• The Ark Before Noah

  • Decoding the Story of the Flood
  • By: Dr Irving Finkel
  • Narrated by: Dr Irving Finkel
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 07-04-14
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.3 (104 ratings)


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 listeners of The Ark Before Noah.
©2014 Irving Finkel (P)2014 Hodder & Stoughton
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Critic reviews

"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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Sydney on 04-06-14

What a delightful book!

I have no particular interest in Noah's ark or cuneiform but it was on the 2-for-1 list so what the heck. Win! This is so charming I could listen to it all day. You can practically hear the twinkle in Irving Finkel's eye as he relates with wonderful clarity, enthusiasm, and wit the detective story of ancient-script decoding and the odd folks that engage in it. The eventual painstakingly excavated revelations of the mythology of flood stories is enthralling and Finkel is as terrific a reader as he is a writer. Makes you want to sit in a pub across from the British Museum with him for hours and shoot the breeze. Suggest listeners google an image of the author to better picture his epic beard.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Stephanie Jane on 16-01-15

Fascinating history

I downloaded The Ark Before Noah from Audible in a version which is read by the author, Dr Irving Finkel. For the first few minutes, I found his unpolished narrating style awkward to listen to and wondered if I had made a mistake. However, once his wonderful enthusiasm began to shine through, I was hooked. Finkel discusses his academic life, British Museum career and fabulous fairly-recent discovery of an ancient clay tablet containing details concerning the story of the ark and the flood. He also introduces us to the earliest origins of the story - waaay before the Hebrew Bible - and collects together other tablets with parts of the famous tale and shows how it evolved over some 4000 years into what we know today.
I was particularly fascinated by the comprehensive comparisons of the different tablets and their meshing story versions. As I have only heard the heroes' names, I am not going to attempt to spell them, but it had not previously occurred to me that Noah wasn't always called Noah! The earliest flood version wasn't occasioned by sin either - humans had simply become too noisy for the Gods to endure! Finkel goes into immense detail in his tablet comparions. He examines ark building techniques, mountain landing sites, and intricacies of language in a way that could be too in depth for less nerdy souls. I appreciated his dry humour throughout but am unsure whether this would come across via the printed page. This purely aural version obviously didn't contain images though so I think now a trip to the British Museum is called for so I can see the Ark tablet and Babylonian Map tablet 'in the flesh'. I am so intrigued by their existence that I might visit even if it's not raining

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By AG on 19-08-15

Fascinating for the ancient civilizations lover

What did you like best about this story?

The book is not only about the story of the Flood, but encompasses all the facets of the three millenniums old Mesopotamian civilization, and the legacies it left to Jews and even Muslims. The author’s technical expertise is impressive, sometimes a bit too much: I confess been drowsing while listening to the finest details of how the ancient Sumerians built boats using reeds and ropes. But it’s a minor drawback, I really enjoyed the book, not least because it is read by the author himself, who manages to convey his enthusiasm for the subject. Lastly, good news for the not native English speakers like me, he speaks quite clearly and cleanly.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Paul on 30-01-15

Fascinating archaeological insights

The story of the flood and the 'ark', and how it relates to the Biblical accounts is, by itself, quite interesting for those who are interested. But the book does more than that, it provided great insights into the the dimensions of the cultures in that part of the world. This is really helpful as all I learnt about the Mesopotamian civilization in school can be summarized in a side-bar… which means very little.

But what makes this book unique is the author. Irving Finkel is clearly passionate about his subject, and his enthusiasm comes through both the book and his narration. The content of the book is very approachable to the general public.

The only thing I have to pick about the book is the recording… the recorded volume tends to fluctuates, making it necessary to constantly adjust the volume dial in my car.

But beyond that, I throughly enjoyed the book. It is engaging and it is informative. What else can one ask for in a non-fiction? 5-stars overall!

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