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Noah lived to 950 years

Noah lived a longer life than Adam, and is the third oldest person ever
recorded. He spent his first 600 years in the pre-flood world, and then 350
years in the post-flood world (our world).
Why did the age of Noah's descendents drop so sharply? This study explores explores the
Biblical picture and argues the case for a genetic factor - loss of longevity trait.
Longevity from Adam to Moses
Genesis records the ages of the first fathers in meticulous detail. However, the ancestry
is entirely in the line of Seth, so we can only speculate about the ages of people
descended from Cain (plus all the other sons and daughter of Adam and Eve - which
should have been many). Dates in red are approximate. These figures are based on the
Masoretic text which is the source used by most modern Bibles.

Longevity from Adam to Moses
No. Name
1 Adam 0 130 930 930
2 Seth 130 105 912 1042
3 Enosh 235 90 905 1140
4 Kenan 325 70 910 1235
5 Mahalalel 395 65 895 1290
6 Jared 460 162 962 1422
7 Enoch 622 65 365 1290*
8 Methuselah 687 187 969 1656
9 Lamech 874 182 777 1651
10 Noah 1056 502 950 2006
11 Shem "Semites" 1558 100 600 2158
12 Arphaxad 1658 35 438 2096
13 Shelah 1693 30 433 2126
14 Eber "Hebrews" 1723 34 464 2187
15 Peleg 1757 30 230 2049
16 Reu 1787 32 239 2026
17 Serug 1819 30 230 2049
18 Nahor 1849 29 148 1997
19 Terah 1878 130 205 2083
20 Abram (Abraham) 2008 100 175 2183
21 Isaac* 2108 60 180 2288
22 Jacob (Israel)** 2168 70 147 2315
23 Levi 2238 57 137 2375
24 Kohath 2295 70 133 2428
25 Amram 2365 68 137 2502
26 Moses 2433 - 120 2553

* Left the earth without dying (As did Elijah and Jesus)

* Gen 11:26, Terah was 70 when he fathered Abram, Nahor & Haran, but Abram was not have been the oldest. According to
Creation 25(2) March-May 2003, "Meeting the Ancestors" Table on p14, Abraham was born in 2008.
See also http://www.amen.org.uk/eh/biblical/patrageb.htm#fig1 for the following explanations.
* Gen 11:32 says Terah aged 205 at death (died 2083 A.M.) Acts 7:4 says when Terah died Abram left Haran. Stephen makes
explicit what is implicit in Gen 11:27-12:5, that Abram had two calls. At first call Abram left Ur, but halted at Haran. Abram was 75
when he left Haran (Gen 12:4). Thus Abram was 75 when Terah dies at 205, therefore Terah was 130 when Abram was born,
hence Abraham's birthdate is deduced at 2008.
Birth of Joseph Joseph stood before Pharaoh age 30 (Gen 41:46). At end of 7 years plenty Joseph = 37 (Gen 41:29-30). At end of
2 years famine, when Jacob came to Egypt Joseph was 39. (Gen 45:6). At end of 2 years famine when Jacob came to Egypt,
Jacob was 130 (Gen 47:9) (i.e. in the year 2298 A.M.). Hence Jacob was 91 when Joseph born. Joseph is a younger 'brother' of
Birth of Moses Moses and Aaron were sons of Amram (Ex 6:20). Moses birth has to be deduced: Call of Abram to Exodus (Ex
12:40-41) = 430 years (NB 430 years not the length of time in Egypt, which was 215 years - clearly so in view of the genealogy of
Moses - for further details see Anstey, (1913) p113-125). Call of Abram to Joseph (2083-2369) = 286 years hence Death of
Joseph to Exodus = 144 years
Less Age of Moses at Exodus = 80 years (Ex 7:7), leaves 64 years. Hence Moses born 2369+64 = 2433 A.M.

A date for Babel
There are several non-chronological portions of Genesis. The most famous is the Genesis
2 recap of chapter 1, focusing on Adam and Eve. Even the rather chronological Chapter 7
chops and changes with summarizing statements sprinkled throughout the text.
The apparent contradiction of separate languages in Chapter 10 'prior' to the tower of
Babel in Chapter 11 is another example of overlapping chronology. The genealogies of
Chapter 10 extend beyond the tower of Babel. Some apparent contradictions turn out to
be key verses - in this case they can be used to date the tower of Babel incident.
In Japheth's line: Japheth > Javan > (Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim etc) > "the maritime
peoples spread out into their territories...each with its own language". This places the
Babel dispersion in the third generation after Japheth (assuming no generations have
been skipped, which is possible considering the line of Japheth is receiving secondary
attention here.)
In Ham's line the Babel event is not so obvious. We can trace a few generations; Ham >
Cush > Raamah > ? > Nimrod, and we also know that other people groups were
descendents of Ham's other sons Mizraim (Ludites, Anamites, Philistines etc) and Canaan
(Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites etc). So the exact generation is not apparent here, except
that the city establishing traits of Nimrod dictate a post-Babel era.
In Shem's line (the Semitic peoples), we have Shem > Aram > Arphaxad > Eber > Peleg
("for in his days was the earth divided" Gen 10:25). Since the whole chapter is devoted
to the formation of nations after the flood, this is a clear depiction of the scattering at
Babel, placing the event in the fourth generation after Shem. Since Peleg was named
"division", he must have been born just after it happened. This restricts the Babel date to
just before 1757, almost exactly 100 years after the flood.
Was this enough time to build up the Babel workforce? These people (Noah's
descendents) were extremely healthy and long-lived, and had just been told by God to go
forth and multiply. No doubt the growing activity was reminiscent of the days of ark
construction. The limited time might appear to limit the scale of the construction project
at Babel, especially when compared to the soon-to-be-built ancient monuments like the
pyramids in Egypt and others around the globe. Noah's cubit was almost certainly in use
all this time.

Wesley Bruce (Dec 18, 2004) writes;

The problem you have is that the fecundity figures you have used are at the lower limit of the
options. For modern women with a life span of 70 years and for only half of which they are
fertile we can get an average of 10 children per generation.
Population calculations based on the number of founders mentioned is normal but risky. If we
assume all the male children are listed in the first and second generation, then your figures are
valid but if we assume that the genesis ten patriarchs are the surviving leaders and many either
died in the strife of Babel's last days or simply aren't mentioned because they threw their lot in
with the named 'tribes', then the population could be an order of magnitude larger.
You have argued the wives had shorter life spans, interesting but not robust. It would have
been mentioned. If they lived ~430 then the same number of children can't be true. Assuming
some female fertility control [ breast feeding reduces the tendency of ovulation] but no birth
control we can assume 2 to 3 years between children. This translates to 133 children per adult
life span 400 years, its not the same dynamics as today because you have multiple overlapping
fertile generations. However we can assume that the first generation of mothers had the most
time to have children, the second generation half that and the third generation the least time to
have children. We could halve 133 number safely and stick with 10 in the final generation.
Using the calculation format you give your argument it is more likely to be:
Noah = 2 (Noah and his wife)
Gen 1 = 6 (Shem, Ham Japheth)
Gen 2 = Gen1 / 2 x 66 = 198 (Aram, Cush, Javan etc)
Gen 3 = Gen2 / 2 x 33 = 3267 (Arphaxad, Raamah, Tarshish etc)
Gen 4 = Gen3 / 2 x 10 = 16335 (Eber, maybe Nimrod etc),
So the total available workforce, excluding the first two generations who may have refused to
take part:
= 198 + 3267 + 16335 = 19800 men and women, so perhaps around 17800 workers assuming
everyone was behind it. It is a big crowd and perhaps the growing activity was reminiscent of
the days of ark construction. Due to their longevity they may have been inclined to long term
projects lasting 50 to 100 years.
This would place Babel more than 101 years after the flood. Most place Babel at the birth of
Peleg ("for in his days was the earth divided" however please note that it says 'in his days' not
'at his birth' so we have another variable; the life span of Peleg, this can add 239 years. It is
probable that we are seeing a name change as with Abram/Abraham or Saul/ Paul. Thus I
could put Babel as late as 1876, halfway through Pelegs life. Just prier to Terah's birth.
It would allow big loss rate between the fourth generation and the 5th. People don't scatter out
of an urbanised area because they can't communicate. The Babel refugees are fleeing
Nimrod's violence, "the hunter of men", and famine caused by the collapse of organized society
and trade. They were forced from a wealthy bronze age civilization with farming and trade to a
stone-age existence with only hunting and gathering in the lands beyond. This and the loss of
longevity genes implies some, perhaps significant, loss of population after Babel. This would
also have produced rapid racial diversity.
Lastly the note that you give on longevity is very good but you might think about death by
violence. It is in the text and would further the contrast in life span between Noah's line and

"The numbers are months, not years".
Since the longevity appears to be about 10 times the modern lifespan, a natural
conclusion is to doubt their authenticity. Converting the pre-flood figures to months
seems to bring the ages within comfortable limits - Methuselah's 969 years becomes 81.
But there are some fatal flaws with this theory.
- The fathering age is too low. Enoch was 65 when he fathered Methuselah, and 65
months makes him a father at the grand old age of 5. In fact most of the lineage would
have been fathered by children who had yet to reach puberty!
- When do the ages revert to years? The "years-are-months" theory has a problem with
the flood. If the ages are to revert to years from after flood, then Shem is still a 'difficult'
age of 600 years old. Continuing in months is impossible from Noah to Abraham since
they nearly all fathered in their early thirties. (That converts to 2 years old!). Abraham is
a familiar figure whose wife bore a child in old age - but 90 months is not too old, its too
young! Noah himself spans pre and post flood, so his age is just as much a 'problem' in
the month theory as it was in the literal reading of years.
- As for counting years using some intermediate period between a month and a year,
there will always be a problem of ages too old of fathers too young. Besides, how dumb
are you claiming Noah's timekeeping to be?

"God limited our lives to 120 years"
When Noah is first introduced in Genesis, God states his intention to limit man's years to
120. Some have interpreted this to mean 120 year lifespans. This is an untenable
position considering that every patriarch from Noah to Abraham broke this 'rule'. ( Not to
mention 180 year old Isaac 180 and Jacob's 147 ). There appears to be no way to force
this interpretation into the text. A more logical meaning of the 120 years is that it forms
a countdown to the flood. Twenty years before Noah's first child, God reveals his
intentions to wipe out the world.

"A better climate extended the lives"
If this is the case then we would expect Noah to live much shorter than Adam, but he
outlived him by 20 years. Noah was the third oldest recorded man. (Although no records
of women's ages are given prior to the flood, the first was Abraham's (175) wife and half-
sister Sarah who died at 127. Gen23:1). A climate destroyed by the flood would likely be
much more obvious in the immediate generations after Noah, but the decline is
asymptotic. In fact, unless one believes in Lamarchian evolution, the lifespans should
have dipped and then recovered somewhat as natural selection favored the new climate
performers. Lastly, since hyperbaric atmospheric conditions are not a necessary part of a
floodwater model, there is no plausible climactic mechanism for longevity. If there was,
one would expect we'd have found it by now. If anything, the countries with the longest
life expectancy are generally colder climates - the opposite to the belief in a warmer
world before the flood.
Before the flood...
Maximum ages between Adam and Noah were effectively static in the line of
The length of Enoch's life is excluded since he did not die of old age. While there appears
to be a faint downward trend, this is attributable to Noah's father Lamech who died at
777 years. (Without him, the ages actually have an upward trend.). Effectively then, it
appears that the longevity of the descendents of Seth was virtually constant - with an
average of 930 years - the same age as Adam himself. Premature aging does not appear
to be linked to an accumulation of DNA copying errors (mutations) within the first 10
generations of Noah's ancestry. Discounting Lamech, whose life may have been cut short
by accident/disease/conflict/poor management, the increasing lifespan would indicate
Noah's genetic makeup was on par with the pristine Adam.
It would be interesting to know how the other descendents fared - like the longevity in
Cain's line for example. Little chance of recovering this information!

Table 1: Lifespans from Adam to Noah in the Seth line.

After the Flood...
There is a distinct change in longevity after the flood.
The figures drop sharply at first but level out after Abraham. It seems there was a loss of
a longevity trait; this trait being diluted in successive generations, pointing to a genetic
rather than environmental factor dominating the age limits. The record of post-flood
longevity shows a decay corresponding to an inverse power of generational count from

Table2: Lifespans from Noah to Abraham.
Inherited Short Life?
Consider this possible scenario...
Noah's family were the sole survivors of the flood due to the irreversible wickedness of
the rest of the world. Since Methuselah died in the year of the flood it appears that God
waited until his death (and the building of the ark) before sending the judgment. If Noah
lost other sons and daughters in the flood then it is strange that this is not recorded.
Furthermore, Noah's character as a father would be in question. An explanation would
need to be devised for why his earlier family was a dead loss but his later three sons
(including the very human Ham) were all preserved. The simplest Biblically justifiable
case is that Noah, like Abraham, was childless for most of his life (no doubt to the delight
of his fellow ante-diluvians).
In the recorded ancestry of Noah the fathering age averages 120 years. This is almost
certainly 'old', since there is ample evidence that they didn't all wait that long. After Cain
killed his brother Abel and was punished with the curse of a nomadic lifestyle, he
complained to God that he would be at the mercy of anyone who finds him. Even if this
statement was an exaggeration of the fallen character of man at this early stage, it
demonstrates one thing - that there were plenty of people around. At this stage Adam
would have been approaching 130 years old (since creation), assuming the next baby
was to be called Seth - the replacement for Abel. In 130 years, with a breeding age
starting at 25 years and with no old-age limits coming into play, and one child every 3
years per breeding couple, the number of people on the earth could be approx 386 000.
So the line of Seth starts when the world population has already begun to boom. Coupled
with the obvious empire establishing traits of his older brother Cain, the population of the
Seth line would have appeared insignificant.
It seems reasonable that Noah was the last surviving descendent of Seth, hence the
pressure against his progeny (childless like the other promised father - Abraham). It
might be difficult to argue that all 3 wives were somehow righteous descendents of Seth
even though no other male survived uncorrupted. More likely (from a statistical
viewpoint) they were righteous non-Sethites.
Against this fairly reasonable backdrop I will paint a possible scenario. The lifespan of the
non-Sethite line was shortened by sin - because the wages of sin is death. After
generations of furious short lives, the lifespans of people like Methuselah would have
been a testimony against wickedness - no doubt infuriating the descendents of Cain for
example. This dichotomy becoming more exaggerated until Noah's era, where the ark
construction period outlived the average ante-diluvian, making it appear all the more
comical to the next generation.
The Bible indicates Noah was more ignored than resisted. No record of battles on the
building site, not even any indication of resistance to his project. Jesus indicates they
were just going about their lives "marrying and giving in marriage" (as per usual) right
up to the time Noah entered the ark. The most reasonable picture would be this - despite
the spectacle of a huge barn full of animals and built like a fortress, the novelty had
faded long ago to the ante-diluvians. After all, the structure had been there for decades -
even generations. A short lived population would have a shorter memory, less able to see
the big picture and more likely to ignore rather than resist Noah.
Now,whether the mechanism was genetic or a spiritual heritage (or both), the non
Sethite ante-diluvians had shorter lives. So too the wives of Noah's sons, and even
Noah's own wife. (Another possible explanation for 500 barren years was that there was
no Sethite women left - an apparent defeat of the Messianic line).
If we assume Noah has a potential for 950 years and his wife and daughters-in-law say
200, then this is what happens; Noah lives around 950 years. He is married during the
construction and has 3 sons, but his wife barely lives into the new world - too old to have
more children. The 3 sons Shem, Ham and Japheth live approximately the average of
their parents (550). Since the daughters-in-law are expected to live around 200 years,
the grandchildren might expect to live an average of 550 and 200 (around 375 years)
and level off from there.
Presuming the mechanism for shortened life expectancy was revived, then perhaps the
lifestyles or behavior of successive generations contribute to the declining lifespans of
around 70 years for King David and modern man. Another clue is the extended life (120
years) of the overworked but holy Moses. His good health at 120 years of age was not
due to environmental factors by any stretch of the imagination! Forty years in a palace,
forty as a shepherd and forty years running around the desert.
With the passing of time, the mixing of corrupted DNA and inherited curses makes it
impossible to correlate individual righteousness with longevity. Rather like the rich man in
Jesus day was not necessarily the image of Abraham. So short lifespans were initiated by
sin but principally inherited.
Alternative Chronology based on other Texts
Arguments for using other texts beside the Masoretic (Ref 3) stretches the timescale
significantly (thousands actually). The explanation given was that perhaps ciphers for
100's had been dropped, trimming 1300 years from Genesis 5 and 11 in the Masoretic
Text (MT). According to the LXX chronology, the Flood occurred in 3537 BC, with Babel
around 3300 BC, creation at 5793 BC 10 years. The Babel date seems odd, according
to my calculations Peleg was born 2787AM and the flood at 2258 AM leaving 529 years
leading up to Babel. This seems easier because Noah is not at the Babel scene, and Shem
doesn't outlive nearly all his descendents including Abraham's father Terah, making
Noah's son well and truly Abraham's contemporary.
Alternative views are discussed by Pete Williams. (Ref 4)

1. Creation 20(4) Sept-Nov 1998. "Living for 900 years" Carl Weiland. This article indicates genetic
factors are likely to be the major reason for the loss of lifespan after the flood - due to elimination of
longevity genes through population bottleneck. (8 people - or actually only 3 breeding pairs since the Bible
clearly states we are all descended from the three sons, Gen 9:19 )
2. The Biblical Ages of the Patriarchs. - A record of events permanently damaging to human life
expectancy. Richard H Johnston. Treats the age reducing factors as judgments at the fall, the flood, the
division at Peleg and a general decline through to David. The suggested mechanism is genetic, such as
radiation damage reducing the life expectancy of successive generations without shortening the parent's
lifespan. (E.g. Shem outlives generations of his descendents due to an alleged event in the days of Peleg.
http://www.amen.org.uk/eh/biblical/patrageb.htm#fig1 Comment. While the event based mechanism for
life expectancy damage looks sensible, some of these ideas have been extended to include an array of
catastrophic fossil producing events subsequent to Noah's flood. This is known as the Recolonisation
3. Creation and Catastrophe Chronology. Barry Setterfield http://www.ldolphin.org/barrychron.html
4. Some Remarks Preliminary to a Biblical Chronology: Pete Williams. First published in Creation Ex
Nihilo Technical Journal 12(1):98106, 1998.
Brief Chronology of Noah's Ark Depictions
This pages does not include modern "eyewitness accounts". Many of
these have been presented in "The Ark on Ararat"; Tim LaHaye & John
Morris, 1976
1481: Polewinck, Fasciculus Temporum, published by Quentell
in Cologne in 1481.
Complete with an arrangement of how the space might have been filled. Note the prismic
hull and full sized 3rd (upper) deck. Proportions are poor considering the dimensions are
explicitly stated (Gen 6:15), and reflect the short squat hulls of 15th century ship design.

1493: Schedel
Medieval representation of the building of the Ark from H. Schedel's so named "World
Chronicle", 1493 (The untitled work also became known as the Nuremburg Chronicle).
The obvious influences of the ships of 1493 are obvious, and the proportions are far from
Biblical. As for scale - perhaps we can assume perspective was a problem for artists at
this time. (Large image)

One of the best preserved examples of early printed Bible artwork. Illustrations were overseen by
Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (c. 1450-1494). From Morse
Library, Beloit College

German Bible printed in Nuremberg (colored plate). Note that Johannes Gutenberg built
the first metal type press in 1436, and the Gutenburg bible came out in 1455. Before this
time printing was done from engravings on wood. Illustrations, of course, were still being
engraved centuries later.

1583 Zubdat-al Tawarikh in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic
Arts in Istanbul, dedicated to Sultan Murad III in 1583
"Noah's ark is caught in the thunderstorm and the heavy rain that will flood the earth.
One of the masts in the ship is bent from the strong wind and Noah's sons are shown
moving to and fro with anxiety trying to control the sails. Noah has calmly grabbed the
rudder. The ark is represented as a sixteenth century Ottoman ship very similar to
images found in illustrations of the Ottoman fleet in historical miniatures of the time. On
the other hand in accordance with its Biblical description, it has two (sic) stories, through
the windows of which pairs of animals can be observed. The text of the Zubdat-al
Tawarikh states that the number of Noah's sons varies in source. The artist here has
chosen to represent the prophet with seven sons and to interpret the story of the deluge
as the common adventure of any ship caught in a storm." Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gnsel Renda,
Hacettepe University, ANKARA. http://www.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/Ext/Zubdat.html
Note: The Quran does not give dimensions for Noah's Ark. Noah loses a son (11:42-43)
and possibly his wife also. (66:10). Compare Bible and Quran:

1609: Peter Jansen, Shipbuilder, Holland
Peter Jansen, a Dutch shipbuilder, built his ships along lines he laid down after studying
the Bible narrative. He began with a large scale model of the ark demonstrating its
effective design and proportions. The result was a ship with more cargo space and less
wind and water resistance than its ungainly predecessors. The lines of our modern
freighters reinforce the 'discoveries' Jansen made by studying the Genesis account.
Peter Jansen, of Noorn, Holland, then embarked on a more ambitious project. He built a
vessel to the proportions of the Ark, one hundred and twenty feet long, twenty wide, and
twelve high. (approx 1/4 scale). It was found to behave so steadily in the sea and to
have such ample stowage in relation to its weight that a number of similar boats were
built. They fell into disuse only because of the difficulty of arranging for motive power and
steering - less a problem with Noah's Ark on a shore-less ocean.

1602-1680: Athanasius Kircher.

German Jesuit scholar and author of more than 40 published works. Kircher was one of
the preeminent European intellectuals of the seventeenth century. Inventor, composer,
geographer, geologist, Egyptologist,historian, adventurer, philosopher, proprietor of one
of the first public museums, physicist, mathematician, naturalist, astronomer,
archaeologist. A contemporary of Newton, Boyle, Leibniz and Descartes, Kircher's rightful
place in the history of science has been shrouded by his attempt to forge a unified world
view out of traditional Biblical historicism and the emerging secular scientific theory of
knowledge. When Rome was struck by the bubonic plague in 1656, Kircher spent days on
end caring for the sick. Searching for a cure, Kircher observed microorganisms under the
microscope and invented the germ theory of disease, which he outlined in his Scrutinium
pestis physico-medicum (Rome 1658). As Kircher's reputation grew, so did voices of
opposition. Contemporary scientists like Descartes, equating Jesuitical science with the
oppressive Inquisition that had so recently executed Giordano Bruno and imprisoned
Gallileo for their unorthodox theories, regarded Kircher's work with suspicion.
Marion Leathers Kuntz, " Guillaume Postel and the Syriac Gospels of Athanasius Kircher",
Renaissance Quarterly 40 (1987) 465-484
Kircher came up with an ark very similar to modern creationist designs. Note the
rectilinear hull shape, low pitched roof, 3 distinct levels, and even an elevated keel on
piers. This is one of the first illustrations conveying the correct proportions and scale
(disregarding the birds). Today, a second level doorway and a continuous upper window
is considered to be a more accurate interpretation. (Gen 6:16)

Kircher's interior concept utilized a central corridor and distributes the animals and food
for a low center of mass, yet minimal handling. The image below shows birds on the top
level, food in the center and large animals on the lowest deck.

With more thought on the Genesis text, Kircher attempted a map of the pre-flood (ante-
diluvian) world. An interesting mix of known geography of the Mesopotamian valley and
some speculation. Also depicted are the mountains of Ararat (Armenia) with the Tower of
Babel to its west. (Gen 11:2. They moved to (or from) the east). Of course, this implies
the ark landed in the Zagros mountains (Iran) instead of the northerly Turkish Mt Ararat -
but no time for that here.

1694: Livern, Merchant, Scotland 1694
1694 A reproduction of the BIblical 300 x 50 x 30 cubit ark by Scottish merchant Livern
demonstrating the vessel's stability.

1720: Lutherbibel
Published in Protestant Germany, this etching is obviously influenced by the earlier work
of Kircher - a Catholic. If not an original Kircher illustration, then this artist has definitely
been borrowing Kircher's ideas - rectangular form, elevated on piers with similar roof
slope and wall detailing. The obvious give-away is the position of entry door and window
seen at the middle of the side wall. Animal housing constructed on the lowest deck is also
similar to Kircher's design. Excellent interpretations such as substantial vertical ribs in the
hull walls, multiple layered decking, construction ramps, scaffolding, cranes, a big
workforce and timber processing are all evident.

Image reproduced from Fundamentum Prof. Dr. Werner Gitt ISSN 1013-994X
Checking the scale. The figure standing at the near corner of the ark provides a
convenient estimate. According to this picture, the tallest man in the group is
approximately 1/16th of the height of the ark, 30 cubits. Assuming he stands only 1.6m
tall, the wall of the ark is 25.6m high. This defines a very long cubit of 850mm (33.4").
This ark is drawn to a scale much larger then the English 457mm (18") cubit or even the
Royal Egyptian cubit of 524mm (20.6"). The Prussian cubit of 667mm (26.3") may have
been used by the German artist - but somewhat exaggerated. This depiction is therefore
definitely oversize - a rare error in the history of Noah's Ark illustration.

1728: Figures de la Bible
Illustrated by Gerard Hoet (http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/bio/a199-1.html), and
Published by P. de Hondt in The Hague (La Haye).
Hoet died in 1733, only five years after this work was published. Gerard Hoet was a
Dutch painter, draftsman, and writer, born on 22 August 1648. His father (Moses) was a
glass painter. He founded a drawing academy in Utrecht in 1697. From 1714 Hoet resided
in The Hague. He depicted mainly religous, mythological or Classical subjects set in
landscapes. His book on drawing was published in 1712. Hoet also designed many
illustrations for bibles.
The following image of the ark under construction shows evidence of Kircher's influence.
For example, the door is on the bottom level with small window directly above it.
(http://www.mythfolklore.net/lahaye/008/index.html). The ante-diluvians look somewhat
Romanesque, which is as good a guess as any. Not a lot of workmen on the site, unless
this is the lunch break. Going to be fun for Noah luring them back to work. Could do with
a lot more construction stuff around.

Image courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
This next image shows the animals disembarking while Noah worships God. Notice the
exposed roof beams (Noah removed the covering of the ark. Gen 8:13), but the animals
exit via the door. This is a reasonable interpretation, the removal of the covering may
have served to light up the ark and increase the airflow to get the animals primed. See
Getting Out. This is certainly more logical than having everyone
(http://www.genesisfiles.com/Images/elfred3.jpg") clamber out the roof. Of course, the
sun should be behind us to see the rainbow, although Noah's face is almost lit that way.
Is that a vulture on the alter? Hope not.

Image courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
(However, Hoet's depictions of Pharoah's court
(http://www.mythfolklore.net/lahaye/049/index.html) were not particularly Egyptian. No
doubt Kircher could have done better there. Interestingly, the serpents have the dragon
or dinosaur look.)

1800's to 1900's: The Real Gap theory...
Amazingly, for the next few centuries Noah's Ark was not taken very seriously it seems.
In any case, Kircher's work remained unsurpassed until the modern Creationist
movement. In most illustrations during this period, the ark did not even match the
explicit Biblical dimensions.

Vogt, Naval Architect, Denmark 1904
A large model built in Denmark, thirty feet long, five feet wide, and three feet high.
Triangular in section with a flat base and ridge at the top. Tests carried out in the Baltic
sea by the designer, a naval architect named Vogt, were reported to perform well at sea.
According to "The Biblical Flood A Scientific Approach" the ark may have been
triangular in cross section. (http://www.agsconsulting.com/menucn2b.htm">website).
Photographs of a Vogt style model are shown at
The website includes this quote from a Copenhagen newspaper, Dagbladet, of 31st
August, 1904; "The Royal Shipbuilding yard has recently completed the construction of a
remarkable vessel. It is 30 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet high, and with its slanting
sides most resembles the roof of a house. It is a new Noah's Ark, constructed after the
design of Mr. Vogt, the engineer, the Carlsburg Fund bearing the expense of its
production...The remarkable thing about the Bible measurements is that after thousands
of years' experience in the art of shipbuilding they must be confessed to be still the ideal
proportions for the construction of a big ship...the Ark was not intended to sail, but to lie
still on the water, and to give the best and quietest condition for the comfort of its
inhabitants, and this is ensured by means of the triangular shape. In a storm the motion
of the Ark would be reduced to a minimum...If the greatest living engineer in the world
was given such a commission as this, to construct as large and strong a vessel as to lie
still upon the sea, and as simply constructed as the Ark, he could not make a better
vessel." According to another Copenhagen newspaper, Donnebrag, the vessel "drifted
sideways with the tide, creating a belt of calm water to leeward, and the test proved
conclusively that a vessel of this primitive make might be perfectly seaworthy for a long
"Quiet conditions" might be the only thing in its favor, because a typical rectangular
cross-section has about 15 times the stability of a triangular one (Both hulls assuming a
realistic specific mass of 0.5 and a center of gravity at 40% from the bottom. There is a
50% reduction in capacity due to the the triangular shape, without accounting for the
difficulty utilizing the awkward spaces caused by the sloping walls.) The stability curve
shows that tilting beyond an angle of 62 degrees will cause the triangular hull to capsize
and remain in the (more stable) inverted position. Flawed as it may be, at least the study
shows some concern for the structural strength of Noah's Ark, something not seen quite
so often as roll stability studies.

Check this yourself in 5 minutes with the Vogt hull now included in the Stability Simulator

1961: The Genesis Flood: J. C. Whitcomb and H. M. Morris
One of the most significant books ever written on the subject of Noah's
Ark and the flood. This book along with Morris's "The Genesis Record"
appear to have been a catalyst for the the modern creationist

1967 Meir Ben-Uri Rhomboidal Design.
Reported by Ya'Acov Friedler "What the Ark was Really Like" Jerusalem Post 10 Oct 1967
Friedler, a reporter for a major Israeli newspaper, describes Noah's Ark as proposed by
Mr. Meir Ben-Uri. His ark is 150m (492 ft) long, weighed about 6,000 tons and had a
carrying capacity of 15,000 tons. Ben-Uri, Director of the Studio for Synagogual Arts took
several years to complete his study, based on the numerical values of the Hebrew words
of Genesis 6:14-16. From this he prepared a scale on which he based his measurements,
which led to a cubit length of 500mm (19.7 inches).

Image The Jerusalem Post 1967
The most striking aspect of Ben-Uri's ark is the rhomboid cross-section - almost a Vogt
hull in appearance, but with a "V" bottom (deadrise). Ben-Uri claims a rectangular vessel
would have less space inside due to the need for a "maze of supporting beams", and that
the rhomboid design is more buoyant. (This is testable, the enclosed rhomboid has
exactly half the area of the bounding rectangle, so the interior space is halved. Worse,
the sloping sides will make inefficient use of space. There is also no reason to expect the
rhomboid will have substantially less interior structure than the rectangular hull. TL)

The roll stability of Ben-Uri's ark is a substantial improvement over the Vogt hull, but it is
not as stable as the rectangular hull. The rhomboid design is also very sensitive to
variations in draft.
Naval architect Dr Dan Khoushy commented on the design; "I would not have chosen this
shape for the vessel, but I must say that it is practically optimal for the purpose;
According to Ben-Uri, the hull would be built up in identical triangular compartments,
forming ten "holds" in a virtual "mass production" process. Laying the ark on one side,
the roof mounted door would be accessible, but when buoyed by the floodwaters the door
is in the roof. (Seems like a lot of effort walking around on sloping floors for the sake of
sealing a little door. TL)
The last claims of the article refer to the cubit length being the same as for Solomon's
temple, which is an interesting point, and finally that the reed basket of baby Moses may
have been rhomboid also. (This assumes "tebah" refers to shape, and make the dubious
assumption that Jocabed took a rhomboid basket when Egyptian reed basket were more
likely rounded. See Does Ark mean Box? TL)

1971: The Ark of Noah. Henry M Morris, CRSQ Vol 8, No 2,
Straightforward studies on the roll stability of Noah's Ark, based on a rectangular block
shape, a draft of 15 cubits and a cubit length of 18 inches.

1973: How Many Animals on the Ark?, A J Jones, CRSQ 9(1),
9(2) 1972, 10(2)
A calculation based on animal types. This has been superceded by Woodmorappe's 1996

1975: A Comparison of the Ark with Modern Ships; Ralph
Giannone, CRSQ Vol 12, No1,June 1975
Size and proportions of the ark compared to typical modern ships - showing that the
proportions given in Genesis 6:15 are appropriate and realistic.

1976: The Genesis Record; Henry M Morris. Baker Books.
Not much added about Noah's Ark compared to the previous milestone "The Genesis
Flood", but this book is perhaps even more responsible for the modern creationist
movement. A verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Genesis without shying away
from science, often referred to as the "Rolls Royce" of creationist books.

1977: Was Noah's Ark Stable? D H Collins, CRSQ Vol 14, No 2,
Sept 1977
Collins advanced the work of Henry Morris (1971 CRSQ 8.2) by demonstrating an
integrated roll moment which is a more reliable indication of roll stability. Collins also
gave a hypothetical wind limit of over 200 knots (assuming no waves however, so not a
practical wind limit). His ark is based on the assumptions of Morris 1971, which is
approximately a rectangular box.

1980: Thoughts on the Structure of the Ark, P.H. Van Der Werff,
CRSQ Vol 17 No3, 1980
A big step sideways, and not very practical for a multi-deck vessel. A suggested ark
design similar to a raft of balsa with lightweight (and rather fragile) superstructure
housing the animals. Unfortunately the cargo was always heavier than the hull, so not
sure what the motivation is for this idea.

1993: Safety Investigation of Noah's Ark in a Seaway;
S.W.Hong et al , CEN TJ 8(1)1994 (AiG)
The premier paper on the structure and seakeeping of Noah' Ark. Test data was
generated by naval architects and structural engineers at the world class ship design and
research center KRISO (formerly KORDI) in Korea. The comparative study focused on the
Biblical proportions and demonstrated the superior choice of length, breadth and depth.
Through scale model tests, computer analysis and calculations using shipping rules the
capability of the Biblical ark was claimed to be structurally adequate for 30m waves.
(Significant wave height). Available here.

1996: Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study: John Woodmorappe, ICR,
The premier reference on the operation of Noah's Ark - especially animal related issues.
Written as a refutation of arguments against the feasibility of Noah's voyage, and as a
compilation of solutions for the logistics of the account. Woodmorappe deliberately makes
minimal use of the "miraculous" to show the even from a materialist perspective the
account is possible. See here Extensive research bibliography is very handy.

2001: Das sonderbarste Schiff der Weltgeschichte, Prof Dr
Werner Gitt
Study on the Ark's breadth to depth ratio and its relation to the amount of wood used.
Does not include hull strength and other factors dealt with in Safety Investigation of
Noah's Ark in a Seaway. The 1993 paper SW Hong CEN TJ 8(1)1994 (AiG) also dealt with
wood usage as a factor for determining the ease of building a strong hull in different

2003: The True Story of Noah's Ark, Dooley / Looney
Coffee table style picture gallery with illustrations by Bill Looney. Excellent graphic
quality. Not a serious study on internal layout, structure, animal housing, food storage
etc which dramatically alters what you are likely to see on board the ark
Clues from the Earliest Ship Designs
According to the Bible, all people on earth are descended from Noah's three sons. The flood
left nothing of previous civilizations and their technology, so the Ark is the archetype of all
ancient ships in our history (the time since the Flood). Shipwrights tend to stick with tradition,
so when they built ancient ships they may have included features of the original Noah's Ark.
For example;
"This projecting forefoot, evidenced as early as the third millennium B.C., is a
feature that will be found during the whole of antiquity, on seagoing craft as well as
small boats. Its reason for being is unclear. A bifid stem, which leaves a very
similar projection at the waterline, is characteristic of many forms of primitive craft,
skin boats, dugouts, and even planked boats. Shipwrights, who are as conservative
as seamen, may simply have perpetuated it as a traditional feature." Casson

So the familiar high stem and even the projecting forefoot may have been inherited from the
first ship in our history - Noah's Ark.
Clues from
Ancient Ships.
With Noah's three
sons steeped in
marine technology,
the emergence of a
industry soon after
the Flood should
come as no
So if we see
particular traits in
ancient ships, the
chances are they
may have been
derived from the
archetype of all
ships - Noah's Ark.
> See More here

Mysterious Stern Appendage
(Note: All quotes from Casson
unless otherwise stated.)
Compared to ancient construction in stone, we know relatively little about ancient ships,
especially anything prior to 2000 B.C.
- 2000 to 1500 B.C. The Minoans of Crete had an impressive navy and merchant
marine, the first can be deduced from the total absence of fortifications about their
cities, and the second is attested by the abundant archaeological traces of their
contact with surrounding lands.
- 1500 to 1200 B.C. The Mycenaeans or Aegeans controlled the eastern
Mediterranean. Despite the widespread and intense maritime activity of the time,
we have nothing better to go on than simplified clay models, tiny engravings on
seals, crude graffiti, and a handful of vase-paintings.

(Fig 23, Casson) Clay model from Palaikastro, Crete. Before 3000-2000 B.C.
"The hull in a good many representations terminates at one end in a lofty
vertical or nearly vertical post, while the other, with no upright fixture at all,
trails off into a low horizontal extension at the waterline."

(Fig 22, Casson) Terracotta "frying pan" from Syros, before 2000BC. Notice the waves shown as
spirals, indicative of the orbital motion of real ocean waves.

Outline from the terracotta image above. One of the earliest pictures of a large ship, a
multi-oared galley. The Aegean craft were not the double-ended design like the Egyptian
typecast. Casson strongly argues that the lofty stem was the prow, the trailing
appendage at the stern - exactly opposite to the (much) later Greek warships. (See
Appendix). A fish symbol appears to be mounted on a pivot at the top of the prow,
perhaps acting as a wind vane to detect wind direction relative to the vessel. The cords or
beams hanging below it are rather mysterious, although they might conceivably act as
some sort of wind catching element..
The hull is slender, straight, and low; joining it at a sharp, almost right-angle is
a narrow and high-rising stempost bearing at its top a fish-shaped device; the
stern, finished off equally sharply with apparently nothing more than a vertical
transom, has a needlelike projection at waterline level. And, though the
drawing is too primitive to inspire faith in the exact number of oars shown, the
clear implication is that there was a good number. We see, in effect, a sizable
swift galley whose shape is particularly distinguished by the absence of curves.
Its descent from a dugout seems beyond question, and this is just what we
would expect in an area as well supplied with timber as the Aegean was during
the Bronze Age.
Casson asserts "beyond question" that this design is a legacy of the dugout, yet gives
little support for this theory. His only hint is the "swift" form and an "absence of curves".
In the rest of his writings, Casson points to dugouts and reedboats as the only true
ancestors of the ship (assuming inflated skins as a developmental dead-end). Casson's
statement about the angularity of the vessel presumably excludes the reedboat as an
ancestor, leaving only one alternative - the dugout. Yet a "primitive" dugout is no near
relative of this ship. The scale (32 oars, 16 on each side), and the shape (high stem and
appendage) show a vessel about as opposite to a dugout as one could get. With a
gradual evolution of ships in mind, the dugout is simply Casson's estimate of a primitive
origin in wood rather that reeds, but Noah's Ark makes a more appropriate prototype.

Is this where they got the idea? A proposed Noah's Ark with the Biblical slender hull, and directional
stormkeeping afforded by a high prow and a trailing stern.
These craft reappear on a series of graffiti that span the second millennium

(Fig 24,27 Casson) Graffiti found on Malta, ca. 1600 B.C, and from Cyprus, 1200-1100 B.C.
The graffito from Cyprus, reproduces every feature of the Syros ships down to
the projection at the stern. It also includes a sailpresumably the mast was
stepped and sail stowed away in all the other representationswhich is shown
bellying toward the high end. This settles once and for all a long-standing
argument about which end of these ships was the prow.

We know Cretan ships almost wholly from tiny and often stylized portrayals on
seals. Despite the lack of detail, one point seems fairly clear: the island's
shipwrights went in chiefly for rounded hulls distinguishable at a glance from
the straight-lined, angular-ended Aegean versions. In the earliest period,
before 1600 B.C. or so, the prow alone was rounded (and finished off with a
three-pronged or arrow-shaped device), and the stern was given an appendage
or bifurcation. This last feature is a puzzle, whose solution will have to wait
until more evidence turns up. With the passage of time, as we shall see in a
moment, both ends came to be rounded.
Depictions on ancient Minoan seals dated around 2000 B.C. also show an asymmetrical
profile, a high stem at one end and low extension at the other. While the illustrations are
to a certain extent symbolic, the repetition of certain details adds credibility to the
depictions. For example, the lofty stem has a forked appearance, something akin to the
raised stem of the Greek triremes some 1500 years later. Contrary to the theory linking
these early ships with the much later Greek trireme with its ramming bow, there was an
extended intervening period when ships were rounded at both ends.

Minoan seals, ca. 2000 BC, edited from Casson figures 34,35. Casson claims the the first figure shows
the high end as prow; (See Appendix).
Cretan vessels around 1500 B.C. had a prominent prow and stern, both devoid of any
ornamental device. It is very clear that the origin of so called "ornamental" stems was
not ornamental at all. They appear to have have been there for a reason, such as passive
stormkeeping effected by catching the wind at one end.
The clay models that have been preserved, from Cyprus and Melos and other
islands as well as Crete, seem to show small craft. The most significant are a
few which have a distinct projection where the stempost joins keel
(occasionally where stern-post joins keel as well)... This projecting forefoot,
evidenced as early as the third millennium B.C., is a feature that will be found
during the whole of antiquity, on seagoing craft as well as small boats. Its
reason for being is unclear. A bifid stem, which leaves a very similar projection
at the waterline, is characteristic of many forms of primitive craft, skin boats,
dugouts, and even planked boats. Shipwrights, who are as conservative as
seamen, may simply have perpetuated it as a traditional feature.

(Fig 54, Casson) Small craft with bifid stem - projecting forefoot together with a raised stem. Clay
model from Mochlos "2700-2500"BC
Scant as it is, the evidence unmistakably reveals the second millennium B.C. as
a crucial period for Mediterranean maritime history. It witnessed the
development of the true seagoing ship, both galley and sailing craft, built with
some system of internal bracing.(...) The Aegean produced a hull design
distinguished by straight lines, angled ends, and a lofty prow; this, brought
further along by the Bronze Age Greeks, served as prototype for the later
Greek warship and very possibly the merchantman.
Thera Fresco
One of the best examples of the stern appendage is found in the 13th-century BC fresco
from the island of Thera (Santorini, 60 miles from Crete). The extended feature is clearly
stern. Interestingly, these illustrations seem to indicate the feature was added to the hull.
The stem is long and slender with mysterious objects attached, similar to the Aegean
"frying pan ship". If a storm wind came against the side of the vessel, the stem would
catch the wind while the stern appendage drags in the water, turning the vessel around
until the stern points into the waves.

The Thera ships
have one other
interesting feature,
namely the flat
projection extending
outwards from the
stern just above the
supposed waterline
level. This has been
the subject of
scholarly debate
both in terms of the
relationship between
the Thera ships and
other contemporary
ships known to exist
on the same area.
and of the function
of the stern
projection on the
ships themselves.
(J.S. Illsley
Egyptian ships are assumed to follow a reed-boat form - curved up at both bow and stern
often with each end tied with a rope over the mast to counter hogging. Even after they
began importing timber to build boats in wood, the Egyptian form remained relatively
distinct, with a gradual upturn at each end. In Egypt, a "reed-boat" shape does not
preclude wood as a building material.

shaping a
ship, the
from their
reed boats.
Designed for a Seakeeping Function
If other nations supposedly used a ramming bow in those early years, why not Egypt?

Noah's Ark remembered in China
In China, the same worldwide flood described in Genesis was remembered in the ancient
Book of Documents (Shu Jing), written around 1000 B.C. The main character in the
legend is Nuwa, who escaped a flood where "the heavens were broken, the nine states of
China experienced continental shift and were split, and water flooded mountains and
drowned all living things."
While the story is one of countless flood legends around the
globe, the Chinese have even more clues contained in their ancient characters.
One of the better known is the Chinese symbol for ship (large boat), being the
combination of symbols for boat, eight and mouth (or person to feed). In other words, a
concept of a large boat originated with the famous eight-person boat, Noah's Ark.
Following images from Voo K.S (TJ 2005).

The is a similarity between the asymmetrical shape of the Chinese boat symbol and the
depictions from the Mediterranean around 2000 B.C. There is no "ramming bow"
argument in this part of the world, so why is the Chinese boat so obviously high on one
and and low on the other?

The following undated forms of the character for boat or ship show some more
asymmetrical profiles. These bronzeware characters are "probably the side view of a boat
with a roof" (from 15, fig 3).

It appears the third symbol became the default representation for "boat", which is not the
familiar equal-ended Noah's Ark depiction. The most interesting symbol is the fourth one;

A side (profile) view of a pointed hull with protrusions on either end - perhaps one to
catch the water and the other to catch the wind. Such as arrangement could create the
self-steering effect on a drifting ship to keep it riding through waves instead of being
trapped side-on (broaching to a beam sea). Although this may appear to be reading a lot
into one small Chinese symbol, the anti-symmetry of bow and stern is otherwise
mysterious in these early depictions.
A high prow and trailing stern already makes perfect sense for a drifting ship designed to
handle wind generated seas, so the hint of asymmetrical bow and stern depicted in the
earliest ships reinforces the case for a wind-steered Noah's Ark.

