London, January 3 (ANI): Noah's ark, the vessel that is believed to have sailed one virtuous man, his family and the animals to safety, did not have a pointed stem as is popularly claimed. It was a giant circular reed raft instead, according to a 19th-century illustration by Currier and Ives.
Newly translated instructions inscribed in ancient Babylonian on a clay tablet appear to describe the vessel's shape while seemingly narrating the story of the ark that has continued to fascinate millions over the years.
Leonard Simmons found the tablet, aged about 3,700 years, in the Middle East and it later came into the hands of to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines of neat cuneiform script.
"In all the images ever made people assumed the ark was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves - so that is how they portrayed it," the Guardian quoted Finkel as saying.
"But the ark didn't have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well.
"It's still sometimes used in Iran and Iraq today, a type of round coracle which they would have known exactly how to use to transport animals across a river or floods," Finkel added.
Simmons said of the tablet: "It is the most extraordinary thing. You hold it in your hand, and you instantly get a feeling that you are directly connected to a very ancient past - and it gives you a shiver down your spine."
John D Morris, Institute for Creation Research, added: "If the flood of Noah indeed wiped out the entire human race and its civilization, as the Bible teaches, then the ark constitutes the one remaining major link to the pre-flood world. No significant artefact could ever be of greater antiquity or importance." (ANI)