Hey, Hambo — Noah’s Ark Was Round!

You know all about the Ark Encounter project, which is proposed by a company controlled by Answers in Genesis (AIG). AIG is the on-line ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. It also owns and operates the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

And you also know about Ken Ham’s “Ark Encounter” Bonds, which are being issued to finance the proposed Ark project. But if you visit the Ark Encounter website, you’ll learn that ol’ Hambo is planning to spend those millions (assuming the bonds are sold) on building a replica which he assumes will look like the original — if it ever existed.

But look what we just found in London’s Daily Mail: Was Noah’s Ark round? Scholar says 3,700-year-old clay tablet reveals boat was a coracle made out of reeds and bitumen. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Noah’s Ark is often depicted as a pointy-prowed traditional ship. But new research suggests it was very different from popular imagining, and was actually a circular craft made out of reeds.

Dr Irving Finkel reveals his ground-breaking discovery into the ancient myth in his new book called The Ark Before Noah: Decoding The Story Of The Flood.

Here’s a link to the book at Amazon. It won’t be released for another month. Back to the news story:

As an expert in deciphering cuneiform script, Dr Finkel managed to piece together information on the ark from a 3,700-year-old clay tablet.

Wikipedia’s brief entry on Irving Finkel says he’s a curator at the British Museum and he specializes in the cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia. Let’s read on:

His translation of the ancient text throws light on the Mesopotamian story, which became the account in Genesis in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that saved his menagerie from the flood waters which drowned every other living thing on earth. The text describes god speaking to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story.

He says: ‘Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions And save life! Draw out the boat that you will built with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same.’ The ancient Babylonian text describes the ark as a round 220-ft diameter coracle with walls 20-ft high.

Noah’s coracle? Wikipedia has an article with some pictures about the coracle style of boat. If Dr. Finkel is right, then Hambo is hoping to use $62 million from bond sales to build the wrong design. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The news story continues:

According to the tablet, the ark had two levels and a roof on the top. The craft was divided into sections to divide the various animals into their own sections. The 60 lines of text, which Dr Finkel describes as a ‘detailed construction manual for building an ark’, claims the craft was built using ropes and reeds before being smeared with bitumen to make it waterproof.

Poor ol’ Hambo. Here’s one more excerpt:

‘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.’

So there you are. This confusion over the Ark’s geometry reminds us of an old joke: Somewhere in the Deep South, a teacher goes to the blackboard, writes the well-known formula for the area of a circle (πr2) , and announces to her class: “Pi r squared.” Little Johnny raises his hand, is called on, and says: “You’re wrong, teacher. Pie are round! Cornbread are square!” (Well, we thought it was funny.)

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Hey, Hambo — Noah’s Ark Was Round!

  1. This is a better design than the Bible’s and Ken Ham’s rectangle. A rectangular boat with right angles is not seaworthy and will leak.

    OT: Ken Ham has often gone around demanding that artists never portray the Ark as having a “bathtub” shape, but only a parallelopiped with right angle corners. Ken Ham angrily denounces bathtub arks as subtly destroying the Christian faith, Why? Because a “bathtub” shaped ark looks ridiculous! But a giant wooden parallelopiped with right angle corners, and full of dinosaurs, now that’s totally believable.

    Well I just bought Ken Ham’s kids’ book, “D is for Dinosaur” (I collect creationist books) and of course it has pictures of a bathtub ark!

    Ken Ham, you’ll recall, later said we have no idea how dinosaurs and humans interacted. Of course this book, like several books of Ham’s, shows Flintstones-type cartoons of humans and dinosaurs interacting. One image shows a vegetarian Tyrannosaurus hungrily eating fruit (grapes etc.) off the top of Adam’s head. I kid you not.

  2. Blasphemer, thy name is Finkel!! The One True Holy Bible says clearly in Genesis 6: 14,15 that “(14) Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
    [15] And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: “The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.”
    “That don’t sound like no circle to me”, I say snappin’ the suspenders of my bib overalls and spittin’ out a hayseed. “Looks like this Finkel feller is gonna be sailin’ his boat on the Lake O’ Fire!”

