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Some argue for a box shape while others argue for something that looked more like a ship.

And the recent discovery according to 4000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet (consisting of sixty lines in cuneiform) at British Museum saying that the Noah's Ark was round.

The 4000 year old clay tablet containing the story of the Ark and the flood stands on display at the British Museum in London during the launch of the book 'The Ark Before Noah' by Irving Finkel, curator in charge of cuneiform clay tablets at the British Museum.

4000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet (consisting of sixty lines in cuneiform) at British Museum

Further more, some theorize it was a spaceship which could explain the rounded shape.

A spaceship would make more sense, as it would have been impossible to build an "Ark" or boat big enough to accommodate two of each species of living creatures on earth. And back then there was probably more different types of species compared to now after multiple extinctions.

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According to Genesis, Noah's ark was box shaped. At 300 cubits long (450 feet), 50 cubits wide (75 feet), and 30 cubits high (45 feet), the shape is not round.

Genesis 6:15-16 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. [KJV]

Genesis 6:15-16 This is how you should make it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Make a roof for the ark and finish it, leaving 18 inches from the top. Put a door in the side of the ark, and make lower, middle, and upper decks. [NET Bible]

The ark from the flood story referenced in the tablet is not Noah's. Besides the shape, the building material is different (Noah used gopher wood while this one uses reeds and pitch). Other cultures in the area had their own account (The bottom of this link has a table for comparison). These accounts have both similarities and differences. While the most famous (apart from Noah) is in the Gilgamesh Epic featuring Ut-napištim, it, too has drastic differences. For instance, while Noah is told directly by God to build the Ark, some receive an indirect warning (the god Ea stands behind the wall where Ut-napistim is standing and whispers that the flood is coming and Ea sends Atrahasis a dream).

Finkel's tablet dates to be older than Gilgamesh and the boat is a 220ft diameter coracle. I do wish they had given the name of the hero in this cuneiform account. After all, each account from the ANE has a different name of the hero (for example, Ziusudra, Atrahasis, Ut-napištim, Noah, Xisuthrus, Deucalion). Different sizes and shapes are likewise common (Ut-napištim builds a cube 120 cubits on a side). Another drastic difference is the reason for the flood. In Atrahasis, the gods send the flood because humans are noisy and preventing the gods from getting their sleep. That's a far cry from God sending the flood because humanity was sinful.

  • @kenorb, added the references. Good catch. – Frank Luke Aug 14 '14 at 13:27
  • Giving the length, width, and height has no bearing on its shape. It just means it's three-dimensional. Many online stores give all three dimensions for any object you can buy, but that doesn't mean Staples sells solid rectangular prisms of office chair. But decent discussion of the mythological context of the story. – Luke Sawczak Aug 27 '18 at 13:40

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