Jan. 25 (UPI) -- According to a newly discovered ancient text, the Mesopotamian inspiration for Noah's ark may have been a nearly flat, round, bowl-like boat, not the large, deep vessel we've all come to understand as the boat that carried two of every animal during the great flood.
A 4,000-year-old clay cuneiform tablet went on display Friday at the the British Museum that gave ancient builders instructions on how to construct the coracle vessel to survive the great flood in Babylonian lore.
Irving Finkel, the museum curator who published a book on the tablet and discovered the ancient text's meaning, said it was that ancient Babylonian Story of the Flood that could have inspired the Old Testament tale of Noah.
According the to tablet, the coracle would have been made from palm-fibre rope, wooden ribs and hot bitumen to make it waterproof. The final structure would have been 11,811 square feet in area and would have had 19-feet high walls.
"To anyone who has the typical image learnt from children’s toys and book illustrations in mind, a round Ark is bizarre at first, but, on reflection, the idea makes sense," Finkel wrote in a blog post on the British Museum's website. "A waterproofed coracle would never sink and being round isn’t a problem – it never had to go anywhere: all it had to do was float and keep the contents safe: a cosmic lifeboat. Palm-and-pitch coracles had been seen on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers since time immemorial: they were still a common sight on Iraq’s great waterways in the 1950s."