In THE ARK BEFORE NOAH, British Museum expert Dr Irving Finkel reveals how decoding the symbols on a 4,000 year old piece of clay enable a radical new interpretation of the Noah's Ark myth.
A world authority on the period, Dr Finkel's enthralling real-life detective story began with a most remarkable event at the British Museum - the arrival one day in 2008 of a single, modest-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet - the palm-sized clay rectangles on which our ancestors created the first documents. It had been brought in by a member of the public and this particular tablet proved to be of quite extraordinary importance. Not only does it date from about 1850 BC, but it is a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, a myth from ancient Mesopotamia revealing among other things, instructions for building a large boat to survive a flood. But Dr Finkel's pioneering work didn't stop there. Through another series of enthralling discoveries he has been able to decode the story of the Flood in ways which offer unanticipated revelations to readers of THE ARK BEFORE NOAH.
A serious book, but rarely a heavy one: in a sprightly, good-humoured way, Finkel communicates the thrill of true scholarship...it feels fresh and exciting here. ― The Sunday Times
The charged thrill of Finkel's chase permeates the book - the pages don't just join dots, they supply new pieces for a beautiful, Bronze-Age jigsaw-puzzle... Scholarly and droll, Finkel's writing is also eccentrically vivid... it is a joy. ― The Times
One of the most important human documents ever discovered... his conclusions will send ripples into the world of creationism and among ark hunters. ― The Guardian
A painstaking and lively investigation ... there are remarkable scholarly insights to admire ... brilliant. ― Literary Review
Finkel is a master at deciphering these ancient cuneiform clay tablets, but this book is far more than a fine piece of detective work: it is a humane work of scholarship that enlarges the soul. -- Richard Holloway ― The Observer
Delightful...a digressive, amusing personal book for the general reader, a book that is willing to ask big questions. -- Stephen Moss ― The Guardian
Finkel's account is wryly and entertainingly told. -- Tom Holland ― The Guardian
Exudes the enthusiasm of an expert deeply absorbed in his subject. ― Times Literary Supplement
A gem of a book. ― The New Yorker
Engaging and informative . . . Finkel is an enthusiast and shows evident delight in bringing this find to the wider public. ― The Wall Street Journal
Immensely erudite (I assume) and very funny. Anyone with the odd 45 years to spare should seriously think of retraining in Assyriology. ― The Spectator
About the Author
Dr Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian (i.e. Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian) script, languages and cultures Department: Middle East at the British Museum, headquartered in London's Bloomsbury. He is the curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia, of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection - some 130,000 pieces - of any modern museum. This work involves reading and translating all sorts of inscriptions, sometimes working on ancient archives to identify manuscripts that belong together, or even join to one another.