Ancient History & Civilisation

The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood

The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood

The recent translation of a Babylonian tablet launches a groundbreaking investigation into one of the most famous stories in the world, challenging the way we look at ancient history.
Since the Victorian period, it has been understood that the story of Noah, iconic in the Book of Genesis, and a central motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, derives from a much older story that existed centuries before in ancient Babylon. But the relationship between the Babylonian and biblical traditions was shrouded in mystery. Then, in 2009, Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum and a world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, found himself playing detective when a member of the public arrived at the museum with an intriguing cuneiform tablet from a family collection. Not only did the tablet reveal a new version of the Babylonian Flood Story; the ancient poet described the size and completely unexpected shape of the ark, and gave detailed boat building specifications. Decoding this ancient message wedge by cuneiform wedge, Dr. Finkel discovered where the Babylonians believed the ark came to rest and developed a new explanation of how the old story ultimately found its way into the Bible. In The Ark Before Noah, Dr. Finkel takes us on an adventurous voyage of discovery, opening the door to an enthralling world of ancient voices and new meanings.

Chapter 1. About this Book

Chapter 2. The Wedge between Us

Chapter 3. Words and People

Chapter 4. Recounting the Flood

Chapter 5. The Ark Tablet

Chapter 6. Flood Warning

Chapter 7. The Question of Shape

Chapter 8. Building the Arks

Chapter 9. Life on Board

Chapter 10. Babylon and Bible Floods

Chapter 11. The Judaean Experience

Chapter 12. What Happened to the Ark?

Chapter 13. What is the Ark Tablet?

Chapter 14. Conclusions: Stories and Shapes

Appendix 1: Ghosts, the Soul and Reincarnation

Appendix 2: Investigating the Text of Gilgamesh XI

Appendix 3: Building the Ark – Technical Report

Appendix 4: Reading the Ark Tablet



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