Saturday, January 25, 2014

If Noah's Ark Existed, Was It Round?

After examining a 3,700-year-old clay tablet with instructions on how to build an ark, the expert who translated it says he doubts Noah’s Ark ever existed.

The ark instructions call for construction of a huge circular coracle, 3,600 square meters large and made like a giant rope basket strengthened with wooden ribs, waterproofed with bitumen inside and out. What’s described is a giant version of a craft the Babylonians knew very well, in daily use up to the late 20th century to transport people and animals across rivers, according to British Museum expert Irving Finkel.

According to the Guardian: "I am 107% convinced the ark never existed," Finkel said. The tablet gives a version of the ark story far older than the biblical accounts, and Finkel believes the explanation of how "holy writ appears on this piece of Weetabix," is that the writers of the Bible drew on ancient accounts encountered by Hebrew scholars during the Babylonian exile.

Texts about a great flood and the order by God to the one just man to build a boat and save himself, his family, and all the animals, clearly older than the Bible story, were first found in the Middle East in the 19th century. They caused both consternation and wild excitement, including an expedition to find the broken part of one tablet in a mountain of shattered clay fragments.

The tablet was brought to Finkel on a museum open day by Douglas Simmons, whose father, Leonard, brought it back to England in a tea-chest full of curios, after wartime service in the Middle East with the RAF.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

More Paintings Rumored Near Lascaux

Researcher examining paintings in the original Lascaux chamber.

Another cave containing prehistoric paintings may exist just four kilometers from the famous Lascaux caves in southwestern France. The original cave art at Lascaux was found in 1940, and attracted hordes of visitors until it was closed to the public in 1983 to protect the artwork.

A group of teenagers near the town of Montignac discovered in 1940 a complex network of Paleolithic caves with a series of 17,000-year-old frescos. According to Archaeology News Network:
The rumors of a second cave covered in pre-historic artwork have been circulating for years, but it appears local authorities are now ready to take them seriously after one local family shared an extraordinary secret they had kept to themselves for half a century. According to French media reports this week, preliminary investigations by the town’s mayor, as well as authorities in the Dordogne region, have proved promising enough to warrant a more detailed probe into a patch of land 4 km from the site of the Lascaux caves. 
 “There’s no certainty, and we are still quite far from having the necessary evidence to confirm the existence of another decorated cave,” Montignac mayor Laurent Mathieu told French daily Le Figaro this week. 
 Despite that caution, however, Mathieu did confirm that the culture department of the Dordogne regional administration would soon be mapping out a 10-hectare area for “further research.” This region will also be placed under surveillance, to prevent amateur archaeologists from conducting their own, unsupervised investigations.
The possibility of a second discovery near the town came about in August, when an elderly local woman told the mayor that her husband – who had died in August – had come across a cave with prehistoric frescos back in 1962, but had covered the entrance for fear of bringing hassle on himself. The secret had stayed in the family for 51 years, until she finally shared it with the mayor.