Appendix: Which End was the Front?
The hull in a good many representations terminates at one end in a lofty
vertical or nearly vertical post, while the other, with no upright fixture at all,
trails off into a low horizontal extension at the waterline.
This evidence is hardly debated, but one question remains; Which end is the front
(prow)? Casson believes the high end is the prow, exactly the opposite to the (much)
later design of the bow ram seen on Greek warships. Other commentators conclude the
horizontal extension was the forerunner of the ramming bow, but Casson argues the
original depictions show otherwise. He highlights the controversy as follows;
Some take the high end for the prow, some the low.
To complicate matters,
those who take the low end for the prow see in the horizontal extension the
earliest form of that naval weapon par excellence of the ancient world, the
Though there were enough clues to have settled the question long ago,

new evidence (the lead models and Fig. 27; cf. 31 above) provides an
incontrovertible answer: it is the high end that is the prow. With this
established, the argument for the ram at this period ceases to exist. The
horizontal extension still needs explaining, but, until conclusive evidence turns
up, little is gained by guessing.
Return to text

1. Casson, L., Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Princeton Univ. Press, 1971
Revised 1995 John Hopkins Univ. Press. Ch3 Return to text
The following references 2 - 6 and comments by Casson (simplified);
2. Lead models found on Naxos, show the low end, finished off in a sort of transom, as
the stern, and the high end, coming to a point, as the prow. C. Renfrew, "Cycladic
Metallurgy and the Aegean Early Bronze Age," AJA 71 (1967) pp1-20, esp. 5, 18. Return
to text
3 Earlier commentators who view the low end as the prow; Miltner F., Seewesen in RE,
Supplementband v, (1931) p906, ; Marinatos S., "La marine creto-mycenienne," BCH 57
(1933) pp182-183, 125-27. Return to text
4 This opinion, flourishing for a while (cf. Marinatos 183), then rejected (Marinatos 183,
note 4; Miltner 906), has been revived by Kirk G., "Ships on Geometric Vases," BSA 44
(1949) pp125-127 and is back in the handbooks (cf., e.g., F. Matz, Kreta, Mykene, Troja,
Stuttgart 1956, p. 77). See also note 6 below. Return to text
5 For one, to take the low end as prow means that the fish emblem points backward,
which goes not only contrary to sense but to the location of the emblem on the one
example we have where prow and stern are indisputable. For another, high prow and low
stern are characteristic of early craft (see Evans, Palace of Minos n 240-41), which is why
the specialists see no problem (cf., e.g., C. Hawkes, The Prehistoric Foundations of
Europe, London 1940, p. 156; Behn in M. Ebert, Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte XI 240
[1927]; Woolner, op. cit. 63). Among those who take the low end as prow, only
Marinates has studied the question comprehensively, and behind his conclusion lie
inconsistencies and inconclusive statistics; see L. Cohen, "Evidence for the Ram in the
Minoan Period," AJA 42 (1938) 486-94, esp. 489, notes 7, 8. Return to text
6 Kirk (125-27) simply accepts Marinatos' conclusion that the low end is the prow,
making no effort to improve on the arguments, and holds that the projections were at
first structural but then soon became a ram. That neither Homer nor the Peoples of the
Sea knew anything of the ram he explains by assuming that the ships involved were all
merchantmen. This posits a distinction between oared merchant vessels and warships
which is not only unproven but most unlikely at this age. And what of the Egyptian ships
shown attacking the Peoples of the Sea (Fig. 61)fighting craft pure and simple, yet with
no ram? If the ram was known in the Bronze Age, the Egyptians would necessarily have
adopted it, for it was a weapon like the naval gunonce one fleet had it, all had to have
it. Return to text
7. Voo K.S., Sheeley R., Hovee, L.D., Noah's Ark hidden in the ancient Chinese
characters, TJ 19(2): 96-108, 2005. Return to text
8. From History and Archaeology of the Ship
http://www.arch.soton.ac.uk/Prospectus/CMA/HistShip/index.htm. The Centre for
Maritime Archaeology, Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton.
Return to text
What tools did Noah Use?
Did Noah cut out the ark with an adze?
Some illustrations show an old bearded Noah chipping away at a log with an adze. Some
portray Noah belonging to a 'primitive' culture of nomadic herdsmen, who never made
anything more advanced than a tent-pole and a clay bowl. The evidence disputes this. From
the 'dawn' of civilization (which is really the 2nd dawn - after the flood), man's ingenuity and
technical achievements are astounding. So much so that they are considered ancient
'mysteries', or even 'evidence' of high-tech alien visitations. The evolutionary mindset implies
a gradually increasing level of technology which suddenly boomed a few centuries ago. Not so
in the diggings. Some of the most ancient Egyptian artefacts defy a simple explanation for
their manufacture - from the precisely machined granite vase to the huge accurate pyramids
and buildings. And these are the bits that survived some 4000 years!
Noah was using technology that was pre-Renaissance, pre-Roman, pre-Greek, pre-
Egyptian and pre-Babylonian. But these high points of the history of technology were all
about the same anyway.

A very simplified indication of technology through history illustrating the similarities in the
capabilities of major civilizations. In reality the curve would need to be multi-dimensional
to illustrate an array of technologies (materials, literature, mathematics, construction,
sciences, law and government etc). For simplicity, non Mediterranean post Babel cultures
have been omitted (e.g. China).
By combining the know-how of the early Egyptian, Chinese etc, we should have a
representation of Babel technology. The tower of Babel was a mere 100 years after the
flood, so it should reflect Noah's capabilities.

Egyptian Technology
The noria [water wheel] and the shadduf [lever with bucket] were used to raise water
and the aqueduct to move it.
Copper pipes were formed by hammering sheet copper around a dowel and soldering the
Basins were equipped with metal fittings, clay tiles were used as sewer pipes.
"In the Cairo Museum there is an Old Kingdom sarcophagus that was not finished. On the
backside which would be the bottom, a thick layer was left, which the quarryers began to
saw, and stopped before finishing because evidently part of the lid broke off. There is
very clear evidence of sawing the granite visible on this piece. What was used to temper
the saw I have no idea, unless it was sand, that derives from deteriorated quartz. That
would be harder than granite, though granite contains quartz to some extent. So
obviously in the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians were capable of sawing granite, however
they did it."
There is obvious evidence for very high quality lathe work in hard stone (including
granite!) (Cairo museum). Large holes were drilled in granite.
A hollow granite coffin (sarcophagus) was manufactured with precise flatness inside and
out - almost impossible to re-create today, since no machines have been built to create
these sorts of objects. (Technically possible with diamond tipped tools and large multi-
axis machine tools, but even then it would be very time consuming and expensive...)
Modern technicians are accustomed to more mundane operations. For example, the same
thing built today would be done in pieces and fitted together. A construction from a single
block is far too extravagant by today's standards).
Stoneware such as this has not been found from any
later era in Egyptian history - it seems that the skills
necessary were lost.
Some delicate vases are made of very brittle stone
such as schist (like a flint) and yet are finished,
turned and polished, to a flawless paper thin edge -
an extraordinary feat of craftsmanship.

Robert Francis - Photos and commentaries describing
tube drilling, sawing and lathe work visible at Giza
and in the Cairo Museum.

Noah's Possible Tools
Egypt is not the only ancient civilization with technology that contradicts the evolutionary
idea of gradualy thought. isolated case, although probably the best preserved. High levels
of manufacturing and building technology are evident in ancient cultures of China, India,
South America and many other places. Obviously most has been lost over the years, so
we must assume there was even more on offer than we are aware of.
So,back to Noah. What tools could he have?
History demonstrates that technology usually takes a few centuries to mature. For
example, the development of the Greek trireme in the climate of competing marine
empires resulted in the huge ships over 100m long. History also shows technology is
easily lost when a civilization changes or crumbles, such as the demise of the huge
Chinese junks due to a change of government policy. With this in mind, it should be safe
to presume that the pre-flood manufacturing expertise was higher than the best Egyptian
culture. (Which had to regain momentum after the flood). This is quite a high level of
technology, in many ways challenging even the much later Greek and Roman
For our purposes, we will put Noah's technology on par with ancient civilizations - such as

Timber Processing
Noah, a healthy 500-year-old with an extremely Godly heritage, should be smart and
capable. An adze? Not likely.
How about a simple, low tech animal powered saw? (It may also have been water
powered, but Noah was into animals and it looks nice in a game scene.)
For working with timber, Noah might have had some sort of milling saw, a variety of
smaller hand-saws for detail work, chisels, the axe and/or adze, and hand drills for
dowels and spike/nail pilot holes, metal wedges for splitting timber, and the good old
See Animal Power for more information

Milled Flour
Similar methods are commonly employed for milling flour, which would be a logical way
for Noah to store food for his family.

LAMPS: The design of oil lamps is almost entirely uniform throughout the ancient world.
Olive oil, a wick and a small clay bowl - usually with a spout for the wick and some form
of hand hold. Lamps would be needed to sort out any problems at night, and might even
come in handy inside a room on the lowest level - in the daytime.

JARS: Certain types of food that require near-hermetic conditions
(e.g. shelled nuts) could be stored in pottery jars. The popularity of
pottery containers in the ancient world is reason enough to employ
them on the ark. Maybe not as fancy as shown below.

IMAGE: http://www.ancientlamp.com/index.html
FEEDERS: Animal water feeders would be a good candidate for pottery - especially for
small to mid-sized animals.

A concept for a ceramic water feeder. See Feeding

The working of steel implies very high temperatures were achievable. This requires
purpose-built furnaces. Firing of pottery is trivial compared to melting or producing steel.
Metal spikes may have been used to join structural timbers in certain critical areas of the
hull of Noah's Ark. Steel tools are permitted; Tubal-Cain was doing this long before Noah
came on the scene. Bronze or other copper based alloys could be the prominent metal,
although the short working life of the ark and pitch coating would make steel acceptable.
Heat was probably required for production or preparation of the pitch coating - although a
much lower "cooking" temperature.

See Cranes and Lifting
Rope is valid, like the Egyptian ropes of grasses, papyrus etc. Wooden pulleys are very
effective and easily fabricated, no problem for the Egyptians either. Methods of lifting
were obviously employed in the raising of 300 tonnes obelisks in Egypt. For example,
"the Vatican in 1586 moved a 330-ton Egyptian obelisk to St. Peter's Square. It is known
that lifting the stone into vertical position required 74 horses and 900 men using ropes
and pulleys". (Ref 1)

It appears the pyramids employed a large numbers of workers. Likewise Noah's Ark was
certainly more than a job for Noah and sons. (Ref 2) The management of large numbers
of people requires a certain level of communication and organization. Mathematical and
design skills, written languages, logistics for materials, food and economic incentives for
workers would be mandatory.

1. Unconventional ideas of Egyptian lifting methods. National Geographic. Researchers Lift Obelisk With
Kite to Test Theory on Ancient Pyramids. Robert Tindol, Caltech, July 6, 2001
2. Ancient Egyptian Chambers Explored. Nancy Gupton for National Geographic News Updated April 4,
2003. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/09/0910_020913_egypt_1.html) Archaeologist
Mark Lehner, director of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project, believes that as many as 20,000 people moved
in and out of the village while building the pyramids. Dormitory-style buildings appear to have held
sleeping quarters for as many as 2,000 people. Diggers also have found evidence of copper-making and
cooking facilities. "All the evidence points to a very large lost city of the Pyramids that hadn't been known
before we started working," said Lehner.
Draft Animal Power (DAP)
When an animal is used to pull a load it is termed Draft Animal Power. One would expect
Noah to have made deliberate use of DAP during the construction and voyage of the ark.
Typical applications could include;
- Refining foods - flour milling etc
- Sawing timber
- Lifting construction loads
- Cartage of timber and supplies
- Ploughing and farming
- Pug mill for pottery preparation
- Bellows operation for metal casting furnace
- On board the ark - pumping, lifting winch, cartage etc.

How Much Power?
The working speed for most draught animals is about 1 metre/second (3.6 km/h, 2 mph).
A Brahman bull consumes about 3.3 Joules for each Joule of work. There are limitations
on the performance of animals, such as sensitivity to food supply, getting sick or just
having a bad day.
Sustainable power of individual animals in
good condition

pull N
per day
day MJ
Ox 4.5(450) 0.11 500(50) 0.9 450 6 10
Buffalo 5.5 (50) 0.12
0.8 520 5 9.5
1.0 500 10 18
1.0 200 4 3
1.0 400 6 8.5
1.0 650 6 14
Note: For animals of different weight the power output and energy output per day may be
adjusted proportionately. Source: Tools for Agriculture, 1992
Sustainable power of individual animals in
good condition

120 3.6 432 0.864 535 1.1 587
ox 120 2.4 288 0.576 535 0.7 391
mule 60 3.6 216 0.432 267 1.1 293
donkey 30 3.6 108 0.216 134 1.1 147
man 18 2.5 45 0.090 80 0.8 61

For a hard day's work the horse reigns supreme, delivering 500W for 10 hours. The ox is
known for its compliance and is less fussy about food - a good choice for the less
demanding applications. The camel has the highest power output. Forget the donkey.

Camel powered pump in Afghanistan:For millenia waterwheels have been used to lift
water for irrigation and domestic use.
This camel keeps walking in a tight circle to turn an axle which powers the waterwheel.

An ox crushes peanuts on a tiny mill in Thailand. Note the two arms - one steering the
animal at the neck, while the other takes the power from behind the animal.

Animal Driven Saw
Human Sawing. A saw requires suitable steel - hard but not brittle. Forging (hammering)
the metal is better than casting, which is too brittle. Hand sawing required 2 men - the
tillerman on top of the log who lifted the saw, and the pitman underneath who pulled on
the cutting downstroke. A sawyer team could cut around 200 lineal feet per day (10
hours), but this is no doubt on a good day.
Using animal power for milling timber.

This imaginary scene shows a pair of horses harnessed to a large pulley driving a
reciprocating saw. This is actually a trial image from a test of dynamic lighting and
animations, so little attention has been paid to the arrangement of the machine.
However, the concept is there. James Watt (1736-1819), famous for steam engines and
the unit of power, calculated the unit of horsepower from a similar arrangement used in
English mines. The horses trod a 24 foot diameter circuit some 144 times per hour,
pulling around 180lbs. While a bit optimistic for a full day's output, this figure became the
definition of the horsepower (HP), still used today. (Another nice example long lived units
of measure).

The Up and Down Saw
To mill timber, a reciprocating saw has the simplest blade, a potentially excellent cut and
low power consumption. (as compared to the better known circular saw, or the rather
"high-tech" band saw). For example a reciprocating 48" gang saw might have 25 to 50
blades and require 225HP, the same power as an 8 ft bandsaw. Of course the bandsaw
cuts very fast. (Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook 12 ed, 1964)
The image below is of a water driven reciprocating saw. "The pride and joy of Ernest
Ballard, 84, is this rare, water-powered up and down sawmill he erected at his home in
Derry, New Hampshire." (There'll Always be Water Wheels; by Neil M. Clark, December 3,
1955.) Note the timber frame (sash) holding the saw blade. It wasn't rare before steam
and electricity. With this arrangement, which included an indexing system to move the
log on the downstroke, a week's work for two men could be done by a one man in a day.
(14 times faster than hand (pit) rip-sawing, and far more accurate).

IMAGE: T.R. Hazen, Pond Lily Mill Restorations:
Also contains an excellent links page on on milling and waterpower.

One difficulty with animal power on a saw like this is the load fluctuation. The animals
would be stressed by the constant pulsing of force on the downstroke of the saw. This is
offset to a degree by the weight of the saw frame (sash) and can also be minimized by
the use of a timber flywheel. With the animals taking a full 25 seconds for one revolution
the saw would need to be geared up using a rope drive. An output power of nearly 2kW
(2.7HP) could be achieved using 4 horses, which, driving a narrow blade, could give a
domestic chain saw a run for its money. (The wider cut of a chain saw requires
proportionally more power).

Power transmission from the animal turn-style to the saw crank could be achieved using
a rope drive. The following illustration is from the 1964 edition of Kent's Mechanical
Engineer's Handbook, which included a chapter on rope drives despite being made
obsolete by the introduction of electric motors. In the continuous rope drive, a single loop
of rope makes multiple passes in grooved sheaves. In Noah's case, these could be
timber. A tension sheave is essential to maintain adequate tension as the rope stretches
with use.

Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook, 12 ed, 1964.

A section view of a tentative sawmill layout, using 4 horses and rope drive to an up and
down saw.

To provide a higher gear ratio, a large drive wheel must be utilized to keep the driven
sheave from becoming too small. The plan below shows a horse driven flour mill in
Vamosoroszi, Hungary, built around 1840. The horses walk on the inside of a 12m gear -
this diagram shows 3 horses and a seated attendant going along for the ride. The driving
wheel has 370 cogs, which mesh with approx 12 cogs on the mill - giving a gear ratio
around 30:1. Interestingly, this mill operated until 1948.

IMAGE: Hungarian Open Air Museum. http://www.sznm.hu/engn/index2.html

Applying this concept, the 12m diameter drive wheel now gives the saw a higher cycle
rate, which reduces the speed fluctuation. A modest timber flywheel will do the trick
here. The other trick is to weight the sash frame sufficiently to aid the downstroke and
collect potential energy during the raise - which means the unit would run unevenly when
not under load. This could be tweaked using counterweights on the flywheel.

Proposed DAP Reciprocating Saw. Tim Lovett Mar 2004. Refer DAP Saw Calculations
below. This saw has a stroke of around 1m - limiting the log diameter to this figure to
allow saw teeth to clear. Lumber larger than 1m poses a mass problem anyway and
would need to be prepared by hand-sawing to a smaller section. The main purpose of this
saw would be production of accurate planking. Of course, Noah could always make a
bigger one, assuming he could get wheels to move logs of 10 or more tons.
Log Motion

Villards up-and-down sawmill of the 13th century
Villard de Honnecourt's manuscript (circa 1220s or 1230s) illustrates an up and down
sawmill and a method of moving the timber forward. He included this note in his
sketchbook: "How to make a saw operate itself." While he could have used some lessons
in perspective drawing, this is a long time before the "industrial revolution" but shows the
essentials of an automated timber mill.
In the typical water driven up and down saw of the 1800's, a ratchet mechanism
advanced the log during the downstroke some 1/4" to 5/8". The early wooden frame
design (sash frame or English Gate) provided speeds 160 to 220 strokes per minute,
cutting around 500ft of timber per day. There was also a system for sideways movement
of the log to set the board thickness. All this moved on a system of timber rails or skids
that were later replaced with steel.
In the proposed design, the log carriage is not shown. For an oversize mill, wheel
bearings are a problem with heavy loads so rollers could be used to take the weight
force, with timber guides for lateral stability. For a standard sized log a simple skidding
action would suffice.

Of course, it all seems rather speculative once the details are fleshed out. If Noah was to
use labour saving devices wood processing would be the first candidate, and animal or
water driven saws the best contenders. Water drive is superior in terms of minimal
labour, but the technology looks too "modern" and familiar, despite the use of Roman
waterwheels for driving flour mills. As for speculation, there is no choice in a detailed 3D
scene - something must be specified. Our rules are simple - no heat engines or precision
machine tools, but ample resources and ingenuity.

A word about Dinosaur Power.
While the proliferation of dragon legends point to dinosaurs that survived on the ark, it is
unlikely these "reptiles" would be much use for DAP. Although it is not known exactly
how smart a dinosaur was, if they were anything like a reptile today then it is no
candidate for a beast of burden.
Apart from being less intelligent then the average mammal, reptiles prefer to lie still for
much of the time, like crocodiles. Perhaps a more land based giant reptile (dinosaur)
might offer some improvements, but the dragon reports from Alexander the Great
indicate a cave dwelling hermit. Sounds like typical reptilian behaviour - lazy. Explosive
efforts maybe, but daily energy output is very low - as evidenced by their low food
consumption. (Some, like snakes, can go without food for months)
So for brute force, perhaps the mammoth could be used, for moderate effort the ox, for
max daily output - the horse. Perhaps a job for dino-power could be dragging oversize
logs through the forest - led by a mouth watering selection of its favourite fruits. Then
again, a hundred oxen might be easier to handle than one of these beasts.

The horse travelled 144 / 60 = 180.96 feet per minute.
Energy = force x distance, so the horse output was 180.96 x 180lb = 32580 ft-lbs every minute.
Power = energy / time, so the rounding off, Watt calculated the Horsepower = 33000 ft-lbs/min.

Of course, everything is much easier in metric.
The horse covers 22.98m every 144 / 3600 = 25 seconds, which is a speed of 0.919 m/s.
Power = force x velocity = 800.7 x 0.919 = 736 Watts.
(The rounded figure gives the standard conversion; 1HP = 745.7 W)

CALCULATIONS FOR PROPOSED DAP SAW: (metric) Ref Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook
12 ed.
Horse speed = 1 m/s, diameter of horse path = 9m, number of horses = 4, diameter of drive wheel =
Ang Velocity of drive wheel: W1 = V / R = 1 / 4.5 = 0.222 rad/s (2.12 RPM)

Assuming each horse supplies 500W; Total power = 2kW, so torque is 2000 / 0.222 = 9000 Nm
Therefore tension is F = T * r = 9000 / 6 = 1500 N (336 lb)
Since pre-tension must be 50%, the rope tension is doubled; Tmax = 3000N (673 lb)
(Working load for 9/16" or 14.3mm, manila rope is 690lb)

Check arc of contact on small pulley; T1 / T2 = exp (fcoeff * arcofcontact)
Assume coeff of friction = 0.25 (Manila rope on wood - very conservative)
Then Arc of Contact = 2.77 rads = 158 degs. This is easily achieved, our design is well over 180 degs.
So select driven diameter based on 40 times rule: Diam = 40 * 14.3 = 571mm. (Kent's 15-82)
(Using 2 cords at smaller diameter would allow a smaller driven sheave).
We will assume a generous 750mm driven pulley.

Velocity ratio VR = D1 / D2 = 12 / 0.75 = 16
Ang Vel of driven sheave = W1 * VR = 0.222 * 16 = 3.556 rad/s (33.95 RPM, or 1.767 secs/cycle)
Assuming 2 horses (1000W) can lift the sash, Work = Power * time = 1000 * 1.767 / 2 = 883J
Equating to PE = mgh --> m = PE / gh = 883 / (9.8 * 0.56 *2) = 80kg (light but OK).
This gives the upper limit for sash weight at this RPM. It appears we cannot go any faster without an extra
lightweight sash.
Assuming the log advances at 0.4" per stroke, this saw would cut at close to 1 ft/min, or 60ft/hr.

Now do energy balance on the saw upstroke; (KE of flywheel, PE of sash, Work of horses, no cutting on
PE1 + KE1 + Work = PE2 + KE2
Take PE1 = 0, then PE2 = 883J from above.
Work = Power * time = 2000 * 1.767 / 2 = 1767 J
Now, assume allowable speed fluctuation of 10%; which means kinetic energy varies 21% (velocity
KE1 + W = 1.21 * KE1 + PE2
So KE2 = ( W - PE2 ) / 0.21 = 4207 J
Need a flywheel to store this energy at 3.556 rad/s;
Energy = 0.5 * Inertia * angvel ^ 2
Inertia = 665.6 kgm2
Assuming a timber disc 0.3m thick and density 600 kg/m2 gives a disc radius of 1.24m. (diameter 2.5m)

So did Noah have to do these calculations?. NO. Engineers usually do calculations so they don't have to
arrive at a design by trial and error (or at least get there quicker anyway). In this design, the Sash
geometry is common sense and the drive wheel diameter dictated by the size of a horse, leaving the
diameter of the driven sheave as the only real variable to play with. The flywheel is optional and could be
an afterthought.

1.(http://www.fao.org/sd/EGdirect/EGan0006.htm) Return to text
2. (http://www2.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/animalpower.htm) Metric conversion by Tim Lovett Return to
Could Noah lift heavy objects?
Building a timber ship the size of Noah's Ark would require lifting heavy
loads. But rather than casting doubt on the story, ancient civilizations show a
level of construction technology that has only recently been surpassed. This
is the sort of prowess one would expect from Noah's descendents.
Noah's Ark was a large construction project. While none of the timbers were likely to top
the mass of the Egyptian obelisk now standing in the Vatican, Noah must have used
something to raise loads. Shifting large keel logs into position, raising structural timber
frames and handling long lengths of planking all require some sort of lifting apparatus.
Since rope, wooden pulleys and lifting frames are all "low tech" ancient technologies,
there is no lifting operation that is technically inconceivable as far as lumps of wood are
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Mayans and others were all fascinated
with lifting heavy objects, usually stone. Theories abound on how the Egyptians
accomplished it. Even as recently as 1586, simply lifting an Egyptian stone obelisk was
considered an engineering feat. That's strange.
The Obelisk of St Peter's Square. (Vatican) 25 meters (83 feet) tall and 326 tonnes
(360 tons)
The Egyptians cut and polished the thing, floated it down the Nile and
erected it without a fuss. The stone is exceptionally hard (red granite -
[3] ). It stood for a millennium or more until the Romans arrived.
Emperor Augustus liked it so he took it to the Julian Forum of Alexandria,
where it stood until 37AD. That's no trivial transport operation. Caligula
then ordered the forum demolished and the obelisk transferred to Rome,
to place it in the center of the Neron Circus, on the foot of Vatican Mount.
That's not a bad effort either. When Rome fell, so did the obelisk. It lay
there for half it's lifetime waiting for civilization and technology to 're-
evolve'. Finally in 1586 Pope Sixtus V asked architect and engineer
Domenico Fontana to organise shifting the rock a quarter of a mile and standing it
upright. And legends were born - so it seems [2]. It stands there today, still in one 360
ton piece.

Plan view of the Vatican Obelisk

Domenico Fontana Della
trasportatione dell' obelisco vaticano
[On the transportation of the
Vatican obelisk] Rome, 1590
In 1586, Pope Sixtus V asked the
Italian architect and engineer
Domenico Fontana to move an
Egyptian stone obelisk, standing
over 25 meters (83 feet) tall and
weighing 326 metric tons (360
tons), to St. Peter's Basilica in the
Vatican from a site nearly a quarter
of a mile away. One of the great
engineering feats of the age, this
enterprise required a vast network
of men, horses, ropes, and
equipment to lower the obelisk and
move it safely to its new location.

It took Fontana a year to shift the
obelisk, including months of
preparation, miles of hemp rope, 75
horses, 40 winches and 900 men.
Fontana became a hero, and went
on to erect the 105 feet high, 455
ton obelisk of Constantius, one of
two that once stood in the Circus
Maximus. Rome was bristling with
more than 40 Egyptian obelisks in
its heyday.

For some reason long periods of time seem to overawe the mind, especially the mind
yoked to the alleged evolutionary progress of primitive man. Speculations abound. The
Egyptians are reported to have used mountains of sand, huge kites [1], magic levitation,
little green men or some other extraordinary method of erecting obelisks. Why not just
lift them? Obviously that's what the Romans did. But that makes Rome not much
different to ancient Egypt, which doesn't make a good story and it spoils the plot. We are
supposed to have developed little by little from a bunch of grunting cave men, and
ancient Egypt is not supposed to be smarter than Renaissance Italy.
Since so little is known about how the Egyptians lifted big things, we will look more
closely at Fontana's obelisk operation.

A winch, the excess rope being coiled to the side, combines human and animal power.
Each horse should pull at least 300 kgf, the men perhaps 40, giving around 840 kgf
according to the picture. (2 horses, 6 men). The velocity ratio would be at least 10:1, so
allowing for 25% friction each winch could exert around 6 tonnes and would need to be
firmly set into the ground.
Fontana's illustration (top) shows 34 such winches, symbolized as;

A substantial wooden framework was used in order to apply near-vertical forces to lift the
load and tilt it upright.
Comparing with today, a 445 tonne obelisk could be lifted with a crane like the one
shown below. Mobile cranes don't come much bigger than this, anything larger is usually
shipped in pieces and assembled on site.

As big as they get. A 500 tonne mobile crane http://www.sdscorp.com.au/crane.html

Cranes from Ancient Greece
Archimedes claw (lifting and destroying invading ships)
See Cranes (geranos) in Ancient Greek Inventions. (Michael Lahanas)

Working on the Parthenon. From Pentelicon to the Parthenon, Manalis Korres, Athens

There are several advantages of the turnstile winch over the use of sheaves,
1. Redundancy. The many ropes are all separate, so if one breaks the others take
the load.
2. Simple to set up, although coordination needs to be good.
3. Minimum rope length. Sheaves (block and tackle) use much more rope
4. Friction safety. The rather significant friction gives a margin of safety if the load
suddenly increases (because another rope broke)
5. All the rope is about the same standard size, capable of several tons load.
(estimated at 1.5 to 2 inches diameter)
Substantial frameworks are likely to be used for construction of Noah's Ark, along with an
assortment of cranes for lifting timbers. A crane (or several) specifically for lifting planks
and holding them in place while they are attached is important, although the load is quite

(Above) A crane by Rien Poortvliet in Noah's Ark. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers

(Above) A similar crane by Rod Walsh (Noah's Ark modeler)
A Simple Way to Raise Very Heavy Objects
Wally Wallington
of Michigan started building his own Stonehenge in 2003.

Wally demonstrates a method of raising a 10 ton block by himself - by pivoting and
jacking them bit by bit. This incredibly simple technique requires no crane or pulleys and
very little manpower (1 man). University of Michigan physics professor Michael Bretz
agrees that the effort is pretty impressive. While he notes that no one can prove how
Stonehenge was built, it seems entirely plausible that ancient blocks could have been
moved via his rock pivot and rocking/rotating technique.

Watch the video at Bore Me here or You Tube here.

1. Unconventional ideas on Egyptian lifting methods. National Geographic. Researchers
Lift Obelisk With Kite to Test Theory on Ancient Pyramids. Robert Tindol, Caltech, July 6,
2001 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/06/0628_caltechobelisk.html.
Actually, the whole system is similar to Fontana's but uses a kite instead of animal
power. The kite only works because there is a high enough velocity ratio through the
pulley system, which means a very, very long rope. Why not just pull on a rope? Silly.
(They mentioned trouble with a variable wind.) Return to text
2. A Forest of Obelisks. Egyptian Obelisks, Roman conquest and Renaissance engineers
http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/197902/a.forest.of.obelisks.htm Return to text
3. Raising a small obelisk today in Caesarea. Still no easy task as 20 engineers use a
modern crane to re-assemble a 'small' 100 ton obelisk. They appeared to have trouble
re-assembling the 50 ton pieces of the broken granite obelisk using dowels and epoxy.
http://www.eretz.com/internet/obelisk1.htm Return to text
4. Wally Wallington: Forgotten Technology. http://www.theforgottentechnology.com/
Return to text
The "look" of the Ark for form, fit and function.
There could be many different solutions to the Ark design. This is only one of
them, a design derived from the balance of a number of constraints;
1. Follow the Biblical description, interpreting obscure passages with care, and ignoring
JEPD influence.
2. Optimize seakeeping and avoid broaching in a wind driven sea.
3. Ensure adequate hull strength and structural integrity.
4. Permit high roll stability using suitable transverse section.
5. Allow for abnormal ship launching and beaching loads
6. Maximize internal volume in line with its role as a cargo vessel.
7. Permit construction in wood using limited technology, and minimal use of metal.
8. Provide an acceptable environment; ventilation, lighting, access etc
9. Combine elements from various ship-building eras, especially ancient concepts.
10. Avoid an association to one particular identity or historical ship style.
11. Include features that help make it recognizable as Noah's Ark, where possible.

Image instructions. Click image to enlarge. The larger image can be dragged on its title bar, to allow
viewing on screens less than 1280 pixels wide.
What have Ancient Ships got to do with Noah's Ark?
Considering the short and uninterrupted history from Noah's Ark to the
Tower of Babel, it would be logical to assume the most ancient things bear
some resemblance to what went on immediately after the flood. Several
things about ancient ships are striking. By far the most obvious is the
prominent stem, often at both bow and stern, not always with any clear
reason or explanation. Another surprise is the extensive (almost
universal) method of plank-first construction, proving that planking was
treated as a structural element much more so than it was in the carval
hulls of (much) later European shipbuilding, where strength was in the
frame. These two dominant themes might easily be derived from Noah, so
we make use of them here: Structural planking and prominent stems.
Broach avoidance using area center shift. In the image below, the wind travels from
right to left. The bow mounted wind obstruction (1) (reminiscent of many ancient ships)
steers the bow away from the wind. The projecting stern (5) resists sway in the water.
This might be a similar concept to the waterline projection from the stern of Aegean
vessels that have puzzled many
, since this appendage predated the use of the battering
ram by centuries, and it was not at the bow. The keel thickens towards the stern which
helps to shift lateral the center of water pressure aft.

General Arrangement for broaching avoidance. Bow is on left, stern on the right.
The rise of the stern post (6) or stern stem here is arbitrary - to give an ancient look
without providing competing wind area with the bow. The shape of the stem post
projection (1) can also be modified - this particular image looking a little "Greek".

Plan view. (Click image to enlarge).

Side profile. (Click image to enlarge).

Roof view. (Click image to enlarge). Bow projection blending into roof of ventilation housing. The roof
is cambered. The skylight hatch extends across all bulkheads except the extreme ends.

Bow view. (Click image to enlarge). Modified Bow projection with integrated ventilation window facing

Stern view. (Click image to enlarge). Submerged stern projection exaggerated by perspective.

End view of bow. (Click image to enlarge). Slight swell on sides (hydrostatically trivial) possibly
finishing in a blended lip at roof junction.

Earlier concepts illustrating some variations.

(Click image to enlarge). Individual hatches.

(Click image to enlarge). Extended bow appendage clear of the roof. Buttress walls also act as "sails",
supplying wind force to help maintain forward motion.

(Click image to enlarge). Looking up at the bow.

Related Pages
Links to background information sorted by design constraints:
1. Follow the Biblical description, interpreting obscure passages with
care, and ignoring JEPD influence.
Does Ark mean Box? , Window , Door , Noah's cubit
2. Optimize seakeeping and avoid broaching in a wind driven sea.
Broaching: Broach Avoidance , Wave Yaw and Broaching Action , Bow "sail'
Model Testing: Sea trials part 3 and part 4 ,
19th Cent wood ship basis: Allen Magnuson's design
Seakeeping of proportions: Hong paper, Long Hull?
3. Ensure adequate hull strength and structural integrity.
Necessary Strength: Wave Bending Moment
Structural issues: Gopher wood , Joining , Monocoque hull , Truss vs Monocoque
4. Permit high roll stability using suitable transverse section.
Static Roll stability , Calculator
5. Allow for abnormal ship loads - launching and beaching, debris in water, large waves
Launch , Launch Options , Waves
6. Maximize internal volume in line with its role as a cargo vessel.
7. Permit construction in wood using limited technology, and minimal use of metal.
Trunnels , Wood Strength
8. Provide an acceptable environment; ventilation, lighting, access etc
9. Combine elements from various ship-building eras, especially ancient concepts and
flood stories.
Flood legends
10. Avoid an association to one particular identity or historical ship style.
Compare ships
11. Include features that help make it recognizable as Noah's Ark, where possible.
Ark through history

1. Casson, L., Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Princeton Univ Press, NJ,
1971. Excerpt from p31:
"Needlelike projection at water level", and p33 "the stern was given an
appendage (...). This last feature is a puzzle, whose solution will have to wait
until more evidence turns up. With the passage of time (...), both ends came to
be rounded".
This does not explain what the projecting stern was used for, but it makes it very clear
that it had nothing to do with a ramming bow. Unlike the design of the Greek Trireme,
the earlier Aegean vessels had a mysterious stern mounted projection. Later ship designs
'came to be rounded" at the ends, a step away from the Trireme. Hence, there is an
historical precedent for a submerged form of projection independent of the Greek-style
ram. One possible answer to the mystery could be in storm seakeeping. Return to text

(Large image links for old browsers, in same order as page images)


150 days are over, now the wind starts. In the distance the collapsing plume of a giant geyser a 100
miles (160km) away. (Chronology Barrick & Sigler, 5th Int. Conf. on Creationism 2003). It's a rush job,
but I like the idea of the picture.
Bilge / Wall Connection 'the turn of the bilge' (Ref 1)
Looking in the area where a steel ship would normally have a bilge radius, let's investigate how to
tie the cross laminated wall and keel (floor) together.
Design Notes: The Bilge (non) Radius
For a first structural detailing effort, let's assume there is no radius
at all. Steel ships use a bilge radius here (See diagram
/ark/stability/static_roll_stability.htm ) Steel can be easily formed
and the radius helps to reduce secondary stress problems (water
pressure pushing the wall inwards). But a small radius is not much
fun in timber, requiring intricate shaping of frames and planks. Also,
the timber needs to be rather thick to handle primary stresses, so it
should comfortably handle secondary stresses due to it's inherent
area moment (deep section). In other words, in order to make the
timber handle tension like steel, it is far better in bending than the
equivalent steel plating.

Concept sketch for Keel to Wall Connection. Image Tim Lovett June 2004
Construction begins with a platform floor - large logs resting on
piers, followed by a layer of transverse planking. A significant 'Tie-in
beam' (probably better called a stringer, or maybe 'bilge stringer' -
Ref 2) allows Lam 2 and 3 to be attached without nailing too close
to the planks ends. This 'beam' could also be built up from
laminations - the advantage being the ease of nailing into the initial
transverse layer from above (especially while there is a big
longitudinal half-beam directly underneath).
The floor is built up in layers until the decking is level with the bilge
stringer. Not sure how seriously we need to treat shear stresses
here, since there may be enough torsional rigidity without diagonal
layers here. Longitudinal members should dominate the keel cross-
section to counter hogging and sagging loads.
The bulkheads are then erected. Metal straps might be used to
secure the bulkhead to the keel, probably not necessary since Lam
2 and 3 do this job anyway.
The ballast is loosely packed rocks. The ark is lightweight despite
having a near full larder in the water, it would be nice to use gravity
to feed water and grain from high up in the vessel. The low ballast
gives the freedom to do this. The secondary job of the ballast area
could be a drainage system for onboard water. A rocking vessel
doesn't drain to one end and free water will slosh around, but water
in a rock filled cavity should find its way to the lowest point quietly.
Then a pump on each end of the vessel could drain the excess
away (animal powered pump for example). As for issues with foul
water - its only 4 to 5 months until they are back on dry ground.
Potentially a pump at one end could work if the bulkhead frames
had a hole with a one way flap to let the water through.
The planking is then attached over the bulkhead timbers to form the
lowest deck.
How does the keel handle tension?
When the hull is sagging, the keel goes into tension. Since we can't get a log 150m long the
planks must be joined. The animation below illustrates the transfer of tensile forces using multiple
layers held together by dowels. Timber is good in tension and good in PERPENDICULAR shear,
a rare loading failure. In fact this type of failure is so uncommon in timber structures that it is not
normally measured.
"A very limited amount of data suggests that the shear strength perpendicular to the grain may be
2.5 - 3 times that of shear parallel to the grain". (Ref 3). For ordinary timbers like pine or spruce,
this translates to a respectable 20 or so, far more for a heavy hardwood like Live Oak (3x18Mpa
= 54Mpa). So this structure is quite efficient, provided there are enough dowels relative to the
length of overlap between adjacent planks. (A lot more than the three dowels shown in the
simplified graphic below)
This is the main reason it is better to use multiple layers of thin planking than attempting to join
big logs. See Joining Large Timbers.
High and
cut/split logs
form the base
of the keel
platform in
this trial
Stone piers
allow the logs
to be lifted
The logs
protect the
will have to
be done
about severe
of course. Fill
it with rocks
and sand
Metal straps
are looking
for attaching
these bits of

Bedded Keel Design
Building without underside access.
The following cross section views show one method of construction. Metal spikes (probably
bronze or steel) are used in critical areas. The plank-to-plank shear loading is transferred by very
large numbers of timber dowels. Remember, the large number of metal spikes only occurs at the
bulkhead, but the timber dowels continue along the entire length of a plank (see longitudinal
view). So there are hundreds of dowels to every spike. The aggregate serves to level the logs
and providing an even foundation, protect the timber and reduce earthquake and launch risks.
Since the torsional rigidity of the keel is probably adequate already, I took out the diagonal layers
and just kept pure longitudinal planking in the keel. (This can be adjusted according to the calcs
anyway.) Also a second transverse layer on top of the bilge stringer and long layers is fitted to
protect the 2nd membrane, and act as a slot for the bulkhead using a reduced plank thickness.
(See longitudinal view).
The build sequence might be something like;
Aggregate (12) > Half logs (13) > Transverse layer (14) > Waterproof membrane (17) > Bilge
stringer beam (15) & Longitudinal layers (21) > Second membrane (18) > Top transverse layer
(20). This completes the platform.
Then assemble the bulkhead frame (5,8,9) > Raise the bulkhead into transverse layer slot (20) >
Attach layers in order (1,2,3) and pin with mid-size spikes (6) > Attach wall layer (4) and add
small spikes where desired.
Then fill ballast/drainage system (19) and internal decking (10). (There would be additional 'joists'
under this decking to support the flooring.)

Image Tim Lovett June 2004
In a longitudinal section view, the bulkhead junction might look something like the next image.
Note the large number of timber dowels (7), and the selected use of metal spikes (6) on wall
lamination (3), pinning to beam (15).

Image Tim Lovett June 2004
Item Description Dimensions Material Comments
1 Wall parallel layer 1
(75-20) x (300-
400) x (long)
G wood
Dowel to frame.
Occasional spike
Wall diagonal down
layer 2
(75-20) x (300-
400) x (long)
G wood Some dowel to layer 1
3 Wall diagonal up (75-20) x (300- G wood Many dowels thru 3
layer 3 400) x (long) layers. Spikes
4 Wall parallel layer 4
(75-20) x (300-
400) x (long)
G wood Dowels and some spikes
Transverse Frame
400 x 400 x H Frame wood
High density timber that
holds nails well
6 Metal Spike medium Diam 30 x 700 Bronze
Could be clinched thru
7 Timber dowel
Diam 40 x (200 -
Dense Wood
Maximum strength for
8 Strap - Bulkhead 100 x 20 x 2500 Bronze See Metal Straps
Floor (Bulkhead
400 x 400 x W Frame wood
High density timber that
holds nails well
10 Decking 150 x 300 x (long) Easy wood
Quick and easy working
11 Metal Spike large Diam 60 x 1400 Bronze All spikes are pre-drilled...
12 Aggregate footing
17000 x 30000 x
Possibly sand
13 Log - False Keel
Diam 1500 x
Big parallel
Massive, so split and
hewn in situ
Transverse Layer -
200 x 400 x W G wood
Firmly attached. Will get
15 Bilge Stringer 400 x 500 x (long) Frame wood
High density timber that
holds nails well
16 Strap - False Keel 100 x 20 x 2500 Bronze
Fitted prior to setting log
in place
17 Membrane - outer -
Pitch impreg
Chinese Junks
18 Membrane - inner -
Pitch impreg
Chinese Junks
19 Ballast drain 250-350 deep Gravel / rock
Could also use dressed
stone blocks
Transverse Layer -
100 x 250 x W G wood Protects inner membrane
Keel layers -
(75-20) x (300-
400) x (long)
G wood
Heavily dowelled for
tensile transfer
James King (Naval Architect) comments...

James King. I prefer a rounded bilge because of the ability to transfer load from the sides to the
bottom. I recognize the construction challenge, but I can find lots of wooden ships and barges
with rounded bilges, but none with square bilges. That having been said, the square bilge would
probably have an advantage in roll damping. It could probably be built. If the square bilge is used,
then I would recommend the addition of knees between the transverse frame and floor (see
attachment) to transfer load between the side and bottom. This would be at every frame, except
where there is a bulkhead. The knee could be tied together with spikes or metal straps and
Corner straps
The bilge corner detail utilizes bronze straps which are fixed at the 'bulkhead' frames by large
bronze spikes (as shown in the above section view). The keel log on the corner might be chosen
slightly k\larger then the others, and the straps mounting area gouged to ensure the straps cannot
get snagged. The keel log also extends beyond the wall and additional planks are mounted on
this shoulder to protect the outside layer of planking in the event of bumps and scrapes. This
plank could also have a recess for the strap.

Image Tim Lovett July 6, 2004

Design Discussion

Renton's image 25 June 2004

1. Timber ship glossaries http://www.wisconsinshipwrecks.org/tools_glossary.cfm ,
2. Comprehensive nautical glossary http://titanic-model.com/glossary/s.shtml
3. Wood: Strength and Stiffness. p2. http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2001/green01d.pdf
The Window tsohar
Gen 6:16a. A window shalt though make to the ark, and in a cubit
shalt though finish it above; (KJV)
Gen 6:16a. A light shalt though make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt
though finish it upward; (RV)
Gen 6:16a. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish
it to a cubit from above; (NKJV)
Gen 6:16a. Light thou shalt make to the ark and at (the rate of) a
cubit thou shalt make it throughout from (to) above. (Interlinear
Literal. G Berry 1897)

A window shalt though make...
The window (tsohar) is not the usual word for window. In 24 appearances the KJV translated
tsohar as; noon 11, noonday 9, day 1, midday 1, noontide + 06256 1, window 1. So window is a
unique meaning for this word, all the other times it means noon.
It looks like the tsohar was for light. But light is 'owr, as in "Let there be light" or
ma'owr for a light or lamp.
So why the noon or midday hint? Probably because it was in the roof (above) and maybe towards
the middle of the roof (we would say 12 o'clock position).
Ventilation: Ridge ventilation is logical. Modern factories utilize a ridge opening to allow rising
warm air to escape. A central opening is an appropriate location for ventilation in the ark,
assuming of course that the tsohar was (preferably) not glazed. Whether the tsohar was
predominantly for light or ventilation is perhaps not possible to determine conclusively, but it is
easy to imagine that God knew a light opening would ventilate successfully.
...in a cubit shalt though finish it above;
This is most often interpreted to mean a continuous slotted "cubit-tall window" (Ref 1, p38).
Woodmorappe hints at a perimeter location (Ref 1, Fig 5 p38), but the Korean researchers (Ref 2)
kept the window away from the side of the vessel. (Reducing the chance of collecting deflected
wave spray and green water on a big roll. In fact, their design limit was set as the dipping of this
corner into the water, so a perimeter window was not a good idea). The diagram below shows the
Korean form, which is almost universally accepted by creationists. See Ark Modelers and Rod
Walsh Ark

Image AiG http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/magazines/tj/images/v8n1_safety-Figure01.gif
There is a problem here. It is raining and there are waves rocking the vessel. Even a generous
pitch of the roof will not prevent water cascading in through the window. A far worse situation
occurs when the ark meets a cross wind and rolls to lee side. The roof facing the wind is now at
least level, if not reversed, and the wind is helping to send it straight inside.
Tim Lovett Juy 2004
And we haven't even started to consider gale winds and high seas, where the windows might be
better off with a waterproof hatch. (This comes later)
Morris (Ref 3, p182) gives another possibility. "It has also been suggested that the word "window"
might refer to a low wall extending around the Ark above the roof, providing a sort of cistern as a
means of water supply". For collecting water there may be some merit if the sloshing water can
be stilled somehow. What is interesting is that the idea probably stems from the Hebrew "from
Here is another interpretation. Make the bottom of the window one cubit above the roof. Now the
window finishes to a cubit from above the roof. 'You shall make a window for the ark, and you
shall finish it to a cubit from above;' (Gen 6:16a NKJV)

Image Tim Lovett Juy 2004
Hence a wall works better than a sloped roof because it would take some time to fill, by which
stage the ark has rolled back again and dumped the water overboard. This is the normal way to
build a skylight on a ship. The "wall" is called hatch combing. A camber on the roof similar to the
deck of a modern ship should suffice, and here is where it gets very interesting. (For camber
information and roof design, see Transverse Section)
Window Hatches?
In timber ships the gun ports, especially the lowest ones, were sealed by hinged doors. Note the
thickness and small size. Sealing was not very sophisticated, and a little water getting in during a
storm would be the least of their worries. Note the ropes to open and close the door.

