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11866A new Atrahasis tablet

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  • victor avigdor hurowitz
    Jan 2, 2010
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      Dear All,
      I just received this link and item from a friend. Does anyone know
      anything about it?

      http://www.theage.com.au/world/ancient-tablet-giving-new-shape-to-the-story-of-noahs-ark-20100102-lmii.html


      Victor Hurowitz
      BGU

      Ancient tablet giving new shape to the story of Noah's ArkMAEV KENNEDY
      January 3, 2010
      THAT they led the enormous floating wildlife collection aboard 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 battered tablet, which is about 3700 years old, 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 Royal Air Force 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 cereal
      box - Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, who translated its 60 lines
      of neat cuneiform script.

      There are dozens of ancient tablets that describe the flood story, but Dr
      Finkel says this is the first to describe the vessel's shape.

      ''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,'' said Dr Finkel.

      ''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.''

      Dr Finkel's research throws light on the familiar Mesopotamian story,
      which became the account in the Old Testament, of Noah and the ark that
      saved his menagerie from the waters that drowned every other living thing
      on earth.

      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.''

      The tablet goes on to command the use of plaited palm fibre, waterproofed
      with bitumen, before the construction of cabins for the people and wild
      animals.

      It ends with the dramatic command of Atram-Hasis to the unfortunate boat
      builder whom he leaves behind to meet his fate, about sealing up the door
      once everyone else is safely inside: ''When I shall have gone into the
      boat, Caulk the frame of the door!''

      Fortunes were spent in the 19th century by biblical archaeology
      enthusiasts hunting for evidence of Noah's flood. The Mesopotamian flood
      myth was incorporated into the great poetic epic Gilgamesh, and Dr Finkel
      believes it was during the Babylonian captivity that the exiled Jews
      learned the story, brought it home with them, and incorporated it into the
      Old Testament.

      Despite its unique status, Simmons' tablet - which has been dated to about
      1700BC, only a few centuries later than the oldest known account - was
      nearly overlooked.

      ''When my dad eventually came home, he shipped a whole tea chest of this
      kind of stuff home - seals, tablets, bits of pottery,'' said Douglas
      Simmons. ''He would have picked them up in bazaars, or when people knew he
      was interested in this sort of thing, they would have brought them to him
      and earned a few bob.''

      His son took the tablet to a British Museum open day, where Dr Finkel
      ''took one look at it and nearly fell off his chair'' with excitement.

      ''It is the most extraordinary thing,'' Mr Simmons said of the
      tablet. ''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.''

      A centuries-old search
      HUMAN fascination with the Flood and the whereabouts of the ark shows few
      signs of subsiding.

      The story has travelled down the centuries from the ancient Babylonians
      and continues to fascinate in the 21st century. Countless expeditions have
      travelled to Mount Ararat in Turkey, where Noah's Ark is said to have come
      to rest, but scientific proof of its existence has yet to be found.

      Recent efforts to find it have been led by creationists, who are keen to
      exhibit it as evidence of the literal truth of the Bible.

      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 that is inscribed with the Assyrian version of the Noah's Ark tale
      - could apparently not contain his excitement at his discovery. 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.''

      GUARDIAN