Table of Contents of "Noah's Ark and the Ziusudra Epic"

1 Myths, Legends and History - Introduction

The ark story is myth and legend, not history, because there is no evidence, other than literary evidence, that Noah ever existed. But the same can be said about other legendary characters such as King Arthur, Helen of Troy, and Saint Nicholas. This book separates the myth from the legend by requiring that each story element be physically possible, technologically practical, consistent with archaeological facts, and plausible.


2 Versions of the Flood Story

Six versions of the Ancient Near East flood story (Ziusudra, Atrahasis, Gilgamesh XI, Genesis 6-9, etc.) have common phrases and therefore have common origins. These versions are combined in this book to reconstruct the original legend. This legend was based on a real river flood about 2900 BC that affected only a few cities in the southern Euphrates River valley where Noah was king of Shuruppak. The ark was a commercial river barge that happened to be loaded with cargo when a thunderstorm began.


3 Mountain or Mound

Grounding on a mountain top is impossible, but grounding on a low hill or mound is possible. The  word  for mountain was the same as the word for hill or mound in Akkadian and Hebrew, and this resulted in ancient storytellers misunderstanding their received story. Genesis 7:20 indicates the water rose only 15 cubits which points to a local river flood. The mountains of Ararat got involved later, but the ark did not ground there.


4 Months of Deep Water

The thunderstorm and the resulting river flood lasted only six days, but Noah's river barge was drifting in deep water for a year. How this was possible is explained in the book. The barge grounded in an estuary at the mouth of the Euphrates River. After Noah and his family were on dry land, he offered a sacrifice on a primative altar at the top of a hill. The word hill was misunderstood by story tellers as mountain. They mistakenly assumed  that the nearby barge had grounded on the top of a mountain.


5 After the Barge Grounded

The river flood submerged only a few cities in southern Sumer and there were other survivors of the flood. Noah met some of them after his barge grounded. When he offered a sacrifice on an altar, he was offering cooked food at a nearby temple and priests were present to eat the sacrificial food. This temple is identified in one of the flood myths and the hill on which the sacrifice was made is also identified. They are historical sites and have been excavated by archaeologists. Noah's family separated after the sacrifice and the reasons for this are explored. The island where Noah and his wife lived and the city where their eldest son lived are identified. One of the ancient flood myths gives the reason why the mountains of Ararat got involved, but Noah's river barge never came close to a mountain.


6 Construction of Noah's Barge

Noah's barge was less than half as long as it is usually described, because of an ancient mistranslation. There were fewer than 280 animals on the barge and the animals occupied only one third of the middle deck. There were no giraffes, elephants, or kangaroos, etc. on the barge. There was enough space for the water (actually beer) and grain and hay for the animals. The barge was not a mono-hull galleon as it is usually depicted. It was an array of flatboats consisting of dozens of small pontoons roped together. Several illustrations show how this shell-first technology was used in 2900 BC and how the barge was constructed using both reeds and wood.


7 How Old was Noah? The large numbers in Genesis 5 with people living more than 900 years were the result of ancient mistranslations when pre-cuneiform archaic number signs were translated into cuneiform sexagesimal numbers. Of the three versions of Genesis 5, only the Septuagint numbers are consistent with human life as we know it. The larger numbers in the Sumerian King List were also the result of ancient mistranslations. After the errors are corrected, the Genesis 5 numbers can be related to the Sumerian King List numbers.


8 Transmission of the Flood Story

There were many witnesses of the river flood, but only three witnesses seem to have been the sources for the original legend. The story was mythologized by storytellers and a long series of scribes translated, mistranslated, and altered the flood myth text. The flood myth survived because copies were stored for millennia in various Sumerian and Babylonian archives.


9 Noah's Relatives

Noah's father Lamech, his grandfather Methuselah, and his sons are discussed. Most of Noah's descendents in Genesis 10-11 were fictitious.


10 The Basic Theory

This chapter summarizes the reconstructed legend and has a minimum of arguments. Mythical material is omitted.

Headings include: Versions of the flood story, Noah king of Shuruppak, The river barge and the cargo, Mountain or mound?, River flood caused by a thunderstorm, The flood was not expected, The flood lasted only six days, Months of deep water in the Persian Gulf, The barge grounded in an estuary, Noah sights land, Second grounding, Noah and family disembark, Other survivors, Noah's family separates, Noah's legal problems, Mount Judi and the mountains of Ararat, How old was Noah? Transmission of the flood story, Mutually reinforcing errors, and Timeline of the reconstructed flood story.


11 The Expanded Theory

This chapter retells the story as a narrative without evidence or arguments. Additional conjectures are included.


12 Answers to Objections

Actual and anticipated objections from my critics are answered.


13 Ark and Flood Nonsense

A review of mistakes, misunderstandings, and nonsense about Noah, the ark, the flood, and "Mount Ararat." Creationist arguments are answered and impossibilities in the conventional interpretation of the flood myth are explained.


14 The Source Texts

English translations of the six surviving texts: the Epic of Ziusudra, Epic of Atrahasis, Epic of Gilgamesh XI, Genesis 6-9, the flood story from Berossus, and a legend preserved by Moses of Khoren.


15 Epilog


16 Conclusions

Percentage confidence levels are given for conclusions.


Appendix A

Unconventional translations of selected lines in Gilgamesh XI are discussed.


Appendix B

Chronological tables


Appendix C

Textual corruption of Genesis 8:3a is discussed.






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