Gunports of timber ships (Ref 4 p 31 subfig 17 & 18)
Whether the light (tsohar) windows needed hatches might be questionable. It depends on the sea
state. If doors like these were employed on the roof the ark would be nearly bombproof. The high
pressures of wave slamming loads at the lowest gunports (almost on the water level) are unlikely
to be found on the top of the ark, but worst case rogue wave loadings might dictate a relatively
robust construction.
The question to be addressed is whether green water (actual waves) will make it to the roof,
rather than simply foam, spray and rain. Here's some green water http://www.tv-
antenna.com/heavy-seas/10s.jpg . Not quite sure how they took that photo, but probably from the
bridge looking towards the bow. This carrier is probably sitting a lot lower in the water than the
ark, but is slightly larger. The blue looks a bit fake - but notice how much spray around - it's all
Link to "Removal of the covering of the Ark"

1. Noah's Ark. A Feasibility Study. John Woodmorappe. Institute for Creation Research, Santee.
2. Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong,
D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal
8(1):2635, 1994.
3. The Genesis Record. Morris H M Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego. 1976.
4. Das Schiffstypen Lexikon Transpress VEB Verlag fur Verkehrswesen 1983. English Ed.
Dictionary of Ship Types: Ships Boats and rafts under Oar and Sail. Dudszus A and Henriot E,
Conway Maritime Press, London 1986
The Door pethach
Gen 6:16b. ...; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side
thereof; [with] lower, second, and third [stories] shalt thou make it.
(KJV & RV)
Gen 6:16b. ...; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make
it with lower, second and third decks. (NKJV)
Gen 6:16b. ...; and the door of the ark in its side thou shalt put; in
lower [cells] second and third thou shalt make it. (Interlinear Literal.
G Berry 1897)

Image Rod Walsh http://www.pastornet.net.au/noahsark/picpages/hiresark.htm
; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof;
Firstly, the door must be in the side of the ark: tsad {tsad} is 'side' 29 times, and 'beside' 3 times,
out of 33 occurrences. No option on this one.
What sort of door? The word is pethach {peh'-thakh} Strong's 06605, which has a well
defined meaning - a door.
In the KJV, pethack is translated as - door 126, entering 10, entry 8, gate 7, in 7, entrance 3,
openings 1, place 1; (163 total).
It is an ordinary sort of door, no special word to qualify it. So a design solution here should look
first at an ordinary door. Since ancient doors were hinged on the side just like they are today, that
should be the most likely design here. A drawbridge might have deserved a word like quwm
{koom} to say it was a raising type door.
So, by Occam's razor (Ref 1) the door would most likely be a simple, side hinged door.
How was it closed?
The next chapter tells us that God shut them in. Gen 7:16.
Genesis 7:16b. ...: and the LORD shut him in. (KJV)

The door is not mentioned here, but simply the word for shut. The word used is cagar
(Qal) which means to shut, to close, close up, closed up, closely joined, shut up. It is universally
assumed that God shut the same door mentioned in the Genesis 6:16 specifications.
If Noah closed the door himself and God only locked it then the word should have been simply
na`al {naw-al'} (to lock, bar. E.g. the door in Judges 3:23,24). So the reading would most naturally
be taken as God swung the door shut. Since there is no mention of Noah sealing the door, one
might go the next logical step and say God swung the door shut tight.
If the door had been a drawbridge then maybe God should have 'raised it'.

Image Tim Lovett 2003
By the principle of economy of miracles (Ref 2), we should expect the door not to have been
designed un-liftable, or impossible for humans to close, or seized or damaged. If the door could
not be closed then why would it be called a door by the ordinary word?
The first design to consider should be like an ordinary door, but modified as necessary for the
marine application. A drawbridge style is still possible, but does not present any textual
advantages, nor is it more waterproof. It is more difficult to shut and would need to be
counterbalanced or winched into position.
So why would God shut the door?
This signaled the start of the judgment, which wasn't Noah's call (It is not for you to know the
times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Acts 1). The event was supernatural but
not some sort of 'show' for the onlookers. In fact, it may have appeared as though Noah shut the
door himself. It might also be possible that God shut the door in order to make it unopenable, just
in case they left something behind and re-opened the door to make a dash for it. The flood hit that
same day, so there was no time for lingering around outside.
Getting out again.
The interesting thing about the exit from the ark is that the door is not mentioned at all, but rather
the removal of the ark covering. This seems an unlikely description of the re-opening of the door.
The word used in Gen 8:13 for covering is mikceh, which is translated as covering all
16 times it is used, 15 of which refer to the covering of skins applied to the tabernacle (weather
proofing fly of the tent structure).
The root word kacah {kaw-saw'} means "to cover" and is used more often: translated 152 times in
the KJV as cover 135, hide 6, conceal 4, covering 2, overwhelmed 2, clad 1, closed 1, clothed 1.
The text seems to indicate that the door wasn't used; a 'removed the covering' is an unexpected
way to say 'opened the door'.
This has led some to believe the exit was through the roof, which is an issue for the leading of
animals and construction of ramps. If it took 7 days to board the vessel, how long to exit on a
makeshift ramp on a mountainside, climbing out the roof? If the ramp is not makeshift then it is a
lot of work, especially when all the trees are buried in hardened mud.

ROOF EXIT. Elfred Lee. Larger image at
The snow suggests the ark has been there
a while. Obviously need a better ramp than
the one shown here, which is probably for
humans only.
Alternatively, the covering might refer to the hull planking which forms the waterproof membrane -
the 'skin' of the ark. Removing some of this 'covering' is almost certainly the easiest way out, a
morning's work for these hardy men. There is no metal in the planking between frames and the
lowest deck would require no exit ramp. The work could also be done from the outside, since the
men are quite likely to have spent the last few months exploring the new countryside. (It should
be pretty easy to get out the window and down a rope, or pegs in the wall. They built the thing
remember.) External access is not a necessity for the cut-out operation.
For simplicity and since we already have a 'covering' existing as the hull planking, the removal of
the covering might be best explained as chopping a hole through the hull. This adds the least to
the text and is a very competitive solution logistically, hence should win the Occam's razor test.
Comparison of exit theories
Hole Theory Door Theory Roof Theory
'Covering' or 'skin' is the
hull wall.
'Remove' is chop a hole
Why doesn't the Bible say
"opened the door"?
'Covering' or 'skin' is the
'Remove' is dismantling
some roof.
Axe a doorway though the
side of the hull (several
Open the door. Find wood
(if possible) or remove
wood from inside the ark -
perhaps selected
structural timbers, or
empty food silos.
Construct a ramp. (Several
Remove a section of the
skylight (the rest of the
roof is too thick). Construct
an internal ramp to reach
the roof, then a full height
access ramp or bridge
from the roof top to the
mountainside. (several
Fits Bible and quickest
way out
More sudden opening
visually dramatic -
assuming the door opens
Fits Bible
Why have a door at all?
To fill the completed ark
and shut the old world out.
Biblical justification
Construction of a ramp
when trees are scarce
Significant construction
work required. Poor choice
with limited labor.
Simple access to their first
Ready made secure
doorway, not that security
would be an issue
Very annoying way to get
into the ark
So if they have to bust out why have a door at all? Why not get in through a gap in the planking
and finish it off just before full time?
Since the entrance saw heavy traffic in the final loading week there was no way to gradually finish
off the hole before D-day. The flood came the same day as the closing of the door, so there was
not enough time to complete such serious woodwork. With a hull planking in cross laminated
layers, a large portion of the hull must be 'rolled back' even to leave a relatively small opening.
The closing of the door (judgment by water flagfall) and the last trumpet have strong parallels, the
sudden finality of the thud of the door might be like the 'twinkling of an eye' describing the speed
of the Christ's return. Besides, with the animals bedding down and meeting their room-mates, this
was no time for the auger and mallet.
But by the end of the voyage, they may have been looking for something to hit.
Removed the covering of the Ark
Scenarios where the removal does not imply exit.
There are 57 days between removal of the covering and the exit from the ark. Genesis
8:13,14. W&M p3
Jim King: Because the word translated "window" is most often translated "noon", the window
should let in noon light. But, most of the windows that we have described do not let in noon light.
Suppose that the window was glass or made of translucent material. The glass could be located
between the lattice bracing. So, when Noah removed the covering, he was removing the pieces
of glass and perhaps some of the lattice structure. This would let additional light, wake up the
animals, and perhaps more importantly, ventilation into the Ark.
Tim: If "removal of the covering of the ark" was the removal of the skylight area, then this removal
might be used to supply timber for the construction of a ramp.
Which deck?
The second deck is the most common interpretation, driven by the use of the word 'lower' rather
than 'first' for the bottom deck. Hence the entrance could be thought of as being on the middle
deck, so the first deck is 'lower'. The word for lower is well defined; tachtiy {takh-tee'}, which is
translated as nether parts 5 nether 4, lowest 3, lower 2, lower parts 2, misc 3; (total 19) in KJV.
There is no confusion between the Hebrew words for lower and first, they are distinctly different
words; 'first' 'echad {ekh-awd'} is rendered in the KJV as; one 687, first 36, another 35, other 30,
any 18, once 13, eleven + 06240 13, every 10, certain 9, an 7, some 7, misc. 87; (total 952)
So the natural entrance level would be the second deck.
From a structural point of view, the middle deck is also sensible because it avoids the areas of
higher axial stress near the upper and lower extremities. The upper deck would also require
additional ramp construction work, while the lower deck penetrates the structure where it must be
built for higher water pressure.
An entrance on the second level is also central, the other decks are no more than one level away.
Since we are considering heavy seas, water proofing is required regardless of which deck is
employed. With the relatively lightweight ark cargo, the second level door might be just in the
water under still conditions, or perhaps slightly clear of the waterline.
The popular location of the door at the longitudinal center is a different issue. The Biblical text
does not require it. A location closer to one end would also be advantageous in a progressive
longitudinal build sequence, because the door can be used from early in the project.

Central walking distance? It is initially assumed that the internal ramps will be located at the ends
of the vessel. The reasoning is that it helps give a consistent loading (timber ships can suffer
hogging creep due to excessive weight in bow and stern relative to the buoyancy forces
amidships). Also, if the ends need to be pointed or rounded then the difficult shape suits a place
for ramps, winches and pumps. So with internal ramps at the end/s the door is better off away
from the center, it saves a bit of walking during construction.
A more significant reason is to keep the door away from the higher stresses in the midship area.
For the same reason it helps to keep the internal decks intact rather than penetrated by entrance
doors and ramp spaces toward the middle of the hull. The images below give a (rough) idea of
how the stresses tend to be amidships. Red is most highly stressed, then yellow, pink, green,
blue, white. Common sense would keep the door away from the midship location due to the high
axial stresses there. Too close to the bow or stern and the shear stress begins to increase due to
static loading. When a ship breaks, it tends to break in half. A good place to put a door might be
say 1/3 of the way along the hull, but calculations should clarify this decision.

TORSION OF A BULK CARRIER. Image http://www.classnk.or.jp/hp/Rules_Guidance/Guidelines/English/Container%20Carrier/C-

WAVE BENDING OF A TANKER. Image http://www.classnk.or.jp/hp/Rules_Guidance/Guidelines/English/Tanker/T-start_E.pdf
Certainly don't want a door on the middle of level three.
What would it have looked like?
Gun-ports from a timber ship are illustrated here. A single door would be prudent (rather than a
pair of hinged doors), sealing onto a generous rebate in the jamb and possibly including a
tapered perimeter that jams the door into the hull under water pressure. This would help to
explain why they didn't go out the same way they came in. (By the time they un-jam the door,
search for wood and build a ramp, they might as well just chop out a hole one deck below.)
Entry Ramp

Looking out the entry door onto the landing. The ramp continues downward to the right of the
picture, and parallel to the hull of the Ark. The slope should be no more than about10 degrees,
with a slatted tread to facilitate carts being pulled by hoofed animals.

Note: All Hebrew characters and references are from the Blue Letter Bible.
1. Occam's Razor (i.e., the Principle of Parsimony)
The most parsimonious explanation for the sum total of the evidence is most likely to be the
correct one. In other words, where there are several equally valid theories, the simplest
explanation should be taken.
2. Economy of miracles
Economy of miracles is a 'principle' where God prefers to employ humans to do a job rather than
use interventional miracles, or that He does not do miracles without good reason. While the whole
of life and the sustaining of the universe is a continuous miracle, the intervening miracle is one
which goes outside the norm of this experience. E.g. Against gravity (Elisha's axe head, Jesus on
water). Miracles are not to be taken lightly ("Do not put the Lord your God to the test"), similarly
we should try not to invoke miraculous intervention beyond what is clearly stated in the Biblical
text. God shut a door, not built a door, or shut a wall.
Rooms and Nests qen {kane}
Let us begin with a Bible reading - half a verse. The Bible does not give away much detail about
the interior of the Ark. In Genesis 6:14, God told Noah to build 'nests', usually translated as
Gen 6:14a Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make
in the ark... (KJV)
Gen 6:14a. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood ; make rooms
in it... (NIV)
Gen 6:14a. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the
ark... (NKJV)
Gen 6:14a. Make for thee an ark of timbers of cypress, [in] cells thou
shalt make the ark (Interlinear Literal. G Berry 1897)

...; rooms shalt thou make in the ark...
Once again the average Bible gives the Noah account an unusual (even unique) translation for a
common word. This time it's qen: 12 out of 13 times it means 'nest', but this time is gets the
unique translation 'room'. No help from the root word either, qanan {kaw-nan'}, which
always means 'to nest'. According to Henry Morris, the word is "literally 'nests' - thus apparently
each of appropriate size for the individual animals to rest in" (Ref 1, p181)
So forgetting rooms, what happens if you think nest?
A snug place. Bedding down, comfortable, warm and dry. Sleeping. Safe. Usually darkened. A
place to rear young.
Anyone who breeds birds, rabbits or other animals knows the need for a place to hide away. A
nest. So the Bible is giving a strong hint towards the design of animal housing - comfortable and
as private as possible in order to comply with the nesting theme.
Ever seen a snake go in a sack? Once it's dark and warm they usually relax. A native animal
rescue organization in Australia promotes opaque cages such as wood rather than glass for the
keeping of reptiles. A glass window stresses the animal because they can see too much (apart
from banging their head of course).
So if you were on board the ark you probably wouldn't see many animals! Mostly they will be
hidden in their 'nests', stables and cages. Certainly they don't like being on display. Once it is
darkened, warm and confined they go into docile mode, especially when the boat is a-rocking.
With this in mind we are ready to look at the interior layout. We are not aiming for an open plan
layout or cavernous interior. The overriding concern is for the hull structure, but the design
decision is actually a mixture of structural requirements and useful room size. To a certain extent,
the structural requirements of wave loads and water pressure would tend to bring the frames
closer together, but for layout flexibility the interior compartments might want to be large. So there
is a balance between the two, bulkhead frame spacing vs room size.

Spacing of Bulkhead Frames
Closer together... Further Apart...
1. Roof buckling in sag
2. Water pressure bending
in sidewall
3. Span of decks 2 & 3
4. Keel buckling in hog
5. Flexible room layout
6. Economy of frames
1. Roof Buckling
We look first at the roof because it is thinner than the keel. If the frames are too far apart and a
sagging hull puts the roof in compression, the roof could buckle.

Using this set of "out of the air" values:
Roof layers. 1=350, 2=150, 3=150, 4=75mm, timber = Douglas Fir, Loading = unrestricted service
ABS wave bending moment, vertical acceleration of 0.6 and the equivalent water load of 1m of
water on the roof, the roof does not tend to buckle until the span reaches 17m. The very deep
roof section works like a double skinned hull in secondary bending, despite the meager 4%
contribution of the 45 degree layers. So roof buckling is not a problem.
Roof compression stress was graphed against bulkhead spacing. Using the conservative strength
values of NDS design guides, a 9 MPa compressive stress limit occurs at 7m bulkhead span.
Looks like 7m should be OK.

2. Sidewall Secondary Bending (water pressure)
XY Bending
Obviously the walls will not be such a pretty picture. The sidewall has lower member stiffness
than the roof since it is rather thin. Add the higher waterpressure and the walls will be wanting to
cave in. Sidewall secondary bending in XY plane

Plan View of a bottom deck room showing the unsupported sidewall under water pressure
(exaggerated). The deeper the water the higher the pressure, so the lowest deck needs the most
reinforcement. Dynamic effects and wave slamming loads would also add significant stresses to
the hull.

Preliminary static water pressures at 12m draft (sitting in a wave) show the sidewall is really only
capable of spanning 3 or 4 meters between frames. This has not taken dynamic loading into
account either, so it looks like the sidewall has no choice but to have intermediate frames.
YZ Bending
The picture is not quite so bad however. The intermediate decks also support the walls. This
creates bending in the vertical plane (YZ) also.

In the vertical plane (YZ bending) the sidewall is not very efficient because the extreme inboard
and outboard layers are horizontal. So they don't help much at all. Now we are left with the inside
diagonal layers, but since they are at 45 degrees they are effectively spanning not 5 meters but 7.
Furthermore they are closer to the wall element's neutral axis so their bending stiffness is
reduced. As a result there will be some contribution of the diagonal layers 2 and 3 towards
prevention of wall bending, certainly more than the meager 4% assumed in the XY bending strip
This will increase the span a little, perhaps by 20% or so. However, once dynamic loads are
included the wall might span no more than perhaps 3 meters, far too narrow for a useable animal
space. There is no choice but to add intermediate wall supports between frames.
The hull wall is stiffest in XY bending, so this is one to employ against water pressure. We need
to add vertical supports to help the wall bridge the span in the XY plane.
The rib solution. Standard practice in the days of the sailing ship was a skeleton of frames
behind the planking. These ribs were used for strength and for attaching the planks of course, but
in our case they might be there just to help resist bending. There is only one problem - the
increase of the wall element's area moment will depend on how far away these ribs are from the
neutral axis. In this case, not very far. So the "ribs" will be too weak. If we add more ribs we will
just end up with a fifth hull layer, which didn't take advantage of the XY bending in the first place.
Instead, we just changed it into YZ bending.

For a stiffer wall support we could copy the design of the bulkheads.
Since the parallel planking is on the hull wall extremities (inboard & outboard) then the wall is
stiffest in this direction, best in XY bending. This why 3 ply has outer layers less than half the core
thickness - bending effect is prop to distance from centre ^2. So since we are designing for XY
bending, we need something like mini-bulkheads (subwalls in the picture);

But since the wall loads are mostly compressive, the sheathing could be economically replaced
with a buttress arrangement, since the tensile force problem of large timbers is negated. The
buttress is designed to transmit wall loads to both upper and lower decks.

3. Span of Decks 2 & 3
Without even doing the numbers, 7m sounds like a long way to span timber, particularly
considering the significant floor loads and accelerations of the vessel. Chances are we are going
to need some support if we don't want to make the decks absurdly thick. This eats into your
loading space too, don't forget.
Since we already have some structure (wall frames) penetrating the room, it is possible that we
could extend them into supports for decks 2 and 3. Starting to look a little clinical now - less like a
steel ship, and more like a timber ship.
Whether this detail would need to be carried right though to the roof remains to be seen, but the
initial roof buckling calculations the top deck show a clear span between bulkheads might be
possible. Even the bulkheads themselves could have less sheathing area, producing a more
open plan upper level.

4. Keel Buckling in Hog
The keel buckling issue is accentuated by the water pressure on the underside.

The orientation of keel logs and the lengthwise structural planking are ready-made to resist the
pressure longitudinally - bridging between bulkhead frames as it bends in the XZ plane. The
massive bottom is more than just a convenient lump of wood to nail into. See Transverse Section
Axial loads are similar to the roof (lower actually, since the neutral axis is closer to the massive
keel), so the primary compression caused by hog should be easy to handle. The water pressure
bending will add to this however, so we have to watch out for keel buckling in hog.
The calculation of keel element area moment ignores all non longitudinal members. One half of
the keel used in the Ixx calculation is shown below.
(Centroid is 660mm from the level top, Ixx is 4.43e12mm^4)

Using a water pressure at the extreme depth of 15m (hogging in a wave reaching the roof), the
resulting bending stress is a comfortable 3Mpa (450psi), and a trivial 1.5mm deflection. So there
is ample strength in the keel to easily span 7m between bulkheads, provided the bulkheads are
strong enough.
5. Flexible Room Layout
A post in the wrong place is very annoying, it would be better to place them in a way that
facilitates enclosure layout. So what's a good layout?

First of all, the posts are round because you save on sawing and they are stronger for their size.
A very hard dense timber would be fine here because there is almost no processing involved (not
much different to a mine support, though not so stout.
The reasoning behind the non-regular spacing?
With the center rows narrowed, it might be easier to have either single or double aisles. The
space between bulkhead and frame is also more useable.

These are only suggestions to give some idea of how the rooms might be utilized. There could be
other options depending on the calculations.
For example. It might turn out that the wall needs three buttresses, but the floor decking only one
mid-span support.

Perhaps with the top deck reverting to a more open plan design;

6. Economy of Frames
Structurally speaking the bulkheads have been set at a comfortable maximum. This defines the
minimum number of frames without the opposite effect - beefing up everything else in order to
save a few frames (false economy).

Longitudinal Internal Trusses (Mixed Monocoque/Truss Hull)
To prepare for the worst, it was envisaged the ark might need require longitudinal trusses inside.
This could be a way to address the weak spot in the monocoque caused by the skylight opening.
However, the slitted tube issue is no longer a high priority because the lattice skylight might
resolve the problem.
But just in case, here are some length-wise truss ideas.

Concept for a longitudinal trusses Image Tim Lovett 2002
One of our first ever ark images shows a lengthwise truss in the center of a rather wide ark
corridor, not the best place considering the skylight zone is now supposed to be non-structural.
The framing members are single deck only but a full height truss chord is not inconceivable, and
would certainly help with the headache of big timbers - joining.

Double Truss
This 2002 image
shows a central light
well formed by a
walkway with a
slotted floor.
Longitudinally, the 2
planar trusses
enclose the
There are a few
obsolete details;
The current design
of decks 2 & 3 uses
transverse beams
and longitudinal
The big timber
joining headache of
the lateral diagonals
have since been
swapped for
bulkhead sheathing
- performing the
same task and
partitioning the
rooms at the same
And the longitudinal
truss system behind
the hull wall is out.
We are using cross
planking now.
Image Tim Lovett 2002

1. The Genesis Record. Morris H M Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego. 1976.
A ramp would be an advantage for floor-to-floor access, during construction and thoughout the
voyage. If it was used for a horse drawn cart, the slope must be kept to a minimum. But a ramp
that is too gentle in slope consumes floorspace.
Modern wheelchair access slopes are too gentle for this situation. Assuming a comfortable but
noticeable 10% slope, the 4.5m floor-to-floor height would require 45m of ramp - roughly across
the ark twice. That's a lot of ramp.
One option might be a circular ramp set within a semi-circular bow/stern. The bow shape
resembles a barrel and forms a pressure vessel structure. If the bow of the ark needs to be
pointed then perhaps this could represent the stern. If the bow only needs to be blunt ended (from
a sea-keeping perspective) then a barrel shape is a better pressure vessel anyway - especially
when cross-laminated.
At 25m diameter, a semi-circular path gives almost 40m, which is not far off a 10% ramp slope.
This less than the building code limit of 1:8 (Ref 2), but we are on a ship. Handrails would be
required, along with a non-slip surface and perhaps indentations or a grid to allow horse hoofs to
get a good grip.
The alternative would be a ramp with landings running across the ark. But this cuts out a lot of
floor timber and interferes with corridors. Running longitudinally would require the severing of
transverse structural members that hold the hull walls apart against the pressure of the sea.
There is also a longitudinal limit of 7m between 'bulkhead' frames, which would turn the walkway
into a multi-turn zigzag. A mid vessel solution doesn't look easy.
To save walking the people could use stairs. Several staircases and ladders could be fitted
throughout the ark to gain quick access to another deck. This means a ramp location at one end
of the vessel is not such an access problem, the ramps would only be used for the bigger things.

1. Recommendations for Accessibility Guidelines for Passenger Vessels: Final Report
Chapter 1. 403.3 Slope. The running slope of walking surfaces shall not be steeper than 1:20.
The cross slope of walking surfaces shall not be steeper than 1:20.
1. Recommended Ramp Slope http://www.hazardcontrol.com/rampfalls.html
The least possible slope should be used for any ramp. According to the Human Factors Design
Handbook (Woodson, 1981), where space allows, a ramp slope of 1:20 or a 5 percent slope (2.86
degrees) is recommended. When the slope becomes greater, it is very taxing for most wheelchair
users to "pull the hill." Thus this upper limit is a preferred slope guideline for all ramps. Although
healthy, non-handicapped individuals can negotiate fairly steep (high slip resistant surfaced
industrial) ramps up to 15 degrees (27 percent slope or a slope of 1:3.7), the main criteria for
designing most ramps should be based on the needs of the average user, including the elderly
and the disabled. While recommending a maximum ramp slope of 1:20 or 2.86 percent, this
reference states that no (public) ramp should exceed about 8 percent slope (1:12 slope or 4.76
degrees) under any circumstances.
ANSI A117.1-1986 recommends that the least possible slope be used for any ramp, limiting the
maximum slope of a ramp to 1:12 (1 inch rise for every 12 inches of run), equaling a percent
slope of 8.33 (the decimal equivalent of slope times 100 equals percent slope) or an incline of 4.7
degrees (arc-tangent of slope equals degrees).
The Standard Building Code (1988) and the Uniform Building Code (1988) also require that
ramps for the physically handicapped not exceed a slope of 1:12 (4.7 degrees), and do not allow
any ramp to exceed 1:8 (7.1 degrees).
The Life Safety Code allows some classes of ramps to have a slope as steep as 1:8 (7.1
degrees). Both the Life Safety Code and the National Safety Council recommend that ramp
slopes do not exceed 7 degrees.

Completing the Monocoque
The trick here is to tie the roof together across the skylight. The roof uses 4 layers of planking but
is quite different to the walls. Here is summary of design decisions;
- The roof has to be fairly thick to avoid bucking in sag (which puts the roof into
compression). Curvature of the roof also adds buckling resistance, similar to the
curvature in a tape measure.
- Since the roof must be thick it can span between bulkhead frames unsupported. This can
be accomplished by placing the first layer of planking edgewise. Adjacent planks are
joined by the same dowel method (timber nails) as the rest of the hull, but the planking is
now face-to-face rather than edge-to-edge. The fixing of the planking to the bulkhead
frames is now more difficult - using 'skew nailed' spikes driven from above, and possibly
one or two straps at each frame. The less secure attachment to internal framing is
acceptable in the roof since the curvature helps to holds it down and the wave slamming
loads are not a major issue.
- The next two layers (green and red) are laid diagonally. By allowing some planks to carry
right through the skylight area these layers are effectively completing the monocoque
structure. This design can be tweaked by adjusting the lattice spacing. Since the design
utilizes timber in tension ( 87MPa for Douglas Fir ) and the planks are very long, the
lattice could be quite minimal.
- For maximum light transfer the through planks might be trimmed down and slightly
rounded over the skylight. The reduced section would suffice because there is no need
for fixings in the gap. A single through plank would then resemble a tensile test
specimen. (It does the same job).
- The main waterproofing membrane (e.g. pitch impregnated woven cloth) is laid over the
top of the third roof layer (red), and turns up the skylight wall to become flashing. (More
skylight details below).
- The final roof layer (tan) protects the membrane.

Get the big picture
The Skylight (tsohar 'noon light')
'V' Roof
The 'noon light' is supposed to let the light in. There's are a few problems - it's raining, the waves
are splashing, it could be windy and the boat is rocking. The first attempt at a solution goes
something like this.
- Put a 'V' shaped roof over the skylight area to collect drinking water. Because water
misbehaves on the top of a rocking vessel, the V has baffles. It could have the same
thing for pitch motion as well. The water drains down selected locations much like a
down-pipe on a household roof gutter. The skylight roof acts as a funnel, not a tank. If it
gets too full it will begin to dump water on the next roll. The amount of water held in the
roof can be adjusted by modifying the pitch of the scissor rafters. The down-pipes might
have a lid to seal off the flow, operated by a rope from below, or the water is simply
diverted overboard.
- A generous eave or parapet extends past the window. This has a fascia to make the
water drip off rather than dribble back down the rafters. The upward slope maximizes
light intake.
- The bottom of the window (one cubit above the roof) catches roof water when the vessel
rolls. For information on the derivation of this tsohar 'noon light' see The Window.
- The extended sill prevents water rebounding up the wall if the ark heels strongly. (Hong
mentions angles of more than 30 degrees).

Pitched roof
The alternative is the more conventional pitched roof with gutters for collection of drinking water.

The main advantage of a pitched roof is that it dumps water straight over the gutter when rain is
extreme. The entire skylight roof width shown above is around 6m (20ft), about the same scale as
a double garage. The disadvantage is the blocking of light and the construction of gutters. The
light blockage could be overcome in a pitched roof by increasing the lintel depth, and keeping the
pitch low.

Proposed Sequence based on Historical Wooden Ships
Noah's Ark is a very large wooden structure. There are a number of
factors influencing the construction sequence;
1. Minimize exposure to weathering
2. Maintain a safe structure at all times during construction
3. Ensure all lifting and assembly operations are feasible
4. Ensure fixing can be carried out - especially with regard to order of attachment
Building Sequence.
Building Noah's Ark
must have required
some serious project
management. Even
large wooden ships
were built as quickly as
a few months, both for
the sake of profit and to
minimize weathering
problems of the
exposed structure.
In wooden ship
building, the order of
construction is often
dictated by the need for
adequate access for
driving fasteners.
> See More here

What was a "typical" Build Sequence for Wooden Ships?
Of the ships built in the 19th century, the general sequence of construction was "frame-
first", apparently a later European invention. Ancient ship construction was predominantly
"plank-first", where the planks served as the main structural members which were
supported by the addition of internal frames. The ancient method was also used for the
familiar Viking longboat, as well as the renowned ancient shipwrights of Greek and Rome.
The large Mediterranean vessels were probably only feasible due to their advanced plank
joining techniques.
In view of the differences between ancient and more recent practices, a hybrid
construction is suggested. The framing in 19th century ships was usually joined in pairs
with gaps between then of perhaps only a few inches. When Brunel constructed the
wooden hulled Great Western steamship (as distinct from his later feat - the Great
Eastern), he used solid framing.
Construction Sequence for Large Wooden Ships
Although the general sequence was well established, there was variation between ship
builders. Design changes also directed the construction sequence. For example, the
design decision to apply diagonal iron bracing to the inboard or outboard face of frames
influences scheduling.
Here is a "typical" build sequence: Excerpt from R.M. Ballantyne

The keel is the first part of a ship that is laid. It is the beam which runs along
the bottom of a boat or ship from one end to the other. In large ships the keel
consists of several pieces joined together. Its uses are, to cause the ship to
preserve a direct course in its passage through the water; to check the leeway
which every vessel has a tendency to make; and to moderate the rolling
motion. The keel is also the ground-work, or foundation, on which the whole
superstructure is reared, and is, therefore, immensely strong and solid. The
best wood for keels is teak, as it is not liable to split.
Having laid the keel firmly on a bed of wooden blocks, in such a position that
the ship when finished may slide into the water stern foremost, the shipbuilder
proceeds next to erect the stem and stern posts.
(TL) This is certainly not always the case. Some photos of American clipper
ships show construction commencing with the standing of midship frames and
working towards the bow and stern.
The stem-post rises from the front end of the keel, not quite perpendicularly
from it, but sloping a little outwards. It is formed of one or more pieces of
wood, according to the size of the ship; but no matter how many pieces may
be used, it is always a uniform single beam in appearance. To this the ends of
the planks of the ship are afterwards fastened. Its outer edge is called the cut-
water, and the part of the ship around it is named the bow.
The stern-post rises from the opposite end of the keel,
and also slopes a little outwards. To it are fastened the
ends of the planking and the framework of the stern
part of the ship. To it also is attached that little but
most important part of a vessel, the rudder. The rudder,
or helm, is a small piece of timber extending along the
back of the stern-post, and hung movably upon it by
means of what may be called large iron hooks-and-
eyes. By means of the rudder the mariner guides the
ship in whatever direction he pleases. The contrast
between the insignificant size of the rudder and its
immense importance is very striking. Its power over the
ship is thus referred to in Scripture,Behold also the
ships, which, though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are
they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
The rudder is moved from side to side by a huge handle or lever on deck,
called the tiller; but as in large ships the rudder is difficult to move by so
simple a contrivance, several ropes or chains and pulleys are attached to it,
and connected with the drum of a wheel, at which the steersman stands. In the
largest ships two, and in rough weather four men are often stationed at the
The ribs of the ship next rise to view. These are curved wooden beams, which
rise on each side of the keel, and are bolted firmly to it. They serve the same
purpose to a ship that bones do to the human framethey support and give
strength to it as well as form.
The planks follow the ribs. These are broad, and vary in thickness from two to
four inches. (TL. Clippers were up to 6 inches) They form the outer skin of the
ship, and are fastened to the ribs, keel, stem-post, and stern-post by means of
innumerable pins of wood or iron, called tree-nails.
The spaces between the planks are caulkedthat is,
stuffed with oakum; which substance is simply the
untwisted tow of old and tarry ropes. A figure-head of
some ornamental kind having been placed on the top
and front of the stem-post, just above the cutwater,
and a flat, ornamental stern, with windows in it to
light the cabin, the hull of our ship is complete. But
the interior arrangements have yet to be described,
although, of course, they have been progressing at
the same time with the rest.
(TL) According to Crothers
, the application of frame chocks was done from
the inside. This dictates that the planking ceiling must have been fixed to the
outside in order to prevent the chocks driving apart the gaps between frames.
The beams of a ship are massive wooden timbers, which extend across from
side to side in a series of tiers. They serve the purpose of binding the sides
together, of preventing them from collapsing, and of supporting the decks, as
well as of giving compactness and great strength to the whole structure.
The decks are simply plank floors nailed to the beams, and serve very much
the same purposes as the floors of a house. They also help to strengthen the
ship longitudinally. All ships have at least one complete deck; most have two,
with a half-deck at the, stern, called the quarter-deck, and another at the bow,
called the forecastle. But the decks of large ships are still more numerous.
Those of a first-rate man-of-war are as followswe begin with the lowest,
which is considerably under the surface of the sea:

Suggestions for Frames and Planking

Layered planking applied after ceiling and decks. So external planking operation would coincide with
internal fitout - cages etc.
Planking is laid horizontally in up to four layers, with the triple keel providing stability
without the need for supports. Since solid framing (with pitch coating) would be weather-
tight, the ceiling (internal lining) can be completed first prior to external planking. The
frames can then be made shear resisting by drilling and fitting hardwood trunnels
(treenails, or dowels) in the same operation as plank trunnelling. Same tools, same
Why Solid Framing?
The larger wooden ships had surprisingly narrow gaps between frames, even as little as a
few inches. This meant it was possible to drive wooden chocks between the frames in an
attempt to counter hogging. However, by adding around 30% more frames a solid
structure could be formed. This would improve resistance to hogging and sagging loads.

Brunel's solid-framed Great Western - Illustration from Denis Griffiths. A long bolt can be
see thru floors, but no indication of how he attached adjacent frame pairs. Considering
the admiralty system (inboard) iron bracing, Brunel may have used solid framing for the
rigidity in compression when brace is in tension. Otherwise the frames are only kept
apart by the planks and ceiling - indirectly though trunnels and bolts.

Image Denis Griffiths
Frame 'chocks'
ABS shear force is quite high,
http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/hull_calcs/wave_bm1.htm and difficult to absorb
with trunnels - so here is a modification of the frame chock system which was used prior
to the introduction of iron bracing. The chocks are let in to frames and wedged vertically.
This method reduces interference with plank trunnels.
Now, that's quite a lot of shear ... 13247 kNm. To transfer all the shear between frames
is too much with trunnels alone, requiring something like 100 trunnels per frame (which
completely ignores ceiling and planking contribution, and the effect of friction). A much
higher shear capacity would be achieved with chocks let into the frame and wedged
vertically to drive against shoulder of frame socket. (Maybe 1.5 inches deep or so). Need
about 10 per side and you'd be pretty much up to the shear force. Hammering 100 huge
trunnels to pin adjacent frames might be a daunting task - not to mention the trunnel
hole interferences with holes for planking, ceiling, knees and adjacent frames... At least
this way is not much different and logically superior to a known system, and could be
fitted the same way (late in the construction).
Fitting of chocks: (Donald McKay spec) Crothers p149: "Chocks 5" thick between frames
at every butt, driven from the inside to within 2" of the planking...". (allowing air gap
obviously). Driven from inside then this is prior to ceiling, but planking is already in

The frame chocks might be better as trunnels since this is much easier to fit, and the hole
can be drilled after the frames are fitted together without any need to perfectly match the
mating rebates. It would be less efficient and tend to open the frame-to-frame joint
under shear, but this should be acceptable considering the substantial planking and
ceiling. Another advantage is that the frame chocks by treenails is almost the same
operation as the treenails used in planking - and done at the same time, from the outside
of the hull. These frame trunnel are completely hidden under planking so do not need to
resists water pressure.

Trunnels fitted between frames to resist shear
Trunnels adding shear resistance to adjacent frame pairs fitted just prior to external
planking. This is in addition to trunnels that were driven longitudinally as the frames were
erected. The principal is equivalent to the treenailed scarph joint, where the treenails
absorb most of the shear load while the bolts simply hold the join together.

Treenailed scarf joint.
In this case the dowels are working in rolling shear, which is one of the lowest strengths.
However the large surface area and the higher strength of the dowel more than counters

Rolling Shear

1. Crothers, William L., The American-Built Clipper Ship 1850-1856. Characteristics,
Construction, Details, International Marine - McGraw Hill, 1997. Frame chocks driven
from inside; see note on Figure 9.6 p 154. "Hardwood chocks 5" thick above and below
every butt to prevent hogging, Driven normal to framing from inside to within 2" of
planking. Crother makes mention of the limited effectiveness of frame chock to counter
hogging, however, the suggested Ark design is not only relying on chock friction. Return
to text
2. Excerpt from R.M. Ballantyne Man on the Ocean 1863, ChVIII. Scanned by
Athelstane E-Books (1997 to 2004);
http://www.athelstane.co.uk/ballanty/manocean/ocean08.htm. Copyright claimed by
Athelstane; http://www.athelstane.co.uk/copyrite.htm Return to text

Planking Layup
A four layer laminated hull planking has been suggested. See Monocoque Planking
Clearly the strongest method available, the technique utilizes the best things about wood (tensile
strength) to combat the worst (shear strength) See Joining Big Logs

Design Notes: The Build Sequence
Working from one end, the 3rd layer (Outer Shear) presents a problem, the planks must be fitted
from underneath. There are a number of ways to address this issue.
1. Don't start layer 3 until the full length layer 2 is finished and then begin planking layer 3 from the
other end, always fixing on top of existing planks. This means half the planking work is done by the
time the ark is fully enclosed, with the remaining 2 layers affixed during the extended period of
internal fitout. Problems are; scaffolding moved twice, and possible problems with differential
shrinkage of the timber, layer 3 goes on top of L2 immediately on one end but after a long delay at
the other (assuming the planking takes some time). But I guess we are hoping for some
equilibrium seasoned timber and a stable humidity.
2. Don't worry, just work out a way to clamp the L3 boards in from the underside, holding them up
from underneath while the pitch drips everywhere. Or maybe turn the ark upside down.(joke)
3. Fit a single L3 plank at a distance from the advancing L3 layer and work backwards until you tie
in last plank. Since it is not tongue and groove this should work OK. I think I favour this one since it
is only one fitted plank per bulkhead distance. The animation below shows this.
Comparing Four Ideas on the Ark Construction
God told Noah to build an Ark. How long did he have to do it?
There is no scripture that gives us a the definitive answer, but it
was a big project, and Peter tells us "God waited patiently while
the Ark was being built". It wasn't quick then.
120 years: When the Countdown began (1536AM)
This option hinges on the meaning of Genesis 6:3 "And the LORD said, My
spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days
shall be an hundred and twenty years." More literally, "And said Jehovah:
Not shall rule my spirit in man forever in their erring, [since] he [is] flesh; and shall be
his days a hundred and twenty years."

There are two suggested readings of this verse, depending on whether God was talking
about humans individually or mankind as a group.
- Lifespan was reduced to 120 years. This addresses mankind individually.
The first contradiction is that individuals were not living forever, they were living
less than a thousand years. This is not very long from God's perspective. The
second contradiction is that Noah did not comply to this new 'law' - nor did a single
patriarch all the way down to Moses. Every single one lived longer than 120 years.
It is also contradicted by everyone since who has died before 120 years of age. To
avoid this dilemma, some claim that the lifespan was to approach 120 years. The
verse does not say that, nor do longevity records support this claim - lifespan
leveled out at a much lower limit: "The length of our days is seventy years or
eighty, if we have the strength" (Psalm 90:10). Incidentally, this dubious
interpretation is forced into the text of NLT, CEV and The Message.
- Mankind had 120 years left before Noah's Flood. This addresses mankind
collectively - the population as a whole. There is no contradiction with "forever",
since the world will continue for as long as God is supporting it (strive is usually
translated judge). This statement comes just before the introduction of Noah and
the account of the global flood, which brought an end to the whole population.
Taken this way, the verse does not contradict itself. The next question is whether
Noah heard this warning;
o Noah was unaware of the 120 year warning. Then who heard it?
If not Noah then God must have revealed it (much later) to Moses. In other
words, God secretly said to Himself that the world has 120 years left.
Prophetic statements uttered by God are not normally treated as though
nobody heard them, especially when Noah, "a preacher of righteousness"
clearly heard from God and was about to inherit the world.
o Noah had 120 years warning: This assumes that rest of the
instructions were given at the same time (1536AM), which is 20 years before
Noah's first son was born, yet the instructions refer to Noah's sons and their
wives. This would make it a prophesy to someone who was barren, about
their future children. This is not unusual. God made similar promises to Adam,
Abraham, Manoah, Zachariah and Elizabeth, even Mary. Noah was unusually
old (500 years) before his children were recorded, and such a remarkable
fathering age probably means something (like patient endurance for
example). Noah has more than a passing resemblance to Abraham.
Considering the desperate situation of Noah's apparent defeat (in the
population contest as the last righteous representative of the Messianic line),
it would make sense to assume God made His covenant at the same time as
he promised the offspring - just as He did with Abraham. (Gen 17:7).
This is a long time to build a boat, but not if 120 years includes all the planning and
preparation selling land, learning shipbuilding, growing food, harvesting timber and, of
course, preaching.(2 Peter 2:5). It could also be dropping a hint that Noah did not get a
lot of help.
20-70 years: After all the children were married (after 1586AM)
God made a promise to Noah and declared that his wife, his sons and their wives would
board the Ark with him. (Gen 6:18). The idea here is that Noah's children were married
before God could make promises about them.
There is another issue here - no grandchildren were born to Noah until two years after
the Flood. According to the theory, the wives of Noah's sons had not conceived during the
entire period of Ark construction, so God must have closed all the wombs for decades. So
the women waited patiently while God waited patiently while the Ark was being built.
It also means that Noah could not receive instructions until the last son was married.
However, God waited patiently while the Ark was being built, not while Ham was looking
for a wife.
100 years: After the children were born (1556AM)
This idea assumes that when Noah is first mentioned in Genesis 5:32, he was 500 years
old, and that this is the same time that God gives Noah instructions about the Ark. Since
we know he was 600 when the Flood came, this leaves 100 years to build the Ark.
To be more exact, Noah was 500 (Genesis 5:32) when he had his first son Japheth,
(Genesis 10:21). Two years after the Flood, Arphaxad was born to Shem at 100 years of
age (Genesis 11:10), so Shem was 2 years younger than Japheth. Ham was the youngest
(Genesis 9:24) so we might guess another 2 or 3 years. So all the children had not been
born until perhaps 95 years before the Flood.
This theory claims that God spoke to Noah in the year Japheth was born, and was
speaking prophetically about the other two sons and all three wives. This is the worst of
both worlds - the 120 years (Genesis 6:3) makes no sense, and 5 of the 8 Ark crew are
spoken of prophetically.
We Don't Know (?AM)
Since we are not told exactly when God instructed Noah, the idea is that we cannot
pinpoint how long it took to build the Ark. This only leaves us with clues from outside
Genesis - like 1 Peter 3:20, "...God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark
was being built." This suggests we should opt for a longer rather than shorter time span.
Solomon took seven years to build the temple, and 14 for his own palace, so we should
expect at least 20 years for an Ark.
Since we don't know, maybe we could choose some biblical number like 40, representing
Noah's years in the wilderness. Or why not pick one of the above if it has more 'for' than
Comparison of Theories for Construction Time of Noah's Ark

Gen 6:3

Gen 6:18

Gen 11:10

1 Pet 3:20

Years 120 years son's wives grandchildren patiently Summary
120 Countdown Prophetic fine best
Speaking prophetically
about the sons and
20-70 ? married delayed OK
God was talking to
Himself about the 120
years, wives were
barren during entire Ark
100 ? Prophetic fine good
God was talking to
Himself about the 120
years, speaking
prophetically about 2
sons and the 3 wives.
unknown ? any fine ?
If indeterminate, then
pick the best option
We don't know how long it took to build the Ark. Of the options described, 100 years
seems the most problematic. For the "must-be-married" scenario, a very short Ark-
building leadtime runs counter to 1 Pet 3:20, but a longer leadtime extends the barren
period of all three wives. In addition, a building schedule of 120 years is the only option
that makes use of Genesis 6:3, which is left without a logical meaning in the other
A definitive answer? We don't know for sure but 120 years is a reasonable guess. If there
is a better (other) suggestion for Genesis 6:3 then the building period might be in the
range from 20 to 70 years.

