Noah's ark was never built and never landed on Mount Ararat, museum expert Irving Finkel said, despite the existence of ancient instructions on exactly how to construct one.
"I am 107 percent convinced the ark never existed," Finkel told The Guardian, after a member of the public brought the battered clay tablet with 60 lines of neat cuneiform text to him.
Finkel is one of the few people in the world able to read the ancient text, from the time of the Babylonians.
The tablet describes how to build a round ark -- not the pointed-end wooden boat of biblical illustrations -- known as a coracle.
At 4,300 square yards in dimension -- two-thirds the size of a soccer field -- it would be made like a giant rope basket strengthened with wooden ribs, and waterproofed with bitumen inside and out.
It would have been a giant version of a kind of craft the Babylonians knew very well, Finkel said, and such round boats were in daily use up to the late 20th century for crossing rivers.
But Finkel said he does not believe the biblical ark of Noah ever existed, despite the existence of the tablet.
The tablet is evidence not that the vessel once existed, he said, but of a storyteller adding convincing details for an audience that knew all about boat-building.