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Noah's Ark, how to build one!

The recorded instructions to Noah for the plans of the ark were as follows:

6:14 Make for yourself a coffer ( H8392 tebah [T-B-H] box, chest, ark; coffer per H.W.F. Gesenius ) of gopher (H1613 go'-fer [G-P-R] cypress? BDB 1b) meaning and exact type unknown) wood; ( H6086 'ets [E-TS] BDB 1) tree, wood, timber, stock, plank, stalk/stalks, stick/sticks, gallows) nests ( H7064 q^en [Q-N], a nest ) shall you make in the coffer ( ark ), and you will cover it inside and outside with a covering ( pitch, bitumen ).

6:15 And thus you shall make it; three hundred cubits (~450 ft.) the length, fifty cubits (~75 ft.) its breadth, and thirty cubits (~45 ft.) its height.

6:16 A light you will make to the coffer ( ark ), and to a cubit you shall finish it above; and the opening to the coffer ( ark ) you will place in its side; with lower, second, and third floors you will do it.

one ark concept

Yes, our view of the ark Noah built is rather fuzzy and many artists have provided various concepts of how Noah's ark could have been constructed.

Many want to model the ark as a boat or ship as do many of the new English paraphrases !

(CEV) Get some good lumber and build a boat. Put rooms in it and cover it with tar inside and out.
(ERV) Use cypress wood and build a boat for yourself. Make rooms in the boat and cover it with tar inside and out.
(GNB) Build a boat for yourself out of good timber; make rooms in it and cover it with tar inside and out.
(GW) Make yourself a ship of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ship and coat it inside and out with tar.

However, There are three other Hebrew words that could have been used if a ship was what was intended, H591, H6716, and H5600. H591 used in Genesis 49:13 and Deuteronomy 28:68; and H6716 being used in Numbers 24:24; all also in the Pentateuch.

"that the ark was built in the form not of a ship, but of a chest, with flat bottom, like a floating house (actually a barn), as it was not meant for sailing, but merely to float upon the water," (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament) Also John Gill says "It is not called a ship, for it was not made for sailing to any distant parts, but an ark or chest, being like one, flat bottomed, ..." From the Bible Knowledge Commentary, page 38, "a flat bottomed rectangular vessel".

But, from what little we know, how could an early man such as Noah having very little technology have constructed such a large floating structure?

Noah needed something that will float in unusual circumstances so why not start out with a basic concept of a large barge. "Build a barge of cypress wood" from "A New Translation of the Bible" by James Moffatt.

Note that there is a rather prevalent belief that the "ship" was constructed of cypress wood, timber, or planks !

However, "as the Jewish Encyclopedia notes, gopher/go'-fer may have been derived from the Assyrian word giparu for “reeds". [ H1613 consonants G-P-R, same as the Assyrian word giparu ] Also significantly, the word translated as “rooms” ( H7064 q^en kane, a nest ) in the King James Version is found in Assyrian as quinnim, 'nests', as in a birds’ nest." However, the 12 other times H7064 appears it is translated as "nest" !


"The image on the right (above) shows petroglyphs of a reed boat and men. The reed boat is similar to those depicted in cave paintings in Scandinavia, something that led Thor Heyerdahl to theorise that the Scandinavians came from the area that today is Azerbaijan. In the Gobustan Petroglyph Reserve there are more than 6,000 petroglyphs carved by the hunter-gatherers that lived in these caves 12,000 years ago. At that time the Caspian Sea was much higher and washed against the lower rocks of the hill." ... "The Uros are an indigenous people pre-dating the Incas. They live, still today, on man-made floating islands scattered across Lake Titicaca. These islands are also constructed from totora reeds. Each floating island supports between three and ten houses, also built of reeds. The Uros still build totora reed boats, which they use for fishing and hunting seabirds." (Wikipedia-Reed Boats) [ "the floating islands can get to be huge – as large as 75 feet across and nearly 200 feet in length.... These islands are spongy, with a bit of give to them,..." (A size as wide as the ark and about half as long.)]

The upper part of Noah's ark could be a pole and beam structure of cypress poles with reed thatch covering the sides and the top. Thatch roofs have been known to withstand winds of up to 100 miles an hour and to last 40-60 years.

Thatching a roof
Thatching a roof.

Noah was instructed to provide pitch covering for the ark on the outside and inside of the walls which would serve as a protective coating and maybe even to keep the passengers from eating the walls.

A reed boat
A depiction of an ancient Egyptian reed boat.

In the Wadi Hammamat in Qift, Egypt, where there are drawings of Egyptian reed boats dated to 4000 BC ... Detail. Fabrication of papyrus boats in ancient Egypt. Wall fragment from the Sun Temple of Nyuserre Ini at Abu Gurob, Egypt. c. 2430 BCE. Neues Museum (Wikipedia-Reed Boat)

Exodus 2:3 When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him, and coated it with tar and with pitch. She put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.