1. Genesis 6:3 from the Interlinear Literal Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament:
George Ricker Berry, Hinds and Noble, NY, 1897. Download
http://www.netwaysglobal.com/biblia/index.html. See also other translations online at
Parallel Hebrew Old Testament: (Chapter 6)
Genesis 6:3 (Blue Letter Bible). "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive
with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
The KJV skips the word shagag (to err) which adds meaning to the word flesh here.
Word Strongs Meaning Usage in KJV
1) long duration,
antiquity, futurity,
forever, ever,
perpetual, old,
ancient, world
a) ancient time, long
time (of past)
b) (of future)
1) for ever, always
2) continuous
existence, perpetual
3) everlasting,
indefinite or
unending future,
ever 272,
everlasting 63,
old 22,
perpetual 22,
evermore 15,
never 13, time
6, ancient 5,
world 4, always
3, alway 2,
long 2, more 2,
never + 0408
2, misc 6
1) to judge, contend,
a) (Qal)
1) to act as judge,
minister judgment
2) to plead a cause
3) to execute
judgment, requite,
4) to govern
5) to contend, strive
judge 18, plead
the cause 2,
contend 1,
execute 1, plead
1) mankind, man
a) human being
b) mankind (much
more frequently
intended sense in
c) Adam, first man
man 408, men
121, Adam 13,
person(s) 8,
common sort +
07230 1,
hypocrite 1
1) flesh
a) of the body
1) of humans
2) of animals
b) the body itself
c) male organ
d) kindred, blood-
e) flesh as frail or
erring (man against
f) all living things
g) animals
h) mankind
flesh 256, body
2, fatfleshed +
01277 2,
leanfleshed +
01851 2, kin 2,
leanfleshed +
07534 1,
mankind +
0376 1, myself
1, nakedness
1, skin 1
(shagag) H7683
1) to go astray, err,
commit sin or error
a) (Qal)
1) to err (mentally)
2) to sin (ignorantly
or inadvertently)
err 1, flesh 1,
sin ignorantly
1, deceived 1,
went astray 1
It seems like Berry (1897) holds the closest: "And said Jehovah: Not shall rule my spirit
in man forever in their erring, [since] he [is] flesh; and shall be his days a hundred and
twenty years.", which, for ease of reading, would be: "And Jehovah said: My spirit shall
not rule mankind forever in their error, since he is flesh, and his days shall be a hundred
and twenty years."
Return to text
Comparing the size of Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark was big but not an impossible size for wood. Steel is a superior material for shipbuilding, so a
wooden hull will never reach the lengths of steel hulls. Larger hulls are more difficult to build since stresses are
related to scale (See the square/cube law)
Besides length, a ship hull is dependent on other factors for its structural safety. Increased hull depth improves
bending strength, the shape of the hull can lower the wave loads. For calculations based on standard ship rules
see Wave Bending Moment.
The following Flash presentation compares Noah's Ark to a collection of famous ships. Use the Forward button
(bottom right) to compare each ship. The ships are in approximate chronological order.
In 1993, research was carried out by naval architects and structural engineers at the world class KRISO ship
research facility in Korea, testing the proportions described in Genesis - 300 x 50 x 30 cubits. They concluded
that the proportions were near optimal and that the scale was feasible in waves up to 30m. Korean Research
Requires Flash 6 player. (For previous javascript comparison go to ship comparison file)
About Ship History
The last 500 years have seen a dramatic progression in ship size and marine technology. Prior to the European
led scientific and industrial revolution the development was sporadic - even showing clear evidence of loss of
technology. Despite the difficulty piecing together early maritime history due to scarcity of remains, there is
ample evidence to indicate the Greek trireme reached a level of perfection not seen in Europe until 2000 years
later. The trireme was lightweight yet strong enough to endure ramming forces at the bow. Hull integrity was
achieved with a highly refined design innovation that escaped the later Europeans (See Mortise and Tenon
Planking). Another example of ship building regression is found in China, where the treasure ships of Cheng Ho
(1) were centuries ahead of European shipbuilding and may have been the largest timber ships ever built. For
various reasons China went backwards in maritime prowess after the 1400's. Even less is known of India's
shipbuilding history, except for enormous dry docks that point to an even earlier advanced naval technology.

1. Zheng He (Cheng Ho) treasure ships. Chinese units of length varied considerably, which makes it difficult to
pinpoint the exact size of these ships. The range of length is approx 120 to 180m (400 to 600 ft), certainly of a
similar scale to Noah's Ark and possibly even larger. Most illustrations and models attempting to reconstruct the
flagships are almost certainly overstating the mast height. For example, the Jan Adkins 1993 illustration below
shows a mast comparable to the world record carbon fiber mast of Mirabella V, built in 2004.

Illustration Jan Adkins 1993 http://www.chinapage.org/zhenghe.html
A more realistic mast height is illustrated by Philip Nicholson for TIME Inc 2001 at
http://www.time.com/time/asia/features/journey2001/greatship.html A combined design is shown in the Flash
animation, based on a variety of pictures but applying a reasonable maximum mast height for timber. Return to
Benjamin Franklin suggested as early as 1784, that ships of his day should copy the Chinese model of dividing
the hull into watertight compartments (holds) so that if a leak occurred in one compartment, the water would not
sink the ship. http://sln.fi.edu/franklin/inventor/inventor.html
Europe vs China:
There have been some who doubt the records of the Treasure Ships, claiming the Chinese foot (chi) was variable.
Yet even using a smaller chi these ships dwarfed anything the Europeans built out of wood - ever. The doubts are
not so much about the historical records themselves, but a "taken for granted" belief that such a large wooden
ship could not handle the open sea. This same doubt is directed at Noah's Ark by skeptics of the Bible.
Interestingly, most of the Treasure Ship doubters are of European descent, but Chinese academics promote the
idea. How dare the Chinese disrupt the Eurocentric view portrayed in all those picture books with a sweet little
"evolution" of ships.
Not content to stay within the confines of obscure academic journals, the Chinese built a replica for the world to
see - and experience. It doesn't float, but it is big - very big. The design is quite similar to the Jan Adkins design I
based my concept on, but the masts are much smaller - as expected..

To view more pictures, go to this site;

Image Tim Lovett May 2004, photo Tim Lovett, original ark texture Rod Walsh.
Noah's Ark shown to scale in Sydney Harbour. This ark is 150m long using the Babylonian
The cruise ship behind it is almost identical in size to the Titanic. The P&O Pacific Sky was in
Darling Harbour Sydney, May 21 2004. It carries 1550 passengers, 11 decks, 240 m long, 46000
gross tonnes, max speed 21 knots, and was built in 1984.

Unbelievable! It a good thing we had the camera ready or no one would have believed the story.
The Pacific Sky slips past the ark as revelling partygoers strain to get a better view. The Sydney
Harbour Bridge is just visible above the ship. Of course, there's no real ark like this around today.
The first problem is finding the wood. Next you have to interbreed the animals back to the way
they were 4500 years ago before so many of them got narrowed down and speciated like a bunch
of sickly pedigree poodles. Lastly, there needs to be a market for a window limited poorly
streamlined vessel with no propulsion designed for a flood that won't come again. Still...it would
be rather cool, don't you think?

Slatted Flooring. View looking across the ark on the second level. The level above has slatted
flooring in the corridor to pass light though. Ignore the ceiling, it's wrong now.

Why Longer Cubits Make More Sense in a Biblical
ABSTRACT: The study of Noah's Ark is greatly assisted by Genesis 6:15,
where the dimensions are explicitly stated in cubits. This is regarded as a ball
park figure for the size of the vessel, since the cubit can be anywhere from a
petite 17.5 inches up to extreme examples 2 feet long. But is it possible to
narrow this down to a preferred cubit length?

It should be expected that very ancient structures and religious monuments
were built using a cubit closely related to Noah's Ark. The reasoning is

According to a straightforward reading of the Bible, the Babel tower should
have inherited Noah's cubit. From there, the same cubit would be
transported to the fledgling nations, explaining why this type of lineal
measure is so widespread so early. Looking in the ancient Near East (ANE)
for the best clues, we find the longer cubits employed in the earliest major
works in Egypt and Babylon. This makes it a natural choice for the cubit of
Genesis 6:15.

In addition, supplementary evidences each add a little support for the longer
cubits which, taken together, appear to defy coincidence.

The Cubit
Genesis 6:15 " The length of the Ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth
of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits."
How long is a cubit? The word comes from the Latin cubitum which refers to the forearm.
It was measured from the elbow to the fingertip. This provides a foolproof method of
gauging the size of Noah's Ark - at least approximately.

There are many ancient cubits, ranging from a petite 17.5" to an outrageous 24",
excluding even more radical candidates. In the key civilizations like Egypt and Babylon
the cubit had two distinct sizes, a shorter "common" cubit around 18" and a longer
"royal" cubit of 20" or so. (Appendix 1)

The most famous of cubits, the Royal Egyptian Cubit (REC) was divided into 7 palms of 4 digits each,
totaling 28 digits altogether. Photo J. Bodsworth http://www.egyptarchive.co.uk/ . Used with
Short of the famous vessel turning up on a mountaintop someday, establishing the exact
cubit length used for Noah's Ark may appear to be an impossible mission. Pinpoint
accuracy is unrealistic, but a good place to start is simply this: Which class of cubit is the
more likely candidate, the "royal" or the "common"?
Note: In the following discussion, the 'royal" cubit is a generalized definition of the longer
cubits of the ANE, approximately 517 - 546mm (20.2" - 21.4"). The Royal Egyptian Cubit
(REC) is more specifically 524mm (20.6").
A Cautious Choice
The 1961 bombshell "The Genesis Flood"
demolished many misconceptions about the
Biblical flood. Suddenly Noah's Ark was a real vessel. To counter the mindset of an
overcrowded ark, Whitcomb and Morris chose a cautious cubit of 18 inches (457mm).
Even the smallest Biblical Ark was enormous, nothing like the pictures in Sunday School
books. Yet longer cubits were no secret, this same work quoted a study by Scott

describing cubits from 17.5 (445mm) to more than 20 inches (508mm).
The justification given by Henry Morris
makes the point clear; "To be very conservative,
assume the cubit to have been only 17.5 inches, the shortest of all cubits, so far as is
known." This is clearly addressing the particular objection that Noah's Ark is too small to
fit all the animals.
Table 1 shows cubit lengths chosen by key creationist authors dealing with Noah's Ark, all
clearly driven by a conservative space argument.
Table 1. Cubit lengths assumed for Noah's Ark studies by key authors.
Year Reference Cubit Author's Comment Source
Whitcomb, J. C., Morris H.
M., The Genesis Flood,
Pres and Reformed Pub
Co, 1961.
"While it is certainly possible that
the cubit referred to in Genesis 6
was longer than 17.5 inches, we
shall take this shorter cubit as the
basis for our calculations" p10
Scott, R. B. Y., Weights and
Measures of the Bible, The
Biblical Archaeologist 22, pp.
22-40, 1959. See Appendix
Morris, H. M., The Ark of
Noah, CRSQ Vol 8, No 2,
p142-144. 1971
"Assuming the cubit to be 1.5ft,
which is the most likely value"
Approximation of R.B.Y.
Scott for purpose of
simplifying calculations?
Morris uses 17.5" elsewhere.
Whitcomb, J. C., The
World that Perished,
Baker, Grand Rapids, MI;
"Assuming the length of the cubit
to have been at least 17.5 inches,
After W&M 1961 (same
author) so source is still
1973 (revised ed 1988) ..." p25 R.B.Y. Scott
Giannone, R., A
Comparison of the Ark
with Modern Ships, CRSQ
Vol 12, No1, p53, June
"The cubit is understood to be 18
inches, which seems to be at least
approximately correct,..."
Probably Morris (CRSQ
Morris, H. M., The Genesis
Record, Baker Book
House, p181, 1976.
"To be very conservative, assume
the cubit to have been only 17.5
inches, the shortest of all cubits,
so far as is known."
Very similar wording to "The
Genesis Flood", by same
author, so source is R.B.Y.
Collins, D. H., Was Noah's
Ark Stable?, CRSQ Vol 14,
No 2, Sept 1977
"For present purposes I will
assume the cubit equal to 18
inches" From cubit list in Ramm,

Different source but same
cubit as previous CRSQ
Hong, S. W., et al, Safety
Investigation of Noah's
Ark in a Seaway, CEN TJ
8(1), 1994.
"We adopted the common cubit
(...) 17.5 inches" After Scott R.B.Y
1959. Note. They used 450mm
R.B.Y. Scott (modified)
Woodmorappe, J.,Noah's
Ark: A Feasibility Study,
ICR, p10, 1996.
"All the calculations in this work
involving the Ark assume a short
cubit of 45.72cm."
Wright, G.R.H., Ancient
Building in South Syria and
Palestine, Vol 1, E'J. Brill,
Leiden, p419, 1985.
Gitt, W., The Most
Amazing Ship in the
History of the World,
Fundamentum, p7, 2001
"0.4375m" p8. (For comparison,
Gitt provided eight other cubits
including the enormous 66.69 cm
Prussian cubit)
Modern Siloam Tunnel
measurement (525m)
compared to inscription of
1200 cubits which gives
525/1200 = 0.4375m
In every case the "common" cubit has been chosen, despite clear evidence that it was the
"royal" cubit that dominated major building projects of the earliest civilizations, Noah's
immediate descendents. These references are exclusively "Hebrew" cubits, but Noah was
no Hebrew. The dominant primary source
is the 1959 paper by R.B.Y. Scott which spent
about four pages on the 'Biblical' cubit, linking it to things like the Siloam tunnel.
(Appendix 2) However, the 'Biblical' cubit and the 'Hebrew' cubit are not necessarily the
same thing, Noah and the Siloam tunnel
are worlds apart. The Hebrew cubit defined by
relatively recent evidence in Palestine isn't likely to yield clues about a pre-Babel, pre-
Flood construction project.
Scott is happy to let late Hebrew architecture in Palestine define Solomon's Temple and
even Moses' Tabernacle. This is not surprising considering his view of Bible history,
typifying his JEPD
thinking with the term "authors of the Priestly document" in reference
to Exodus. The JEPD viewpoint would have the story of Noah's Ark fabricated at roughly
the same time as the architecture that survives in Palestine, so a similar cubit is
considered viable. In reality there is a 2000 year gap, and plenty of ancient cubits in
between. Ironically, the perfection of the Ark's proportions given in Genesis 6:15 is yet
another problem for the documentary theory.

Cubit Selection based on a Specific Defense
The cubit length of 17.5" to 18" was assumed in most studies because the
focus had been on the Ark's volume. The authors took the conservative
value of cubit size and then demonstrated that even the minimum space
was adequate to fit all the animals on board. However, there are reasons
to think longer alternatives, such as the royal cubits of Egypt and Babylon,
may be preferable. I am certainly open to a longer cubit".

Dr John Morris (ICR President and author), July 27 2004

It is commendable that creationist authors have upheld the shorter cubit to avoid the
charge of exaggerating animal carrying capacity. The authors were making it clear that
even the smallest Ark can fit the animals, and this was at a time when its massive
proportions were almost a novelty. As it turns out, space is not really a problem.
Woodmorappe loads the animals and cargo with room to spare, despite his assertion .."I
intentionally made the Ark-crowding problem so much more difficult than it actually

Yet this intentional Ark-crowding emphasis is not applied to hull shape. The depiction of a
rectangular Ark takes an extreme view on ship design, favoring volume at the expense of
seakeeping performance. So a short cubit has limited apologetic advantage when the Ark
is effectively block-shaped. Some argue the Hebrew "tebah" or "tbh" indicates a block
shape, but this claim is questionable.

The short cubit also leaves the Ark's defense vulnerable to exactly the opposite charge -
understating the size of Noah's Ark to minimize the problem of an oversize wooden vessel
coming apart in a big sea. Such a criticism warrants attention, larger hulls are more
sensitive to wave loads
, which increases the risk of "springing a leak". Even the shortest
version of Noah's Ark exceeds the length of any wooden ship for which there are
indisputable records
So skeptics claim the Ark is too small to fit all the animals, yet too big to be made out of
wood. An apparent dilemma.
Consider the alleged ark-crowding problem. Whenever this allegation is made, the
accompanying estimates ignore the creationist definition of animal types
. No skeptic
would bother to attack the Ark's volume on the creationist's own playing field, where the
alleged millions of species have been trimmed down to Woodmorappe's 16000
or the
estimate of Whitcomb and Morris. This overrules the effect of a 13 percent
discount on cubit length.
The size of a wooden hull is a different matter. Strengths and wave loads can be
estimated using known relationships such as ship rules and various methods of analysis.
Ships sizes can be compared. Even with the short cubit the Ark is longer than the known
range for a wooden hull, even hulls reinforced with iron straps known as "iron plate
. If there is a chance that the Ark was larger again, then the structure must be
assessed using the worst possible cubit.
However, these ideas assume each cubit is an equal contender, with no particular
historical choice being more attractive than another. If there are reasons to think a
particular size may be preferable, one might ignore the skeptic focus and look for the
most likely cubit size referred to in Genesis 6:15, for the sake of Biblical accuracy at
What about a dual cubit defense of Noah's ark?
Why not use a short cubit when dealing with the space issue, and a long cubit for the hull
strength concerns? The main problem with this approach is that ship design is not a
simple dichotomy. There are many other factors, adding multiple dimensions to the
playing field. For example, what about the claims that the ark is too difficult for ancient
people to build, or incapable of handling the severe flood conditions?
For simplicity, consider only two simple parameters - cubit length and hull shape. The
following table shows how a different Ark is needed in each case to conservatively
address a few simple arguments.
Table 2. Common objections and corresponding conservative interpretations of the Ark
Which Hull
Other constraints Comment
Too small to fit
Largest number of
Overruled by
species/types argument
Stability Capsize risk Smallest Least stable Worst waves/wind Relatively assessable
Strength Wood is too weak Largest
Most block-
Weakest wood,
worst waves
Relatively assessable
Too difficult to
Largest Most complex
Least people, worst
Extrapolate known

thrown around
Most block-
Worst waves/wind Relatively assessable
The currently depicted creationist ark (small cubit / block-like) is best suited to answering
the seakeeping issue, a relatively rare question. There are, of course, many more
arguments and parameters to play with - ventilation, storm proofing, broaching
resistance, static loading variations, various structural approaches etc
This would end up with a confusing array of Ark definitions. Another problem is that, by
surrendering the pursuit of the most balanced picture of the Biblical ark, other benefits
are not realized. For example, a narrowed cubit range enhances the resolution of related
analysis, such as hull strength, interior layout, worst case sea state, animal housing
and/or numbers, and even minor details such as ceiling height.
The most productive option might be to ignore the skeptics and check whether a best
cubit can be found for Genesis 6. If at all possible, a demonstration of historical and
Biblical support for a particular cubit length could be very helpful. While this paper is not
necessarily a watertight argument for an exact definition of Noah's cubit, it is at least an
attempt to collate some of the relevant clues - clues that seem to favor a larger cubit
than the de facto standard.
A Proposed Noah-Babel-Royal (NBR) Sequence
The level of sophistication necessary for a 300 cubit seagoing vessel could indicate
standardization in a pre-flood society
, using a cubit from someone famous like Adam.
Alternatively, it may have been Noah's own forearm.
However, the origin is immaterial. Immediately after the flood there was only one cubit in
the world.

History has shown that standards of measure are rather persistent
, especially in a
continuous culture. As Noah's family quickly expanded, the combination of longevity and
"one mindedness" Gen 11:6 would keep the default cubit intact right through to the Babel
The Babel dispersion should have sent this same cubit around the world. It may have
been neglected by some, but the momentum of infrastructure would be most evident in
the nations that stayed close by. The best place to look for Noah's cubit would be the
early Mediterranean constructions. By far the most accurately defined cubit is the Royal
Egyptian cubit
, used in the pyramids of Gizah. There are other examples, such as the
copper rod known as the Nippur cubit
found in Mesopotamia. The Hebrews also had
dual cubit system very similar in length to the Egyptians, but using Babylonian

Taking the Egyptian case, the 20.7" (524mm) cubit has been considered excessive for a
Pharaohic forearm, especially if man is allegedly increasing in stature as we 'evolve'
The knee-jerk reaction is to label the royal cubit an exaggeration, but this makes little
sense in light of Egypt's reliable metrology. So more than a few (non creationist) authors
have put forward complicated theories for the origin of this cubit. Some even claim this
cubit is not anatomical
at all, but a geometrically derived length or even a special ratio
of the diameter of the earth! However, its very name in many languages is related to the
The 'royal' cubit is so named because it is evident in the dimensions of royal buildings in
places like Egypt and the "cradle of civilization" - the Mesopotamian valley. The shorter
cubit was used for more mundane measurements, known today as the 'common' cubit.
Some historians (and pre-historians!) make claims that the common cubit predates the
, as if the oversized "royal cubit" was introduced when standardization became
necessary. There is no real evidence for this theory. Both burst onto the scene as
suddenly as the impressive civilizations themselves

Common cubits were less than 18" which is a better match to the size of a sarcophagus,
or the dimensions of skeletal remains. So being "in line with archeology", it was the
common cubit that was considered realistic, the royal cubit an aberration. So, despite the
fact that the royal Egyptian cubit is by far the best example of ancient metrology, and the
"royal" cubits were the choice for big ancient projects, the typical Bible dictionary says
the cubit was 18 inches.
It may depend on what part of the Bible's history we are talking about.
Genesis was written (or compiled) by Moses some time before his death in 1451BC
(Ussher chronology). Obviously he would have been familiar with both the common and
royal cubit lengths. Which one did he mean in Genesis? Perhaps here is a clue: When he
wrote about the length of King Og's bed (Duet 3:11) he used the term "the cubit of man",
which sounds like a reference to something anatomically contemporaneous, or a
"common" cubit. If it is a hint for the common cubit, then the unqualified cubits in the
rest of his writings (like Genesis) are likely to be the other ones - royal cubits.
Moses used unqualified cubits for the pattern of the Tabernacle. (Ex 25-27). The Hebrew
should have been well versed in the royal cubit from Egypt before they built
the Tabernacle. Zuidhof
argues for the 7 palm royal as the most appropriate measure
for the Tabernacle covering. In any case, the royal cubit is a natural choice for a project
with religious significance.
A stronger clue comes some time later when Solomon, following David's divinely inspired
for the temple design, used "the cubit after the first measure". Which cubit
was this? Obviously not the "usual" cubit of the Hebrews, which looks very much like the
common from Biblically "late" archeological evidence like the Siloam tunnel
. So it must
have been the royal, that Moses used for the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. (i.e.
from Solomon's perspective, the "old" measure). This almost looks as though the royal
cubit was the "correct" one for temples, something even the Egyptian pagans
understood. Zuidhof makes a case for the royal cubit for Solomon's molten sea
Lastly, in Ezekiel's vision, an angel measures the temple with a reed (rod) of 6 cubits,
each cubit being of a "cubit plus a handbreadth". Amazingly, some have argued against
this being a definition of the royal cubit, but to Ezekiel's audience (which includes us),
there is probably no better way to say "Royal Cubit", since it was always one
handbreadth longer than the common cubit - in both Egypt and Babylon.
So if God specified royal cubits for the future temple, there's a good chance he specified
the same for Solomon's Temple
. It was definitely the cubit of choice for ancient and
impressive constructions of early Egypt and Babylon - especially anything religious.
Noah's Ark was divinely specified, big and early - a perfect candidate for the royal cubit.
Summary of support for the "royal" cubits
The royal was used for architecture. State sponsored project like palaces, tombs and
temples used the royal cubit. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the ancient
monuments at Giza, proclaiming the REC with stunning accuracy. Egypt has the double
advantage of colossal stone constructions and preservation in a dry climate.
Mysterious royal cubit origin. "The anatomical length (...) cannot possibly be as long
as the royal cubit of 52.5cm"
. Royal cubits have an extra palm width, making seven
palms in Egypt and six in Babylon. How that helped the construction industry in Egypt is
anybody's guess, the idea of changing from six to seven palms certainly makes no sense
for cubit fractions like 1/2 or 1/3. It makes more sense if Egypt started with the royal
length and made their own divisions later.
Uniformity of royal cubits. It is difficult to imagine how a supposedly non-anatomical
measure could turn up in different nations with distinct subdivisions yet have a
suspiciously similar length. Were they all exaggerating in order to make their king look
the larger than life? In that case, a similar length is unexpected. There is even mention of
English, Chinese and Mexican Aztec cubits within the range 20.4" to 20.9" (518 -
Table 3. Uniformity of royal / architectural cubits
Civilization Length (mm) Length (in)
Mesopotamia 522 - 532 20.6 - 20.9
Persia 520 - 543 20.5 - 21.4
Egypt 524 - 525 20.64 - 20.66
Respect for the royal cubit. This indicates an important legacy, like a standard handed
down from the "Gods". There is a good case that the "Gods" of certain cultures could be
early post-flood founders a few generations after Noah
. In Egypt, building overseers
required the REC to be calibrated against a precision standard at regular intervals. Failure
to do so was punishable by death. The standard had religious significance.
Ezekiel measured the new temple with a royal cubit. Regardless of whether people
shrank or the royal cubit has always been "a cubit and a palm", God had Ezekiel use one
of these to measure the temple
. Certainly this is how Ezekiel and his audience would
have understood it - not the ordinary cubit, the royal one.
Solomon may have used the royal cubit for the temple. Archeologists can't inspect
the first temple, but the second temple is generally thought to have used the shorter
. Constructions in Palestine also reveal a short cubit, so Solomon's "cubit after the
first measure" (2 Chron 3:3) is probably the other one - long. Solomon is recorded as the
wisest man of all time (surpassing Adam and Noah), so he was more than capable of
piecing a bit of history together. Ezekiel's vision had royal cubits in it, so it would be
consistent for God to use the same cubit in the divine plans that Solomon received
Solomon's bronze sea seems to make a lot more sense in royal cubits
. (see Appendix
Mother of the Arm. The Hebrew for Cubit is "ammah", derived from mother, as in
"mother unit of measure". The same word is used throughout the Old Testament as a unit
of length. This could convey the idea of a measurement passed down from an ancestor,
who defined the original or 'mother' cubit. An ancient measure, even in Moses' day.
Moses knew two cubits. Stephen described Moses as "educated in all the wisdom of
the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Moses would have known the royal and common cubit
definitions from Egypt. Throughout Genesis he uses the term "cubit", but a contemporary
measurement of the enormous bed of King Og is qualified with the term "cubit of a man"
, which itself sounds a bit like "common cubit". The giant Og, king of Bashan slept in a
bed 9 cubits long. By the short cubit (17.5") this is 13 feet, by the long cubit almost 16
feet. (Now that is excessive, making the short cubit preferable). From Moses' point of
view, Genesis was history, but Deuteronomy was current news "is it not in Rabbath of the
children of the Ammon? Deut 3:11". Moses never made such a distinction in Genesis or
Exodus, so this could be the first time he talked about the common cubit.
Summary of problems with the "common" cubits
Noah was no Hebrew. Later Hebrew constructions (such as the Siloam tunnel) confirm
a common cubit, but Noah's Ark is unlikely to have anything to do with the length of a
Hebrew cubit determined from the ruins in Palestine. Noah's Ark was constructed a long,
long time before Israel appeared. Noah was no Hebrew, he built the Ark in a different
country, at a different time and in a different world!
Too Short for an Ante-Diluvian forearm. The creationist model maintains the Biblical
teaching of pre-flood life spans approaching a thousand years. Combined with the
thoroughly documented trend of larger-than-today fossils, it would be natural to assume
the antediluvians were taller than we are today. Based on cubit ratio averages, the short
cubit gives a stature of around 5'6", too short for the pristine human that defined Noah's
Cubit - whether Noah himself or someone else, like Adam.
The Ark should be an Ideal Size. This may seem obvious, too large and Noah is
wasting construction effort, too small and the voyage will be cramped. But an arbitrary
choice of the smallest cubit ignores the potential explanatory power of a best cubit.
Reverting to a short cubit for the sake of a single (and not very palatable) argument
compromises other factors, such as cross-checking animal carrying capacity with
estimates from baraminology, or theoretical demonstration of sufficient hull strength.
JEPD Influence. Serious cubit studies are rather few, and R.B.Y Scott has been a
primary source for cubit information used for Noah's Ark. If a bunch of scribes really did
get together to make up a story called Genesis then the common Hebrew cubit is a fine
choice for Noah's Ark. But if Moses got the Ark's dimensions passed down to him (or
retold by God himself), we don't bother rummaging around Palestine to find Noah's cubit.
There are more ancient places to look.
No Unit Conversion evident. The dimensions given in Genesis 6:15 would naturally be
taken to be God's original numbers. If the dimensions of Genesis 6:15 had been
converted into another cubit length by Moses (for the sake of his audience), then he
should not have come up with the round numbers 300 x 50 x 30. Since he was
conversant in the two cubits, ("cubits" and the "cubit of man") Moses was capable of
doing this conversion. But he 'left' them in their original form, and implies they are a
different cubit to the "cubit of man".
A genuine 300 cubits. Noah was given the dimensions, but was this the internal or
external size?
The walls of the vessel could easily be 1 cubit thick (planks, frames and
ceiling) which immediately consumes 11% of the Ark's volume (now 298 x 48 x 28
cubits). Knowing this, Noah may have gone the extra distance to be sure he was meeting
the specification. Along the same lines, if Noah used a cubit only 18 inches long, was he
doing an honest job? Surely he would use a genuine cubit, not the smallest one he could
Dishonest measures. Dishonest weights and measures are an abomination to the LORD
(Pr 20:10). Could this explain the shorter cubit? Commercial dishonesty would naturally
minimize the unit of length. Moses mentions this in Le 19:36, De 25:13.
Answering Objections to the NBR sequence
The Common Cubit is Older than the Royal. They are both old. The assumption of an
earlier "common" cubit is based on a model of gradual development of civilization, not
archeological evidence. In Egypt, the royal cubit is clearly observed well before any
"certain vestiges of the small cubit have been recorded". Since the royal or building
cubits are obviously superior to the common cubit, they sometimes imply the ancients
came up with the longer cubit at a later date. Trouble is, few commentators are brave
enough to postulate a rough date for the origin of the longer cubit standard. Chances are,
there isn't one, because it goes right back to the flood. The royal cubit bursts onto the
architectural scene as suddenly as the spectacular constructions themselves.
Perhaps Noah was shorter than normal. At a sub-optimal 5'6", Noah would be out-
of-place in the pristine ante-diluvian world
. He lived 20 years longer than Adam. Even
today stature is used as an indicator of general health in a population. Imagine running
with the idea of Noah using his own shorter-than-average forearm. In that case Moses
should have called it "the cubit of Noah" if the definition was being introduced at this
point in time. More importantly, if Noah deliberately picked a short cubit (his own) when
his ancestors towered over him, this borders on the issue of "dishonest measures" that
God abhors. Noah cheating on the Ark dimensions!
The royal cubit was not a true cubit. We can't be sure the cubit-plus-handbreadth
definition of the Royal Egyptian cubit
is proof that the original came about that way.
Whether it did or not, the big important ancient structures used it, and so did the angel in
Ezekiel's vision. Proof of a longer ante-diluvian forearm is not the central issue, but
simply a clue
Moses converted the dimensions of Genesis 6:15. The Ark is stated in round
numbers 300 long, 50 wide and 30 high, excellent proportions for ship stability and sea-
keeping performance
. Genesis 6:15 indicates that God gave the dimensions to Noah.
There is no indication that the numbers have been modified, and being whole numbers, it
is more natural to treat them as God's original. Conversion from one cubit to another
would produce ugly numbers.
Comments and Observations
This study raises the possibility of the Ark being larger than current estimates. Previous
studies have commendably used the short cubit to draw attention to the generous
proportions of Noah's Ark. But a conservative argument cannot be distilled down to a
single design of any particular cubit. The complexity of interrelationships makes a
deliberate choice of an understated cubit troublesome for analysis and depiction.
Let's assume for a moment that Noah used a long cubit, making the Ark 515 ft (157m)
long. Obviously the Ark should have been a perfect fit, otherwise God made Noah do a
whole lot of work for nothing. Woodmorappe amply demonstrated that 16000 animals fit
easily into an Ark defined by an 18" cubit, but what happens if those animals are now
loaded into an Ark built instead with a cubit closer to 21"? They now have 60% more
space. To be a "perfect fit", either there were more animals, or the cages were bigger.
The common cubit is small. Can a pre-flood cubit define a human smaller than a modern
average after we have had 4500 years of bondage to decay? (Romans 8:21).
When it comes to ancient cubits, it is the application, similarity and mysterious origin of
the royal cubits that make them such strong contenders. The chance of post-flood
variation before Babel is virtually nil, so Noah's cubit should have continued relatively
intact right up to the royal building cubits of Babylon and Egypt. At the very least, the
sum of arguments for using the royal cubit to define Noah's Ark is much stronger than
the case for the common cubit.
The Bible describes three major constructions that are specified by a divine blueprint.
Ezekiel's temple (plainly a royal-length cubit), Solomon's temple (cubit after the first
measure - logically a royal cubit) and Noah's Ark (an unqualified cubit where the qualified
cubit was the common). Biblically, a common cubit for Noah's Ark appears out of place.
Of the ancient royal cubits, the REC is the most consistent and precise. Another place to
look is Babylon, where the people stayed put through the dispersion and carried on with
the infrastructure. The general consensus among scholars is that the cubit began in
Sumeria, which is supportive of the Noah-Babel-Royal sequence.
The evidence is definitely in favor of a "royal" sized cubit for Noah's Ark

References and Notes
1. Whitcomb, J. C., Morris, H. M. The Genesis Flood, Pres and Reformed Pub Co., 1961. A
classic apologetic for Biblical creationism and the universality of the Flood. After 44 years
the book is still a powerfully argued case with surprisingly few superseded creationist
arguments, apart from a lowered emphasis on the canopy theory by today's creationists.
Return to text
2. Scott, R.B.Y., Weights and Measures of the Bible, The Biblical Archeologist, Vol. XXII,
No. 2, pp. 22-27, May 1959. Return to text
3. Morris, H. M., The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, p181, 1976. Return to text
4. The original source of most of these papers can be logically traced to Scott. The only
exceptions are Collins, Woodmorappe and Gitt, but their sources, like Scott, are explicitly
stating measurements that post-date Noah and the Babel dispersion by millennia; e.g.
Buildings in Palestine and the Siloam tunnel. Return to text
5. The Hong study approximated Scott's 17.5" cubit. Their Ark of 13.5m depth, 22.5m
breadth and 135m length implies a unique cubit of 450mm (17.72"). Return to text
6. Ramm is cited 40 times in "The Genesis Flood" with particular emphasis against his
belief in a local flood. Ramm's supposes a Caucasian-only flood event (a form of local
flood dogma), and considers death and suffering to be part of God's original creation. i.e.
"Evil is inherent in nature" Return to text
7. The Siloam Inscription commemorates the completion of "Hezekiah's tunnel", usually
ascribed to Judah's king Hezekiah (727 to 698 BC The Annals of the world Ussher, 715 to
686 BC Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible 1988), but Rogerson and Davies argue for a later
Hasmonian date. Rogerson, J.W., Davies, P.R., Was the Siloam Tunnel Built by
Hezekiah?, Biblical Archeologist 59 S, pp. 138-149, 1996. Return to text
8. The JEPD hypothesis (or documentary hypothesis) claims that Moses did not write the
Pentatuech but that it was penned well after the nation of Israel had been established.
Yet Moses was historically regarded as the author, a fact confirmed by Jesus Christ
himself. (E.g. Luke 16:16+31). However, the theory claims a variety of authors, labeled
Jehovist, Elohist, Priestly and Deuteronomist gradually put the writings together nearly a
thousand years after Moses. The thoroughly debunked idea alleges that variations in style
constitute proof that there were different authors involved. Return to text
9. An implausible story: Non-seafaring Jewish editors somehow guessed a
hydrodynamically optimal ship design.
No contemporaneous ships of similar scale are
known, and the alleged inspiration of their storytelling is supposed to be the Babylonian
flood stories like the Epic of Gilgamesh with an absurd cube-shaped "Ark". Return to text
10. Personal e-mail from Dr John Morris; cited by permission, 27 July 2004. Return to
11. Woodmorappe, J., Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, ICR, p7, 1996. Return to text
12. Lovett, T., Does Ark mean Box? 2005
http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/shape/ark_box.htm The word for Noah's Ark ("tbh")
is shared by only one other item in scripture, the basket of baby Moses. The claim for a
cuboid Ark of Noah rests on the Septuagint decision to swap the basket of baby Moses for
the Ark of the Covenant, coupled with the assumption that the latter was a rectangular
prism. It is unlikely that the baby basket was this shape, and definitely in the proportions
of Genesis 6:15. There is a better chance the word has no shape connotation in the first
place, which would mean the Bible tells us nothing about hull form, other than give
dimensions. Return to text
13. See comment by Tim Lovett:
http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/hull_calcs/wave_bm1.htm. For ships of similar size
to the Ark, ABS design rules for ships in unrestricted waters relate the hull's necessary
bending strength as a function of the vessel's length to the power of 3.5. This implies a
necessary 60% increase in section modulus when swapping from a common to a royal
cubit (15% length increase). ABS Rules for Building and Classing Steel Vessels 2004. Part
3 , Chapter 2, Section 1, Subsection 3.5.1 "Wave Bending Moment Amidships". Return to
14. Levanthes, L. When China Rules the Seas, Oxford Univ Press, pp. 75 - 85, 1994.
(Illustration p. 21) The largest wooden vessels on record are the 15th century Chinese
treasure ships of Cheng Ho. Such dramatic scale is the subject of current debate. Chinese
records pointing to ships over 500ft long were dismissed as exaggeration, but the
discovery in 1962 of an oversize rudder post lent support to the claim. Similar doubts
about ancient records of oversized Greek triremes have been quelled by evidence of the
existence of huge bronze bow rams. Return to text
15. "Today we know about 30 million modern and extinct species of organisms". Plimer,
I., Telling Lies for God. Random House Aust. p109, 1994. We don't know this at all. Even
the current number of identified species is uncertain, somewhere between 1.5 and 1.8
million, mostly insects - beetles in particular. The sole source for a 30 million figure is the
controversial extrapolation of beetle studies in the Panama by Terry Erwin of the
Smithsonian Institute. Not that the definition of "species" is particularly firm: "Species
differ from one another in at least one characteristic and generally do not interbreed with
one another where their ranges overlap in nature" Ravin, P. and Johnson, G., Biology, 3rd
Ed, Mosby-Year Book, p564, 1992. Return to text
16. Woodmorappe, J., Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, p10. "There were nearly 16000
animals on the Ark". A rounded figure based on Table 1, p10, "Total 15,754". Return to
17. Whitcomb, J. C., Morris, H. M. The Genesis Flood, p69. "at the outside, there was
need for no more than 35,000 individual invertebrate animals on the Ark." Return to text
18. Crothers, W. L., The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850-1856: International
Marine/Ragged Mtn Press, p195, 2000. "As clippers grew in size, the ever-increasing
length-to-breadth ratio resulted in a slenderness of hull that taxed the structure to its
limits." In May 1851, prominent New York shipbuilder William H. Webb launched the 200
ft (61m) Challenge which "ushered in a new breed of large ships" with "the introduction
of diagonal iron bracing along the entire length of her sides." ibid p196. For Noah's Ark,
such a solution is possible in light of the much earlier development of forged iron (Gen
4:22). However, the ancient Greeks solved this problem without metal straps, using edge
joined planks. Casson, L., Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, Princeton Univ
Press, NJ, 1971. (pp. 91, 204-209 and figures 159-161) Return to text
19. Seakeeping refers to how a ship responds in the waves, or the ability to navigate
safely at sea esp. in stormy weather. This is a broad term, encompassing both motions
and general safety (like tendency to broach). A better term to use here would be
seakindliness: "Quality of a craft/ship behavior in waves characterized by easy motions
(i.e. low accelerations), dry decks, absence of propeller racing and slamming, and easy
steering" http://www/foils.org/glossary.htm#sss Return to text
20. There are logical limits to ante-diluvian technology. Noah was not as wise as
Solomon, so it is unreasonable to expect Noah's engineering greatly surpassing Solomon,
except that he had the advantage of much longer working lifetime. In terms of
antediluvian technology, the Ark was principally wood, not metal which is superior.
Return to text
21. Continuity of standards. The Royal Egyptian cubit spanned thousands of years and
varied less than 5%. Even as late as 1960, cubits were still used in some countries. In a
continuous civilization, an important base-unit like length is not easily changed. Consider
the effort it took to convert to the metric system. We still use 90 degrees in a right angle
and divide hours into 60 minutes of 60 seconds - a legacy of the ancient Babylonians.
Going back still further, we have never stopped using a 7 day week. Return to text
22. The Royal Egyptian Cubit (REC): Many Egyptian constructions such as the pyramids
of Giza used the 524mm (20.7") REC. This cubit has been accurately determined, not
only from the constructions themselves, but also from actual cubit standards left behind
by the ancient craftsmen. In 1877, Petrie published his findings, saying that "about a
dozen of the actual cubit rods that are known yield 20.65 .01 inches", a value still
considered accurate today. Egypt has the earliest architectural evidence from which a
cubit can be securely established. Return to text
23. Cubits in Mesopotamia are rare: Wooden "cubit rods" decay in the wet soil, so the
length is obtained from buildings that were laid out in cubits. A copper standard was
unearthed, but the general picture is that cubits outside of Egypt were less exact.
Variation in these measurements is due to the lack of reliable records and the tolerance
limitations of ancient construction. The Nippur cubit is a copper bar dated around
1950BC, defining a Sumerian cubit (k) of 518.5mm (20.41"). Return to text
24. Scott, R. B. Y., Weights and Measures of the Bible, The Biblical Archaeologist 22,
pp. 24, 1959. "In Deut. 3:11 the 'natural' cubit in common use is called 'the cubit of
a man'. It would suffice to indicate broadly the size of an object(...) But obviously a
more precise unit would be required for the work of the architect, builder and
craftsman;(...) To begin with, we observe that two cubits differing in length are
mentioned in the Old Testament (...) Ezek. 40:5 specifies the use of a cubit which is
a handbreadth or palm longer than the common cubit, i.e, consisting of seven palms
rather than six. A longer and shorter cubit, related in this ratio, were in use also in
Egypt; in Mesopotamia the cubit of Korsabab was 4/5 the length of the 'royal' cubit
first recorded on statues of Gudea of Lagash, and continuing in use until the time of
Nebuchadnezzar II. From standard cubit rods which have survived and from
corresponding architectural dimensions it is known that the two Egyptian cubits were
about 20.65 in. and 17.6 in. long respectively, and the Mesopotamian 'royal' cubit
was about 19.8 in." Return to text
25. It is an evolutionary presupposition that men have been getting taller and taller. A
common false perception is that centuries ago people were tiny. Average stature may
have recently increased in well-fed countries, but this is certainly not evolution. Besides
this, "in the late Middle Ages the Dutch were taller than at the first half of the 19th
century." Hans de Beer, Economics and Human Biology, Univ of Munich, pp. 45-55,
2/2004. Good nutrition is more likely to allow a person to grow to their correct height - at
least in terms of population averages. Yet even in medieval England, human remains
show average stature of over 5'6". Daniell, C., Death and Burial in Medieval England
1066-1550, p.134 London: Routledge, 1997. Genetics is a bigger factor than nutrition.
The Dinka of southern Sudan (average 6'1") are the tallest group in the world despite
perilous persecution from Muslims in the north. Return to text
26. The cubit is normally defined as the length from bent elbow to fingertip. This
measurement varies with stature, the Mishna (Jewish writings) give the height of a man
as 4 cubits, a ratio of 25%. My own ratio is 27.7%. Published ratios by Galton, F.,
Correlations and their measurement, Nature 39:238, 1889 (350 adult males) 26.8%,
Macdonell, cited by Pearson (3000 prison inmates) 27.1%, Shuster (Oxford students)
26.9%, (Correlation coefficient of Galton and Macdonell was 0.8), indicate that 27%
might be fair. This gives a stature of 1693mm (5' 61/2") based on an 18" cubit.
According to NHANES III Survey conducted in the USA 1988-1994, a white male stature
of 5'6" is at the 5th percentile - so the 18 inch cubit is only slightly better than being the
shortest person in every twenty today. Return to text
27. The cubit. ell: References to "arm": Strong's "a mother (i.e. unit) of measure, or the
fore-arm (below the elbow)". Return to text
28. Unger, M. F., Harrison, R.K. (Ed), Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Pub, Weights and
measures, 1988. The claim is that determination of ancient standards of length has
proved elusive: "In particular, the 'short cubit' and the 'royal cubit', which have played
major roles in modern discussions of biblical measures, are not actually mentioned in the
Bible, and neither Mesopotamia nor Egypt has produced unequivocal evidence to support
the existence of such standards. Thus, modern scholars conventionally use 50cm for the
Mesopotamian cubit and 52.5cm for the Egyptian cubit." These are "royal" cubits, which
is what an NBR sequence would predict. This statement could also be taken to mean that
a "common" cubit in the earliest civilizations is missing, which is stronger evidence for an
NBR model. Return to text
29. "With spectacular suddenness, an architecture sprang up that was suitable for kings
and gods (...) stone monuments that rank with the most impressive of any age" .
Casson, L., Ancient Egypt, Leonard Krieger, Time Life Books, 1966. Return to text
30. Exodus records Hebrew craftsmen like Bezalel and Oholiab, along with "all the able
men" to which God gave ability. Solomon's divinely specified temple was also a
masterpiece, supervised by the man whom "God gave wisdom and understanding beyond
measure, and largeness of mind". Extrapolation to Noah's case would be natural. Return
to text
31. Zuidhof points out 7-based proportions of the coverings of the tabernacle (Ex 26 and
36), stating that "cubits of the old standard: could hardly mean anything other than a
reference to the so-called Cubit of Moses, the standard employed in the construction of
the tabernacle. We may assume that the Hebrews used cubit rods derived from the Royal
Egyptian Cubit of seven handbreadths, as their craftsmen had originally learned their
trade in Egypt (Ex 38:21-23, 32:4, Acts 7:22)". Unger's Bible Dictionary argues the
opposite view for Solomon's temple, stating that the "extraordinary number of
sexagesimal ratios, (...) points to Babylonian influence". No problem for the NBR theory,
whether he used the 7 palm, 28 finger REC or the 5 hand, 30 finger Babylonian, it is still
a "royal" length cubit. Return to text
32. The plans for the temple were divinely revealed to David, who passed it on to his son
Solomon. (1 Chron 28:11) It is clear that David's plans were divinely inspired (1 Chron
28:19 "All this", David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the Lord upon me, and he
gave me understanding in all the details of the plan." Perhaps even a "parallel with Moses
who also received documents from the hand of the Lord" (NIV Studybible footnotes). A
well defined unit of length is an integral part of any detailed architectural plan, so the
choice of cubit may have been a divine directive. Solomon certainly had links to Egypt (1
Kings 3:1), but the REC is not the only royal cubit around. Return to text
33. The Siloam Tunnel measurement is definitely a common cubit, but it is not foolproof
despite the comment by Scott
"The most definite piece of evidence we have as to the
pre-exilic Hebrew cubit comes from the Siloam inscription" According to Gitt 2001 the
inscription of the Siloah Tunnel in Jerusalem has a length of 525m which gives 525/1200
= 0.4375 m. However, according to Elwell, W. A. (Ed), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible,
Baker, 1988, "the actual length of the tunnel was determined to be 1749 feet. This would
yield a cubit of 17.49 inches." This is 444.25 mm which matches (or perhaps derives
from) Vincent's much earlier definition of 444mm (From Scott, R.B.Y., Postscript on the
Cubit, Journal of Biblical Literature 79 D 1960, p368). Another source states 533.1m for
the tunnel (444.25mm cubit), but qualifies this with "1200 is a round number, and the
points considered as the starting of the digging at the ends of the tunnel are not certain.
Other calculations have placed the Siloam cubit at 17.58 inches." (446.5mm). Buttrick,
G. A., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, 1962. Unlike a building, a
tunnel would not be expected to be a round number, leading several authors to treat the
Siloam calculation with similar reservations, such as Irwin, B., Eerdmans Dictionary of the
Bible, Wm B Eerdmans Pub., Mich., 2000.; "1200 is a round number, plus the (length)
uncertainty...combine to make this method unreliable. A better approach is that of
Gabriel Barkey who compares (...) rock-cut tombs in the Jerusalem area to arrive at
estimates of 52.5 cm (20.67 in.) and 45 cm (17.71 in) for the long and short cubit,
respectively." Barkey, G., Measurements in the Bible - Evidence at St Etienne for the
Length of the Cubit and the Reed, BARev 12/2, p37, 1986. Return to text
34. Zuidhof, A., King Solomon's Molten Sea and Pi, Biblical Archeologist 45, pp. 179-184,
Summer 1982. Taking a roughly cylindrical model of the vessel, the volume gives the
best match when the dimensions are taken as royal cubits. 1 Kings 7:23-26. Small
changes to the cubit have a big effect on volume. The royal cubit giving (7/6)^3 = 1.6
times the volume of the common cubit. Zuidhof demonstrates that the small cubit cannot
be used in this calculation, hence Solomon's cubit must have been the longer type.
Astonishingly, Scott attempts to force a common cubit into the text by alleging there is a
big mistake in the Bible. (Appendix 2) Return to text
35. The Jewish Encyclopedia.com. "The Old Testament mentions two ells (cubits) of
different size. Ezekiel implies that in his measurement of the Temple the ell was equal to
a "cubit and a handbreadth" (Eze 40:5, 43:13)that is, one handbreadth larger than the
ell commonly used in his time. Since among all peoples the ell measured 6 handbreadths,
the proportion of Ezekiel's ell to the others was as 7 to 6. The fact that Ezekiel measured
the Temple by a special ell is comprehensible and significant only on the assumption that
this ell was the standard of measurement of the old Temple of Solomon as well. This is
confirmed by the statement of the Chronicler that the Temple of Solomon was built
according to "cubits after the first measure" (II Chron. iii. 3), implying that a larger ell
was used at first, and that this was supplanted in the course of time by a smaller one."
Return to text
36. Legon, J., The cubit and the Egyptian Canon of Art, Discussions in Egyptology 35
(1996), 61-76. http://www.legon.demon.co.uk/canon.htm Here Legon is summarizing
Lepsius who claimed that the seven divisions of the royal cubit is so awkward and
unnatural they can't have been practical. (Lepsius, R., ZAS 22, pp. 6-11, 1884). Return
to text
37. There are clues that in certain cultures, early post-flood ancestors were remembered
with god-like status; "ancestral gods of the nation" Cooper, B., After the Flood, New wine
Press, p 105, 1995. Return to text
38. Ezekiel's vision includes more than 300 precise measurements and dozens of unique
architectural terms, such as "door-posts," "windows," etc. Ezekiel received this
information around 573 BC. Return to text
39. The common cubit suggested for the second temple: Kaufman claims there are
measurements "sufficient to establish 43.7cm as the basic unit of length - the medium
cubit - used in the construction of the Second Temple". Kaufman, Asher S; Where the
ancient temple of Jerusalem stood, Biblical Archeology Review 9 no 2 Mar-Apr, p46,
1983. This would still fit the Noah-Babel-Royal argument of a later use for common or
"medium" cubits. Return to text
40. In the phrase "cubit of a man", the word for man is "iysh" which is usually associated
with a particular man, not "adam" which is more general - like "mankind". Return to text
41. The plans for the hull of a wooden ship (molded hull form) use distances from the
"Center-line of ship to outer face of frames". Crothers, Fig 1.6, p10. The planking was not
regarded as part of the ship's permanent structure. "Planking throughout the ages has
been considered more or less sacrificial as has decking." Louis F. Linden 1997,
Constellation Foundation, Inc. http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-linden.htm Return to
42. A short Noah? The illustrations by E and B Snellenberger in Clannin, G., In the Days
of Noah, Master Books, 1996., show Shem clearly taller than his father Noah (p 12 and
cover), and Methuselah equal to Shem (p 24). A diminutive Noah is probably not what
Whitcomb and Morris had in mind in 1961. Return to text
43. Bucher, J. (Ed), The Metrology Handbook, ASQ Quality Press, p5, 2004. "The 'Royal
Egyptian Cubit' was decreed to be equal to the length of the forearm from the bent elbow
to the tip of the extended middle finger plus the width of the palm of the hand of the
Pharaoh or King ruling at that time." Exactly why is anyone's guess. Return to text
44. Down, K., [personal email], cited by permission, 14 Nov 2003. "As the cubit is a
measure related intimately to the size of the measurer, it really is irrelevant to become
too exercised over what the Egyptians or Babylonians may have used. In fact, it may well
be the perceptible diminution in size that led to the creation of the various "standard"
cubits. Return to text
45. Hong, S. W. et al, Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway, CEN Technical
Journal 8(1): pp. 2635, 1994.
Return to text
46. The cubit of choice for Noah's Ark: Although the REC is the most well defined, it could
fail to differentiate the original location, which should have been Babylon. The Sumerian
cubit defined by the Nippur standard is an excellent choice; it is in the right place, it is a
royal cubit length, and it is a surviving standard in copper. It is also conservative in size,
but not unreasonably so, and correlates to someone about 6'3" (1915mm) tall. Return to