  3. Why do people keep making the same mistake about gopher wood? When Noah was told to build the ark, he asked “shall I construct it of wood, straw, or iron?” After some consideration, God said “go for wood.”

  4. The revelation of the torah to Moses supposedly happened about 1200-1300 BCE. Although the torah was clearly written down much later, the clay tablet pre-dates even the revelation by about 500 years. Yet, the tablet purports to record instructions from God as to how to build an arc. Did God tell two different stories? If not, then who the heck were the Mesopotamians talking to? They clearly had not read Genesis, since it wasn’t written yet.

    Clearly the earlier document, closer to the events in question, must be deemed more reliable, or at least more in keeping with the original myths.

  5. Ah yes… gopher wood. This reminds me of an experience I had in the deep south about twenty years ago. I had flown to Atlanta and was driving to Huntsville, AL to attend a friend’s wedding. While stretching my legs at a rest stop along an Interstate highway, I overheard a middle aged man instructing a young boy. Pointing to a nearby tree, the man said “That is a gopher wood tree. As it says in the bible…” blah blah blah. I looked at the tree, and realized it was the same species as those that lined the river bank near my boyhood home in Ohio. I might have kept my mouth shut, but I couldn’t resist the urge to confront the propagation of ignorance. Pointing to the tree, I said, “Excuse me, are you talking about this tree?” The man nodded. “That’s an American Plane Tree — also called Sycamore.” I went on to say somewhat sheepishly that I hoped he didn’t mind being corrected by some smart-alec Yankee. But he was rather gracious, and even thanked me for pointing out his error. To me this says that even the most ignorant bible thumper can, in some circumstances, be taught… even if it is only a small fact. I kept my thoughts about Noah myth to myself.

  6. Richard Olson

    I think the issue here, Ed, is modern math. Not the modern math taught a few decades ago, no. I refer to the math that existed before 6 Genesis days that each lasted more than 24 hours, possibly adding up to as much as 13.7 Billion years, and then changed to the kind of math where 4470 or so days each measured 24 hours up to and including today. Some true believers differ with others and say that 13.7 Billion number is high by about 13.6999. Other than that, they all believe the same history. It is all very complicated. Only certain computers housed between certain pairs of ears are capable of performing the necessary calculations.

  7. Richard Olson

    forgot notify button

  8. Stephen Kennedy

    AIG is very secretive about their finances and have yet to even mention the $62 million bond offering on their website let alone give details as to how sales of bonds are going. However, they do make information available for other reasons that can be used to infer what is going on inside AiG. One piece of information is a daily update on how many “Lifetime Boarding Passes” are still available for purchase from the original allotment of 2,000. The bond issuing documents state that investors who purchase $100,000 worth of bonds would be given complimentary lifetime boarding passes.

    The documents also indicated that sales of bonds would begin in November and be concluded no later than December 19th which is only two days from now. I have checked the AIG website over this period to determine how many boarding passes are still available from which it can be inferred how many have been given to bond purchasers. The number seems to be no more than ten.

    If, at most, only ten purchasers have purchased over $100,000 in bonds, AIG will not get anywhere near the $62 million they are seeking and may raise as little as $5 million to $10 million from this effort. The failure of the bond offering would likely end any possibility of the ark being built and leave AIG in the position of having to refund over $5 million to people who have already bought and paid for lifetime boarding passes. AIG has already spent that money and does not have anywhere near $5 million in liquid assets according to their latest Form 990. I have no idea what 800 acres of undeveloped land in rural northern Kentucky is worth but I doubt they will be able to get $5 million for it.

  9. Mr. Kennedy, your diligence in delving (as much as possible) into this Ark Park debacle is to be admired. Nothing would make me happier than seeing a picture of the sheriff padlocking the entrance to that abominable creation “museum” of Ol’ Hambo’s.
    Anybody have a clue of the salvage value of an animatronic T-Rex crunching coconuts?

  10. Dave Godfrey usefully fills in some missing blanks in the Noachic story:

    When Noah was told to build the ark, he asked “shall I construct it of wood, straw, or iron?” After some consideration, God said “go for wood.”

