Friday, January 24, 2014

That's What Bitumen Is For - The Great Flood

You know that whole Noah's Ark business?  Well the Noah before the Judeo-Christian Noah was apparently told by God 1.0 , the Mesopotamian original,  to build an Ark with the standard terms - all the animals, two of each - only the original ark was to be a circular vessel about two-thirds the size of a soccer field.  The previous ark was to be made out of rope, reinforced with wooden ribs and sealed with bitumen.  So there, that's what bitumen is for.  It's to make really big boats to help you ride out god's wrath until it's safe to walk on terra firma again.

A recently deciphered 4,000-year-old tablet from ancient Mesopotamia — modern-day Iraq — reveals striking new details about the roots of the Old Testament tale of Noah. It tells a similar story, complete with detailed instructions for building a giant round vessel known as a coracle — as well as the key instruction that animals should enter “two by two.”

The tablet went on display at the British Museum on Friday, and soon engineers will follow the ancient instructions to see whether the vessel could actually have sailed.

It’s also the subject of a new book, The Ark Before Noah, by Irving Finkel, the museum’s assistant keeper of the Middle East and the man who translated the tablet.

Finkel got hold of it a few years ago, when a man brought in a damaged tablet his father had acquired in the Middle East after World War II. It was light brown, about the size of a mobile phone and covered in the jagged cuneiform script of the ancient Mesopotamians.

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.

Finkel said that on paper (or stone) the boat-building orders appear sound, but he doesn’t yet know whether it would have floated. A television documentary due to be broadcast later this year will follow attempts to build the ark according to the ancient manual.



Anonymous said...

I hear that the Preston Manning Institute of Batshit Craziness is planning to build a giant coracle on the flood plains of Calgary, in anticipation of the next great flood. It will be financed by local real estate developers. Bitumen will be supplied by CAPP at no cost. The coracle will be captained by Steve. It will all be televised live on Sun TV.

The Mound of Sound said...

You mean we might just be able to get them all together in that ark? Hmm, let me think. Bitumen is flammable, isn't it? Eureka!