Appendix 1. Cubit Definitions
Table 4 shows cubits listed by Morris
, and the effect of a change from the default cubit of 457mm (18
in). The cubit is assumed to be 27 percent of stature for a male adult. The changes in volume and
required hull strength are compared to the default cubit.
Table 4. Common and Royal Cubits listed by Morris 1976
Class Cubit
mm (in)
mm (in)
m (ft)
Short Hebrew
1636 (5'
133 (436) -8% -9%
1646 (5'
134 (440) -7% -7%
457 (18)
1683 (5'
137 (449) 0% 0%
1852 (6'
151 (495) 33% 37%
Long Hebrew
1907 (6'
155 (509) 46% 51%
1929 (6'
157 (515) 50% 56%
The Nippur cubit of 518.5mm (20.41") is probably the oldest surviving standard
, but architectural
evidence of an accurate royal Egyptian cubit is believed to be centuries older.
Appendix 2. Issues with Scott 1959
Scott, R. B. Y., Weights and Measures of the Bible, The Biblical Archaeologist 22, pp. 22-40,
About Solomon's bronze sea (molten sea);
Scott uses the information on Solomon's bronze sea (1 Kings 7:23; 2 Chron 4:2,5) to link the cubit to the
bath - a capacity measure. Assuming a 22 litre bath (Albright) and a hemispherical vessel (his own
assumption), he arrives at a cubit of 22.06 in.,
"a figure impossible to relate either to the cubit of the Siloam tunnel or to a seven-palm cubit
of 20.4 in."

To solve this dilemma, Scott points the finger at some unknown "ancient scribe" who
"used by mistake the formula for the capacity of a sphere instead of that of a hemisphere".
Forget the famous Pi argument, this is a real muff-up. Scott could hardly blame Solomon, he only had to
count number of baths it took to fill the thing, a trivial exercise compared to the 36 tonne bronze casting.
Instead, he paints a picture of an anonymous scribe who got befuddled, he didn't know his mathematics
and the Chaldeans took the reservoir. This is JEPD thinking at it's worst, and destroys any chance of
mathematically challenged story-tellers coming up with the Ark's optimal specifications.
Checking Scott's numbers, assuming a wall thickness of 1 palm:
1. At diam of 10 REC (524 mm), water at brim = 37.67m
= 1712 baths (by 22 litre
bath). Only works out to 2000 baths if cubit is 552mm (21.7")
2. Starting with the 30 cubit circumference, diameter is only 9.5493 cubits, which gives
at brim; 32.76m
/22 = 1489 baths. Needs a cubit of 578mm (22.76") to get correct
3. Using internal circumference, capacity is 35843 litres / 22 = 1629 baths. Cubit of
561mm (22.09 in)

So it appears Scott has calculated the volume of a hemisphere with internal
circumference of 30 cubits to arrive at the 22.06 in cubit.
In 1982, Zuidhof focuses on the "molten sea" with a cylindrical vessel and a circumference measured as
(more logically) the outside diameter, with the 10 cubit diameter representing a flared brim (cup or lily
shape 1 Kgs 7:25). This answers the alleged Pi problem at the same time. Zuidhof argues for a 22.8 litre
bath (using 3600 cubic fingers, and the Talmudic tradition based on the volume of a hen's egg), which
gives a 45600 litre capacity (7200000 cubic fingers). This gives a cubit of 518.6mm which is the typical
royal Hebrew cubit. Note: My check using the REC gave volume up to brim = 45200 litres / 22.8 = 1982
baths for the cylindrical vessel, which could be adjusted by brim flare shape and bottom edge radius.

Solomon's molten sea according to Zuidhof, 1982 (left) and Scott, 1959 (right). Above image based on Zuidhof's
Scott's 'Priestly document' comment;
On p32, 'IV Weights', Scott is using Exod 38:25-26 to link the talent to the shekel, arriving at a figure of
3000 shekels to the talent. Sounds reasonable. In so doing he makes this statement;
"it is clear that (for the writers of the Priestly document of the Pentateuch, at least) there
were 3000 shekels to the talent".
Scott is saying Moses didn't write Genesis, or at the very least was editorially over-ruled by later scribes
piecing some ancient history together. Little wonder then that he would think the Pentateuch was written
from a late Hebrew perspective, including a short Hebrew cubit, since that is what we see when digging
around Palestine today.
Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway
COPYRIGHT 2003 Answers in Genesis Ministries
1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Hull Form and its Characteristics
3.1 Principle dimension
3.2 Hull Form
3.3 Draft and Center of Gravity
3.4 Comparative Hull Forms
4. Seakeeping Performance
4.1 Evaluation Items and Conditions
4.2 Method of Evaluation
4.3 Seakeeping Safety Index
5. Structural Safety
5.1 General
5.2 The Structural Design of Longitudinal Members
5.3 The Structural Analysis of the Ark
5.4 Structural Safety Index
6. Overturning Stability
6.1 Restoring Arm
6.2 Overturning Stability Index
7. Voyage Limit of the Ark
8. Discussion and Conclusion
9. Acknowledgment
10. References
The following paper has been reproduced in full with permission from Answers In Genesis
Ministries. Contents navigation added by WorldWideFlood. Original article is available at

Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway
by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and
Y.G. Je
First published in: Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994.

1.ABSTRACT Contents
In this study, the safety of Noahs Ark in the severe environments imposed by waves and winds
during the Genesis Flood was investigated. Three major safety parameters structural safety,
overturning stability, and seakeeping quality were evaluated altogether to assess the safety of
the whole system.
The concept of relative safety, which is defined as the relative superiority in safety compared to
other hull forms, was introduced and 12 different hull forms with the same displacement were
generated for this purpose. Evaluation of these three safety parameters was performed using
analytical tools. Model tests using
scaled models of a prototype were performed for three
typical hull forms in order to validate the theoretical analysis.
Total safety index, defined as the weighted average of three relative safety performances,
showed that the Ark had a superior level of safety in high winds and waves compared with the
other hull forms studied. The voyage limit of the Ark, estimated on the basis of modern passenger
ships, criteria, revealed that it could have navigated through waves higher than 30 metres.
There has been continuing debate over the occurrence of the Genesis Flood and the existence of
Noahs Ark in human history. Even though many scientific researches on the occurrence of the
Flood itself have been made by geologists and anthropologists, limited information is known
about Noahs Ark, and conclusive physical evidence about the remains of the Ark has not been
discovered, despite many searches this century of sites such as the Ice Cave and Anderson
sites. While little is known about the hull form and the structure of the Ark, the size and the
material of the Ark given in the Bible
themselves are enough to warrant the attention of naval
architects and so enable investigations of the practicality of the Ark as a drifting ship in high winds
and waves.
In this study, the safety of the Ark in the severe environments imposed by the waves and winds
during the Genesis Flood was investigated.
In general, the safety of a ship in a seaway is related to three major safety parameters
structural safety, overturning stability, and seakeeping quality. Good structural safety ensures the
hull against damage caused mainly by wave loads. Enough overturning stability is required to
prevent the ship from capsizing due to the heeling moment caused by winds and waves. Good
seakeeping quality is essential for the effectiveness and safety of the personnel and cargo on
Information about the hull is of course available from the existing references to Noahs Ark, and
from the reasonable (common sense) assumptions of naval engineers. In order to avoid any error
due to the lack of complete hull information, we introduced the concept of relative safety, which
was defined as the relative superiority in safety compared to other hull forms. For this purpose, 12
different hull forms with the same displacement were generated systemically by varying principal
dimensions of the Ark. The concept of relative safety of a ship has been introduced by several
researchers, such as Comstock and Keane,
Hosoka et al.,
and Hong et al.,
to analyze
the seakeeping quality. In this paper, we extend the relative safety concept for the seakeeping
quality to the concept of total safety, including structural and overturning safety.
An index for structural safety was obtained by assessing the required thickness of the midship for
each hull form to endure the vertical bending moment imposed by waves. An index for
overturning stability was obtained by assessing the restoring moment of the ship up to the
flooding angle. An index for seakeeping quality was obtained by assessing six degrees of
freedom of ship motions and related accelerations due to wave motion. Finally the total safety
index was defined as a weighted average of the three indices.
Ship motions and wave loads for the analysis were predicted by using a strip method developed
by Salvesen, Tuck and Faltinsen.
Model tests using 1/50 scaled models of a prototype were
performed for three typical hull forms in the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineerings
(KRISOs) large towing tank, with a wave generating system in order to validate the theoretical
3.1 Principle dimension
According to the Bible (Genesis 6:15), the length of the Ark was 300 cubits, the breadth of it was
50 cubits, and the height of it was 30 cubits. A cubit is known to be the distance between a mans
elbow and finger-tip. To decide the actual size of the Ark, a cubit had to be defined in terms of a
modern unit. Scott
collected the existing data about cubits around the Middle East area, and we
adopted the common cubit (1 cubit = 17.5 inches) to approximate the size of the Ark. In modern
units, the Ark was approximately 135m long, 22.5m wide and 13.5m high.
3.2 Hull form Contents
Little is known about the shape and form of the Arks hull. However, several explorers have each
claimed that they have discovered the remains of the Ark at some sites on Mt. Ararat.
Based on
their arguments and references,
we estimated the form of the Arks hull as that of a barge-type
ship. In Figure 1, the shape of the Ark provided by KACR (Korea Association of Creation
Research) is depicted, but it is slightly modified in the bilge radius, the dead rise, and the camber
of the upper deck for the present investigation.

Figure 1. View of the proposed hull form of the Ark.
3.3 Draft and center of gravity Contents
The draft of a ship, that is, the height of submergence, determines the displaced volume of the
ship and the cargo capacity; No special mention about the draft is found in the Bible, but Genesis
7:20 reads, 'The water prevailed 15 cubits higher; and the mountains were covered', which
implies that the draft could be assumed to have been half the depth of the Ark (30 cubits). With
this assumed draft, the displaced tonnage of the Ark would have been

where the density of the water displaced is taken to be that of sea water, namely, 1.025 (tonnes
per cubic metre).
The centre of gravity was the most important parameter that determined the safety of the ship.
The longitudinal centre of gravity was taken quite naturally to be located at the midship. The
vertical centre of gravity KG was determined by the way we distributed the cargo weight. Two
possible loading distributions were considered. The first case assumed the cargo was loaded
equally over three decks, and the second case assumed the cargo was loaded according to the
ratio of 2:2:1 from the lowest deck upwards. The cargo weight was determined by subtracting the
lightweight from the displaced tonnage. The lightweight, the weight of the bare hull, was
estimated under the assumption that the longitudinal strength members took 70% of the
deadweight, and the thickness of them all was 30 cm. Assuming the specific gravity of the wood
was 0.6 (tonnes per cubic metre) gave a lightweight (bare hull weight) estimate of about 4,000
tonnes, and the cargo weight then became 17,016 tonnes.
For each loading case, the vertical centre of gravity KG was estimated by calculating the mass
centre. Thus we found that KG
= 4.93 m for the first case, and KG
= 4.21 m for the second
case. By assuming the actual loading condition was in between these two cases, KG was
decided to have been

The mass moments of inertia played an important role in determining rotational motions. They
were determined according to the weight distribution. Since there was no specific information
about them, we adopted the widely used approximation for conventional ships.
3.4 Comparative hull forms Contents
In order to apply the relative safety concept, 12 different hull forms of barge-type were generated
by varying principal dimensions while keeping the displaced volume constant. Table 1 lists the
principal dimensions of the comparative hull forms.
Ship No. Length (L) Beam (B) Depth (D)
0 (Ark) L
= 135m B
= 22.5m D
= 13.5m
1 L
/1.5 1.5D

2 L
/1.2 1.2D

3 L
4 L
5 L
/1.5 B

6 L
/1.2 B

7 1.2L
8 1.5L
9 L
/1.5 1.5B

10 L
/1.2 1.2B

11 1.2L
/1.2 D

12 1.5L
/1.5 D

Table 1. Principal dimensions of comparative hull forms.
4.1 Evaluation items and conditions
Behavior of a ship in a seaway depends mainly on the wave height, wave direction and ship
speed. The Ark was supposed to have drifted at a very low speed, implying the effect of speed
was negligible.
To evaluate the seakeeping performance, the related items should be selected based on the type
of ship. Since the Ark had a barge-type hull form and the speed was nearly zero, the following
seakeeping items were investigated:
(1) heave,
(2) pitch,
(3) roll,
vertical acceleration at FP (Forward Perpendicular, defined as the foremost
location of the loading waterline near the bow), a
(5) deckwetting frequency at FP, N
slamming frequency at ST 3/20 (Station Number, defined as the normalized
distance FP by ship length; here the location is 3/20 of the ship length away
from FP), M
(7) vertical acceleration at the bridge, a
, and
(8) lateral acceleration at the bridge, a
Here the bridge was assumed to be located at midship and D/4 above the waterline.
4.2 Method of evaluation Contents
A widely used strip method
for ship motion analysis in regular waves was applied to evaluate
the seakeeping items. The response in an irregular seaway was estimated by linearly
superposing the regular wave response under the assumption that the wave and ship response
follow Rayleighs distribution.
When a ship advances with constant speed and constant heading angle in regular waves, the
ship motion can be estimated in the form of the response amplitude operator R
(e) by a strip
method which assumes small amplitude motion. Ship response in irregular waves for a given sea
state is predicted by linearly superposing the regular wave response. The ship response energy
spectrum in irregular waves S
(e) is estimated by

where S(e) is the wave energy spectrum.
By integrating S
(e) for all frequency components, we obtain the rms (root mean square) ship
response in irregular waves.
In order to estimate the frequency of deckwetting and slamming, relative vertical motions at FP
and at ST 3/20 need to be calculated from heave, pitch and roll responses

Here x, y are the longitudinal and transverse coordinates and X
, X
, X
are the heave, roll and
pitch displacements respectively. Following Ochis
formula the number of deckwettings per hour
and that of the slammings per hour N
. are given as

where T
. is the zero-upcrossing period of relative vertical motion, F is the effective free-board at
the deck, d is the effective draft, m
is the area of spectrum of relative vertical motion, m
is the
area of spectrum of relative vertical velocity, and V
is the threshold velocity for slamming.
Responses for vertical and lateral accelerations (a
, a
) are calculated from the heave, roll, pitch
and yaw responses, such that

On the other hand, model tests were performed to confirm the reliability of the analytical
calculation of the behaviour of ships in waves for three typical hull forms (#0, #10 and #12). Good
agreement was obtained for all motions except roll motion, which usually showed strong
nonlinear behaviour due to viscous damping. This discrepancy in roll motion would not have
created serious problems, since in this research we put stress on the relative safety concept.
4.3 Seakeeping safety index Contents
The calculated ship responses in irregular seaways were arranged for each sea state (that is,
wave height). For each evaluated item, a safety index was defined, such that it was 0 for the
safest case and 1 for the most dangerous case, that is

where was the safety index for jth item of ship i. This safety index depended on the wave
directions, as well as on the wave heights. Since the waves came from all directions with the
same probability, we defined another safety index , which was given by taking the average of
the safety indices for each wave direction.
The total seakeeping safety index was defined then as the weighted average of eight safety
indices as where W
were the weighting factors for each item. In this case, we took W
as 1/8,
meaning that no weighting was considered.
In Table 2, the total seakeeping safety indices, together with each items index, are listed for the
sea state with a wave height of 11 metres.
(wave) Heave Roll Pitch a

0 0.36 0.49 0.68 0.45 0.38 0.01 0.42 0.33 0.10
1 0.41 0.69 0.00 0.87 1.00 0.01 0.21 0.48 0.04
2 0.47 0.55 0.91 0.58 0.58 0.00 0.47 0.57 0.06
3 0.31 0.44 0.60 0.36 0.22 0.02 0.47 0.24 0.14
4 0.24 0.38 0.37 0.26 0.07 0.06 0.26 0.31 0.24
5 0.66 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.55 0.00 0.75 1.00 0.00
6 0.55 0.72 0.95 0.72 0.54 0.00 0.74 0.68 0.03
7 0.23 0.27 0.42 0.22 0.18 0.07 0.18 0.20 0.29
8 0.35 0.00 0.38 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.25 0.13 1.00
9 0.45 0.67 0.81 0.56 0.11 0.00 1.00 0.45 0.01
10 0.45 0.63 0.79 0.55 0.32 0.00 0.78 0.49 0.04
11 0.30 0.30 0.77 0.29 0.31 0.02 0.32 0.21 0.20
12 0.16 0.05 0.39 0.07 0.19 0.09 0.00 0.00 0.45
Table 2. Seakeeping safety indices for a wave height H
= 11 meteres (safest
= 0, least safe = 1). See text for definitions of indices. S
(wave) is the total
seekeeping safety index.
5.1 General
Since little information on the internal structures of the Ark are known, we made the following
estimation from the viewpoint of modern shipbuilding technology, although we assume that the
Ark was in fact built using relatively ancient technology.
At that time, trees might have grown taller than 10 metres, and their diameters may have been
larger than 1 metre as a result of the presumed more favourable natural environment. A tree
could have weighed about 5 tonnes. About 800 trees might thus have been required to build the
Ark, if the wood weight of the Ark were about 4,000 tonnes.
The Ark may well have been constructed by joint structures of frames and plates. The frame
structure of thick beams (50cm x 50cm) could have been installed in longitudinal, transverse and
diagonal directions, and connected to each other at each end. The plate structure may have been
attached to the frame structure to make the shell, deck and compartments using thick boards
Taking into account these suggested details, structural designs only for the longitudinal members
were carried out using the method of wave load analysis. Also, the suggested construction
method was visualized with the aid of the pre-processor portion of the ANSYS programme.
Finally, the structural safety index of the Ark was obtained by comparing the required wood
volume for the 13 hull forms.
5.2 The structural design of longitudinal members Contents
The longitudinal members are usually designed in accordance with the classification rules (of the
IACS) or by the wave load analysis method, which we have adopted in this paper. The thickness
of the longitudinal members was thus calculated in accordance with the hull section modulus,
which can be obtained as follows:

where Z
is the hull sectional modulus, M
is the wave bending moment, and o
is the allowable
5.3 The structural analysis of the Ark Contents
The suggested construction method was visualized by using the ANSYS pre-processor (PREP7).
The basic construction of the Ark was by use of frame and plate structures (see Figure 2). The
frame structure was made longitudinal, the transverse and diagonal directions being fixed to each
other. The plate structure was then attached to the frame structure.

Figure 2. The frame and plate structure of the Ark.
The structural analysis of the Ark was carried out by using the ANSYS solver for the suggested
structure. The frame structure was modelled to the truss elements and the plate structure was
modelled to the membrane elements. The static load, the dynamic wave load and the cargo load
were considered as the loading conditions.
The distribution of the equivalent stress obtained by the stress analysis is shown in Figure 3.
Because the maximum stress was smaller than the allowable stress, the Ark could be said to
have had safe structural performance.

Figure 3. The distribution of the equivalent stress of the Ark.
5.4 Structural safety index Contents
The structural safety indices of the Ark were obtained by comparing the required wood volumes
for the various hull forms. The structural safety index (SSI) was defined by normalizing the
required wood volume, using the maximum and minimum required wood volume, using the
maximum and minimum required wood volumes as follows:

where V is the required wood volume for each hull form.
The structural indices for the severe condition (11 metre wave height and 180 entrance angle) are
shown in Figure 4, which indicates that the structural safety indices were most sensitive to the
variation of ship length and ship depth. The Arks index (OR) was small, so that it had high
structural safety.

Figure 4. Comparison of the structural safety indices for a wave height H
11 metres (safest = 0, least safe = 1)
6.1 Restoring arm
Overturning stability of a ship is determined by the ability of restoring it to its upright position
against inclining moment induced by winds, waves and currents. Restoring moment occurs by the
action of buoyancy. When a ship heels, the center of buoyancy B moves away from the centre-
plane, and hence it creates restoring moment around the centre of gravity G.
The magnitude of this restoring moment is dependent on GZ, which is called the restoring arm.
GZ is a function of the heel angle |, as well as ship geometry. This curve is called the restoring
arm, which determines the overall overturning stability.
Since all hull forms in this study had a rectangular cross section, the GZ curve could be
determined analytically by examining the movement of B as a function of the heel angle | as

Here KB is the height of B, d
, is the draft, and B
is the beam.
6.2 Overturning stability index Contents
The relative safety in overturning moment can be determined by comparing the ability of
absorbing overturning energy, which is defined as the area under the restoring arm curve, from
zero heel angle to its limiting angle over which flooding occurs into the vessel. In this research,
we defined the limiting heel angle |
as the heeling angle when the corner of the roof was
In Table 3, the limiting heel angle, the area up to the limiting heel angle A
, and the overturning
stability index from A
are given for 13 hull forms.
In the ship classification rules, a ship should satisfy two kinds of stability criteria: GM for small
heel angle, and dynamic stability. We applied the ABS (American Bureau of Shipping)s rule to all
13 hull forms. The results showed that all hull forms except hull #1 sufficiently satisfied all the
requirements. It should be especially noted that the Ark was 13 times more stable than the
standard for safety required by the ABS rule.
Ship No. |
(degree) A
rad) Safety Index
0 31.0 0.805 0.247
1 53.5 0.321 1.000
2 40.8 0.694 0.420
3 22.6 0.794 0.264
4 14.9 0.699 0.412
5 42.0 0.821 0.222
6 35.8 0.840 0.193
7 26.6 0.739 0.350
8 21.8 0.643 0.499
9 21.8 0.964 0.000
10 26.6 0.887 0.120
11 35.8 0.701 0.409
12 42.0 0.547 0.649
Table 3. Results of overturning stability calculations (safest = 0, least safe = 1).
See text for definitions of indices.
Although the information about the Ark is not enough to precisely predict the maximum wave
height it could have navigated, we could roughly infer it from comparing the estimated ship
responses to a modern passenger ships safety criteria.
Figure 5 shows the calculated vertical accelerations at FP for several hull forms including the Ark
(ARK-0). If we apply the vertical acceleration criteria at FP for a passenger ship as 0.34g
significant value, then the voyage limit of the Ark becomes 43 metres, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Voyage limit based on vertical
acceleration criteria.
Similarly, from the results of roll response as shown in Figure 6, we can conclude that flooding of
the Ark would not have occurred until the waves became 47.5m high, when the limiting heeling
angle was 31

Figure 6. Voyage limit based on roll limit
To calculate the voyage limit from the structure viewpoint, the required thickness of the wood was
plotted for varying wave heights (see Figure 7). This showed that the Arks voyage limit was more
than 30 metres if the thickness of the wood was 30 cm, which was quite a reasonable

Figure 7. Voyage limit based on structural
Since all the hull forms except hull #1 had sufficient overturning stability compared to ABSs
criteria, we derived the first total safety index as the average of the indices of seakeeping safety
and structure safety (see Figure 8). This revealed that the Ark had the second best hull design,
with the best hull design in this case being hull #1, which had the worst overturning stability.

Figure 8. Total safety index Case 1.
When we took the weighted average including overturning stability, such as seakeeping safety 4,
structural safety 4 and overturning safety 2, we derived the total safety index as shown in Figure
9. These results also showed that the Ark had superior safety compared to the other hull forms.

Figure 9. Total safety index Case 2
In conclusion, the Ark as a drifting ship, is thus believed to have had a reasonable-beam-draft
ratio for the safety of the hull, crew and cargo in the high winds and waves imposed on it by the
Genesis Flood.
The voyage limit of the Ark, estimated from modern passenger ships' criteria reveals that it could
have navigated sea conditions with waves higher than 30 metres.
This work was fully supported by the Korea Association of Creation Research.

S.W. Hong, S. S. Na, B. S. Hyun, S. Y. Hong, D. S. Gong, K. J. Kang, S. H. Suh, K. H. Lee
and Y. G. Je are all on the staff of the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Engineering,
Taejon. This paper was originally published in Korean and English in the Proceedings of the
International Conference on Creation Research, Korea Association of Creation Research, Taejon,
1993, pp. 105137. This English translation is published with the permission of the Korea
Association of Creation Research and the authors.

10. REFERENCES Contents
1. New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1960.
2. Comstock, E.N. and Keane, R.G., 1980. Seakeeping by design. Naval Engineers Journal
3. Hosoda, R., Kunitake, Y., H. and Nakamura, H., 1983. A method of evaluation of
seakeeping performance in ship design based on mission effectiveness concept. PRADS
83, Second International Symposium, Tokyo and Seoul.
4. Bales, N.K., 1980. Optimizing the seakeeping performance of destroyer type hulls, 13

5. Hong, S.W. et al., 1990. Safety evaluation of ships for the improvement of port control
regulation. Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering Report, BS1783-
6. Salvesan, N., Tuck, E.O. and Faltisen, O. 1970. On the motion of ships in confused seas.
Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 78.
7. Scott, R. B. Y., 1959. Weights and measures of the Bible. The Archaeologist, XXII(2).
8. Cummings, V. M., 1982. Has Anybody Really Seen Noahs Ark?, Baker Book House,
Grand Rapids, Michigan.
9. Morris, J. D., 1988. Noahs Ark and the Lost World, Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego,
10. Salvesan, Tuck and Faltinsen, Ref. 6.
11. Ochi, M. K., 1964. Prediction of occurence and severity of ship slamming at sea. Fifth
Symposium on Naval Hydrodynamics, Bergen.

Available online at:

Comments on the Noah's Ark (Hong et al) paper
Home Menu
Tim Lovett Oct 2004
Observations and comments on the results given in the technical paper "Safety Investigation of
Noahs Ark in a Seaway" by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang,
S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je. First published in: Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):26
35, 1994.
Available here:
Indexed Version here: http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/safety_aig/safety_aig.htm

The Hong paper was first published through the Korea Association of Creation Research (KACR)
founded in 1981. The project "Safety Investigation of Noah's Ark in a Seaway" was completed in
1993 by Dr. S. W. Hong and others at Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering,
demonstrating that the Ark's design was the best of all possible designs. (ICR on KACR , KACR
The following year the landmark paper was published in English in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical
Journal 8(1):2635, 1994. Ten years later the paper is still used to support the validity of Noah's
Ark at sea.
Hong's Conclusions
The paper investigates a combination of three major safety parameters - structural safety,
overturning stability, and seakeeping quality. Standard ship rules, computational methods and
model tests were used in the KACR funded project at the world class KRISO research center.
(formerly KORDI)
The team of nine researchers headed by Dr Seok-Won Hong, Principal Research Scientist at
KRISO BS, MS (Naval Architect) PhD (Applied Mechanics) also included engineering Professor
S.S Na of Mokpo University handling the structural modeling of Noah's Ark.
The methodology is uncomplicated - take the Biblical proportions and see what happens if they
are modified. The performance of the Biblical ark (300L x 50B x 30D) was compared to 12 arks of
equal volume but modified by 20% and 50% in length, breadth or depth.
"The total safety index, defined as the weighted average of three relative safety performances,
showed that the Ark had a superior level of safety in high winds and waves compared with the
other hull forms studied. The voyage limit of the Ark, estimated on the basis of modern passenger
ships' criteria reveals that it could have navigated through waves higher than 30 meters."
What do the numbers say?
While some of the results are not explicitly stated (e.g. wave bending moment), there is enough
data to make comparisons between the various hulls. The final chart of Total Safety Index (TSI-1)
excludes the stability index, so it is really only the average of seakeeping and strength indices.

Figure 8. Total safety index Case 1.
A low index is safest. This chart is actually saying Noah's Ark is equal second* out of the 13 hulls,
but there is not much between the top ranked hulls. When combining the three parameters in a
weighted safety index according to Hong's methodology, it turns out that Noah's Ark looks pretty
good. Assuming the graph is reasonably accurate, the TSI data would be something like this;
* L fixed B/1.5 hull #1 and D fixed L/1.5 hull #9 share the 0.25 value, so while the Ark is
numerically second it could be ranked at equal third place. (Not by much however)

In the second Total Safety Index Hong weighted each index at seakeeping (x2), structure (x2)
and roll (x1)*, giving;

The data for structural safety index is obtainable from the chart despite an un-calibrated axis. The
known upper and lower bounds (from zero to 1) provide a means for scaling.

Laying this out in a single table, where;
- SK Si = Total seakeeping safety index directly from Table 2, column 1
- Struct Si = Structural safety index derived from the above graph
- Roll Si = Overturning Safety Index (moment arm) directly from Table 3. column 4.
L B D Hull front and side views SK Si
ct Si

Mr average
135 15 20.3 0.4125
worst bow
16.2 0.465
accel and
135 27
similar to
the Ark but
too low,
20.3 0.66
16.2 0.5475
2nd to hull
accel, 3rd
9 0.345
vert accel
4th worst
27 13.5 0.45
version of
13.5 0.3025
comfort, bit
15 13.5 0.155
2nd last
the rest
The ark ranks nearly average in each safety index, 7th in seakeeping, 6th in hull strength and 5th
in roll stability.
Noah's ark individual safety index ranking
TSI Ranking
1 0 0 12,7,4,11,3,8,0,1,10,9,2,6,5
Pure strength 0 1 0 5,9,6,10,1,2,0,3,11,4,7,12,8
Pure stability 0 0 1 9,10,6,5,0,3,7,11,4,2,8,12,1
Hong combines the 3 safety indices to get a final ranking. But how sensitive is the data to the
relative weighting given to each index?.
Weighting sensitivity (Hong's Si)
TSI Ranking
Hong TSI-1 1 1 0 9,0,3,1,10,11,2,4,6,7,5,12,8
Hong TSI-2 2 2 1 9,10,0,3,6,5,11,2,4,7,1,12,8
1 1 1 9,10,0,3,6,5,7,11,2,4,12,1,8
1 2 1 9,10,6,5,0,3,2,11,4,7,1,12,8
1 1 2 9,10,6,0,3,5,7,11,2,4,12,8,1
Favor Noah's
3.88 3.11 0.289 3,9,0,10,11,4,1,7,2,6,5,12,8
Actually, since the Total Seakeeping index was not normalized, (i.e. range is not from 0 to 1 but
from 0.155 to 0.6625 - a range of only 0.5075 ) then Hong's weighting is not really 1:1:0 or 2:2:1,
but closer (not exactly) to 0.5:1:0 and 1:2:1 etc.
Repeating the above table using a normalized seakeeping index generally lowers the ranking of
Noah's Ark.
Weighting sensitivity (with Normalized Seakeeping index)
TSI Ranking
Hong TSI-1(n) 1 1 0 3,4,7,0,11,1,9,12,10,2,6,5,8
Hong TSI-2 (n) 2 2 1 9,3,0,10,7,4,11,6,2,12,1,5,8
weighted (n)
1 1 1 9,10,3,0,7,4,11,6,2,5,12,1,8
emphasis (n)
1 2 1 9,10,0,3,6,5,11,2,4,7,1,12,8
emphasis (n)
1 1 2 9,10,3,0,6,7,4,11,5,2,12,8,1
Favor Noah's
Ark (n)
1.058 0.8 0.65 3,9,7,0,4,10,11,12,6,2,5,1,8
There are other weighting factors that could further influence the results. The TSK index is the
sum of eight normalized seakeeping parameters - mostly accelerations of the vessel at sea.
Heave, pitch, roll, vertical acceleration at bow, deckwetting frequency, slamming frequency near
the bow/stern and the vertical and lateral accelerations in the center. Hong weighted them all
equally, but alternative schemes might be just as valid. Another important point here is that this
seakeeping data is for 11m waves (H
), not 3m or 30m which could also change things.
(wave) Heave Roll Pitch a

0 0.36 0.49 0.68 0.45 0.38 0.01 0.42 0.33 0.10
1 0.41 0.69 0.00 0.87 1.00 0.01 0.21 0.48 0.04
2 0.47 0.55 0.91 0.58 0.58 0.00 0.47 0.57 0.06
3 0.31 0.44 0.60 0.36 0.22 0.02 0.47 0.24 0.14
4 0.24 0.38 0.37 0.26 0.07 0.06 0.26 0.31 0.24
5 0.66 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.55 0.00 0.75 1.00 0.00
6 0.55 0.72 0.95 0.72 0.54 0.00 0.74 0.68 0.03
7 0.23 0.27 0.42 0.22 0.18 0.07 0.18 0.20 0.29
8 0.35 0.00 0.38 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.25 0.13 1.00
9 0.45 0.67 0.81 0.56 0.11 0.00 1.00 0.45 0.01
10 0.45 0.63 0.79 0.55 0.32 0.00 0.78 0.49 0.04
11 0.30 0.30 0.77 0.29 0.31 0.02 0.32 0.21 0.20
12 0.16 0.05 0.39 0.07 0.19 0.09 0.00 0.00 0.45
Table 2 (Hong). Seakeeping safety indices for a wave height H
= 11 meters (safest = 0,
least safe = 1).
Some parameters are obscured in the normalizing process by extreme figures - especially from
the 50% modified hulls. e.g. Hull 8 has more than 10 times the vertical acceleration of any other
hull, so the normalized vertical accelerations of the other hulls are negligible. (Seems odd that
Hull 8 can have the highest vertical acceleration but the lowest heave...).
A loss of a
contribution after normalizing with the excessive magnitude of Hull 8.

What about Hull 9?
Why is hull 9 consistently superior? It outperforms Noah's Ark in both stability and hull strength,
which means that it could ride bigger waves and it would be easier to build. Considering that
these are the usual objections to the construction of the Ark (couldn't handle the waves, too hard
to make), it seems surprising that the ark does not appear to be optimized on these issues alone.
The Biblical proportions are clearly adequate, Noah's Ark consistently ranks near the top in
almost any weighting scheme and never below 7th place (pure seakeeping). But the extra effort
required to build the longer hull seems surprising. There is certainly a lot less wood in hull 9. (In
reality even more exaggerated because space is lost to the extra wood). In most cases, hull 10 is
also ahead of the Biblical Ark.
Even the optimal weighting of seakeeping (3.88), strength (3.11) and roll (0.289) cannot bring
Noah's Ark out on top. From this information one would think the ark should have been a little
shorter. After all, lifeboats aren't so long and skinny.
What else was God thinking?
The waves of Noah's flood are from three possible sources - tsunamis, currents and wind.
Geological evidences can give some clues about the floodwaters, such as calculating the water
velocity required to transport large boulders observed in conglomerates. The dimensions of the
Ark itself give perhaps the best picture of the severity of the floodwaters.
Flood water clues based on the Ark specifications;
- The ship-like proportions of the Ark
- The scale of the ark
- The fact that no other ships survived. A lower limit to severity
- The assumption that the Ark did not spend too much time riding critical wavelengths.
Waves should be mostly bigger or smaller than the design wave for hogging for example.
The worst case wavelength is somewhere near the length of the vessel (worst case
pitching, hull bending). Nippon guidelines give a wave length of 140m as the design wave
in a following sea for an 18" cubit Ark. The biggest waves are not necessarily the worst.
Since the ark "moved about on the surface of the waters", wind is considered to be the most
significant factor. See Waves.
Hong's seakeeping analysis assumes a confused sea. "...the waves came from all directions with
the same probability." Genesis speaks of a wind sent to dry the earth - a global scale wind
without interference from landforms. A consistent wind of unlimited fetch would generate mature
waves, having long wavelengths and probably all in the same direction - at least from the Ark's
perspective. In such a case a longer vessel is better, provided it doesn't end up broaching (going
side-on to the waves).
The proportions God chose for Noah's Ark indicate that the waves did not come equally from all
directions, but had a dominant heading. The length of the ark is beyond the optimum for a
confused sea, which compromises roll stability. However, by keeping a course with the wind the
ark would easily outperform the shorter hulls 9 and 10 of the Hong study. Ask any mariner - ships
aren't supposed to go side-on to the waves.
The most accurate way to gauge the conditions of the flood is to look at the specifications of
Noah's Ark. If the water was very calm it could have been lower - maybe 2 decks which is easier.
If the seas were confused it should have been shorter. To some extent Noah's Ark appears to
have been designed for large wind generated waves traveling almost uni-directionally with
respect to the ark. However it still has a wide enough base to handle some weather from other
directions - and a smaller confused sea.
To ensure the Ark does not end up side-on to the waves, the stern should drag in the water and
the bow should align with the wind. The usual trick would be a sea anchor. Since the typical sea
anchor in the form of an underwater sail is likely to foul with floating debris and require attention,
the stern drag might be generated by protruding features of the hull itself (logs etc). The bow
would need the equivalent of a wind vane - perhaps a fin or raised area (forecastle).
The use of skegs at the stern to provide a rudder effect (somewhat akin to the fin of a surf board)
might also help to steer the vessel downwind. However, it will travel faster than a deliberately
dragging stern, which may (or may not) lead to the dangerous quartering condition where the ship
almost begins to "surf" with a wave. Without propulsion this is more likely to result in a capsize
risk. However, analysis is required to give an answer to this question, as well as reasonable
proportions for the protrusions designed to steer the hull.
In any case, the basic principle of aligning the ark is very simple. The vessel needs to catch the
wind at the bow and catch the water at the stern. This is almost the same as a badminton
shuttlecock. The ball has the mass and travels under the pull of gravity - like the drive of the wind
catching bow feature. The feathers drag the tail just like the drag of the stern in the water.

Shuttlecock Ark using deliberate drag at the stern.
Using skegs rather than deliberate drag at the stern, the principle is more like a feathered arrow
or dart. Here, gravity on the point of the dart represents the wind catching features of the bow,
and the feathers represent the skeg details at the stern.

In the original English translation of the Korean paper, a few transcription errors were made in
Table 3.
Here is the original table as it appeared in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994.
Table 3. Results of overturning stability
calculations (safest = 0, least safe = 1).


0 31.0 0.805 0.247
1 53.5 0.321 1.000
2 40.8 0.694 0.420
3 22.6 0.794 0.264
4 14.9 0.412 0.412
5 42.0 0.222 0.222
6 35.8 0.193 0.193
7 26.6 0.739 0.350
8 21.8 0.643 0.499
9 21.8 0.964 0.000
10 26.6 0.887 0.120
11 35.8 0.409 0.409
12 42.0 0.649 0.649
The red figures appear to have been duplicated during transcription. How do we know it was a
transcription error? Which is correct - Ar or the Safety Index?
Using the WorldWideFlood Roll Stability Calculator; (You can do this yourself, but use 10000
intervals or so)

The following data was obtained. The Ar data was normalized to give Safety Index.
WorldWideFlood data


0 30.964 0.805 0.248
1 53.471 0.320 1.000
2 40.827 0.693 0.421
3 22.620 0.793 0.266
4 14.931 0.700 0.411
5 41.987 0.821 0.223
6 35.754 0.841 0.192
7 26.565 0.740 0.350
8 21.801 0.643 0.499
9 21.801 0.965 0.000
10 26.565 0.888 0.120
11 35.754 0.701 0.409
12 41.987 0.547 0.648
The Safety index matches the Hong data with an average absolute error of 0.3% - which is about
right for three significant figures. The trustworthy data is column 4 - the Safety Index. The rest of
the paper goes on to use these Safety Indices, so is unaffected even if the error was not
typographical. Furthermore, since we have plenty of valid data including the upper and lower
bounds of Ar, we can use Hong's data exclusively to generate the original five values by
reversing the normalizing step.

