American Elephants

Noah’s Ark Takes to the Water, Once Again, 3,765 Years Later. by The Elephant's Child
September 2, 2015, 6:58 am
Filed under: History, Iran, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Here is a fascinating story of how an Englishman, going through some of his father’s possessions after his death. found a clay fragment that his father had bought from a bazaar with cuneiform writing on it. which he took to the British Museum to see if he could find out just what it was.  It was a clay tablet from 1,750 B.C. and Dr. Irving Finkel, Deputy Keeper of Middle East in the British Museum found it to contain a new account of the ancient Babylonian Flood story, containing actual directions for making a round ark.

There are many versions of the deluge myth in the ancient Near East. One features Zusudra, King of Sumer, as the Noah figure and is found on a single tablet from the 17th century B.C. excavated in Nippur, Iraq. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of Utnapishtim who was tasked by the god Enki-Ea to build a boat that would save his family, craftsmen, plants and animals from the flood the other gods were sending to destroy humanity. The earliest surviving Gilgamesh tablets date to the 18th  century B.C.

Dr. Finkel is one of the few people in the world who can sight  read cuneiform writing. “Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atra-Hasis…” That passage is famous among Assyriologists as the opening lines of the Atra-Hasis Flood Story. Finkel was thrilled at such a rare find and asked to keep the tablet so he could translate the whole thing which is covered in cuneiform front and back, but Mr. Simmonds was unwilling to part with it. It wasn’t until 2009 when Dr. Finkel spotted Douglas Simmonds at the Babylon, Myth and Reality exhibition that the latter finally agreed to bring the tablet in for translation.

The story of what that tablet led to is an absolutely fascinating archaeological detective story told in the video. Simply stated, this show has everything: Mesopotamian history, issues in ancient urban water management, the Ziggurat of Ur, dangers military and ecological, southern Iraq’s enchanting marshlands, cuneiform tablets and the laser-scanning thereof, ship design, archaeological geology, traditional crafts, how reeds can be used to make an AMAZING house, bitumen drama, flood legends and their transmission from Babylon to Judea, the reality of regular flooding in the Fertile Crescent, several exceptional beards and at the end, a big ol’ round boat.

Watch it when you have the time, and when you can enlarge it to full screen.

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