ARONOFKSY'S BIBLICAL ARK
~ Ronald Veenker ~
At 3:34 PM – July 11, 2012 Darren Aronofsky tweeted Genesis 6:14, the command to Noah to build an ark by sacred specs.
...only this one is on Long Island.
In a world of digital backdrops and special effects, Aronofsky, perhaps as an homage to C. B. deMille’s biblical epics, has built a real world set for his film “Noah.” Genesis 6:14 reads: “Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.” His ark shown in his photo above is of truly biblical dimensions. It is a monstrous hexahedron, i.e., a rectangular box.
But, just in time for the release of his blockbuster film, another ark is vying for our attention. An ancient cuneiform tablet from Iraq (ca. 1900-1700 BCE) has fallen into the hands of Dr. Irving Finkel, curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia (of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection — some 130,000 pieces — of any modern museum). His new book, The Ark Before Noah, a study of the tablet, is being released today, January 31, 2014, in London. This Babylonian flood tablet describes, in greater detail than any other ancient Middle Eastern source, the ark which saved the flood hero Atrahasis, his family as well as those who built the ark! And get this: the ark was ROUND. Yes, I said round. It was to be built in the tradition of Mesopotamian vessels called “coracles.” This craft is essentially a huge reed basket with ribs to keep the sides from collapsing and to support an upper deck. What’s more, this round boat constructed from coils of rope woven from reeds competes in size with Noah’s huge ark. Its bottom surface would be about the size of half a soccer field — seventy feet across and six yards high! Coracles were constructed and used in the marshes of southern Iraq from antiquity up until the middle of the twentieth century.
Ron will be writing a short essay on Finkel's book for the Ancient Near Eastern Literature section of Noah's Flood.
Iraqi marsh Arabs constructing
a reed coracle.
Assyrian coracle from Ashurbanipal’s Palace Reliefs, Nineveh (7th Cent. BCE)
Irving Finkel with the new
cuneiform "Ark Tablet"