The corrected table (derived using Hong's data only);
Self-Corrected Hong data for Table 3


0 31.0 0.805 0.247
1 53.5 0.321 1.000
2 40.8 0.694 0.420
3 22.6 0.794 0.264
4 14.9 0.699 0.412
5 42.0 0.821 0.222
6 35.8 0.840 0.193
7 26.6 0.739 0.350
8 21.8 0.643 0.499
9 21.8 0.964 0.000
10 26.6 0.887 0.120
11 35.8 0.701 0.409
12 42.0 0.547 0.649
The average absolute error between the self-corrected Ar and the Stability Calculator Ar is 0.1%
Safety Investigation for Dummies Home Menu
An explanation of the AiG paper; "Safety of Noah's Ark in a Seaway"
Summary of Main Points:
- The proportions and size of the ark are extremely seaworthy.
- The ark could handle 47.5m waves before roll becomes critical.
- Timber construction using 30cm hull and 50x50cm frame is adequate for 30m waves.
- The ark is 13 times as stable as the ABS rules require - (for a passenger vessel).
The ark was assessed by comparing it with 12 different hull proportions, all with the same volume. The
length, breadth and depth were varied by 20% and 50% as shown below. The original ark (No 0) had
the best overall rating in terms of stability, comfort and strength. In other words, the Biblical dimensions
are close to optimal.
L B D Hull front and side views Description
135 22.5 13.5

135 15 20.3
Unstable -
135 18.8 16.2 Less stable
135 27 11.25
Weaker and
135 33.8 9
V. Weak & low
90 22.5 20.3 Hardest ride
112.5 22.5 16.2 2nd worst ride
162 22.5 11.3 3rd weakest
202.5 22.5 9 Weakest
90 33.8 13.5 Hard ride
112.5 27 13.5 Hard ride
162 18.8 13.5
Weaker & less
202.5 15 13.5
2nd weakest,
unstable, nice
The focus is on these three parameters:
Structural safety = will it break in half?
Overturning stability = will it capsize?
Sea-keeping quality = is the ride too rough?
In a general sense, you can improve these parameters by;
Structure: Stronger structure if ark is shorter and taller (e.g. Hull 5,6)
Stability: More stable if ark is wider (e.g. Hull 9)
Ride: More gentle if ark is longer and taller. (e.g. Hull 12)
You can see that the 3 dimensions - length, breadth and depth - are competing against each other. It is
impossible to have the best of each parameter in a single design, but the ark gives the best balance of
overall performance.
Note: A modern ship is closer to Hull 11. The ride is smoother and a steel hull withstands the extra
length. Unlike the ark, ships are also designed to move through the water, so a more slender hull is

The Stability Misconception. (Don't get caught saying this...)
"The Ark is the most stable design"
Oops, not true. The Hong study ranks Noah's Ark 5th out of 13 in stability. You can calculate this
Designed for Wind Generated Waves?
Noah's Ark crests
a wave in high
seas. (2500BC)
The rain has
stopped and the
sun is shining - a
rare photo
opportunity in the 5
month voyage. The
timber darkened by
the thick resinous
coating and months
at sea, the ark rides
headlong with a
windstorm headed
to the right of the
Hogging and
slamming loads are
a good test for the
timber hull. Wind
generated waves
are quite different
to the gentle
passing of a deep
sea tsunami.
The serious winds
came towards the
end of the voyage.
(Genesis 8:1)
Image Tim Lovett

A long hull
The proportions of Noah's Ark are explicitly stated in Genesis 6:15;
300 x 50 x 30 cubits. The vessel is six times as long as it is wide, an
L/B ratio of 6.
A typical modern ship might have L/B of 6 to 8, and up to 10 for a narrow, high speed
vessel. But these are designed to travel forwards, whereas Noah's Ark simply had to
float, so one would think.
"I never realized it was so long"
Popular depictions of the ark often
show a length to breadth ratio less
than half the Biblical Ark. The
depiction in the Sistine Chapel looks
extreme but is probably the end
view. More often artists show an L/B
ratio of around three or four.

Shorter is Easier to Build
If God was planning to intervene during the voyage and miraculously suspend the Ark
from the full effect of the waves, then why did he make Noah do extra work building a
long hull? (See Miracles and Noah's Ark) The shape with the least amount of wood for the
same volume is a cube. On top of this, as the hull gets longer it needs to be built extra
strong to withstand bending forces. All this points strongly to a preference for a shorter
Hong's number nine hull
Hong's seakeeping analysis assumes a confused sea. "...the waves came from all
directions with the same probability."
Their results show that Noah's Ark does not have unbeatable proportions for a random
sea. In fact, according to their own numbers, there is no weighting scheme that can put
Noah's Ark (#0) ahead of hull#9, and in most cases hull#10 also. In terms of roll
stability, it is hull#9 that deserves the title as "the most stable design". See Comments
on the Hong Paper
Why is hull 9 consistently superior? It outperforms Noah's Ark in both stability and hull
strength, which means that it could ride bigger waves and it would be easier to build.
Considering that these are the usual objections to the construction of the Ark (couldn't
handle the waves, too hard to make), it seems surprising that the ark does not appear to
be optimized on these issues alone.
It is true that Biblical proportions are clearly adequate, Noah's Ark consistently ranks
near the top in almost any weighting scheme and never below 7th place (pure
seakeeping). But the extra effort required to build the longer hull seems surprising. There
is certainly a lot less wood in hull 9. (In reality even more exaggerated because space is
lost to the extra wood). In most weighting schemes hull 10 is also ahead of the Biblical
Even the optimal weighting of seakeeping (3.88), strength (3.11) and roll (0.289) cannot
bring Noah's Ark out on top. From this information one would think the ark should have
been a little shorter. After all, lifeboats aren't so long and narrow.

All with the same ceiling height, the shorter hulls are better than Noah's Ark in a random sea,
according to the Hong study.
Hull 9 doesn't look like a boat. Certainly less like a boat than Noah's Ark (Hull 0). But a
random sea is more like a life-raft situation, so if the flood waves were from every
direction at the peak (design) state, then Noah's Ark should have been shorter. But it
wasn't, why?
Why so long?
A longer vessel has superior performance if it stays perpendicular to the waves, riding
over or cutting through the crests rather than turning side-on. This gives a better ride,
less pitching and easier motions than the shorter hulls. There is a problem however,
waves will naturally try to turn long things sideways (broadside to the waves). This is
called broaching and is caused by the turning effect of the waves (wave yaw).

Broadside to the waves
In a beam sea the Hong study ranks Noah's Ark down in fifth place of the 13 hulls (roll
stability). To avoid being turned sideways (broaching), the Ark would need to be
controlled. Wind is probably the only passive method of steering the vessel. In Genesis
8:1 a wind that appears to be of global scale is implicated in the water receding stage of
the flood. Expecting the Ark to be on high ground for the most devastating early tsunami
waves, the worst case sea state would likely be well developed regular waves with
consistent wind (due to unlimited fetch and global scale wind).
i. Since Noah's Ark has a L/B ratio of six, it must have been controllable.
ii. With limited manpower for navigation, passive directional control would
be needed.
iii. The logical passive method is to use wind to steer the vessel in the
waves. This requires a relatively regular sea, not a pure confused sea.
iv. Noah's Ark has excellent proportions for this mode of operation, a longer
hull riding more comfortably through the waves.
However, Noah's Ark is not a dedicated narrow vessel either. There is enough width and a
suitable B/D ratio to handle some mixed wave directions, and even a beam sea situation
at times. It does seem to point in a general sense to a sea dominated by a substantial
wind, like the wind in Genesis 8:1.
What if the waves were small anyway?
Genesis 6:15 runs counter to this idea. If the waves had been trivial then the ark could
have been built more quickly and easily if it were closer to a cube (maximum volume to
surface area ratio). With a 3 deck specification, this points to hull#9 or hull#10. A long
hull is more difficult to build since it must handle bending loads as it rides the waves. A
shorter hull (of the same volume) would use less wood and less labor. The long hull is
also more difficult for launching and beaching loads. The Biblical Ark was long and
relatively tall, an overkill for a trivial sea that never gave it a workout.
Besides, there should have been other boats around, so if the waves never whipped up a
bit why didn't some fishermen survive? (Unless of course they were caught in the initial
What about tsunamis?
Early activity as the sea began to cover the land may have been far too severe for the
Ark. However, if the Ark was constructed higher up, it would be launched near the climax
of the floodwaters, and in deep water tsunamis are not likely be a threat. In fact ships
cannot detect a passing tsunami (tidal wave) in deep water. The devastating Asian
tsunami in December 2004 was measured by satellite to be only 600mm (2 ft) high in the
deep ocean. Considering its wavelength measured in kilometers, this wave would pass
under a ship undetected. For more information see Waves.
"Design" waves
A ship must be built to handle the worst weather it might encounter. In the several
months Noah's Ark was at sea there may have been calm periods and some heavy
weather. Calm periods we ignore, it is the rough seas that the Ark must be built for. So
pictures of waves and talk of slamming loads and bending moments does not imply that
the passengers spent the entire time holding onto their cages for dear life. There's a good
chance they had to bed down some of the time though, which is the advantage of
keeping the animals in "nests" rather than big open areas.
The proportions of the Ark indicate the vessel was probably designed for waves
generated in the Genesis 8:1 wind. It would have missed the early onslaught by being
launched from high ground, and in deep water the tsunami risk is low. The added
difficulty of building a long hull indicates that the waves were not trivial, so the ark
should be treated as a seagoing ship. An important design criteria in this line of reasoning
is to ensure passive broach avoidance - utilizing the wind.

1. Ship Design for efficiency and economy: 2nd Ed: H Schneekluth, Butterworth
Heinemann Oxford 1998
Proportions of a Real Vessel
The Bible's description of Noah's Ark stands out as a realistic vessel. The
dimensions must have been written down and preserved, in contrast to the
cube-shaped "Ark" in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Genesis 6:15 can tell us quite a
lot about the accuracy and validity of this part of the Bible.

Stability, Comfort and Strength.
Somebody knew what they were doing when they came up with the dimensions of Noah's
Ark. Had the Ark been taller it could become unstable, longer and it could break, either
wider or shorter and it could become dangerously uncomfortable.
In the interactive Flash graphic below, drag the gray ball to alter the outer dimensions of the Ark.
This graphic is based on the range of hull forms tested at the KRISO ship research center in Korea
They analyzed the Biblical proportions and found Noah's Ark to strike a balance between the
conflicting requirements for stability, comfort and strength.

Evolutionist Heads Ark Study.

The Korean tests showed that Noah's Ark had among the best proportions possible. The
study was headed by Dr S W Hong, who was principal research scientist at KRISO at the
time. He listed the Noah's Ark study alongside other research papers on the company
website until as recently as 2006

Koreans Study Proportions of
Noah's Ark

A Creationist group in Korea (KACR)
approached a world class ship
research center (KRISO) to analyze
the Biblical Ark.
Starting with the proportions given in
the Bible, the KRISO team
set about
to compare it with 12 alternative "Arks"
with different proportions.
By combining the requirements for
stability (capsize resistance), comfort
(seakindliness) and strength (hull
stress), they found that is was not
possible to make much improvement
on the Biblical Ark. They assumed a
random sea, where "the waves came
from all directions with the same
Biblical proportions under scrutiny at
KRISO in 1992 lImage KACR

The study is rather clinical. For one thing, while Noah's Ark is clearly one of the top
performers, it was not manipulated
to become the outright winner in the final ranking.
However, the study certainly answers any skeptic who would claim Noah's Ark is not a
feasible wooden vessel.
Dr Hong has since been promoted to director general of MOERI - formerly KRISO.

As the director general of a world class ship research center, Dr Hong has the privilege of
expressing his thoughts on the MOERI website (Current Oct 2006). His welcome letter
calls attention to the world's oceans and how important they are. To Dr Hong they must
be important, because he begins the concluding paragraph with telltale evolutionary
language; "Sea is the origin of life...".

Safety Investigation of Noah's Ark in a Seaway could be viewed as an admission by
antagonistic witnesses that Noah's Ark is up to the task. The fundamental "first
principles" approach of the study makes an excellent foundation for further work.

Dr Seon Won Hong

Dr Hong was principal research scientist when he headed up the Noah's Ark
investigation. In May 2005 Dr. Hong was appointed director general of MOERI
(formerly KRISO). Dr Hong earned BS degree in naval architecture from Seoul
National University and PhD degree in applied mechanics from University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Image KORDI/MOERI 2006
1. The team of nine research scientists were all on staff at Korea Research Institute of
Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) in Daejeon, Korea. Undertaken in 1992, the results
were published in Korean the following year. The paper was translated to English and
published Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994. See Safety
Investigation of Noah's Ark in a Seaway. Return to text
2. When this list was updated during 2006, no papers earlier than 2000 were listed.
Return to text
3. Despite the popular belief that science is totally objective, even the most "cut-and-dry"
analysis may require some assumptions to be made. For example, in the comparative
analysis of Noah's Ark, the choice center of gravity and draft is somewhat flexible (within
constraints of what would be reasonable for that type of cargo). Since this study
compared the relative performance of each hull, these "flexible" assumptions tend to
cancel each other out. Perhaps the only place where Noah's Ark could be artificially
promoted is in the choice of weighting factors for the combined
stability/seakeeping/strength index. However, the outcome is not particularly sensitive to
major changes to these weights. See Comments on the paper. Return to text

Round or square, pointed ends or not?
The Bible gives little away regarding the shape of Noah's Ark.
Mainstream creationists (if such a term can be coined) depict the ark as boxlike, with slight
rounding of bottom (bilge) and ends (bow and stern). There have been many design proposed
over the years, and other opinions today.
WWF is currently researching the effect that hull shape could have on wave loads, seakeeping
and structural design, especially with regard to bow and stern detailing.

Get the
size right
Ark is a
sly many
seem to
have lost
Bibles at
the critical
has been
unable to
A Rounded Ark

In most illustrations (before YEC materials got around), Noah's Ark was depicted as very curved -
like small boats tend to be. The reason this works for a small boat is that the hull curvature acts
like the wall of a pressure vessel, so very little internal stiffening is required. In fact a small rowing
boat can have almost none. Standard timber construction of keel, ribs and planking is suitable for
ships up to hundreds of tonnes. So it's perfectly adequate for the dwarf arks presented in your
average illustrated children's bible, or possibly even the more 'adult' one shown. This ark is
around 1:3 scale, which represents a cubit of only 6 inches (150mm), the forearm length of a
The rounded hull design is a logical choice for an 18th century artist. In fact this particular design,
with a "house-like" structure serving as the upper deck enclosure is widespread among illustrated
Bibles and Noah stories. It appears an original illustration was copied by many later artists. It's a
pity they seemed to copy the wrong proportions also - the ark is invariably well short of the 10:1
length to depth ratio. It's in the Book!
There are problems with the open deck and 'house-like' superstructure. Hull strength is
compromised since the section modulus is reduced, upper deck space approx halved, green seas
(actual waves, not just spray) would be a threat, and Biblical references to Noah using a window
seem to contradict the whole idea (he should have released the dove from the open deck). The
depictions by Kircher in the 1600's make more sense of the upper deck in terms of structure and
animal housing, but this pure block-shape
would be less than ideal in a big sea. Kircher may
have been consulting the Vulgate, and reading "Arca" which means box or chest, although he
was an accomplished historian and Egyptologist.
A Box Shaped Ark

The scale
is not too
bad but
why it is so
tall? It is
to be 50
cubits wide
by 30
cubits high,
not the
other way
box shape
is not so
in the
- Most big ships have a rectangular cross-section with the addition of a simple radius at the
bottom corner (Bilge radius). The reason this works on a large vessel is that internal
decks and bulkheads prevent the hull walls from collapsing, plus - better cargo storage
capacity. It is also easier to make flat and square things than complex curves. Hence the
rectangular ark cross-section is structurally acceptable when internal decks and
bulkheads are presumed. Virtually all cargo ships today are relatively rectangular in
cross-section amidships, with a flat bottom. This makes it much easier to dry dock and
keeps the vessel upright.
- Some have presumed a block shape because the dimensions given in Genesis are
length, width & height. By itself not a very convincing reason, but then you have to agree
it is the simplest interpretation possible. However, ship are specified this way without ever
implying a block shaped hull.
- Another argument is that the ark was not a transport ship but a barge. While minimizing
drag may have been a low priority compared to a transport ship, it is not necessarily
better off with blunt ends. Such barges are more often restricted to the relatively flat
waters of rivers and harbors, but an ocean-going barge would prefer bow and stern
detailing to improve its sea-keeping performance.
- The word "ark" (Hebrew tabhah, Strongs 8392 Perhaps of foreign derivation.; a box:-ark.)
is the same word used for the thing that baby Moses was sent floating down the Nile. The
word does not appear elsewhere, so it has nothing to do with the 10 commandments box
as indicated by English translations. But if the boxlike connotation is really there, then the
reed basket of baby Moses is a rather odd shape. The same applies to the Greek word
Kibotos selected by Jewish Rabbis in their Greek translation - it is used exclusively for
Noah and baby Moses. In Dec 2004, WWF addressed the question of Biblical hints on
the shape of Noah's Ark. The conclusion? No clues other than the stated dimensions.
See Does Ark mean Box?
- And finally there is the influence of alleged eyewitness accounts. Perhaps the most
influential is the account of George Hagopian
recorded around 1970 where he
described visiting the ark in 1908 and 1910 as a young boy. He described the ark as very
large and rectangular. Drawings were made on the basis of his description, and George
approved this final image http://www.noahsarksearch.com/LeeElfred/09.JPG. In the
absence of alternatives, this image became the default ark for subsequent creationist
literature, or strongly influenced both artists and scientists. (See image below) Another
well known account is that told by Ed Davis. A World War II US serviceman stationed in
the Middle East, who befriended the local (Muslims) and was taken on a trek to view the
ark on a mountainside. However, what he saw was reportedly in two pieces and covered
in rubble and snow, so he may not have seen the bow and stern anyway. There are
issues regarding his distance and access to Mt Ararat at that time (1043

The ark as
illustrated in the
1993 Korean
research paper.
"Little is known
about the shape
and form of the
Arks hull.
explorers have
each claimed
that they have
discovered the
remains of the
Ark at some
sites on Mt.
Ararat. Based
on their
arguments and
references, we
estimated the
form of the
Arks hull as
that of a barge-
type ship."
This image
appears to be
based on the
paintings by
Elfed Lee which
were approved
by George
Ark Design Factors
The required hull shape is dictated by the wave and wind conditions during the flood. In heavy
seas, the ark must avoid broaching - turning side-on to the waves. A vessel of 150m is not so
large that a wave (or sequence of waves) could not capsize it. Navigational or direction keeping
aids like sails and rudder should not be ruled out, especially since the ark "moved around on the
surface". One thing we can say, if the waves were larger than 6m or so, the design starts to get a
little serious.

1. The account of George Hagopian (1898 -1972). The Ark on Ararat Tim La Haye, John Morris.
Creation Life Publishers 1976, p70, point 4 "The Ark was very long and rectangular. Parts of the
bottom were exposed and he could see that it was flat. The roof was nearly flat, except for a row
of windows, 50 or more, estimated size 18 x 30 inches, running front to back covered by an
overhanging roof. The front was also flat. The sides tipped out a little from bottom to top." Return
to text
2. The pure block-shape. The best term is "cuboid". Almost every other term has a negative
connotation or implies some non-geometric information. For example, "box" is easily confused
with the Latin derived "ark", linking somewhat dubiously to the Ark of the Covenant. See Does Ark
mean Box? There has been some use of the term "barge" or "barge-shaped", and while ocean
going barges are less streamlined than ships they are certainly not cuboid. Return to text
Exploring biblical clues about the shape of Noah's Ark
"Ark" comes from the Latin word arca which means box or chest. In the trail
from Greek to Latin to English we find Noah's Ark and the Ark of the
Covenant sharing the same term.
In Genesis, the Hebrew term is tebah, which is used in only one other place - the basket of
baby Moses.
tebah Hebrew
The Masoretic Hebrew text describes Noah's ark using the term tebah {taw-bah} or tbh.

It is not easy to establish the meaning of tebah because it appears in only two places -
Noah's Ark and the reed basket of baby Moses.[2] Such disparate objects (a colossal ship
and a tiny baby basket) have kept many scholars guessing. Obviously it can't mean
either "ship" or "basket" specifically.
On the basis of this association there might be a number of meanings - anything from
'boat' to 'life saver'. It does not refer to the Ark of the Covenant.

tebah tebah
Image Animman Studios (13)
tebah could mean a boat, something pitch coated, a certain material, a life preserver, or
a certain shape.
tebah cannot be restricted to a wooden object, a reed object, or have anything to do
with size.
1. Boat or Ship: Hebrew has another word for ship - 'oniyah {on-ee-yaw'}. In 35 of 36
occurrences, KJV renders this as "ship" - e.g. Jonah's escape ship. If tebah means boat or ship then
there is no obvious reason for this word to fade into obscurity. This word is not a good choice for a
basket small enough to be carried, or fetched from the river by a maid. There is a word that might fit
both objects; k@liy {kel-ee'}, [11] "vessel" (can mean a ship, a container, or a thing), which is very
similar to the English word "vessel" (can mean a ship or a container). This word is widely used but not
very descriptive, it simply stands for something that has been made. Evidently, tebah means something
other than ship, vessel or container. Why would Moses employ a unique and probably archaic term (in
his day) if all he wanted to say was ship or vessel?
2. Pitch coating: Both the ship and the basket were pitch coated. Moses called his mother's reed basket a
tebah before she coated it (Ex 2:3), which is a minor issue. Linguistically, this option has the same
problems as the first point above (boat or ship), there is no good reason to use an archaic term and no
logic behind the disappearance of tebah in subsequent writings. These points alone are probably
insufficient to disqualify the "pitch coating" interpretation, but the context certainly should; Gen 6:14.
"Make a pitch coated thing from gopher wood and coat it with pitch..." The tautology becomes even
more pronounced if gopher also refers to pitch. [3]
3. A certain material: The Hebrew clearly states Noah's Ark is made of wood ets {ates} which
usually means trees or logs. Moses basket was reeds gome' {go'-meh} which always means
reeds, bulrushes, papyrus. Hebrew also has a good word for basket, cal which Moses used
whenever he talked about bread baskets and the like (14 times). So they can't be the same material.
(4) As with the previous options, this interpretation cannot explain why an archaic term was employed.
4. A life saver: The purpose of each vessel was to preserve life. This definition is perhaps the most robust
since there are no subsequent parallels that involve life preserving objects.
5. A particular shape: The proportions of Noah's ark (6:1:0.6) would be very unlikely for a basket
chosen to float a baby. The most stable basket would be round, (i.e. Length = Breadth) which is also
the most natural shape for a strong reed basket. This doubtful correlation is further compounded by the
association (through Greek) between Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant - which was almost
certainly boxlike. (See kibotos below). Since the proportions are likely dissimilar, the meaning of
"shape" is limited to something like a rounded or boxlike forms. This immediately presents a conflict
between the roundedness of a reed basket (via tebah) and the boxiness of the Ark of the Covenant (via
kibotos). If one were to take this line of reasoning, the rounded shape should win the contest since the
Hebrew is considered more reliable than its later Greek translation. The LXX authors define it as simply
a basket.

In all probability, Jochebed grabbed a rounded coil formed basket,
not a box-shaped tub. [2]
The Shape of an Old Basket.
Egyptian basket weaving was very advanced from the
earliest records. They used coiled, plaited or woven
techniques and a variety of materials and shapes.
Coiled basketry dominates the collections of surviving
tomb items and ancient drawings.
"Oval and circular forms were particularly common,
some having matching lids. Smooth, rounded lines
and graceful reinforcement ribs can be seen in many
surviving examples of ancient Egyptian coiled


An Egyptian word?
It has been suggested that tebah is a foreign word, or at least of foreign derivation. One
alleged link is to the Egyptian word dbt (coffin). (5) Perhaps Jochebed could be portrayed
in a melancholy scene as she prepares a coffin for her baby, but the posting of Miriam to
keep watch over his brother suggests otherwise. Of course, if tebah actually means
"coffin", then this would take on a whole new meaning for the Biblical skeptic - "Noah's
Alternatively, since the Egyptians were consumed with the afterlife, perhaps a coffin did
not mean "death" so much as "entry into the afterlife". Noah's Ark was effectively a
doorway from one world to another. Had the original name for the ark been tebah (tbh),
it is quite logical that the Egyptians should use the same term for their own (misguided)
form of transport into the netherworld - the coffin.
This poses an interesting scenario. Assume for a moment that prior to the Babel incident
everyone used the same word for king Noah's boat - tbh. The dispersion occurs and
Egyptian settlement is established. In their focus on the afterlife the Egyptians begin to
equate a coffin with the legendary ark, borrowing the old pre-Babel term tbh. By the time
Moses is on the scene his mother's basket also fits the description tebah, the word Moses
also selected for the original ark. The "box" connotation is not strongly supported
because Moses employs a completely different word for the Ark of the Covenant. (arown),
and for the coffin of Gen 50:26. This word is still in use when the second book of Kings is
authored (2 Kings 12:9), where it simply means "chest".
Taking this a step further, perhaps tbh implies the "preservation of life." This appears to
be the motive behind Egyptian mummification, permanence of rock tombs and the
extraordinary efforts to make a granite sarcophagus. Noah's Ark might then be called
Noah's Lifeboat.
Assuming tbh to mean "life saver" and taking it as the original word for Noah's Ark, we
might trace it right through to Moses.

The flood event
Vessel as tbh or
Babel dispersion
Flood story goes
with them
Egypt: coffin
as tbh
Baby Moses
basket tbh
has same role.
Moses restricts
tbh to Noah's
ship and
If the word is the equivalent of "life saver" then Gen 6:14 would read something like this;
"Make for yourself a life saver out of gopher wood, coat it with pitch inside and out..."
Jochebed's basket account would read; Ex 2:3 "...she took a life saver of bullrushes and
coated it with tar and pitch..."
Finally, the Ark of the Covenant would not suit this term, which is in agreement with
Moses' selection of an alternative.
...or not an Egyptian word?
The enduring (14) and often cited 1972 article by Chayim Cohen (6) highlights problems
with alleged Egyptian sources for the Biblical term tbh. (7) None of the Egyptian
candidate words have anything to do with boats, and no solution is apparent for a word
that can describe both colossal ships and baby baskets. While admitting the Hebrew tbh
remains unsolved philologically, Cohen concludes;
"The author of the story of Moses' birth might likewise have called the receptacle into
which Moses was placed by the same name that was given to the biblical ark in the
Hebrew flood story, because of some protective quality of divine origin which the latter
possessed and to which the author of the story of Moses' birth wished to allude."
Cohen's suggestion could be used to support the above "life saver" idea if the Egyptian
"coffin" is interpreted as suggesting a protective quality.

kibotos Greek
The Septuagint (LXX) uses the Greek word kibotos to describe Noah's Ark.

The same Greek word is also used to describe the Ark of the Covenant, but not
Jochebed's basket.

Image Animman Studios [13]
qibin [12]
kibotos means a chest or coffin, but not Jochebed's basket..
This is where is gets interesting. The Greek word used for Moses' basket is now unrelated
to Noah's Ark.

This means kibotos is almost certainly incapable of spanning such a broad
meaning as the original word tbh . In the Bible itself, the Ark of the Covenant is
arown, with a few instances that refer to "chest" and a single reference to a 'coffin".
The Septuagint (Greek) text is generally considered inferior to the Masoretic (Hebrew)
manuscript when there is a point of contention. A famous example is the Apocrypha,
which was part of the Septuagint but was later dropped by the Jewish rabbis and the
majority of Christians today. So the LXX word for Noah's ark (kibotos) is in doubt since
the Masoretic and the Septuagint cannot agree on it's scope of meaning. One says Noah's
Ark is like a wooden box, the other like a reed basket. (12) (qibin)
Did Jesus ever say kibotos?
The familiarity of NT writers with the LXX means that virtually all Greek references to
Noah's Ark could be derived from the one source - the Septuagint. NT references to Noah
use kibotos where the ark is mentioned. For example, the writers of Hebrews 11:7 and 1
Peter 3:20 used kibotos.
Hbr 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with
fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the
world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

1Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God
waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is,
eight souls were saved by water.

It is generally believed Jesus preached in Aramaic (8), so He would have used the same
Hebrew word tbh. The words of Jesus as recorded in Greek in Matt 24:38 and Luke 17:27
once again employ the same word as the LXX.
Mat 24:38 ...they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the
day that Noe entered into the ark,
Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage,
until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
ark arca Latin
The Latin term arca means "chest", which has become the English term ark used to
describe Noah's boat as well as the box housing the Ten Commandments. [Middle
English, from Old English arc, from Germanic *arca, from Latin arca, chest.]
The Hebrew and Greek scriptures were translated into Latin by Jerome between 382 and
405 AD. (9) This is quite a long time after the Septuagint (10) had made its mark,
particularly on the early Christian church. There is a good chance the Latin version simply
employed the Greek interpretation on this difficult Hebrew word. Certainly arca is used in
exactly the same context as kibotos, which is a good clue. Both disregarded the original
tbh for Jochebed's basket and used a completely different word instead.
There are only two possibilities - either there was no Greek word available to match
Moses' use of the Hebrew tbh, or they simply ignored tbh here because it didn't match
their idea of a reed basket. In either case, kibotos cannot be trusted to convey more
speculative information (such as inference on shape) when it is clearly incapable of
matching the Hebrew tbh in one of only two known contexts. As a substitute for tbh then,
kibotos is in trouble from the start.

What if tbh really does mean

A wooden chest is typically a
flat sided box, so words like
kibotos and arca could create
this impression simply by
Had tbh meant chest in Moses
day, one would expect him to
have used it for the Ark of the
Box or chest is a strange name
to give a reed basket when
there are 3 other Hebrew terms
for basket.
Even if tbh means box, this
does not dictate rectangular
sides. The sides of a small
chest are slabs of wood, but at
the scale of Noah's Ark the box
shape is no longer a significant
A box shaped Egyptian coffin.


It is tempting to challenge the Septuagint against the Masoretic on the interpretation of
tbh, and draw conclusions about the likely meaning of the word. In a preliminary
investigation it appears the most robust interpretation would not be a descriptive term
(like boat) but a functional one (such as "life preserver" or "rescuer"). This would also
offer a convenient typology with Jesus Christ (tebah = savior)
However the question to be addressed is whether there is any clue about the shape of
Noah's Ark given in the Bible text. With the Masoretic using the same word for a rounded
reed basket, and the Septuagint having difficulty even finding a Greek substitute, it
seems the answer is no. In any case, the intractable quasi-Hebrew term tbh might be
even be devoid of any shape connotation in the first place.
So does Ark mean box? Yes, but tbh certainly does not. Therefore the following logic does
not apply; Ark means box, therefore it must have been shaped like a river barge (where,
as is often assumed, barges are supposedly bluff bowed. This is certainly not the case for
a seagoing barge.). Likewise, asserting that the three dimensions (300 x 50 x 30)
indicate a rectangular prism is unjustifiable. Ships are regularly defined this way without
ever implying a perfect box or block.
While a block shaped hull is certainly a simple interpretation, scripture does not demand
it. It appears the Bible does not provide any real clue about the shape of Noah's Ark
beyond the stated proportions.
Without genuine linguistic support the block shape theory is in trouble.

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References and Notes
1."Ark" in reference to Noah's Ark. Strong's 8392. tebah {tay-baw} ; perhaps of
foreign derivation.; a box: - ark. (Strong's Concordance)
Biblical references (Noah's Ark): Gen 6:14,15,16,18,19. 7:1,7,9,13,15,17,18,23
8:1,4,6,9,10,13,16,19 9:10,18. (Jochebed's Basket) Ex 2:3, 5 Return to text
2. The basket of baby Moses (Ex 2:3, 5). Jochebed was Moses' mother, her husband
Amram (who was actually her nephew) lived to 137. Jochebed bore the famous trio of
Moses, Aaron (Ex 6:20) and Miriam (Ex 15:20). Jochebed "got" or "took" the basket
rather than "made" it, which makes it reasonable to assume the basket was of ordinary
design. (i.e. similar shape to the most common baskets in Egypt at the time). Return to
3. One proposed interpretation of gopher wood is "resinous" or "pitched" wood. See
gopher wood http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/wood/gopher_wood.htm. Unlike the
linguistically void suggestion of tbh referring to pitch coating, gopher has at least a slight
(but linguistically pointless) resemblance to kopher (pitch). In the unlikely event that
tebah is another reference to pitch coating, the instruction of Genesis 6:14 collapses to
the almost meaningless phrase; "Make a pitch coated thing from pitched wood and coat it
with pitch..." Return to text
4. David Fassold `The Discovery of Noah's Ark' proposes a modified Wyatt type ark, (i.e.
based on the Turkish mound) but constructed from reeds. (Wyatt's design is in timber).
Fassold cites Thor Heyerdahl's trans-Atlantic voyage (Morocco to Barbados) in the reed-
boat Ra II (1969-70) as proof of the advantages of reed construction. On his second
attempt, Heyerdahl demonstrated that modern science had underestimated the potential
of ancient technologies (such as pre-Columbus crossings). However, it certainly did not
prove reeds are superior to timber. The 12m long Ra II was sitting rather low in the
water after the 57 day voyage. Reed vessels are really more raft-like than ship-like -
there is very little space inside the hull. How Fassold can have 3 decks on a 150m flexible
reed-boat remains a mystery. How he avoids the textual problems is also a mystery (See
note 11) Return to text
5. There is an apparent consensus among Hebrew scholarship regarding the word tebah.
For example, "Most linguists link tebah with the Egyptian dbt, chest, box, coffin. "
http://www.metrum.org/measures/length_u.htm Sounds convincing, and who would dare
to question the verdict of "most linguists"?
Others simply state "teba, a chest" Ungers Bible Dictionary 1957. Others go a step
further. "Probably from an Egyptian word meaning coffin or chest" is typical. New Concise
Bible Dictionary. Many Bible dictionaries and commentaries that say similar things,
strikingly similar in fact. Little wonder, since this is how it appears in the major Hebrew
lexicons used by many Biblical academics, such as the the BDB; (Brown Driver Briggs)
n.f. (noun feminine) ark [properly chest, box (compare New
Hebrew ); probably Egyptian loan-word from T-b-t, chest, coffin
(Brugsh, Erman
ZMG xlvl(1892),123)
); which is a preferred interpretation to the
Babylonian word Jen
ZA iv(1889),272f
, or Hal
JAs, 1888 Z(Nov-Dec), 517
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Hendrickson
Publishers, Inc. 8th printing 2004. From 1906 original.
Another academic lexicon, the KBR, says the same:
"probably egyptian loan-word from Tbt = chest, coffin."
The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Koelher,
Baumgartner and Richardson. Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.
This loan-word interpretation deserves further investigation. Since tbh appears to be of
foreign derivation, it is only natural for the scholar to scan the Middle East looking for a
likely candidate. All the more so when secularly influenced scholars take the view that the
Deluge is a modified story of some localized flood event. By default then, the
commentator will be expecting a borrowed story and borrowed words. In this situation,
appealing to a majority ruling for Bible commentary is no more valid than applying a
majority ruling for the opinions of evolutionary scientists on the age of the world.
Satisfactory or conclusive linguistic (philological and etymological) analysis of tbh does
not exist. In other words, commentators do not know what the word means or where it
comes from. Little wonder they except the nearest plausible story - the Egyptian coffin
theory put forward in 1892. It sounds plausible, at least until it is looked at more closely.
(See Ref 6 below). On the KBR interpretations (although it is almost identical to the BDB)
see comments by C. Cohen in http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/ANE/ANE-
Return to text
6. C. Cohen, "Hebrew TBH: Proposed Etymologies," The Journal of the Ancient Near
Eastern Society (JANES) 4/1 (1972), pp. 36-51 (esp. 39-41) New York, NY : Jewish
Theological Seminary. The journal was at that time called The Journal of the Ancient Near
Eastern Society of Columbia University. Publisher New York, Columbia University, Ancient
Near Eastern Society.)
Return to text
7. Note 14 of Ref 6 above makes the following points;
The idea of an Egyptian origin for tbh seems to have been formulated by H.
Brugsch in Hieroglyphisch-Demotisches Worterbuch, I-VII (Leipzig, 1867-
1882). A. Erman accepted this in his fundamental study "Das Verhaltnis des
Aegyptischen zu den Semitischen Sprachen," ZDMG (1892), 123. It has been
accepted by biblical scholars ever since. However, the equation is
conspicuously absent in later studies (also including Erman's authorship), and
not even mentioned in T. O. Lambdin's "Egyptian Loan Words in the Old
Testament". JAOS 73 (1953), 145-155.

Return to text
8. Aramaic: Genesis 6:14 - ash lk tbt atsy-gpr qnym tash at-htbh vkprt ath mbyt
vmchvts bkpr:
Make [ash] thee an ark [tbh] of gopher [gpr] wood [ats]; rooms [qnym] shalt thou make
[ash] in [at] the [h] ark [tbh], and [v] shalt pitch [kpr] it within [byt] and [v] without
[chvts] with pitch [kpr].
Aramaic is a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. It was one of the
most important and widespread languages of the ancient world, most
likely spread by trade. Some books of the Old Testament are written in
Aramaic, Jesus preached in Aramaic and early Christianity employed it -
particularly in Asia. Aramaic uses the same Hebrew term tbh.
Colliers Encyclopedia
Return to text
9. The Latin Bible, or 'Vulgate', was translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic by Jerome
between 382 and 405 AD. It was the mainstay of the Roman Catholic church for some
1500 years in spite of the Latin ignorance of the average churchgoer at the time. Return
to text
10. The Septuagint or LXX refers to the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT. This is
available online at http://septuagint-interlinear-greek-bible.com/downbook.htm in pdf
format. The Septuagint was a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament)
into Greek. The translation was probably done in Egypt for Greek-speaking Jews in the
third century BC (e.g. During the reign of Ptolemy II 285-246 BC) Traditionally it was
believed to have been done by seventy-two scholars, which is the origin of its name.
Often referred to as LXX (Roman Numerals for 70, which is approximately correct. LXXII
to be exact. Septuagint is Latin for seventy (septem [7] + ginta [decimal suffix])). The
Septuagint also contains the Apocrypha which is not found in the Hebrew text. (Or these
later additions to the Septuagint were deleted from the standard Hebrew Bible (Masoretic
Text) but continued in Christian writings as the Apocrypha.) The Septuagint was the
usual form of the Bible used by the earliest Christians. It is almost always the source of
scriptural quotations in the New Testament and is thought to be the primary version of
scripture known to Jesus and the authors of the New Testament. According to legend, the
Septuagint was made at Alexandria by seventy-two Jews in seventy-two days. A modern
notion is that the the version was made at different times by different translators
between B.C. 270 and 130. The earliest extant copy is from the 4th century AD.
Return to text
11. Isaiah 18:2. p class="scripture">"That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in
vessels of bulrushes upon the waters..."
Here the vessel is clearly a reed boat, but using the common Hebrew word k@liy {kel-
ee'} (Strong's 3627) very similar to the English "vessel", which can also mean a
made or manufactured item or article. Not a good case for Noah's Ark being a reed boat
when the wording is entirely different.
Return to text
12.Ex 2:3. According to most Septuagint references, Jochebed used a wicker basket
(qibin), but some variants use the word for a reed basket
(kalathos), which seems more reasonable. Wicker usually refers to work made of
interlaced slender branches, which means a coarse weave and requires generous radii.
This is in opposition to the KJV which calls it an "ark of bulrushes", matching the Hebrew
gome' {go'-meh} which always means reeds, bulrushes, papyrus. For example;
Ex 2:3
ctci oc ouk qouvovto outo cti kuttciv co|cv oute q qtq outou ui|iv koi k
otc_iocv ... (in Windows "Symbol" font)
Exodus 2:3 epei de ouk hdunanto auto eti kruptein elaben autw h mhthr autou qibin kai
http://spindleworks.com/septuagint/septuagint.htm See also Unbound Bible
http://unbound.biola.edu/ , Blue Letter Bible http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.html
Lexicon / Concordance for Exd 2:3. (Also qibin)
In either case, when it comes to matching a Biblical object with Noah's ark, the LXX
authors swapped a reed basket for the Ten Commandments box. Either there was no
Greek word available to match Moses' use of the Hebrew tbh, or they simply ignored tbh
here because it didn't match their idea of a reed basket. Not a sound way to come to the
conclusion that Noah's Ark should have a block coefficient of around 0.99. (i.e. almost a
pure rectangular prism)
Return to text
13. Image courtesy Eric Bouchoc/Animman Studios. This rendering was generated for
Worldwideflood in Dec 2004 using Eric's 3D model of the Ark of the Covenant. This model
previously appeared in the award winning videos by Eric Bouchoc: Solomon's Temple,
Vision Video and The Tabernacle, Antioch Interactive Inc, 2000.
Return to text
14. Prof Chaim Cohen (philologist and professor of Hebrew language at Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev, Israel) stated
"I still stand by what I wrote back then. This article has often been cited in commentaries to the
books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as elsewhere."
Person communication with Tim Lovett (email) 10 Dec 2004. Return to text
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett 2003
A tally of mass and volume after Woodmorappe 1996.
This study estimates the cargo of noah's Ark. Calculations rely substantially on the results of
Woodmorappe's book published in 1996. Some adjustments were made, and a more detailed
payload tabulated. The required volume of each class of payload was then derived from their
typical density, thereby obtaining an estimate of the remaining volume for animal housing.
1. Payload according to Hong et al 1994
2. Cargo Inventory according to Woodmorappe 1996
3. Interior space of the Ark
5. References
1. Centre of Gravity according to Hong et al 1994
The principal study regarding the performance of Noah's Ark "Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark
in a Seaway" was first published in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994; by
S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G.
Je. Ref(1).This paper revealed the dimensions of the ark were astonishingly well chosen. The
conclusions of the paper are summarized Safety Investigation for Dummies.
An 18 inch cubit was used, and a 15 cubit draft (as proposed by Collins, Morris), giving a
displacement of 21 016 tonnes. Structural studies required 4000 tonnes of wood for the hull,
leaving 17 016 tonnes for cargo.
Note that the average density of the ark is taken at 500 kg/m
, which is only slightly lighter than a
solid timber block. Since most of the cargo is lighter than this (except for water), it is very unlikely
this draft could be achieved without ballast.
2. Cargo Inventory according to Woodmorappe 1996
In 1996, investigation of Noah's Ark was enhanced with the comprehensive "NOAH'S ARK: A
Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996. This provided an opportunity to assess the
loading more closely, with approximations given for major components of the cargo inventory.
Based on generous food and water requirements for the animals, Woodmorappe (2) derived
11,000 tonnes of cargo. (Table 8 p48).
Cargo Tonnage Comments
Hull 4 000
Hong et al (1) 1994 (this should not be included
since net tonnage is being calculated)
Water 4 070 4.07 Megaliters (p20, p48)
2 500
From p19 at 20% moisture content (conservative).
Also (Table 8 p48)
Animals 411
At end of voyage after animals had grown. (Table 8
TOTAL 10 981 11 000 tonnes (Table 8, p48.)
Spare 6 000
Should be 21 000- 11 000 = 10 000 tonnes. ( hull
mass was included twice.)
Table 2a: Inventory of Contents by Mass (Woodmorappe 1996.
Table 8, p48)
It appears the hull mass has been included twice - which means Woodmorappe (2) actually had a
spare 10 000 tonnes. However, the mass of animal enclosures, access ways and services have
not been included.
The calculation of animal mass (411 tonnes) is not detailed. The data can be derived from Table
1 (p10) of Woodmorappe's book (2), using the various hints about arithmetric and geometric
means for different ranges (p13), and the substitution of juveniles in the upper two weight groups
(p16). In Table 2b below, the average mass for each group is multiplied by the number of
members of that weight range (Qty).
log gm
mass kg
tot kg Comments
1738 0.74 5.5 5.5e-3 9.56 Arith mean (p13)
4686 1.74 5.5e1 5.5e-2 258 Arith mean (p13)
3238 2.74 5.5e2 5.5-1 1 781 Arith mean (p13)
2352 3.74 5.5e3 5.5 12 936 Arith mean (p13)
1928 4.5 3.16e4 31.6 60 969 Geom mean (p13)
1188 5.5 3.16e5 316
Geom mean (p13)
516 6.5 3.16e6 50 25 800
Geom mean replaced by 50kg juvenile
106 7.5 3.16e7 200 21 200
Geom mean replaced by 200kg juvenile
tonnes. Compare Ref (2) Table 8 (111
start, 411 voyage end)
Table 2b: Total animal mass (Re-Derived from Woodmorappe. p10, Table 1)
In Table 2b there has been no substitution of juveniles in the third heaviest group (which is
generating 76% of the mass). Woodmorappe (2) calculates 111 tonnes of biomass at the start of
the voyage, which could have been achieved using juveniles in the third group.
We will assume a biomass of 400 tonnes - since this amount must be accommodated towards the
end of the voyage.
Table 2b gives an average animal mass of 492 000 / 16 000 = 31kg.
Woodmorappe (2) claims Whitcomb and Morris overstated the average animal size as "the size
of a sheep". On p13 he states the median size was 100g. Both are correct. The AVERAGE =
31kg, while the MEDIAN = 0.1kg. For this particular distribution, the few very large animals lift the
average well above the median.
Also worth noting is the significance of using juveniles for the two heaviest groups. Using the
geometric (adult) mass, the 622 heavyweights would add almost 5000 tonnes, bringing the
average up to 340kg (a factor of ten times). For the largest animals, the stocking of juveniles
appears essential.

