructions for building a giant vessel – two-thirds the size of a soccer field in area – made of rope, reinforced with wooden ribs and coated in bitumen.
Etched in the clay is one of the story’s key elements: It describes how the animals must enter “two by two”.
The British Museum says the detail contained in the tablet can be analysed by naval architects to determine if such a vessel could have actually sailed.
Mr Finkel is the British Museum assistant keeper of the Middle East. He is releasing a book on the tablet titled: “The Ark Before Noah”.
“(The tablet is) one of the most important human documents ever discovered,” he said.
And the newly revealed design, he said, was “perfect”.
“It never sinks, it’s light to carry.”
But Finkel said that while the design appear sound, but he isn’t sure a “coracle” of that scale would have floated.
David Owen, professor of ancient Near Eastern studies at Cornell University, said the British Museum curator had made “an extraordinary discovery.”
Elizabeth Stone, an expert on the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia at New York’s Stony Brook University, said it made sense that ancient Mesopotamians would depict their mythological ark as round.
This is not the first time the ancient story of the ark has been found outside of the bible. But it is the earliest.
The flood story recurs in later Mesopotamian writings including the “Epic of Gilgamesh.”