Animals are shown running into Noah's Ark, as depicted by Paramount Pictures "Noah." Despite the depiction of the ark as a rectangular structure in the film, research has suggested the ark could have been round in structure.
This 3,700-year-old clay tablet, consisting of 60 lines in cuneiform, has been dubbed a prototype of Noah's ark described in the Bible. The tablet contains a detailed construction manual for building an ark with palm-fiber ropes, wooden ribs and coated in hot bitumen to make it waterproof. It also contains the first description of the ark's shape -- surprisingly, it's a massive round vessel.
Ilya Mauter/Wikimedia Commons
About two-thirds the size of a soccer field, the ark was "a giant version of the type of coracle that they actually used on the rivers," Irving Finkel, curator of the British Museum's 130,000 Mesopotamian clay tablet collection who translated the cuneiform script, told Discovery News.
The concept of a round ark emerges from this late 14th-century illustration. But according to Finkel, the picture is not significant. "The roundness of the ark had faded from memory before the Bible was written," he said.
Noah's Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons
Over the centuries, the ark has been depicted in many ways. Biblical creationists imagined Noah's ark like a large, box-like vessel, similar to the version shown in Aronofksy's $130 million epic. Other designs added a sloping roof.
Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)/ Wikimedia Commons
In many cases the shape matched the ships of the days. Designs ranged from square-rigged caravels to long vessels with pointy bows.
Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons
This reconstructed medieval mural of the Noah's Ark from Saint Teilo church in Wales represents the idea of the ark in popular imagination and children's story books. There, the ark is often depicted as a large house on a boat, with animals sticking out.