A recalculated cargo inventory would look like this;
Cargo Tonnage Comments
water 4 070 from Woodmorappe Table 8, p48
2 500 from Woodmorappe Table 8, p48
animals 492
p10 table 1, converted to total (see Table
2c above).
TOTAL 7 062
Compare with 11000 tonnes Table 8, p48,
but without the hull mass.
Spare 10 000 17 000- 7 000 = 10 000 tonnes.
Table 2c: Cargo Tonnages re-calculated after
Woodmorappe 1996
Assuming a 4000 tonne hull, the calculation of total cargo could be either 17100 tonnes (Hong et
al (1)) or around 7000 tonnes (after Woodmorappe (2)), short of the Hong et al (1) target by
10000 tonnes.
3. Interior space of the Ark
Ark researchers are unanimous in assuming the Biblical dimensions define the external size of
the ark. Whether the dimensions could have been for the interior would be an interesting study.
Assuming Genesis defines the exterior (Gross Volume), the available interior space is reduced by
hull walls, structure etc.
The length of Noah's cubit is consistently defined in previous ark studies as 18 inches (45.72cm).
Maintaining this tradition;
Gross Volume in cubits = 300 x 50 x 30 = 450 000 cubic cubits. (I couldn't resist that one)
Gross Volume in metres = 137.16 x 22.86 x 13.716 = 43 006m
(Compare Woodmorappe 43 169
Assuming a hull wall and deck timbers of 0.3m ("Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway -
Structural Safety") the interior space is reduced by 0.3m on every side and with 2 interior decks
plus the roof.
With hull wall and decks subtracted, the interior space = ( 137 - 0.6 ) x ( 22.9 - 0.6 ) x ( 13.7 - 1.2 )
= 38 046m
(12% lost)
Structurally, Hong et al (1) suggests 0.5 x 0.5m timbers. These beams would consume more
space, but still allow some storage. This is not calculable without access to the final structural
design, but it available space is well below 38 000m
Alternatively, using the information from Hong et al (1), a total wood mass of 4000 tonnes was
required at 0.6 tonnes/m
, yielding 6667m
of timber volume.
So the available space (assuming you can use every nook and cranny) becomes;
Maximum interior volume = 43 006 - 6667 = 36 340m
(16% lost)
3.1 Loading Hong's Cargo (15 cubit draft)
Hong et al (1) calculated a displacement of 21016 tonnes assuming a draft of 15 cubits.
Excluding the 4000 tonne hull, there are 17016 tonnes available for cargo. If the the cargo
consumes 50% of the interior space, the average density must be around 1000 kg/m
, the same
density as fresh water.
This is very dense for dry food, equivalent to near perfect stacking of modern compressed hay
briquets - specific gravity as high as 1.25 (Woodmorappe (2) p98 quoting Earle 1950). Even
refined grains like modern white flour have a specific gravity of only 0.9, which is 10% lighter than
water. (I just calculated this from a packet of flour).
It seems unlikely and unnecessary (according to Woodmorappe (2)) to load the ark with the full
17016 tonnes. Hence a draft of 15 cubits may be difficult to attain.
3.2 Densities of Potential Ark Materials
Average bulk densities of various materials that might have been carried in the ark (below).
Material Bulk kg/m3 m3/tonne
Water 1 000 1.00
Alph alpha
250 4.00
Barley grain 600 1.67
Beans 500-700 1.67
Buckwheat 660 1.52
Corn grain 760 1.52
Fish, meal 590 1.69
Hay - stacked 90 11.11
Hay -
180 5.56
Hay - high
1350 0.74
Wheat flour 593 1.69
Wheat grain 780-800 1.28
Locust dried 700 1.43
Oats 432 2.31
640 (272
1.56 ( 3.68)
Rice 580 1.72
1600 dry,
2000 wet
0.63 (0.5)
Sewerage 492 2.03
Sawdust 210 4.76
Table 3a: Typical bulk densities of possible ark cargo
Comparison of the stowage factors or Specific Gravity (m3/tonne) with Principles of Naval
Architecture (Ref 3), Vol 1, Ch1, Section 8, Table16 shows that packaging reduces bulk density
by approx figures below;
Proportion of Bulk
bags / sacks 90-95%
bottles / jars 50-70%
drums 70-80%
crates 55-75%
Table 3b: Typical bulk densities of possible ark cargo
The following table lists various timber densities that might have been employed in hull and
interior construction.
Timber kg/m3
Balsa 170
Bamboo 300 - 400
Cedar, red 380
Cypress 510
Douglas Fir 530
Ebony 960 - 1120
Elm 600
Eucalypt 800 - 1010
Maple 755
Oak 590 - 930
Pine 530
Redwood 450
Spruce 450
Teak 630 - 720
Willow 420
Table 3c: Typical Densities of potential hull and interior timbers
3.3 Expanding on Woodmorappe's Cargo
Woodmorappe's calculations are conservative, yet at 7000 tonnes the ark is under-loaded.
However, there are more components to consider.
Dry food. Woodmorappe (2) derived 2500 tonnes of grain and compressed hay. He assumes
80% grain based feeds, with the remaining 20% slightly compressed hay - at double the density
of stacked hay. (SG=0.18). The density of grain is taken at 680 kg/m
(Table 5, p19) which is
quite dense. Grains vary from oats (430) to wheat (780), so a value of 680 allows for very air
space in the storage. (i.e. More like silo bulk density then bagged storage). A more realistic
assumption would be closer to SG=0.5 (500 kg/m
Hull. We will increase the wood density from SG = 0.6 (600 kg/m
) to SG = 0.8 (800 kg/m
). The
lighter timber approximates Douglas Fir, the heavier timber is more like a dense hardwood -
Eucalypt, Oak. The identity of the Biblical "Gopher wood" remains a mystery, but it could possibly
refer to a treatment process for strength or waterproofing - likely to increase the density. The
4000 tonne bare hull would now approach 5300 tonnes. Another approach is to construct the hull
with a layered base in heavy timber (e.g. Spotted gum 1010), with the rest of the construction in a
lighter and more easily worked timber. At this point we will assume an average value of 800
Animals. Providing a wide margin for animal mass, we will increase the initial 111 tonnes to 400
tonnes of flesh (closer to the final weight). However, as the animal mass increases over the
course of the flood, the mass of food decreases. Animal growth is obviously far slower than food
consumption. The final weight must be applied since this must be accommodated in the worst
case. However, there is no reason storage space could not have been converted to animal
housing during the course of the ark confinement.
Water. The 4000 tonnes of fresh water (a full year's supply) appears excessively generous. Noah
would certainly have no trouble collecting rainwater. Perhaps the ark endured periods of volcanic
dust, or dry weather. A generous supply would be six months - or 2000 tonnes of water.
Enclosures. Next we need to estimate the mass of animal enclosures. For the small animals,
most enclosures would be far heavier than the animal itself - over ten times. This would be the
case even with multiple animal housing. Large animals we would require a cage at least double
the creature's weight, assuming animals were combined where possible, and that minimal
barriers were provided within stalls, So we would expect a total enclosure mass of between 2 and
10 times the total biomass - some 800 to 4000 tonnes. We will choose the more conservative
value of 4000 tonnes, which makes provision for associated structures and partitions.
Floor-to-floor access. We will restrict the floor-to-floor ramps to either end of the ark to
maximize the structural integrity in the mid section (no large cut-outs in deck). Ventilation would
also be promoted - potentially running the length of the ark between the effective air shafts
created by the open ramp areas. These ramps would be used for transport of major loads only.
Elsewhere, human access would require no more than stepladders or narrow stairs, through
rather small (and structurally insignificant) penetrations in the decks. A reasonable ramp incline
would be around 7.5 degrees. To ascend the 4.6m floor-to-floor elevation would require a
horizontal run length of 12.5m. Applying a ramp width of 1.5m, and assuming the ramp zone has
no storage capacity, the total air volume is: 4 x 1.5 x 12.5 x (13.7-1.2) = 933m
Passageways. Taking an alley width of 1.5m (Woodmorappe (2) p16), a height of 2.5m and
assuming 3 passageways running longitudinally requires 1.5 x 2.5 x 3 x (137-0.6-(2*12.5)) =
. In addition, these corridors would require adjoining walkways. With a ceiling height of
around 4m, the upper 1.5m is used for storage. (eg water skins draining directly to animals).
These additional access routes might increase the passageway volume by 50%, to 1880m
Dimensions. Hong's derivation of gross ark volume uses rounded figures. An exact calculation
gives 43 006, or a displacement of 21 500 tonnes. This is an approximate figure depending on
the defined cubit.
GROSS ARK 21 500 0.5 43 006 100 %
Based on 0.4572m cubit and 15 cubit
draft. 500 tonnes above Hong et al (1)
Hull ( 5 333 ) 0.8 ( 6 667 ) 16 %
Wood density increased from 600 to
800 kg/m
. Volume from Hong et al
Water ( 2 000 ) 1 ( 2 000 ) 5 %
Reduced from Woodmorappe's 4070
tonne full year supply
Dry food
( 2 400 ) 0.5 ( 4 800 ) 11 %
80% grain based (Woodm p98),
density 500kg/m
(compare 680 p19)
Dry food (hay) ( 600 ) 0.18 ( 3 333 ) 8 %
20% hay based - at x2 compression
(Woodm p98)
Enclosures ( 4 000 ) 0.8 ( 5 000 ) 12 %
Timber volume ONLY - not including
animal space.
Ramps ( 200 ) 0 ( 933 ) 2 %
Four 12.5m long ramps between deck
Passages ( 200 ) 0 ( 1 880 ) 4 %
3 passageways running longwise on
each level
Animals ( 400 ) 0.022 ( 18 393 ) 43 %
Biomass Density = 400 / 18393 = 22

SPARE 6 366 NA 0 0 Spare weight, but no spare room.
Table 3c: Mass and Volume Tally of Ark Contents
In the above table each cargo group is subtracted from the gross tonnage and volume of the ark.
Animals are listed last to fit them into the remaining volume. The 18 400 cubic metres houses 400
tonnes of animals at an average density of 22kg/m
. Woodmorappe (2) cites poultry at over
and piggeries in excess of 37kg/m
(p 83). However, to arrive at a bio-heating figure of a
mere 5.58kg/m
Woodmorappe (2) was restricting heat producing biomass (241 tonnes p 39) and
spread them over the entire gross volume (43,200m
, p 83).

5. References
1. "Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway" first published in Creation Ex Nihilo
Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994; by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S.
Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je.
2. "NOAH'S ARK: A Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996.
3. "Principles of naval Architecture" Vol 1, Chapter 1 Section 8; SNAME 1988
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett 2003
Draft and centre of gravity derived from a revised payload.
In this study, the vertical centre of mass (centroid) is derived from WWF study "Cargo Estimate
for Noah's Ark". Calculations follow the ideas of a previous paper (Hong et al (1)) with some
modifications, and a more detailed payload is tabulated.
As it turns out, the weight of cargo is far too low to obtain a draft similar to previous studies (15
cubits). Space (interior volume) is the driving factor since most of the contents are relatively
The centre of gravity turned out to be higher than earlier studies, so roll stability would be
reduced. The comfort of its occupants would improve however - the longer roll period providing
more gentle accelerations. This is an important factor for the housing of live animals.
1. Centre of Gravity according to Hong et al 1994
2. Centre of gravity based on Woodmorappe's Data
3. References
1. Centre of Gravity according to Hong et al 1994
The principal study regarding the performance of Noah's Ark "Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark
in a Seaway" was first published in Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994; by
S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G.
Je. Ref(1).This paper revealed the dimensions of the ark were astonishingly well chosen. The
conclusions of the paper are summarized Safety Investigation for Dummies.
An 18 inch cubit was used, and a 15 cubit draft (as proposed by Collins, Morris), giving a
displacement of 21 016 tonnes. Structural studies required 4000 tonnes of wood for the hull,
leaving 17 016 tonnes for cargo.
Hong et al (1) dealt with the Center of Gravity, briefly deriving a KG value (vertical distance from
keel to centre of gravity) of D/3. All subsequent calculations assumed this value - the mass
centered one third up from the keel.

The calculation of KG is straightforward, so it was left out of the paper. However, the derivation is
given in detail below.
Hong et al (1) took each floor as equally dividing the 13.5m height, and the hull centroid (center of
mass) conservatively at half the depth (13.5 / 2), the centroid is calculated in detail below. It
appears the cargo centroid was located at the floor level itself, rather than some distance above
the floor - which is more realistic.
A B C = B D=17016 / 3 E = C x D
Floor Floor level
Mass Arm
m above
m above keel tonnes tonne . m
1 0 0 5672 0
2 4.5 4.5 5672 25524
3 9 9 5672 51048
Hull NA 6.75 4000 27000
Total NA NA 21016 103572
Table 1a: KG
for 1:1:1 floor loading
So the vertical centre of gravity KG
= 103572 / 21016 = 4.928m. This agrees with Hong et al (1)
A B C = B D=17016 / 3 E = C x D
Floor Floor level
Mass Arm
m above
m above keel tonnes tonne . m
1 0 0 6806.4 0
2 4.5 4.5 6806.4 30628.8
3 9 9 3403.2 30628.8
Hull NA 6.75 4000 27000
Total NA NA 21016 88257.6
Table 1b: KG
for 2:2:1 floor loading for
decks 1,2 & 3.
The vertical centre of gravity KG
= 88257.6 / 21016 = 4.1995m, which is also close to Hong et al
(1) KG
= 4.21m.
The two results for KG were then averaged, resulting in an effective deck loading in the ratio
11:11:8, or 6239, 6239 and 4538 tonnes.
The way this calculation was done assumes the cargo was like a layer of lead ingots on the floor
of each deck. The centroid (mass centre) of the cargo on each floor is taken at the level of the
floor, which is not a good approximation. The centre of mass is likely to be some metres higher,
depending on how the cargo is stacked. This depends on the density of the payload.
2. Centre of Gravity based on Woodmorappe's Data
In 1996, investigation of Noah's Ark was enhanced with the comprehensive "NOAH'S ARK: A
Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996. This provided an opportunity to assess the
loading more closely, with approximations given for major components of the cargo inventory.
Based on generous food and water requirements for the animals, Woodmorappe (2) derived
11,000 tonnes of cargo. (Table 8 p48).
For more detailed analysis based on Woodmorappe's data see the WWF study "Cargo Estimate
for Noah's Ark" which concluded with the following.
Comments on Centroid Derivation
Hull 5 333 6.0 31998
Located just below vertical centre due to
heavy keel and lighter roof.
Water 2 000 7.5 15000
4.5m is average deck elevation + 3m
hanging skins
Dry food
2 400 6.5 15600 4.5m + 2m stack
Dry food
600 6.5 3900 4.5m + 2m stack
Enclosures 4 000 5.8 23200 4.5m + 1.3m
Ramps 200 6.75 1350 centred
Passages 200 6.75 1350 centred
Animals 400 5.5 2200 4.5m + 1m
TOTAL 15133 NA 94598 KG
= 94598 / 15133 = 6.25m
Table 4a: KG3 for Distributed Loading
The vertical centre of gravity KG
= 94598 / 15133 = 6.25m. (Compare to Hong et al (1)'s KG
This will reduce roll stability, increasing the roll period significantly. The ride will be more
comfortable than "13 times more stable than the standard of safety required by the ABS rule"
(Hong et al (1)). However, this will be offset somewhat by the reduction in displacement.
The draft is d = 15133*1000 / (1020 x 137.16 x 22.86) = 4.75m (Compare to Hong et al (1)'s d =
3. References
1. "Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway" first published in Creation Ex Nihilo
Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994; by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong, D.S.
Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je.
2. "NOAH'S ARK: A Feasibility Study"; John Woodmorappe, ICR 1996.
STATIC ROLL STABILITY Home Roll Calculator Menu
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett May 2004
Ferry Capsize
Over 190 people died
when the roll-on roll-
off ferry capsized off
Zeebrugge, Belgium
on 6 March 1987.
The bow doors of the
Herald of Free
Enterprise had been
left open after
departure, and water
flooded the car
decks. This free
water made the
vessel unstable,
capsizing in less than
a minute in only 10m
of water. Safety
regulations were
tightened following
the disaster.

Roll Stability
Roll is the most important stability criteria. Adequate roll stability keeps the ship from capsizing.
However, excessive roll stability is also a problem - giving a ride with uncomfortably high
accelerations and rapid rocking movements. So roll stability is normally a compromise between
these two extremes.
How much inherent stability is required? This may depend on such factors as;
- Navigation in the open sea or sheltered waters?
- Special loading issues - cranes, dynamic or uneven loads, passengers crowding to one
side to see something?
- Significant wind loads - superstructure or sails?
- Use of active stabilizers?
- Passenger comfort, permissible roll angles?
- Variability of loading (changes in draft - such as bulk carrier)
- Cargo center of gravity (container ships have difficulty keeping the gravity center low,
compared to bulk carrier)
The most significant hull factors governing the roll behavior are;
- B. Beam or breadth of the hull
- D. Depth of the hull
- KG. Distance from the keel to the center of gravity
- T. Draft. The depth of the hull in the water - so T/D is the relative density of the ship.
- Hull shape.
The B/D ratio
Genesis 6:15 "And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred
cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
Clearly, the breadth to depth ratio is 50:30, or B/D = 1.6667. This is fairly typical for a ship, though
not so tall and narrow as passenger ships built for comfort and speed (lower stability). These
proportions are typical for a cargo ship, the example from Principles of Naval Architecture
(SNAME) has B/D = 1.708. (Ref 1)
Table 3: Comparison with a real ship:
PNA sample hull section modulus. Ref 1

Cross-section amidships for a 19,000 tonne cargo vessel. 528.5 x
76 x 44.5 feet. (161 x 23 x 13.6 m). The B/D ratio is 1.708, very
similar to the ark at 1.667. Notice the rectangular shape, the
double bottom and the camber on the top deck. The Bilge radius is
around 9ft, or 1/ 8th of the beam.
Ships are not usually made much wider than this. Why?
- The ride gets too rough - both roll and heave accelerations are increased
- The hull gets higher forces - wave bending moment is proportional to B
- The hull is much weaker - the reduced depth causes a significant lowering of hull section
modulus (power of 2)
- An extremely squat hull could have insufficient freeboard. (Height of deck above the
The following diagrams show variations in the ark's B/D ratio for KG/D = 0.4, and a relative
density of 0.35 (perhaps towards the end of the voyage where stability is reduced by a lower
cargo mass). Using the average of ancient Babylonian cubits (500mm), the following curves were
plotted for roll angles from 0 to 90 degrees. The black curve is GZ in meters, and the red curve is
the integral of the GZ curve in (m.Rads).
B/D =
The Bible
makes it
clear that
the ark's
includes the
B/D ratio.

B/D = 1
stability is
now less
than half
what it
was. The
hull must
through a
begins to
the hull
should be
and the

B/D = 2.5
but the
ride is
stiffer and
the hull is
loads with
less depth
of section.

Hydrostatics - Archimedes' Principle
Archimedes was born in Syracuse, Sicily and died in 212 BC at the age of 75. Considered one of
the greatest mathematicians of all time, he single-handedly developed all the fundamentals
necessary for the study of static roll stability. Apart from his huge contribution to mathematics, he
also developed compound pulleys, the Archimedes Screw, magnifying lenses, and designed
weapons to repel the Romans - such as huge catapults and focused sunlight used to set ships
Of his many surviving works, On floating bodies lays down the basic principles of hydrostatics.
His most famous theorem which gives the weight of a body immersed in a liquid, called
Archimedes' principle, is contained in this work. He also studied the stability of various floating
bodies of different shapes and different specific gravities.
Archimedes Principle
When a body is wholly or
partly immersed in a fluid it
experiences an upthrust
equal to the weight it
displaces; the upthrust acts
vertically through the center
of gravity of the displaced

The treatise On plane equilibriums sets out the fundamental principles of mechanics, using the
methods of geometry. Archimedes discovered fundamental theorems concerning the center of
gravity of plane figures and these are given in this work. In particular he finds, in book 1, the
center of gravity of a parallelogram, a triangle, and a trapezium.
So by 212BC, Archimedes had all the mathematical principles of the Roll Stability Calculator. To
obtain modern accuracies, all he needed was something to do fast arithmetic (computer). Of
course, there is every reason to expect Adam's mental capacity to exceed Archimedes by orders
of magnitude - Adam lived 930 years, Archimedes a mere 75. By the time Noah was 500 years
old and working on the Ark design, the accumulated knowledge should have easily matched any
of Archimedes achievements, as well as the Greek engineering of his day. Interestingly, much of
Archimedes work was done by graphical approximation or geometric principles, much like the
numerical methods used by computers today.
Buoyancy and
Waves, wind
loads and
uneven loading
can cause the
ship to tilt to the
side (roll).
When it does,
the new shape of
the submerged
area (blue)
pushes up with a
buoyancy force
at the area
center B
centroid). The
distance GZ
between the
buoyancy and
gravity forces
determines the
size of the
turning force
resisting the roll
The distance GM
height) is used
as an indicator of
stability for small
roll angles.
Image: Roll Stability
Calculator V3

Go to Roll Calculator

1. "Principles of naval Architecture"; Vol 1, Ch4, Sect 3.3. SNAME 1988
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett June 2004
Kids: How Smart are you?
The Program
(Download here)
The Roll Stability Calculator can be used to study the stability of various hull cross-sections in
static equilibrium. (Tilting slowly in flat water). This is one of the first things to be checked in a
new design. Static roll stability can also be easily verified by building a scale model and tilting it
over in the water.
Getting Started
The quickest way to see something is to press Integral, and then move the Roll slider. You are
now doing what a naval architect would do on a new hull design - checking the roll stability. The
most stable vessels will have the highest curves (relatively speaking). The next thing to is to
adjust the other two sliders in the buoyancy panel, KG/B (the height of the vessel's mass center)
and Density. Keep exploring until you begin to get a feel for these design parameters. If it crashes
it simply means I couldn't be bothered making the program robust on peripheral parameter sets,
but I might get round to it if its really annoying you.

So what are all these buttons?

They are predefined arks.
'Gitt 38' stands for page 38 of the Werner Gitt booklet (currently in German, see Ref 1). The
program is duplicating his results using a different calculation approach (see How it Works
The 'Gitt Custom' button goes to the next step allowing the user to define their own cross-section
and then plot the same set of buoyancy curves. The numerical approach used in this program
does not limit the analysis to a pure rectangle, as was the case in papers by Morris, Collins, Hong
and Gitt.
The second row of buttons labeled 0 to 12 relate to the Korean study Safety of Noah's Ark in a
Seaway. In this study 12 hull variations were compared to the Biblical Ark (No 0) and tested by a
team of naval architects and structural engineers from the world class Kriso facility. This program
reproduces the first (and simplest) of the three major parameters - stability, strength and
seakeeping, but can also work with a general hull shape rather than a purely rectangular
transverse cross section.
Note: If you are attempting to duplicate the Korean data you need to use a high number of
intervals (1000-5000) to improve the accuracy. Safety of Noah's Ark in a Seaway, Section 6.2,
Table 3, column A
rad). This column represents the amount of energy it takes to tip the ship
over to its top corner. (Well, if you multiply by buoyancy force or weight you get Joules, and all
these 'arks' are the same weight). You should be able to do better than 0.1% of the Korean
researcher's 1994 TJ results.
How Smart are You?
The most famous paper in the world about the safety of Noah's Ark is this one. A team of ship
scientists (naval architects) wrote it. What they found out was that if you change the ark to a
different shape (longer or fatter or taller etc) it is not as good as the Ark from the Bible. For
example, by making it taller it will be stronger but might start to capsize. See Ark Safety Paper for
dummies (Not that you are a dummy of course...)
Now, let's see if you can check those Korean scientists.
Look at Table 3. There are 4 columns.
Column 1 is the different ark shapes
Column 2 (|
) is how far you can tilt (roll) each ark before the roof dips into the water
Column 3 (A
) is how much work it takes to do this tilt
Column 4 is boring.
All you have to do is run the Roll Stability Program, then press the button for the ark shape from
Table 3. Number "0" is the Biblical ark. Now look carefully at the writing underneath the graph and
you should see something like this; Hong_Limit_GZ_integral_trapezoidal=
.804847648645595m.RAD. This is supposed to be the same as the Column 3 number A
Talk about a lot of decimal places! Bit silly really, it is not this accurate because the number of
intervals is only 100. You will notice the computer gets slower when you increase the intervals,
and if you put too many it might refuse to do it ! That's because I was too lazy to make the
program properly.
1. The ark with the biggest number in Column 3 (Ar) is the most stable design. Which one is this?
Why do you think it is hard to tip over?
2. The Biblical Ark is number "0". Where did it come in the stability contest?
3. Why do you think the Ark "0" is still the best design, despite not having the highest stability?
Assuming you have a fast enough computer, try 10 000 intervals. You should get pretty close to
the research paper.
Work out how close you can get for each hull shape (as a percentage of the reading)
How it Works
The following principles are employed in the Roll Stability Calculator. (These were all developed
by Archimedes before 200BC)
- Archimedes Principle (Hydrostatics)
- Area and center of gravity of a trapezium
- Integration by geometric sum of areas (trapezoidal method)
How it works
The program represents a slice of the hull. The output is GZ - the
horizontal distance between hull mass centroid G and buoyancy
centroid B.
Define the hull shape, density and gravity center. Apply a roll angle
Calculate area of hull to determine mass (using density)
Calculate current buoyancy area based on new roll angle
Check vertical force equilibrium. If unbalanced adjust vertical position
and re-calculate buoyancy force
Find centroid of submerged area and measure GZ
Repeat for successive roll angles and sum the values to give the
integral curve.
Looks impressive? Not really. Let's take a closer look.
The transverse section is formed by straight lines (polygonal). Provided the points are in
consecutive order around the polygon, the area can be calculated the same way regardless of the
position or angle of the cross-section. The waterline is at Y=0. The area of the submerged
(displaced) water is then calculated by adding up trapezoids using the simple expression; (In
semi math/code form)
For i = 1 To (pt - 1)
subarea = subarea + (X
- X
i + 1
) * (Y
i + 1
+ Y
) / 2
Next i
Sweet eh?
Default hull, Cubit = 500mm, KG/D=0.4, Relative Density=0.58. Angle or Roll=40 degrees. Output
data includes the following trapezoidal areas;
Point 1 x= 4.821 y=-6.945 A= 26.159
Point 2 x= 11.354 y=-1.063 A= .276
Point 3 x= 11.872 y= 0 A= 0
Point 4 x=-10.654 y= 0 A=-6.529
Point 5 x=-14.396 y=-3.49 A= 53.294
Point 6 x=-7.424 y=-11.798 A= 31.764
Point 7 x=-4.878 y=-13.152 A= 35.357
Point 8 x=-2.106 y=-12.357 A= 66.857
CSA= 382.7895sqm, SubArea= 222.017sqm. Checking this submerged (displaced) area ratio
222 / 383 = 0.58 which gives the correct desired.

Once the displaced area has been calculated, the hull is shifted up or down until the buoyancy
force matches the gravity force. The adjustments are done using the Newton-Raphson method
which works reliably on these rather gradual curves. (The NR method takes next estimate as the
tangential zero. The idea is not strictly an Archimedes thing, Newton was somewhat later,
however the ancient Greek did touch on some of the basic concepts of calculus). Very effective,
only three or four iterations will give sufficient accuracy.
accuracy = 0.000000001
While Abs(F) > accuracy
dFdy = (F - lastF) / (Ys - LastYs)
LastYs = Ys
Ys = LastYs - F / dFdy
Call yTransform: Call BuoyancyForce
The next step in the process is to determine the centroid (center of area) in a fashion similar to
the trapezoidal area calculation. I found this on the net in some other language. This is the
sweetest bit of code, especially for anyone who has ever had to calculate centroids by hand
(students obviously).

For i = 1 To (pt - 1)
k = (XB(i) * YB(i + 1)) - (XB(i + 1) * YB(i))
Xbc = Xbc + ((XB(i) + XB(i + 1)) * k)
Ybc = Ybc + ((YB(i) + YB(i + 1)) * k)
Next i
Xbc = Xbc / (6 * subarea)
Ybc = Ybc / (6 * subarea)
Finally, the GZ values are integrated from 0 to 90 degrees using a simple trapeziodal
approximation as described earlier. The result is compared with the Simpson rule (Parabolic
segments) for any number of intervals up to 10000. Interestingly the Simpson rule can be less
accurate on the more linear curves, but it serves as a nice check.
No special geometric cases need to be considered; the method works for any roll angle and any
polygonal shape.
A set of curves can be generated by repeating the calculation for hulls of different relative density.
Here is an example generated using the data from Prof Werner Gitt "Das sonderbarste Schiff der
Weltgeschichte" 2001.

Since the hull section can be defined as a polygon, any shape (single loop) can be analyzed. For
example, the default hull includes a 0.2B bilge radius and a 2 degree deadrise (V-keel). The
effect is shown below - very little. Ignoring the absurdly lightweight hulls (less than 0.2), the
general shape of the curves and location of maximum are hardly altered by the bilge radius.

1. Prof Werner Gitt "Das sonderbarste Schiff der Weltgeschichte" 2001. (The most amazing ship
in the history of the World).
2. Buoyancy and Stability of Ships Vol 1 R.F. Scheltema De Heere & A.R. Bakker Harrap London

Answers to Questions
1. The ark with the biggest
number in Column 3 (Ar) is
the most stable design.
Which one is this?
Ark number 9 = 0.964 is
the most stable.
Why do you think it is hard
to tip over?
Because it is wide. Ark 4 is
the same width but not as
tall so it dips into the water
more easily. So Ark 9 is
safest in roll. Ark 1 is
obviously the worst
because it is so tall and
2. The Biblical Ark is
number "0". Where did it
come in the stability
Fifth. The order is
where 0 is the Biblical ark.
3. Why do you think the Ark
"0" is still the best design,
despite not having the
highest stability?
Good question! The Hong
paper compares 3
parameters - safety (roll),
strength (hull bending) and
seakeeping (accelerations).
The Biblical ark is not too
bad in any of these.
Want more info? Hong
study comments

Assuming you have a fast enough computer, try 10 000 intervals. You should get pretty close to
the research paper.
Work out how close you can get for each hull shape (as a percentage of the reading). Should be
less than 1%. See results here.
Maintaining heading into the waves
The worst thing to happen in heavy seas is to have the ship turn side-on to
the waves. This is called broaching [4], which can capsize even a large ship
under certain conditions. During a serious storm the bow is usually kept
facing into the wind, the ship sometimes going backwards. Even ancient
ships show features designed to avoid broaching. [1]
Noah's Ark was not a cube which handles waves equally from all directions. The
dimensions given in Genesis 6:15 describe a hull six times as long as it was wide,
proportions very close to a modern ship. This means it should avoid a beam sea (side-on
to the waves) when conditions are rough. Heavy seas would be expected in the
worldwide flood - especially during the wind stage. (Genesis 8:1) [2]
A ship without power is vulnerable since the heading cannot be maintained by propulsion.
In this case a sea anchor could be used. This is effectively an underwater parachute that
pulls on the bow of the ship as the wind and waves push the vessel backwards.
It is important to remember that waves do not transport the water but oscillate it in the
one spot - or nearly so. Although the waves appear to move past the ship the water itself
is almost stationary, so a sea anchor will tend to hold its position. Although effective, a
sea anchor requires attention because ropes have a tendency to get tangled up, and
waves are not always coming exactly from the same direction. A variation on the theme
is the drogue, which is designed to be towed behind the ship in a following sea and pulls
on the stern to improve directional stability. In contrast the sea anchor is attached to the
bow and has a much higher drag.
Problems with attached drag devices. Maintenance of a sea anchor would be labor
intensive. Floating debris such as tree logs would also be a significant problem.
Transverse Assymetry
To get the Ark to act like a weather vane and keep itself in line with the wind, the stern
could drag in the water and the bow catch the wind. The stern drag might be generated
by protruding features of the hull itself (logs etc) or simply a less streamlined design. The
bow would need some sort of obstacle to the wind - perhaps a sail, a wall or raised area
like a forecastle or cabin.
If the wind has turned the Ark (broaching) side-on the the waves (beam sea), there is a
risk of capsize. The simplest way to get a symmetrical vessel out of this situation is to
have a significant amount of trim (slope of the ship in the water from bow to stern -
usually due to uneven loading). For example, trim to stern will sit the stern deeper in the
water and allow the bow to catch more air and less water, swinging it around. The
effectiveness of this arrangement will depend on the relative differences in bow and stern
profile underwater, which defines the location of the center of transverse water pressure
with respect to the transverse center of wind load. Even without deliberate buoyancy
difference between bow and stern, trim could be achieved simply by loading heavy cargo
towards the stern.

Trim to stern in a symmetrical loading using reduced stern buoyancy. See Model Test
Surfing and wave celerity.
A skeg based design will travel faster than a deliberately dragging stern, which may (or
may not) lead to the dangerous quartering condition where the ship almost begins to
"surf" with a wave. Surfing is dangerous [3] because the vessel is unstable and needs to
be controlled (ever tried surfing?). The answer lies in the relative speed of the vessel
driven by the wind compared to the apparent speed (celerity) of the waves. In the open
sea, with large well developed waves, the distance between waves (wavelength) is long.
Wave speed increases with wavelength, so the wind driven waves of the later stages of
the flood would be expected to travel relatively fast compared to the speed of the vessel.
Dr Allen Magnuson estimates only a few knots for the wind driven Ark. The high speed
and low gradient of deep sea waves is why you only see surfers near shallow water where
waves have slowed and become steeper.
This means the stern is doing all the work cutting through the passing waves, which is
normally the job of the bow.

Strong winds are pushing the Ark to the right of the picture. A wave has just passed the stern. Tim
Lovett 2004. No anti-broaching features are shown here.

The original photo showing the Ark-sized ship with bow air-born. http://www.tv-antenna.com/heavy-
seas/ The superstructure is at the stern, safe from waves over the bow.
In any case, the basic principle of aligning the ark is very simple. The vessel needs to
catch the wind at the bow and catch the water at the stern. This is analogous to a
badminton shuttlecock - mapping ship water resistance to shuttlecock air resistance, and
ship wind force with shuttlecock gravity force. The ball has the mass and travels under
the pull of gravity - like the drive of the wind catching bow feature. The feathers drag the
tail just like the drag of the stern in the water.

Shuttlecock Ark using deliberate drag at the stern.
Using a skeg rather than drag at the stern is like a feathered arrow or
dart. Here, gravity at the front of the dart represents the wind
catching features of the bow, and the feathers represent the skeg
details at the stern. similar to an arrow, this design would be most
effective if the Ark has a bit of speed.

American clipper "Ringleader", built in 1853. Painting by A.V.Gregory showing the ship in the South
Atlantic, "riding her easting down". In the heavy sea and strong wind, there is a risk of broaching. The
sails are concentrated toward the bow with the mizzen (third) mast completely bare, which helps to
keep the vessel pointing with the wind.

A dart maintains direction as it is pulled by mass at the front and steered by fins at the rear.

Skeg and forecastle design. Copyright Allen Magnuson 2005.
The raised area the the bow (forecastle) is pushed by the wind while
the fin shaped keel at the stern (skeg) keeps it from going sideways.
The skeg has a similar effect to the fin of a surf board - it inhibits
sideways motion in the water. This is a standard design for a boat hull,
used in combination with cut-up (rising bottom) towards the stern.

Skeg feature for lateral water resistance at stern, improves directional stability. Copyright Allen
Magnuson, Tim Lovett 2005.
This general arrangement is found on most modern ships, except that the typical bulk
carrier is in reverse. The superstructure is at the stern which helps to 'steer' the vessel
with bow pointing towards the wind. If the superstructure was at the bow, wind and
waves would tend to push the bow behind the stern - which is a broaching action.
Breaking Waves
There are some waves that can damage or capsize almost any ship,
regardless of how well designed the vessel.[5] Ships even larger than
Noah's Ark have disappeared in storms.[6] The scale of the Ark sets a
limit on the size of encountered breaking waves. The Hong study uses
the limiting roll angle to determine a wave limit of 30m, but without
indication of a specified wave slope or wavelength. A rogue wave [7]
as a 30m breaking wave could be nasty, in a beam sea it could be
lethal. Genesis 8:1 tells of God remembering Noah, which might imply
that God did not allow a freak rogue wave to hammer the Ark. On the
other hand, it might be referring to God beginning the process of
clearing up the flood.
However, unlike the extreme conditions of a developing sea in a
modern hurricane or typhoon, where waves can be steep and seas
confused, the largest wind generated flood waves are more likely to
have had a very long wavelength. This keeps the gradient shallow.
However, it would be prudent to design Noah's Ark to handle very
rough seas, including substantial green sea loads. (Solid water on the
roof, not just foam and spray)

1. History of ship seakeeping (storm seaworthiness). Excuse the
translation from Russian, but this is a nice introduction to hull shape
and design for storm seakeeping based on a variety of solutions
through history. http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_E1.html
Return to text
2. Photo of a ship much larger than the ark without propulsion in a big
sea. http://www.biggideas.com/sea-anchor/html/navyship.html More
photos of heavy seas; http://www.tv-antenna.com/heavy-seas/ and
http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/photos/04/bigwaves/ Return to text
3. Surfing is dangerous. (Advice for recreational craft negotiating a
following sea). Marine Safety Victoria Australia.
Inbound heading back to port:
- Approaching from sea, increase power of the vessel to catch up with the bigger
set of waves.
- Position the vessel on the back of the wave (DO NOT surf down the face of the
- Adjust the vessels speed to match the speed of the waves but DO NOT
attempt to overtake the waves.
Return to text
4. Broaching. The unplanned turning of a vessel to expose its side to the oncoming
waves. Another description; When the stern tries to overtake the bow - typically when a
buoyant stern is lifted by an overtaking wave as the bow digs into the water. "A sudden
swooping around broadside to the wind and waves while running."
www.hoofers.org/sailing/Manuals/tech_manual/glossary.html. "The unplanned turning of
a vessel to expose its side to the oncoming waves. In heavy seas this could cause the
boat to be knocked down." www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Sideline/1724/terms/all.htm
Return to text
5. The role of chance. http://www.sailingusa.info/cal__capsize.htm (Ref: Rob Mundle in
Fatal Storm, Publisher's Afterward p 249. International Marine/McGraw-Hill Camden,
'One of the greatest sailing disasters in recent maritime history, the 1998
Sydney-Hobart Race, offered a number or lessons regarding the performance
of sailboats and crews in heavy weather conditions. The 1998 Sydney to Hobart
Race Review Committee report, summarized by Peter Bush, the committee
chair, reported the following as one of the significant findings: "There is no
evidence that any particular style or design of boat fared better or worse in the
conditions. The age of yacht, age of design, construction method, construction
material, high or low stability, heavy or light displacement, or rig type were not
determining factors. Whether or not a yacht was hit by an extreme wave was a
matter of chance."
According to Andrew Claughton in Heavy Weather Sailing 30th ed. p 21
"This (the test data presented in the chapter) suggests that alterations in form
(of a sailboat) that improves capsize resistance may be rendered ineffective by
a relatively small increase in breaking wave height." Return to text
6. The 294m MV Derbyshire was lost in a typhoon in the South China Sea in 1980. It was
only 2 years old. An inquiry ruled that a hatch cover had failed as huge waves buffeted
the 160,000 tonne bulk carrier. http://www.worldwideflood.com/flood/waves/waves.htm
Studies suggested the hatch covers were not strong enough to take such a depth of
water on deck. Noah's Ark was only half this length, so it is quite conceivable that a
heavy sea could give it a workout - like green seas on the weatherdeck (roof). This is
another reason to employ a substantial roof structure. Was it really this rough? We don't
know, but no other ship or boat survived to tell the story - that's a clue. Return to text
7. Rogue waves a real threat.
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/outdoors/tompkins/2747663. Another
example of scientists dismissing anecdotal evidence, ignoring a very large number of
witnesses. Once considered the tall stories of a sailor's imagination, mountainous rogue
waves are finally being acknowledged. Excerpt:
Laser devices mounted on oil platforms measured an 85 ft (26m) wave in 1995. A 95-foot (29m)
wave came at the Queen Elizabeth II during a storm in the North Atlantic in February 1995. The
European Space Agency program "MaxWave" used precise imaging equipment to collect 30,000
images of Atlantic ocean. Researchers were stunned to find 10 individual rogue waves of more than
82 ft (25m). Some of the waves measured as much as 100 feet (30m). The data confirmed rogue
waves do exist, and they appear to be much more common than anyone would have imagined.
Return to text
8. Jinnaka, T., Tsutsumi, T., and Ogiwara, S., "Hull Form Design Derived From Wave Analysis"
9. Principles of Naval Architecture. SNAME.
Bow Fin Design Discussion
Preliminary sea trials indicate the superiority of a bow mounted sail for directional stability.
How could this be interpreted in the context of Noah's Ark or ancient ship-building?

See Model Trial Blog 4: Bow Sail
The bow mounted rigid "sail" or "fin" demonstrated significant steering effect. The
optimum design would have the feature as far forward as possible (maximizing the
yawing moment arm), relatively high (increasing the wind velocity and away from wave
induced air turbulence), high enough to avoid contact with waves, and as large as
possible without compromising stability (wind heeling moment).
By maximizing the distance between the transverse area center of wind and water forces,
the size of the features can be kept to a minimum while still achieving adequate yaw
moment. With waves hitting the stern, the area would need to be shaped like the typical
bow - some flare to deflect waves, relatively fine entry to cut through waves rather than
ride over them. If the stern lifts too much there is danger of broaching.
This tends towards an overhanging, vane shaped feature at the bow, and a submerged
protrusion at the stern (like a skeg or fixed rudder).
Look familiar? It is reminiscent of the Mediterranean navy ships [1], such as this Greek

Interestingly, one striking feature of many ancient ships is the extreme upsweep of stem
at bow and stern, well beyond what would be needed for simply deflecting waves. One
suggestion is that it is a tradition passed down from Egyptian reed boats with their anti-
hogging tension rope pulling bow and stern together. For the big wooden ships like the
Greek Trireme, the passive storm seakeeping afforded by the bow-first behavior is a
better explanation. It is highly unlikely that the engineering know-how behind these ships
would have wasted so much effort (and weight) on a stern ornament.
Such widespread emphasis on the upswept stem could imply;
- They inherited the shape from Noah's Ark - the first ship in our history.
- They needed it for some reason - like storm seakeeping.
Direction Keeping Features
The animation above shows five ways to maximize the wind induced yawing moment
(turning effect) in order to maintain a following sea.
Referring to the six motions as shown below;

1. Bow Cutup. The cutup would probably be less pronounced than shown in the
animation. Ample bow buoyancy helps to prevent a nose-down, which can lead to
broaching. The bow is supposed to have reduce water resistance when moving sideways
(sway) so that it steers relatively easily.
2. Bow Sail. Wind forces maintain the bow ahead of the stern, rather like a weather vane
(wind vane), or the tail fin of an aircraft.
3. Stern Fin. This is a substitute for (or supplement to) the skeg. However, the advantage
is that less cut-up is needed, and a finer entry is possible to help slice through the
passing waves. The stern should have limited buoyancy relative to the bow to reduce the
likelihood of broaching.
4. Stern Flare. The role of the flared forecastle is to keep water off the deck (roof)
5. Trim to Stern. This tends to make the bow swing around more easily while the stern
digs into the water.

1. http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_E1.html#P5 Vasily N. Khramushin, Saint-
Petersburg - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Return to text
How waves turn a drifting ship sideways
Ever wondered why driftwood ends up sideways to the waves? The same thing happens to a
drifting ship. There are well-established reasons why large waves tend to turn a ship side-on.

"Caught in the trough of heavy seas" A
merchant vessel trapped broadside to
the waves prior to sinking in the North
Pacific. NOAA photo archives
Jim King: The photo is interesting because it
appears that the ship is underway. Most broaching
incidences on sizable ships occur when they have
lost power. (There is a long history of fishing
vessels broaching under power in very rough
seas.) This ship should have been able to get out
of the trough. Perhaps this ship lost its rudder.

Broaching the Subject
Ships are longer than they are wide, which reduces drag and allows the vessel to ride
through waves more comfortably and safely. The drawback is that the ship is in danger of
capsize when waves are side-on (beam sea or broadside to the waves). Broaching
(turning of the ship to broadside) is the biggest risk for a ship in heavy seas, and loss of
power (hence loss of control) can be a serious risk. So for a drifting ship like Noah's Ark,
broaching risk must be addressed.
A major reference for ship design is the SNAME publication "Principles of Naval
Architecture". The following excerpts deal with yawing motions caused by waves.
Following this, excerpts and diagrams (with permission) of Russian research on ship
design with concern for storm seakeeping.
Ship Motion in Waves. PNA [1]
3.16 Yawing, Yaw-heel, Leeway, Broaching. Rotation of a ship about a
vertical axis approximately through its center of gravity is called yawing [3]. It
is undesirable because its correction requires the use of rudder with increase in
resistance to propulsion and because it produces yaw-heel, which thus far no
stabilizing apparatus has been able to prevent. The deadwood and rudder of
most ships of usual form are sufficient practically to eliminate yawing in still
water, but among waves a moving ship is subjected to forces and moments
which set up yawing in spite of them. Three distinct types of forces and
moments may be identified;

(a) The static pressure of the water, which often is not at the same level on the
two sides of the ship
(b) Dynamic pressure forces caused by the orbital motion of the water in waves
(c) The gyrostatic couple due to imposition of rolling motion on a pitching ship.
Unless the ship is advancing exactly at right angles to the waves, the wave
profile differs on the two sides of the ship, and in general the longitudinal
position of the center of pressure on one side of the ship is not the same as
that on the other. This results in a couple producing rotation of the ship about a
vertical axis. The direction of this couple changes as the waves move past the
ship, so that the rotary motion becomes an oscillation having the same period
as the apparent period of the waves. Yawing from this source has its maximum
amplitude when the ship's course makes an angle of about 45 or 135 deg to
the direction of advance of the waves, for then the difference of the static
pressure on the two sides of the ship is greatest.
Static Pressure (Hydrostatics)
It is convenient to treat the buoyancy of fore and aft sections separately. In the following
symmetrical cases both buoyancy resultants are equal, but their placement and angle can
When the ship is at right angles to the waves there is no turning effect (yawing) since the
fore and aft buoyancy forces are both vertical. The hull will experience bending moments
due to hogging and sagging, but no net yawing (turning) moment.

Hogging, 90 degrees to wave.

Sagging, 90 degrees to wave.
When the ship is 45 degrees to the waves, the buoyancy force at the bow is swinging the
ship's head to port. Assuming a worst-case wavelength, the stern will also experience a
buoyancy force that pushes the stern to starboard. The net effect is a yawing moment,
anti-clockwise in this case. (Viewed from above)

Sagging, 45 degrees to wave. Strong anti-clockwise yaw.