(ASV) And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch; and she put the child therein, and laid it in the flags by the river's brink.

If the ark in which Moses was laid is synonymous with reeds/bulrushes why not also Noah's Ark ? Adam Clark in his commentary says, "The Syriac and Arabic trifle with the passage, rendering it wicker work, as if the ark had been a great basket!", but, can they actually be on the right track? Adam, however, says that H8392 tebath, ark, "It signifies no more than our word vessel in its common acceptation - a hollow place capable of containing persons, goods, etc., without any particular reference to shape or form."
We know that vessels of bulrushes/reeds were in use from the time of Job until the time of Isaiah.

Job 9:26 They are passed away as the swift ships:
[ skiffs of reed (ESV); a ship made of reeds (ISV) ]
as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.

Isa 18:2 That sendeth ambassadors by the sea,
even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, ...

For Noah and his family the big job for the construction would be to gather all the required reeds, and bundle them together with vines or ropes and assemble them into the raft like base with sufficient buoyancy to float the ark and all of its occupants, place the framework for the thatch covered barn on the base, and pitch it inside and out. It is also possible that larger logs were used to reinforce the base and make it more stable. Noah could have possibly taken clues from the animal kingdom as they constructed "nests" and beavers constructed dams. A hybrid raft base of logs and reeds to fill in the gaps in the logs would seem to be quite practical. Stealing logs from beaver dams would seem to be a way to lessen the workload and maybe even building the ark on a pond formed by a beaver dam, as beavers can dig canals used to float material to the dam.

The actual construction details for the window/light for the ark is difficult to understand from the description given. Many have envisioned it as a sort of cupola along the top center line. Also one can interpret the Scriptures to indicate that the side covering of the ark was to go up to within one cubit, about 18 inches, of the top, thus allowing this opening all around for light and ventilation. "Put an 18-inch opening in the ark all around ..." from "The Modern Language Bible: The New Berkeley Version in Modern English. Or also, "You shall make a roof for the ark, giving it a fall of one cubit when complete: ..." from The New English Bible.

And many have envisioned the opening in the side of Noah's ark to be a combined door and entrance ramp for loading all the animals and their food into the ark.

How about provisions for the passengers.

6:19 And from every living thing of all flesh, two of all to come into the coffer ( box, chest, ark ), to keep alive with you; male and female they will be,

6:20 from the flying creature after their kind, and from the cattle after their kind, from every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two from all will come to you to keep alive.

6:21 And you take for yourself of all eatable that is eaten, and you will gather to yourself; and let it be for you and for them for eating.

7:2 From every creature clean will you take to yourself seven by seven, a man and his woman; and the creature that not clean it by two , a man and his woman;

7:3 of the flying creature of the skies seven by seven, a male and his female, to keep alive seed upon the face of all the earth.

The list of "clean" and "not clean" animals that Noah was to collect is not a very long list and includes only those animals that man might consider eating that lived in the localized area. But, many have long said that it is Noah's job "to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth" (King James Version). However, most often when the Scriptures uses the Hebrew word for all or every it is a localized all, not a global all! (see All is How Big?) Many of the world's animal families and species are found only in locations long distances from the landing spot for the ark and only on different continents, such as the marsupials and thus evidently were not on board the ark. Most translations for the flood narrative use "earth" for Hebrew word H776 when actually "land" is the most used translation. Using "land" instead of earth in the flood narrative of Genesis chapters 6 through 9 is however the preferred translation!

H776 'erets BDB Definition:
1) land , earth
1a) earth (712x in KJV)
1a1) whole earth (as opposed to a part)
1a2) earth (as opposed to heaven)
1a3) earth (inhabitants)
1b) land (1543x in KJV)
1b1) country (140x in KJV), territory
1b2) district, region
1b3) tribal territory ...
As shown H776 'erets most often it means land as only a territorial portion of the earth ! It has been estimated that less than 50 times does it truly mean the entire planet earth !

It would seem logical to place all the larger heavier animals on the bottom floor, on the raft base, and the smaller animals and birds in the two upper stories of nests in the ark. Many of the passengers would possibly help Noah and naturally construct their own nests if materials were readily available. Noah and family would seem to have to stay much of the time on the lower floor to take care of the feeding and clean up chores.

Not often discussed is that Noah's ark was also a food warehouse! So Noah must also include nests for food storage, enough food for a little over a year and probably enough for a short time after the flood until vegetation for food can grow back in the area for all of the different animals. Per verse 8:11 we know that olive leaves were growing before they left the ark and the dove found the habitat suitable for it about 92 days before they exited the ark. The olive tree normally grows below 5000 feet altitude.

