Noah’s Ark is typically portrayed as a giant elongated boat with two of each animal on earth, keeping them protected while a catastrophic flood wiped out the rest of the earth.
But a recently discovered 4,000-year-old clay tabled from ancient Mesopotamia reveals that the traditional idea of Noah’s Ark may have been wrong all along. Instead, the finding has unveiled the roots of the Old Testament story, showing that the boat may have actually been a round vessel known as a coracle.
The tablet also contained instructions on how to build the coracle, and engineers now plan to follow those blueprints to see if the real Noah’s Ark actually could have sailed.
The ancient tablet made its way into the hands of Irving Finkel, the assistant keeper of the Middle East at the British Museum. Finkel also wrote a book on the topic, The Ark Before Noah.
“It was really a heart-stopping moment — the discovery that the boat was to be a round boat,” said Finkel. “That was a real surprise.”
It actually makes more sense that Noah’s Ark was round, Finkel noted. Coracles were typical in ancient Iraq, where the tablet was found, and are ideal for floating on rising floodwater.
“It’s a perfect thing,” Finkel said. “It never sinks, it’s light to carry.”
The Biblical tale is also set to get a lot more attention this year. The story of Noah bringing animals two by two onto the ark is set to come to life thanks to a Noah’s Ark movie, one that’s using animators from the Kung Fu Panda series to tell the story from the perspective of the animals.
The movie centers on a meerkat who leads an outcast group of animals on a journey to join the Ark.
The Noah’s Ark movie will likely open to a wide audience, borrowing a model of faith-based entertainment that helped the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ to a $612 million worldwide gross. No word on whether the ark in the movie will be round or not.