Relic reveals Noah's ark was circularNoah's Ark in Genesis 6 was an oblong box. If memory serves (I don't have the text handy at home), the Gilgamesh epic described it as a cube. Read the whole article; it's entertaining. And this is worth quoting:
• Newly translated tablet gives building instructions
• Amateur historian's find was almost overlooked
* Maev Kennedy
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 January 2010 22.35 GMT
That they processed aboard the enormous floating wildlife collection two-by-two is well known. Less familiar, however, is the possibility that the animals Noah shepherded on to his ark then went round and round inside.
According to newly translated instructions inscribed in ancient Babylonian on a clay tablet telling the story of the ark, the vessel that saved one virtuous man, his family and the animals from god's watery wrath was not the pointy-prowed craft of popular imagination but rather a giant circular reed raft.
The now battered tablet, aged about 3,700 years, was found somewhere in the Middle East by Leonard Simmons, a largely self-educated Londoner who indulged his passion for history while serving in the RAF from 1945 to 1948.
The relic was passed to his son Douglas, who took it to one of the few people in the world who could read it as easily as the back of a cornflakes box; he gave it to Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines of neat cuneiform script.
In his translation, the god who has decided to spare one just man speaks to Atram-Hasis, a Sumerian king who lived before the flood and who is the Noah figure in earlier versions of the ark story. "Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atram-Hasis, pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions And save life! Draw out the boat that you will built with a circular design; Let its length and breadth be the same."
In the Victorian era some became obsessed with the ark story. George Smith – the lowly British museum assistant who, in 1872, deciphered the Flood Tablet which is inscribed with the Assyrian version of the Noah's ark tale – could apparently not contain his excitement at his discovery.Slow news day.
According to the museum's archives: "He jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement and to the astonishment of those present began to undress himself."
(Via the Agade list.)