Conclusion: We have discussed a possible low-technology version of the ark for those who have expressed the opinion that an early man such as Noah was not capable of building such a structure. Remember, the Hebrew text never says that it was a ship or boat, instead says it was a box or chest, a large chest, but never the less a chest, and as such Noah would not require a high level of technology for its construction.

Gen 6:14 Make an ark of reed stalks/sticks;
nests you shall make in the ark,
and cover it inside and outside with bitumen.
Gen 6:15 This is how you will make it.
The length of the ark will be 450 feet, the width 75 feet, and the height 45 feet.
Gen 6:16 A light?/roof? you will make to the ark,
and up to 18 inches you will finish it from the top;
and the entrance to the ark you will put in the side;
with lower, second, and third stories you will make it.
Note on 6:16; "A window — probably a skylight, formed of some transparent substance unknown. [or an opening for light and ventilation.] - in a cubit shalt thou finish it above — a direction to raise the roof in the middle, seemingly to form a gentle slope for letting the water run off. (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)"
"It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. (Albert Bares Notes)

The box/chest/coffer shape for the ark is found in the earliest written English records !

Geneva Bible depiction of Noah's Ark

Arca Noe


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Biblical Adam: the Evidences for Dating Adam to 14,000 - 15,000 years ago!
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Appendix A: Bitumen Artifacts at Hacinebi Tepe, Anatolia, Turkey

Location of Hacinebi Tepe

Bitumen is a naturally occurring petroleum-based tar-like material. Mixed with tempering materials it was widely used and traded in the ancient Near East as a material for waterproofing, as a building material, and as an adhesive. More than 400 bitumen artifacts have been recovered from all the fourth millennium phases (A-B1-B2) at Hacinebi. Chemical compositional analyses permit the identification of bitumen sources, and by extension, the reconstruction of fourth millennium exchange systems. The inhabitants of Hacinebi imported bitumen from a variety of sources in Anatolia, North Syria, south Mesopotamia, and southwestern Iran.

Bitumen "ingot" with reed impressions, HN6106 Op. 11 locus 40 (Schwartz and Hollander 2000:fig. 5).

Bitumen with basketry impression. HN3516 Op. 7 locus 39 (Schwartz and Hollander 2000: fig. 3).
Uruk bevel rim bowl with bitumen-coated interior, possibly used for processing melted bitumen.. HN6212 Op. 10 locus 65 (Schwartz and Hollander 2000:fig.4).
Juglet with bitumen waterproofing. HN201 Op. 1 locus 12
(Stein and Misir 1994b:fig. 7).
Chipperd stone sickle blade with bitumen hafting. HN12057 Op. 12 locus 145.
Bitumen hafting from tool handle showing string impressions.
HN2259 Op. 7 locus 25.
(source: anthropology/ stein/ HNfindsBitumen.html)

copied from: univ-relations/
media_relations/ releases/ 11_2002/ riverboats.html

Northwestern News

  Last updated 11/20/2002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Vaughan Tremmel at (847) 491-4892 or at

November 18, 2002

Earliest River Boats May Have Carried Petroleum

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Recently discovered boat fragments found at the site of Hacinebi in southeast Turkey offer evidence of the world's earliest riverboats and the earliest transport of trade goods -- including petroleum products -- by river, according to Mark Schwartz, a graduate student in anthropology at Northwestern University, whose findings were published in the fall edition of the British archaeological journal, Antiquity.

The only direct evidence linked to the world's first boats to travel by river, rather than by sea, Schwartz's finds bolster scholars' understanding of the early development of maritime technology and its tie to transportation and trade during the very early stages of the development of civilization.

While finds in the Persian Gulf demonstrate early transport on oceans, it was river trade that played a greater part in the development of the earliest civilizations both in terms of the sheer volume of goods moved and the strength of the trade routes.

Dating to 3800 B.C., the fragments are remnants of the bitumen (natural petroleum tar) coating placed on early reed boats to waterproof them. Evidence suggests that the bitumen-coated boats also were likely to have carried petroleum products as cargo. Coupled with chemical sourcing data from Hacinebi, Schwartz's discovery points to the earliest form of the petroleum trade in the Near East.

"With all the current, heated discussions about the petroleum industry in the Near East, it is ironic that the world's earliest river boats in this area -- and indeed the world -- were also transporting petroleum," said Schwartz.

The presence of the waterproofed boats provides a more complete picture of the ancient exchange economy of southeast Anatolia. The fragments directly document the boat?s connection to a trading center and the first time boats were used to transport trade goods on a river system."

Much of the research on trade and transport in the Near East has focused on Mesopotamia, where the world?s first cities appeared during the fourth millennium. But this boat find and the site of Hacinebi lie outside of the "heartland of cities." While evidence does point to trade with southern Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) during the later phases of Hacinebi?'s history, excavations, led by Gil Stein, the director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, suggest that the site played an important role in local Anatolian trade even before the arrival of merchants from Mesopotamia.