    And lo! Noah’s son Shem said that was a good idea indeed, and so they built the Ark of wood as the Lord had suggested. And a mighty Ark it was–until the Big Bad Dawkins happened along and cried, “Come out, come out, or I’ll blow your Ark down!”

    “Never!” shouted Noah. “Not by the hairs on my stegasaurus!”

    So the Big Bad Dawkins huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the Ark down.

    Noah and his sons fled the scene as fast as ever they could. And Noah’s son Japeth said, “We must go fer something more robust than wood to build the Ark! Let us make it of bricks, instead!”

    “Don’t be such a blockhead, Japeth!” cried Noah. “How can an Ark made of bricks ever float upon the flood waters that are coming?”

    “Ye must have faith in the Lord,” retorted Japeth.

    And so it came to pass, Noah and his sons built a fresh Ark, this time out of bricks. But verily, again came the Big Bad Dawkins, and again he huffed and he puffed and he blew the brick Ark down!

    Away fled Noah, his family, and his entourage of animals. And then Noah’s son Hambo was smote with a Bright Idea, and he declared unto the others, “I know what we need to do! Forget the wood, and the bricks, let us instead float a Bond issue, as light and insubstantial as air, and getteth thereby a great pile of gold with which we can buy First Class tickets on a proper cruise ship and get the bejezus outta here!”

    And lo, it was so!

  11. That the Babylonian Ark was as broad as it was long is not exactly news. My copy of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin, 1960) says

    “These are the measurements of the barque as you shall build her: let her beam equal her length..”

    and later “each side of the deck measured one hundred and twenty cubits, making a square”.

    I wonder if Finkel is working from a different text when he writes “circular design”.

  12. waldteufel declares

    Nothing would make me happier than seeing a picture of the sheriff padlocking the entrance to that abominable creation “museum” of Ol’ Hambo’s.

    That would put a smile on my face, too–but I’d like to go one better:

    When the premises are put up for public auction, we–the loyal readers of the SC blog–pass the hat and snap it up at a knock-down price. With a little refurbishment, we re-open it as The Creationist Museum, to house our Curmudgeon’s extensive archives. Our tagline: Prepare to be flabbergasted!

    But we’d of course want the animatronic dinos thrown in as part of the job lot. We can replace the coconut with a different replica head of a creationist each week, delivered via zip-wire…

  13. @Stephen Kennedy: Concerning the value of Ham’s 800 acres — I don’t know exactly where Ham’s undeveloped land is that he’s planning for the Ark Park, but most of the area in northern Kentucky is definitely not suitable for large-scale farming. It’s all hills — an incised plain, actually, with narrow ridges separating steep-sided valleys. So, you’re correct — it’s not likely worth anything near $5 million.

  14. Ken Ham seems not to have noticed that reeds would be unbiblical (as well as probably unseaworthy).

  15. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    @Ashley Haworth-roberts

    You might be suprised. Thor Heyerdahl’s Ra & Ra II. The advancement of genetics made his hypotheses a mixed bag of correct and false but ya got to admire his tenacious character.

  16. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    It looks to me like the Daily Mail is using a condensed hack of The Guardians article published in 2010. I linked to it back on an earlier post of Curmy’s on The Tower of Babel. My comment on that post has a few more links and videos concerning the ark and Dr. Finkel.

    ICR tried to lamely spin The Guardian’s 2010 article here. If you don’t wish to offer ICR your traffic, the gist of their article is the bible’s version has a more seaworthy type of craft and …


    The Guardian also thrice repeated the assertion that Genesis borrowed from supposedly earlier Mesopotamian sources. But this ignores textual and other evidence that Genesis 1-11 was based on direct, eyewitness accounts.

    Gotcha, it’s in the bible and uses “historically” specific details. What this “other evidence” is, is left a mystery. They conclude …


    The realistic parameters for the Ark provided in Genesis are evidence that the biblical account is a trustworthy account of real history, unlike this newly translated clay tablet and other fanciful ancient writings.

    It’s totally not a lifted and updated myth. True Story.