Noah’s ark is a large boat built on divine instructions by Noah to escape the universal Flood to preserve the human species and other living beings.
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The story of Noah’s ark is one of the Old Testament passages most striking for its end-of-the-world apocalyptic scenario. But the Bible’s editors drew on a Sumerian myth.
It is likely that the Sumerians, in turn, derived the story of the ark from other even more ancient populations settled in Mesopotamia: from the children of the Flood, those who handed down the memory of a terrible flood that occurred around 6700 BC.
When the Black Sea, as a result of melting glaciers and rising sea levels, overflowed, hitting the surrounding territories with the violence of a tsunami.
The Old Testament relates that his god ordered the Israelite Noah to build an ark, a boat in which he would load his family and all the animals and birds, two of each species, one male and one female.
It is intended to punish humanity for its sins by unleashing a terrible flood that would wipe everything off the face of the earth except Noah and his ark.
That was the last hope for humankind. Only Noah, the righteous one, could bring life back to the destroyed planet once the Flood ceased.
The biblical story was compiled around 500 BCE after the Israelites had returned to western Mesopotamia after their years in Babylonian captivity.
Indeed the authors of the Bible were familiar with the original myth, the much older Sumerian-Babylonian myth. They included it in their collection of sacred writings appropriately modified. And it was then that the Mesopotamian deities became one god: Yahweh.
Since 1872 we know that the origins of the legend of the Flood are to be found in the royal annals of Sumer. It was the Sumerian George Smith to discover these clay tablets in the archives of the British Museum in London.
They belonged to the ancient library of the palace of Nineveh, located in present-day Iraq. Other tablets also found and with them another, even more ancient, version of the myth.