"The presence of local trade goods such as copper, shell and chlorite at the site along with our recent discovery of the early reed boat fragments demonstrate that the people of Hacinebi were developing impressive long-distance exchange relationships on their own before the arrival of Mesopotamians," said Schwartz.

The people of Hacinebi were involved in early metallurgy and likely were using bitumen-covered boats to transport copper ore, among other items, down the Euphrates from the Ergani source 200km north in the river. The Hacinebi area was historically an important place for trade and transport.

Stable carbon and hydrogen isotope analyses performed by Schwartz, with David Hollander of the University of South Florida, suggest that bitumen was transported to the site from at least three different Anatolian sources and document a non-Mesopotamian, Anatolian source of bitumen for the reed boat coating. The fragments show distinct impressions of reed bundles and rope and clearly document ancient boat building and the widespread use of this ancient technology.

Modern reconstruction of ancient reed boats try to depict these types of vessels, but bitumen is rarely used on them, making them prone to water logging and/or rotting.

"The fact that the ancient people of Hacinebi took the time to waterproof their reed boats demonstrates a high degree of investment," said Schwartz. "These boats were meant to last, and the very thick coating signifies a boat that was much larger than a simple canoe."

These findings relate directly to recent discoveries from Kuwait which point to even older (5000 B.C.) ocean-going reed boats in the Persian Gulf.

"Taken together, these finds point to interesting parallels between different regions and cultures and reinforce each other's validity," said Schwartz. "You may be able to refute that one find of reed-impressed bitumen is not part of a reed boat, but it is much more difficult to argue against many finds from different areas and time-periods of the Near East."

Ethnographic records point to the existence of reed boats in many cultures throughout the world including the Sudan, coastal Peru, lake Titicaca, New Zealand and the marshes of southern Iraq. The boats in the Near East were constructed in similar ways -- reed bundles waterproofed with bitumen --illustrating ingenuity in the construction of impressive watercraft with simple materials that ancient people found nearby.

The discoveries were all found at sites where trade is believed to have played an important role in ancient economies. Many ancient societies such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Harrappa used riverine trade routes extensively in the formative stages of their development. It was only after they had been states for a few hundred years that they relied on long-distance trade on the world's oceans.

Shipping timber, stone, copper and bitumen down the Euphrates River would have been relatively cheap, quick and efficient means of supplying a developing society with materials it needed to grow and flourish.

While many ancient civilizations were started on rivers for agricultural reasons, trade on these rivers was an important outgrowth and a key ingredient for their development.

"With all of the recent advances in technology, water transport is still the most efficient way to move cargo and goods long distances," said Schwartz. "Even though the Euphrates has always been a dangerous river to navigate, these ancient merchants had a lot of incentive to engage in this early version of the petroleum industry."


Appendix B: Genetic and Linguistic Studies
Point toward the Location and the Time.

All people are related, but "In the article in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University of Israel wrote that this new study revealed that Jews have a closer genetic relationship to populations in the northern Mediterranean (Kurds, Anatolian Turks, and Armenians) than to populations in the southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouins)." (from kevin_brook.htm)


"A family tree of Indo-European languages suggests they began to spread and split about 9,000 years ago. The finding hints that farmers in what is now Turkey drove the language boom - and not later Siberian horsemen, as some linguists reckon. ... Around this time, farming techniques began to spread out of Anatolia - now Turkey - across Europe and Asia, archaeological evidence shows." (From "Language tree rooted in Turkey" by John Whitfield, nsu/nsu_pf/ 031124/ 031124-6.html)

Both of these studies would place the location in the Ararat area since we have recorded (Genesis 11:2-9) that soon after the flood they migrated out of the mountainous regions from the east. Then soon after that the multiple languages were developed as their speech was confused and then from there they were scattered. Also the linguistic study places the scattering to about 9,000 years ago for those of the Indo-European languages, therefore, the flood would be sometime prior to 9,000 years ago.

Very interestingly "11,600 years ago marked the beginning of the Rule of Mortal Humans on Earth according to Manetho (Egyptian historian ca. 343 BC)" prior to that was "Rule by Demigods and Spirits of the Dead (followers of Horus)". (from personal/ tsmith/ iceciv.html) A very close correspondence to the indicated termination of the Younger Dryas (11,550 +-70 B.P. per the GRIP ice core data) and the time we would choose as the most likely time of the flood and Noah's ark, and soon afterward the tribes would start multiplying and migrating from the "Ararat" area into lower lands of the most northern part of the fertile crescent where the archaeologists have uncovered the first evidences of large scale farming and community building, around 10,000 to 11,000 B.P..

The New York Times: "How the First Farmers Colonized the Mediterranean"
by Nicholas Wade,August 11, 2008

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