Hogging, 45 degrees to wave. Weak clockwise yaw.
According to PNA,
"The direction of this couple changes as the waves move past the ship, so that
the rotary motion becomes an oscillation having the same period as the
apparent period of the waves."
However, when the buoyancy forces are viewed as a couple (separating fore and aft), it is
clear that the yawing moment in sag will be greater than at the hogging condition
because the moment arm is greater. Hence the "oscillation" of a strong anti-clockwise
yaw followed by a weak clockwise yaw will apply a net yawing moment - anti-clockwise.
Hydrostatically, regular waves will turn any long floating thing sideways, especially if the
wavelength is somewhere near the length of the vessel.
Orbital Motion
(b) Dynamic pressure forces caused by the orbital motion of the water in waves

Fig. 86 Anticlockwise yaw in a quartering sea. Wave crest at stern (Image PNA)

Fig. 87 Clockwise restoring yaw in a quartering sea. Wave trough at stern
(Image PNA)
The water particles in waves revolve in orbits; at the wave crests the water
particles are moving in the direction of advance of the waves and in the
troughs in the opposite direction. As the water strikes the ship dynamic forces
are imposed on the ship. Figs. 86 and 87 from [75] show the action of these
dynamic pressure forces. In Fig. 86 the excess of pressure on the port quarter
and starboard bow swing the ship's head to port, from line A B to A1B1. Half a
wave period later, the excess pressure is on the starboard quarter and the port
bow and causes a change in the ship's direction from AB to A1B1; i.e., a yaw to
starboard, as shown in Fig. 87. Hence the dynamic effect of the waves is to
produce yawing in the apparent wave period.
Water is not transported by a wave, but moves in a circular path. Yawing is effected by
the horizontal component of this orbital motion, which is zero halfway up the wave,
maximum in forward direction at wave crest and backward motion highest in the trough.
According to the diagrams above (PNA figs 86 & 87) this is an oscillating effect which
appears to be equal in either direction, so there should be no net yawing action over
time. Orbital motion could contribute to a broach if it were possible to yaw the ship
beyond the 45 degree hydrostatic maxima. However, the worst condition for hydrostatic
yaw is when effective wavelength = ship length, but for orbital yaw effective wavelength
= 2 * ship length. So the critical wavelength for a combined effect should be somewhere
between these two limits.
Image: PNA
(c) The gyrostatic couple due to imposition of rolling motion on a pitching ship.
If a pitching ship is made to roll, as is the case when a ship advances obliquely
to the waves, the axis of roll is not a fixed horizontal line in space but an axis
which itself oscillates an amount equal to the angular amplitude of pitching.
This oscillation of the axis of roll sets up a gyrostatic couple, which causes
yawing. This was first pointed out and verified experimentally by Suyehiro [76 ]
who found that hemispherical models so loaded as to displace the center of
gravity from the geometrical center yawed among waves in the same manner
as ship-shaped models.
The direction of yawing produced by the gyrostatic couple depends upon the
relation between the periods of the ship in rolling and in pitching and the
apparent wave period. Five cases will be considered. First, when the wave
period is less than the period of pitching, the direction of the gyrostatic couple
is constant, and the yaw of the ship is such as to tend to place the longitudinal
center- line plane parallel to the wave crests and hollows. In this case the ship
does not yaw when it proceeds broad- side to the waves. In the second case,
the period of pitching and that of the waves is the same. The direction of the
gyrostatic couple is not constant and the ship yaws continuously. The third case
is that for which the period of the waves is greater than the period of pitching
but less than the period of rolling. In that event the direction of the gyrostatic
couple is constant and opposite to that of the first case, so that the ship tends
to place itself normal to the wave crests and hollows. When the period of the
waves is the same as the ship's period of roll, conditions as regards yawing are
similar to those of the second case; the ship yaws continually. The fifth case, in
which the period of waves is greater than the period of roll, results in yawing
similar to that of the first case; the ship tends to place itself broadside to the
wave crests and hollows.
Under conditions favorable for yawing the gyrostatic couple is seldom great and
usually requires less rudder angle to control it than do other causes of yaw.
Of the 5 cases, only case 1 (very short wavelength) and case 5 (very long wavelength)
create a broaching effect. Since we are dealing with heavy seas, case 1 is not relevant.
Some advantage might be gained by increasing the roll period beyond the wave period,
usually to the detriment of outright roll stability. However, the PNA authors concluded
that yawing due to gyrostatic couple is "seldom great". However, in combination with the
wavelengths stated previously (between 1 and 2 effective ship lengths), a roll period that
is longer than the wave period might be prudent here. This could mean a reduction in
outright stability in order to lower the roll restoration force. It also promotes a high roll
inertia (mass moment of inertia) which could be achieved by loading towards the hull
walls but with an open centre, use of a heavy roof, and possibly adding mass at a
distance - such as afforded by a tall mast.
Russian Design of a "Universal Vessel"
From Technical and Historical Analysis of Ship Seakeeping, Vasily N. Khramushin [5]
There are more constraints applied to a commercial ship than Noah's Ark, notably the
need for low drag in forward motion and ability to navigate without resorting to changing
course to a direct head sea (or following sea).
Khramushin gives historical examples of storm-suited ship designs, highlighting hull
characteristics such as lateral asymmetry, rounded transverse hull shape and methods of
storm navigation by either head sea or following sea. For example, the Greek style ship
has a hull with center of lateral resistance towards the bow and lateral wind resistance
towards the stern. Obviously the sail would removed in a serious storm.

Head Sea. A depiction of the "ship of argonauts", which inherited the seaworthiness of Phoenician
warships. The lateral asymmetry of the hull makes it naturally point into the wind, allowing bow-first
navigation into a gale (head sea). http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_E1.html#P4 Used with
permission [2]

Following Sea. Fishing vessel of the Russian pomors (coast dwellers known for daring arctic voyages
at the time of the Vikings). The hull form allows active maneuvering in gale seas with the storm sail
and drag to stern allowing the vessel to run in a following sea.
http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_R1.html#p3 Used with permission [2]
The following excerpt has been reworded by Tim Lovett. See Russian Original [4]
According to Vasily N. Khramushin, the universal vessel addresses three
interdependent constraints;
1. Propulsive quality of ship;
2. Stabilization of the hull;
3. Safety of navigation,
The solution takes into account real navigational issues such as storm
conditions. In attempting to satisfy the above constraints while considering an
historical analysis of ship design features, the following six concepts of the
design are suggested;
1. Shift of the center of buoyancy towards the bow, the protruding bulb
advancing the dynamic center of lateral resistance. This will improve
stability, and will create the preconditions for safe storm navigation
regardless of course;
2. Reduction of the waterplane - in terms of area, and cross and
longitudinal moments of inertia, and the sharpening of stem at bow and
stern. This reduces the wave loads in moderate seas and gives a low
resistance in normal ocean navigation;
3. In transverse section, the hull is indented on the sides, but flared above
the waterline. This addresses the problem of storm conditions causing
excessive accelerations and impacts of waves both on the hull and on
deck, and also allows active management of the course of the vessel;
4. Reduced volume of bow and stern. If the transverse center of wind area
is approximately amidships, it will improve storm controllability. But by
reducing the sides of the hull at the waterline, the wave-induced motion
is stabilized, without increasing tossing and hunting, because the hull will
tend to pierce the waves;
5. In balance with the previous point, there is a preference for keeping the
above-water volume towards the stern (yet avoiding the use of a wide,
flat transom). As a general rule, bow volume underwater and stern
volume above the water, including after the stern perpendicular. Thus,
the ship will safely ride out a storm with the bow pointing into the waves.
This solution is suited to the typical storm but does not work in the
unpredictable conditions at the center of a cyclone. The increased above-
water volume at the stern and height of quarter deck does not hinder
effectiveness of motion and controllability, {since the accelerated flow
from the propeller "presses" the stern towards the average level of the
waves.} ""

6. Wind obstructions are reduced and superstructures lowered, housing
appropriate cabins and rooms inside the streamlined hull. This fits the
adage: "the beauty of the ship is defined by absence on board of
unnecessary things". There is no need to alter course due to storms and
wind heel is minimized. While initial metacentric height is compromised,
the hull is less sensitive to roll in waves. A further benefit is the rather
unique ice breaking solution that lifts the ice upwards.

"Universal vessel" Pic 11 from http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_E1.html#P11 Used with
permission [2]
Conclusion - Broaching of a large ship
Assuming hydrostatic yawing to be a significant broaching factor in a heavy regular sea,
then it might be possible to suggest an appropriate hull form. By minimizing the
dominant yaw during sagging, and maximizing the weaker restoring yaw when hogging.
This might lead to a hull form more like a canoe and less like a block (low block
coefficient). Reduced bow and stern buoyancy might minimize the dominant yawing
action by keeping the buoyancy force close to amidships when riding a trough.

Minimize the dominant yaw in sag (ACW) and maximize the restoring yaw in hog (CW).
Conversely, a pure block shape would be expected to have a stronger tendency to
broach. The hog condition would be unchanged since both hulls have a similar parallel
mid-body. However, when the hull is bridging a trough (sag) the extremities on the hull
acquire a large yawing moment. In this case a full cross-section is immersed in the
steepest portion of the oblique wave, giving a significant increase in yaw moment (more
than the corresponding volume increase since the wave is steeper towards the bow or
Comparison of displaced volumes for half the hull at 45 degrees to wave in
sagging (trough amidships)

Highest broaching effect is expected with a block shaped hull.

A finer bow and stern would reduce hydrostatic wave yaw.

Lowest net hydrostatic broaching moment expected with a canoe-shaped hull.
No hull shape (where length is greater than width) would overcome the natural tendency
to broach, but a minimal yawing moment will make it easier to keep the vessel
perpendicular to the waves. With a weaker broadside pull, less effort is needed to steer
the vessel using the lateral asymmetry between the centre of action of the water and
wind loads. There are several ways to achieve this directional effect, such as wind
obstacles (sails or pronounced forecastle), trim by the stern (sitting lower at the stern
and higher at the bow) , sea anchors or lateral water resistance at the stern (e.g. skeg,
rudder or other obstacle in the water).
The prescription for minimizing the risk of broaching is to have a relatively fine bow and
stern without compromising buoyancy. This does not exactly favor a block-shaped hull.
There are other factors in ship design of course, but broaching is certainly a priority issue
when waves are not trivial and the drifting vessel is six times as long as it is wide.
Furthermore, accelerations increase as the hull approaches a more block-like form.
Compared to a typical ship, Noah's Ark has less demands compromising the design, such
as drag. Broaching must be avoided in a following sea [6] as a top priority, but no other
heading would be desired or promoted in a drifting vessel. Also, the Ark is not required to
travel at speed. While outright stability is important to avoid capsize by a broadside
wave, it would be logical to minimize accelerations also, which is something of a
Sudden Broaching
A following sea can be dangerous. With insufficient bow buoyancy, a large wave
approaching from behind can tend to lift the stern and drive the bow into the water. This
can result in a sudden broach and even capsize.

A fishing vessel in a following sea http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/perfectstorm/rough_seas2.gif
The risk of broaching in these conditions can be lessened by avoiding a wide flat transom,
reducing stern buoyancy and increasing bow buoyancy. A finer stern (double ender) helps
too, approximating the bow of a ship in a head sea.

1. Principles of Naval Architecture SNAME Return to text
2. ,
, "" www.Science.Sakhalin.ru
You can use completely freely any materials, figures or the programs published on our
site "Science" www.Science.Sakhalin.ru
Vasily N. Khramushin Academic secretary of Sakhalin Division of Russian Geography Society, Head of
Computational Fluid Mechanics and Oceanography lab. Special Research Bureau for Automation of
Marine Researches, Far Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.
Return to text
3. The six motions;

Return to text
4. Russian original; Vasily N. Khramushin
http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_R1.html Return to text
5. Vasily N. Khramushin, Technical and Historical Analysis of Ship Seakeeping,
http://www.science.sakhalin.ru/Ship/Vlad_E1.html Return to text
6. Noah's Ark in a "following sea": We have adopted the term "following sea" where the
"stern" of Noah's Ark should face the wind, and the "bow" is supposed to point away from
the wind. Alternatively it could be considered as a head sea situation with the vessel
running backwards, swapping the bow and stern definitions around. For the sake of
consistency we will define the bow and stern in terms of the Ark running in a following
sea (traveling forward with the wind). Return to text
Copyright Tim Lovett April, Oct, Dec 04, Apr 05
Sunk by waves the same
length as the ship...
More than 40 people died
when the MV Derbyshire
was lost in a typhoon in the
South China Sea in 1980.
The 294m Derbyshire had
been at sea for only 2
years. An inquiry ruled that
a hatch cover had failed as
huge waves buffeted the
160,000 tonne bulk carrier.
Further research indicated
the ship failed because the
waves were exactly the
same length as the vessel.
Dr Janet Heffernan who
analyzed the wave patterns
explained; "If the wave is
smaller than the ship, then
the vessel can cope with it.
If the wave is much bigger,
then the ship bobs on top of
the wave, but if the wave is
the same length then the
ship picks up the frequency
of the sea..." BBC article.
Technical Report

Wind Generated Waves
Rogue Waves
Waves of the Flood
Developing Seas
How Big and How Bad?
The size and nature of the waves during the deluge dictates the strength of the ark. The Korean
safety study concluded that the ark was capable of riding out 30m waves if the structure had 30
cm walls and 50cm framing timbers. With stronger construction, the ark could survive 47.5 m
waves before water reaches the corner of the roof (heeling angle 31
). Such waves have never
been recorded in the ocean today, the highest has been measured at 26m in the notorious North

The ark in
a beam
to the
This is the
state for a
ship in
high seas
and could
lead to
Wind Generated Waves
Generation of wind waves of such magnitude would require a constant gale over a considerable
distance (fetch). This is why waves are limited in a small lake. If the wind changes direction, the
wave pattern can be reduced by interference with a new wave system. Generally speaking,
strong winds are of relatively short duration, making very large waves a rare event.
Thirty meters is a big wave, a significant wave height H
of 15m approaching the upper limit in
samples of tabulated data of North Atlantic waves. (Principles of Naval Architecture CH8 (Vol III),
Section 2). At such a height, weatherships in the North Atlantic (PNA VIII, Section 2, Fig 20 Roll)
recorded wavelengths of around 300m. (A height/length ratio of 1:20). These observations were
from regions experiencing very severe weather compared to even the North Atlantic. In a more
generalized study, Hogben and Lumb compiled over 1 million observations spanning 10 years,
where wave heights in the highest range (11 to 12m) accounted for only 0.0013% of world-wide
observations (or 0.007% of observations in the Northern North Atlantic).
For a wave with H
of 14m to develop in the open sea, a sustained wind speed of 63 knots (117
km/h) is required. (PNA VII, S2, Tables 6 & 7). (Measured at 19.5m above water surface). It was
also found that observed recordings slightly overestimated the actual measured wave heights in
the upper ranges by around 13%. According to Guinness Book of Records, the highest wave ever
officially recorded was observed at 34m during a hurricane, but the record for an instrumentally
measured wave is 'only' 26m.
Woodmorappe mentions the damping effect of flood debris as a factor in limiting wave
development. Floating in the middle of a large mat of vegetation, the ark would be effectively
shielded from wind generated waves. Of course, one could always assume such a floating island
of organic material would become waterlogged and sink to the bottom prior to burial by sediment
from continental runoff in the late flood stages. Not a bad explanation for the formation of oil
reserves in the middle east.
Data for waves up to 12m are listed with their most probable modal wave period in Principles of
Naval Architecture V3 Ch8 S2.10 Fig 26. Curve fitting to this data appears to be a 2nd order
polynomial (parabolic) function as follows;
Wave Height = 0.0663*period^2 - 0.5168*period + 2.5765 (Which fits the data reasonably well; R

= 0.9993.) Then by extrapolation, we get the periods for the 30m wave = 25 secs, 47m wave = 30
secs. (Obviously a rather dubious extrapolation given that we just extrapolated to 300% of the
actual data.)
Assuming a sinusoidal waveform, equation 16 Section 2.2 gives; L
= g * T
^2 / (2 * H), which
yields wavelengths of 944m for the 30m and 1424m for the 47m high wave. (Length to height
ratios of approx 30:1). Such long wavelengths were probably not employed in the Hong study
since the ark would ride comfortably over a 50m swell with a 1.5km wavelength.
Wind (m/s, knots) Sea
0 0 No wind < 0.2 < 0.4 Smooth sea 0 -
1 Gentle
1.5 3 Calm sea 0.5 10
2 Light
3.3 6.5 Rippling sea
3 Gentle
5.4 10.5 Gentle sea 0.75 12
7.9 15 Light Sea 1.25 22
5 Fresh
10.7 21 Moderate Sea 2.0 37
6 Strong
13.8 27 Rough sea 3.5 60
17.1 33
Very rough
6.0 105
8 Fresh
20.7 40 High sea > 6.0 >105
9 Strong
24.4 47 High sea
10 Whole
28.3 55 Very high sea
9 11 Storm 32.7 64
heavy sea
20 600

>32.7 >64
heavy sea

Compiled from Ref 1: Table 6.17a and 6.17b after Henschke. A photo of each sea state can be
seen at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/webpage/beaufort/#
Developed Sea data compiled from Ref 7
Hong paper 1994 40.1 78 Structural limit 30 1160
Hong paper 1994 50.5 98 Stability limit 47.5 2560
Extrapolated data for the 30 and 47.5m waves as described in the Hong study. Wave height is
related to 2nd power of wind speed, the Henschke data yielding longer wavelengths than the
PNA data extrapolation - obviously influenced by the 20m x 600 hurricane .

Rogue Waves
There is plenty of wave data based on averages, but values such as significant wave height do
not indicate the highest wave likely to be encountered. The fact that different sets of waves can
be superimposed gives rise to the possibility of a freak wave appearing. These rogue waves are
unusually high and unusually steep, often breaking on top of a vessel. Images: http://www.tv-
"There is really no available measurement of freak waves per se. Academic interests may be
satisfied by the theoretical simulation of an event of rogue wave occurrence ... but the present
(lack) of actual field measurements of rogue waves (means) even the best formulated theories
remain unverified." Paul C. Liu, Research Physical Oceanographer, NOAA/Great Lakes
Environmental Research Laboratory, http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/Task_rpts/ppliu02-3.html
Dr Frank Gonzalez describes the current theories for rogue wave generation in the quote below.
"Rogue Wave vs Tsunami?". They are principally wind generated, possibly a statistical freak
between multiple wave sets or a perfect shape to catch the wind. There is also a theory of
interplay between wind and currents, which obviously doesn't explain how rogue waves can form
in the absence of significant water current. There is considerable research underway on rogue
waves, and some argue for a tightening of shipping rules (esp. increase of wave bending
moment, wave slamming loads). Very large ships normally ride several waves at once, but freak
conditions such as the Derbyshire incident attest to the danger of the wavelengths equal to the
length of the hull.
"A tsunami is a series of ocean waves generated by any rapid large-scale disturbance of the sea
water. Most tsunamis are generated by earthquakes, but they may also be caused by volcanic
eruptions, landslides, undersea slumps or meteor impacts." NOAA
The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake magnitude
9.0 struck in deep sea off the western coast of
northern Sumatra, Indonesia at 8am on Dec 26,
2004. The quake triggered massive tsunamis up to
15m (50 ft) devastating coastlines as far as East

No Warning

Koh Phi Phi Island
Days after the tragedy the human
toll continues to stagger, with
infrastructure damage hampering
aide efforts.
Without tsunami warning systems
the Indian Ocean fury took many
by surprise. Some had even gone
to the seaside to observe the
initial lowering of the sea. (The
leading trough of the tsunami
wave set).
How could a loving God allow this? See AiG article "Waves of Sadness" by Carl Wieland. Note: In
reference to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami the article states "Korean naval architects showed
that the Ark could have withstood waves 45 times taller than this tsunami (only about 20 feet or
6 metres high)". In deep water a tsunami has a gentle slope and is only a few feet high - passing
under ships virtually undetected. In this case the wave was 50cm after several hours.[8] The
more dangerous wave heights only apply as the wave approaches the shore. In some instances,
ships are recommended to head out to deeper water if there is enough time before a tsunami
"If you are on a boat or ship and there is time, move your vessel to deeper
water (at least 100 fathoms - 600ft or 182m, ). Tsunami Safety Rules
In deep water a tsunami develops such a long wavelength that it is very low and virtually
harmless (even unnoticed) to shipping. Wavelength is related to apparent speed (celerity), so the
wave formation can attain speeds of up to 500 miles an hour, crossing the Pacific in a day. It is
only as it approaches the shoreline that the tsunami begins to compress and rise higher, its
momentum known to send the water far inland. Since the height of tsunamis in deep water is not
dramatic, the run-up data is often quoted. This can be very misleading since the tsunami height
can be amplified 20 times as the shallow water slows it down. Cynical imagery of the ark tossed
around in 500m tsunamis (in deep water) would imply there was the potential for 10km (6 miles)
of vertical runup when it hit the shoreline - not likely. Such a wave would break in the
comparatively 'shallow' 1000-4000m water, dissipating its energy and settling down to a more
realistic size. In fact, the 520m tsunami height of the 1958 landslide quoted by ark skeptics took
place within a narrow Alaskan bay where there was no time for the wave to develop a standard
profile. This is not a deep sea tsunami wave height.
So a tsunami generated by earthquake, landslide or volcanic activity could only pose a threat to
Noah's Ark in shallow water. With an average depth of nearly 3km (2 miles) which is well over the
NOAA recommendation, the world wide flood would actually protect the ark from tsunami
shoreline effects. In the middle of an ocean where geological activity is concentrated on the
perimeter (e.g. such as in the modern Pacific Ocean) the ark would safely ride over tsunami
More tsunami info: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tsunami/Faq/
Rogue Wave vs Tsunami ?
A tsunami is caused by a sudden displacement of water. The most frequent cause is an
underwater earthquake but, less frequently, tsunamis can be generated by volcanic eruptions,
landslides, or even oceanic meteor impact. The length of these waves, from one crest to the next,
can be up to 200 km long, and they travel in the deep ocean at speeds around 700 km/hr. Their
height in the open ocean is very small, a couple of meters at most, so they pass under ships and
boats undetected.
So called "rogue waves" are a bit more mysterious, and not very well understood. They are very
high waves, tens of meters, perhaps. They are very short compared to tsunamis, less than a
2000 m, perhaps. They arise unexpectedly in the open ocean, and the generating mechanism is
a source of controversy and active research. Some theories:
-- Strong currents interact with existing swell to make them much higher
-- They are just a statistical aberration that occurs when a bunch of waves just happen to be in
the right spot at the right time, so that they add together to make one big wave -- If a storm
"prepares" the ocean, by making it very rough, and this is followed by a sudden intensification of
the storm, then the wind can get a "better grip" on the ocean surface (i.e., wind energy is much
more efficiently transferred to the water), and the monster waves can thus be created.
Dr. Frank Gonzalez, gonzalez@pmel.noaa.gov:
Waves of the Flood
Wind: After the rainfall had ceased and the fountains of the deep subsided, God sent a wind.
Genesis 8:1. The ark was still afloat at this stage, so the intensity and geographical scale of these
winds hold the key to wave sizes. Record breaking waves (such as the Hong roll limit of 47.5m)
would be unacceptable at the time of the ark coming to rest of the mountains, in fact waves of
more then a few meters could pose a threat to a beached ark.
In the open sea, a stability limit of 47.5m or a structural limit of 30m does not tell the full story,
since the wavelength must also be specified.
The following screenshot shows the ark in a beam sea. The waves have the more realistic 2nd
order Stokes profile, and a very steep ratio of 1:10. For smaller waves a limit of around 1:7 is
generally as bad as it gets before the wave will break on itself. This software was begun by Tim
Lovett in an effort to reproduce the roll stability calculations in the Hong paper.

In closer detail, the ark is rolling in a double period with the Stokes waveform - with the roof
beginning to dip into the water. Note the centre of buoyancy (B) which has not yet corrected the
heel angle due to the angular momentum of the vessel generated by the passing wave crest. The
wave is 'traveling' from left to right in this simulation, the vessel still rolling as it descends. If
waves happen to coincide with the natural roll period of the ship, then roll is amplified. Immediate
action is required, such as turning the vessel to change the frequency at which the waves meet
the ship.

A more probable ratio of wave-height to wave-length is around 1:30, which would looks more like

Tsunami: (Based on the catastrophic plate tectonics model). Once the ark had landed the
receding water level would minimize the risk of tsunami damage, especially since that ark was in
a mountain range (Mountains of Ararat with other peaks visible). Hence the latter stages of the
flood which involve high current velocities during continental runoff are irrelevant.
During the voyage, a tsunami could only pose a threat if the source was nearby - such as a local
exploding volcano. So the proximity to volcanic activity and its likely nature (explosive or
continuous) hold the key to understanding the tsunami waves of Noah's flood. Essentially, the
deeper the water and the more distant the tsunami source, the safer the wave would be when it
reaches the ark.

Developing Seas
It is common knowledge that wind generates waves. Stronger wind gives bigger waves. (Ref 4)
Initially the waves are close together and unsorted but with a steady wind over a long distance
(fetch) the waves become well formed and further apart. A fully developed sea is one that has
reached the full height and wavelength corresponding to a particular wind speed.
The following table shows the relationship between wind speed and duration (fetch) and the effect
on wave height and period. The blue figures indicate typical values in a modern sea - very high
wind speeds have a fixed direction for only a relatively short time. This table is a metric
conversion based on http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/papers/seatable.html. (Ref 2)
Wind Duration (Hours)
6 12 18 25 35 45 55 70 80 90 100 120 140
1.74 2.38 2.74 3.05 3.35 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66 3.66 height (m)
6 7 8 9 10 11 11.5 12 12.5 12.5 13 13 13 period (s)
80 185 296 463 741 1019 1296 1852 2222 2593 2871 3611 4352 fetch (km)
2.13 3.05 3.66 3.96 4.27 4.57 4.88 4.88 4.88 5.18 5.33 5.33 5.33 height (m)
6.6 8 9 10 11 12 13 13.5 14 14.5 15 15 15.5 period (s)
89 204 315 519 759 1111 1482 2037 2500 2871 3426 4167 4815 fetch (km)
2.29 3.66 4.27 4.88 5.49 6.1 6.1 6.71 6.71 6.71 7.01 7.01 7.01 height (m)
7.2 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 16 16.5 17 17.5 period (s)
94 232 389 556 926 1296 1667 2222 2778 3241 3704 4630 5556 fetch (km)
3.54 4.88 5.79 6.71 7.62 8.38 8.84 9.14 9.14 9.45 9.45 9.45 9.45 height (m)
8 10 11.5 13 14 15 16 17.2 18 18.5 19 19.5 20 period (s)
111 259 435 667 1000 1482 1852 2593 3148 3704 4260 5371 6297 fetch (km)
4.27 5.79 7.01 7.92 8.84 9.75 10.36 10.97 11.28 11.58 11.89 12.19 12.5 height (m)
8.8 11 12.5 14 15 16.2 17 19 19.5 20 21 21 22 period (s)
119 278 482 741 1093 1630 2222 2778 3334 4074 4630 5741 7038 fetch (km)
4.88 7.01 8.23 9.45 10.67 11.89 12.5 13.72 13.72 14.33 14.94 15.24 15.24 height (m)
9.3 12 13.5 15 16 18 18.5 20 21 22 22.5 23 24 period (s)
130 315 528 787 1167 1759 2315 2963 3704 4260 5000 6667 7593 fetch (km)
5.79 8.23 9.45 11.3 13.11 14.02 14.63 16.46 16.76 17.68 17.98 18.29 18.29 height (m)
10 12.5 14.5 16 17.5 19 21 22 23 23 24 25.5 26.5 period (s)
139 333 556 833 1296 1945 2500 3241 3889 4630 5371 7038 7871 fetch (km)
6.86 9.14 10.97 13.4 15.24 16.76 17.98 18.9 19.81 20.12 21.03 21.34 21.34 height (m)
11 13 15 17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 period (s)
148 352 593 926 1408 2130 2685 3519 4260 4815 5741 7223 8519 fetch (km)
7.62 10.67 12.8 15.2 17.07 20.42 21.34 22.86 24.08 24.38 24.38 24.99 25.91 height (m)
11.5 14 16.5 18 20 22 23.5 25 26 28 28 30 30 period (s)
154 370 648 945 1482 2222 2778 3704 4537 5186 6019 7408 9260 fetch (km)
8.38 11.89 14.63 16.8 19.81 22.86 24.38 25.91 27.43 28.04 28.96 30.48 30.48 height (m)
12 15 17 19 21 22 25 26.5 28 28.5 30 31 33 period (s)
163 407 704 1037 1574 2315 2963 3889 4630 5463 6297 7778 9445 fetch (km)
9.14 13.11 16.76 18.9 21.64 24.99 27.43 29.87 30.48 31.7 33.22 35.05 36.27 height (m)
13 16 18 20 22 25 26 29 29.5 30.5 31 32.5 35 period (s)
169 435 732 1111 1630 2454 2963 4167 4815 5649 6667 8334 10371 fetch (km)
10.36 15.24 18.29 21.3 24.38 27.43 30.18 32 33.53 35.97 36.58 38.1 39.62 height (m)
14 17 19 21 23 25.5 27 29 31 32 33 34 36 period (s)
178 454 750 1148 1667 2593 3148 4260 5000 5834 7038 8890 11112 fetch (km)
11.28 16.46 19.81 22 25.91 30.48 32.61 36.27 36.88 40.54 41.45 42.67 42.67 height (m)
14.5 17.5 20 22 23.5 26.5 28 30 32 33 34 35 36.5 period (s)
185 472 787 1185 1806 2685 3334 4445 5278 6112 7223 9167 11297 fetch (km)
157 12.19 17.37 22.56 24.4 28.96 33.22 37.19 40.54 42.37 42.67 44.2 47.24 48.77 height (m)
15 18 21 22 25 27.5 30 32 33.5 35 35.5 37.5 39.5 period (s)
191 482 824 1259 1852 2778 3519 4630 5556 6482 7501 9353 12038 fetch (km)
13.72 19 24.38 28 32.61 36.58 39.62 42.67 44.81 47.24 50.29 51.82 57.91 height (m)
16 19 22 24 26.5 29 31.5 33 34.5 36.5 37 40 44 period (s)
204 500 852 1296 2037 2871 3704 4815 5741 6945 7871 9630 12594 fetch (km)

Converting to wavelength: For harmonic waves in deep water the wave period (Tw in seconds) is
related to wavelength Lw.
Lw = g * Tw

2 Pi
(Ref 3)
So after 120 hours, a steady 157 km/h wind generates waves approaching the 47.5m mark with a
period of 37.5 seconds, giving a wavelength of;
Lw = 9.8 * 37.5^2/(2*pi) = 2193m (2.2 km). This requires a fetch of over 9000 km over which the
wind has been blowing steadily.
If you run those numbers on the Roll Simulator you will get a rather tame motion - especially at x1
speed. Even in a beam sea the roll is only 6 degrees, so the main sensation would be a gentle
vertical acceleration - something like being in a lift. (Stokes waveform gives max acceleration on
wave crest of -0.7m/s2, or 0.07g). Compare this to the passenger ship acceleration limit of 0.34g
(at forward perpendicular) which is nearly five times higher. Modern passenger ships are, of
course, designed to be very comfortable (low accelerations), so this big (and very long) wave is
not presenting a problem.
All this assumes an ideal well developed sea without interference from other waves. A more
realistic situation would be a dominant well-developed waveform with smaller superimposed
waves causing some randomness. In other words, somewhere between ideal wind driven waves
and a totally random sea, but with the globality of the wind (Gen 8:1) causing a bias towards a
regular and fully developed sea.

There is more to the story however. The vessel will experience wind loads which will cause the
vessel to heel (roll). A lightly loaded ark will be worse here because of the larger area for the wind
to push against. Collins calculated a wind of 210 knots (388 km/h) would be required to
hypothetically capsize the ark in flat water, so the 157km/h wind (16% of the energy of 388km/h)
looks feasible even when side-on (broaching).
Of course, the balance to all this is that Noah's Ark should not be side-on to the wind for very long
anyway. The ship should align itself with the wind and experience a relatively consistent head

Wind generated waves under global wind conditions could reach abnormal wave heights but are
likely to be very regular and fully developed with long wavelengths. Noah's Ark (or any other
decent ship) could comfortably ride huge waves in a fully developed sea because the waves are
not steep. (Ref 5) If the global wind was not so uniform, interference of wavesets could produce a
more random sea - increasing the likelihood of steep waves and rogue formation.
The biggest threat to the ark would be a localized storm, which is not likely to form when there is
a global wind blowing. (Ref 6)

Significant wave height (H
). The average wave height (from trough to crest) of the highest
1/3 (33%) of waves.
Observed vs measured wave heights. Observed wave heights Hv as recorded by trained
weather ship observers were found to differ from measured data. Simultaneous data (where
waves were both observed and measured) was analysed by Nordenstrom who developed the
following correlation;
= 1.68 * Hv

Highest wave. Guinness Book of Records claims the highest officially recorded wave of 34m was
measured by Frederic Margraff, USN from the USS Ramapo on its way from Manila (Philippines)
to California (USA). The wave was observed on the night of 6-7 Feb 1933, during a 68 knot (126
km/h) hurricane. If the Nordenstrom correlation were applied to the world record observed wave
(34m), then a more realistic 23m is obtained.
The highest instrumentally recorded wave was one of 26m, recorded by the British Ship Weather
Reporter, in the North Altantic on Dec 1972 at Lat 59N, Long 19W. (Directly below Iceland,
slightly further North than the top of Scotland).
Ark Analysis Code. Attempting to match the Hong numbers in Table 3, I chose to work through
the roll buoyancy calculation from first principles. The physics are extremely simple - a direct
force balance the downward weight force (acting through the centre of gravity G) and the upward
buoyancy force (through the centroid of the submerged area B). These are calculated using a
polyhedral hull cross-section and a linear waterline approximation, with the instantaneous centre
of rotation at the centre of mass. The integral of moment arm is then easily calculated by
summing incremental increases in roll angle from zero to critical angle. (See Hong et al Table 3)
To make it dynamic, the unrestrained vertical and angular accelerations were found using
Newton's 2nd law F=ma & T=Ia. That's about it. No account has been made for wave reflection or
other effects in the proximity of the hull, so the accuracy would be reduced with smaller wave
sizes (not that we really care about small waves here).
The biggest problem with dynamic simulation is arriving at a figure for the damping factors, since
a direct analytic function for something like roll damping is a bit hard to find . Numbers like these
are usually arrived at by a combination of scale model testing and computer simulation.

1. Ship Design for efficiency and economy: 2nd Ed: H Schneekluth, Butterworth Heinemann
Oxford 1998
2. http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/papers/seatable.html
3. Principles of Naval Architecture. Motion of Ships in Waves. p 611. Wave Properties. Comstock
(Ed) SNAME 1983
4. The Genesis Flood John C Whitcomb, Henry M Morris P&R Publishing 1961: p267 footnote 3.
"The height and spacing of wind generated waves increase with the wind speed and the "fetch
length;" that is, the open, unrestricted distance along which the wind can blow across the water
surface. With a boundless ocean and a sudden great air movement from the poles to the equator,
unimpeded by frictional resistance afforded by land surfaces, the potential wave size during this
period would seem to be enormous. (C.L.Brretschneider: "Hurricane Design Wave Practices,"
Journal of the Waterways ad Harbors Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol 83,
Paper 1238, May 1957, p3)"
5. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. John Woodmorappe. ICR 1996. p54. "When the fetch of the
wind-driven waves is virtually unlimited (as occurs in the southern ocean: Cornish 1934, p. 30),
the wind driven waves have great wave-length and great crest-length, but not excessive height."
Ocean Waves. Cornish, V. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1934
6. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. John Woodmorappe. ICR 1996. p54. "...hurricanes require a
calm atmosphere to form, and are inhibited or suppressed by wind shear. Hypercanes: A possible
link in global extinction scenarios. Emanuel K. A., et al. Journal of Geophysical Research
100(D7): 13, 755-13, 765. 1995. p13 759.
7. Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor. C.A. Marchaj. Adlard Coles London 1986 ISBN 0-229-
8. The first ever direct measurement of deep sea tsunami waves by radar satellites. The
devastating Indian Ocean earthquake produced one of the most destructive tsunamis ever seen,
yet it was only 50cm deep in the open sea. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6854.
NOAA analysts estimated the tsunami wave to be 60cm after 2 hours, dropping to 40cm after
nearly 9 hours. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2365.htm Return to text

Wave Images: Links
Big Seas
Sea states
The NOAA website has an image library that can be searched here
http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/search.html.. For example; Searching for "heavy seas" yields
images like; http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/historic/nws/wea00800.htm ,
Standard estimate of loads applied by waves
November 19,

The leaking oil
tanker Prestige
sinks some 240km
off Spain's north-
western coast,
taking more than
70,000 tonnes of
fuel to the seabed 4
km below.
The Prestige ran
into trouble during
a violent storm, the
salvage company
tried to prevent the
tanker from
splitting by turning
it so that its
ruptured hull no
longer faced the
waves. More...
Prestige oil tanker breaks in
half. Photo: AP

Long hull syndrome
The proportions of Noah's Ark are explicitly stated in Genesis 6:15;
300 x 50 x 30 cubits. The vessel is ten times as long as it is high,
which means that the bending loads applied by waves will be
significant. The Ark has similar proportions to a modern ship, and
ships are not supposed to break in half. To avoid making a ship that is
too weak in the middle, there are rules.
Wave bending moment (Mw) is about waves trying to bend the hull. If the hull can be
built to withstand this amount of bending then it should be strong enough in the worst
modern sea. What about the waves of the flood? See Waves.
The Calculator. Select a cubit and a general shape. The numbers in red indicate how
strong the hull needs to be in the middle. Of course, that still leaves all the engineering
associated with hull construction yet to be done. See Midsection

CALCULATOR: Wave Bending Moment and Shear Force
Cubit size


Block Coeff
Gt Lakes Ore Carrier



Lloyd's Mw


ABS Wave
Shear Fw

- Block Coeff is a measure of the how closely the hull approximates a rectangular
- The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has the highest Mw values, which
means they are the most conservative.
- If Noah's Ark was built to handle the ABS bending loads then it should be
strong enough for most sea conditions.
- Shear force is related to the tendency for planks to slide against each other.

Calculation of Wave Bending Moment
How strong did the Ark have to be?
To endure several months in the open sea, the wooden hull of Noah's ark must have a
certain minimum strength. Factors such as uneven cargo distribution, increased length or
a more "block shaped" hull (block coefficient) accentuate the need for a strong hull.
Another factor is the severity of the sea state. For a discussion on the flood waves, refer
to Waves.
For a first approximation, we will consider the worst seas of today. In ship design, one of
the first things to check is the bending strength of the hull. A ship riding over large waves
experiences bending forces (causing a moment or torque) that flex the hull up and down
along its length (hogging and sagging). Without adequate strength and rigidity, the ark
could leak or break when it meets high seas. The following calculations are based on
standard procedures for ships operating in the open sea.
Applicability: The following calculations apply to ships longer than 90m. Cargo ships with
homogenous loading or less than 250m long only require a still water bending moment to
be calculated amidships.
Wood in place of steel: The applied wave loads are related to hull geometry and are
independent of hull material. The data will be suitable for the timber ark up to the point
where material properties such as stress and stiffness are investigated. In other words,
the wave bending moment is externally applied, so is independent of hull material
(assuming adequate stiffness as dictated by waterproofing requirements).
These approximations are based on the vessel's length, width and shape, using a worst
case sea state. Several standards are compared, with the most conservative estimate
recommended (ABS Rules).
Estimation of Longitudinal Wave Bending Moment
Bending moment is the amount of 'bending' the hull experiences. It is highest in the
middle (amidships), and occurs when the hull is bridging 2 waves (sagging or positive
bending). Another situation is when a wave is supporting the hull amidships as if the ship
was riding a wave (hogging or negative bending). Both need investigation since either
case might be the failure mode at sea, and they represent the maximum amplitudes of
fatigue loading.
Firstly, we must define the hull size - by choosing the most suitable cubit.
Next, the hull shape: The hull of a ship has certain coefficients of form. One of the most
fundamental is the Block Coefficient Cb, which describes how well the hull approximates a
rectangular prism. It is calculated by comparing the design displaced volume with the
enclosed volume of its maximum wetted dimensions.
Cb = (Displaced Volume) / ( L * B * T )
Where L is length, B is beam or breadth, and T is the draft. The density of sea water
(1.025) may need to be accounted for in determining the draft.
The sculptured hulls of a small ship such as a harbor ferry might have a Cb of only 0.4,
whereas the rectangular cross-section of large crude oil carriers can have a Cb of almost
0.9. Ark depictions shown as almost a pure rectangular prism could have a Cb as high as
Using the popular choice of 18" for the cubit, the ABS wave bending moment rules to
calculate the hogging and sagging moments, with a block coefficient of 0.9, gives the
following values; Hogging (tf-m): 65071.4912, Sagging (tf-m): -67008.743. Use the
calculator above to test the effect of hull changes.

APPENDIX 1: Wave BM Calculated According to Shipping Rules
Definition of symbols;
L =length (m)
B =beam or breadth (m)
Cb =Block Coefficient as defined above.
Method 1: ABS RULES
American Bureau of Shipping
ABS Plaza
16855 Northchase Drive
Houston Texas 77060 USA
Steel Vessel Rules 2004, Part 3, Hull Construction and Equipment
Free downloads here; http://www.eagle.org/rules/downloads.html#legal
Bending Moment
ABS Rules for Building and Classing Steel Vessels 2004. Part 3 , Chapter 2, Section 1,
Subsection 3.5.1 "Wave Bending Moment Amidships"
(Note that the ABS Rules make a distinction between maximum Hogging and Sagging
conditions. Also note that the ABS Rules are the most conservative of these classification
Mw = - k1 * C1 * L
* B * (Cb + 0.7) / 1000 (sagging)
Mw = k2 * C1 * L
* B * Cb / 1000 (hogging)
C1 = 10.75 - ((300-L) / 100) ^ 3/2 (for 90<= Length <= 300m)
Sagging k1 = 11.22 (for units in tf.m)
Hogging k2 = 19.37 (for units in tf.m)

Rules for Steel Ships.
Bending Moment
Lloyd's Chapter D, part 315 gives a formula for estimating the bending moment midway
along the hull (amidships) that could be applied by typical sea waves. The factor C1 is
tabulated and based on shipping data.

Linear interpolation of tabulated values near the ark length gives C1 = 6.2527 +
Lloyd's specifies a material stress of 98.1Mpa (assumes a steel hull). All other variables
are as previously defined.

Rules and Regulations for the Construction and Classification of Steel Vessels.
International Register for the classification of ships and aircraft.
31,rue Henri-Rochefort 75821 PARIS CEDEX 17
ISBN 2-900344-50 (English Edition)
Bending Moment
BV 5-23-31 The maximum rule value of wave bending moment in kN.m, is given by the
= H L
B ( Cb + 0.7 ) 10

H = 703 - 65 ( (300 - L) / 100) ^ 3/2 if L < 300
APPENDIX 2: Wave Shear Force (ABS)
ABS Rules for Building and Classing Steel Vessels 2004. Part 3 , Chapter 2, Section 1,
Subsection 3.5.3 "Wave Shear Force"
The maximum shearing force induced by wave, in kN (tf, Ltf)
Fwp = + k1 * F1 * C1 * L * B * (Cb + 0.7) / 100 (pos shear)
Fwn = - k1 * F2 * C1 * L * B * (Cb + 0.7) / 100 (neg shear)
k1 = 30 (3.059, 0.2797) kN (tf,Ltf)
F1 = distribution factor, as shown in 3-2-1/Figure 3
F2 = distribution factor, as shown in 3-2-1/Figure 4
This factor is 0.7 amidships rising to 1.0 at approx 25% from bow/stern. We assume the
highest value 1.0.
C1 = C1 = 10.75 - ((300-L) / 100) ^ 3/2 (for 90<= Length <= 300m) Same as for
bending moment
L = length of vessel in m (ft)
B = breadth of vessel in m (ft)
Cb = block coefficient, but not to be taken less than 0.6

The calculations follow the same general form, where the wave bending moment is
proportional to L
and also to B
. For ships up to 300m long, the intensity of bending in
the hull is very sensitive to the ship's length (L). So a long, wider hull is more likely to
break in half (or leak badly) due to the wave induced bending moment.
Supporting these relatively simple calculations is an extensive record of monitoring ship
stresses during service. These formulae have been determined on the basis of sea states
throughout the world, and take account of storms and worst case uncertainties (just the
wrong combination of wave height, length, etc). While direct stress analysis using Finite
Element Methods are possible today (barely!), these simple formulae are the trusted
solution. Highly detailed analysis is required if the designer intends to use a number
lower than these.

1. Ships are not supposed to break in half. When the Prestige went down it leaked more
than 50,000 tonnes of oil, expected to foul 1000 beaches for the next ten years.
Estimates for cleanup and fishing industry losses are as high as 10 billion euros, making
it the most expensive maritime accident in history. The ABS report released in Feb 2003
could not pinpoint the cause of the hull wall failure, but was critical of Spain's refusal to
allow the ship to take shelter when it began to list 20km off the coast. Spanish
authorities had the ship towed out to sea to face high winds and heavy seas. It took six
days to break in half completely. In May 2003 Spain lashed out at the ABS, filing a $700
million claim against the non-profit organization. In the last 25 years, only one ABS
certified ship has gone down - in a typhoon. See ABS reports. Return to text
Uneven Loading
If all the cargo was stored in the middle of the ship, the hull would experience bending (sagging)
even without waves (still water). For this reason, the loading and unloading of a cargo ship must
be carefully monitored to ensure the loads are within safe limits. In the case of Noah's Ark, the
cargo is not very dense, (e.g. iron ore), so uneven loading is not much of a problem. The water
and food storage would be the heaviest loads on the ark, and it would be prudent to distribute this
cargo in sealed storage areas throughout each level. This saves handling and makes it easier to
control vermin, with the added benefit of a controlled static loading as food is consumed during
the voyage.
Uneven Buoyancy
The ideal loading situation is when the cargo matches the buoyancy forces of the hull along its
entire length. This can be difficult when the hull is a streamlined shape. Noah's Ark was probably
not like this, so buoyancy is expected to be fairly constant throughout the length of the vessel.
Still Water Bending Moment Conclusions
The following calculations (Jim King) indicate static loading is negligible compared to the wave
bending moment. The highest static moment (2250 tf.m) does not occur near the center where
the wave bending moment is maximum, but lower values of 1800 to 1900 tf.m. These are
calculated at station 9 should be added to the wave bending moment.
Static Bending Moment = 1873 / 66750 = 2.8% of wave bending moment.
Hence the static bending moment adds only 3% to the wave bending moment in the worst case.
However, since sagging dominates wave bending (ABS), the hogging effect of the static loading
actually reduces the total bending moment slightly. The static loading acts to equalize the ABS
wave loading.
Maximum Bending Moments.
ABS Wave
67 009 - 65 071
Static BM 1 907 1 770
Net BM 66 979 -65 238
So in this arrangement, static bending moment is negligible.

Estimated Ark Loading. For more details see Cargo
Hull 5333 tf
Water 2000 tf
Dry Food
2400 tf
Dry Food
600 tf
Enclosures 4000 tf
Ramps 200 tf
Passages 200 tf
Animals 400 tf
Weight 15133 tf
Loads were estimated for 20 stations along the length of the Ark. This approximation assumes a
more open area at bow and stern, where the structure is less critical. At this early design stage,
this is assumed to be the best place to put access ramps, ventilation shafts, pumps, winches etc.
Another advantage is that the ride is more comfortable amidships, so this is where the animals
would be best located.

Shear and Net Bending Moments

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 6.86 680.985 266.65 240 60 50 10 626.65 -54.335 -372.738 8133.936 -8376.09 7761.198 -8748.83
2 13.72 765.0572 266.65 240 60 50 10 626.65 -138.407 -1322.21 16267.87 -16752.2 14945.66 -18074.4
3 20.58 755.7159 266.65 240 60 250 10 25 851.65 95.93414 -664.103 24401.81 -25128.3 23737.71 -25792.4
4 27.44 756.7538 266.65 240 60 250 10 25 851.65 94.89621 -13.1155 32535.75 -33504.4 32522.63 -33517.5
5 34.30 756.6385 266.65 200 240 60 250 10 25 1051.65 295.0115 2010.664 40669.68 -41880.5 42680.35 -39869.8
6 41.16 756.6513 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5.00128 1976.355 48803.62 -50256.6 50779.97 -48280.2
7 48.02 756.6499 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -4.99986 1942.056 56937.55 -58632.6 58879.61 -56690.6
8 54.88 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5.00002 1907.756 65071.49 -67008.7 66979.25 -65101
9 61.74 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1873.456 65071.49 -67008.7 66944.95 -65135.3
10 68.60 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1839.156 65071.49 -67008.7 66910.65 -65169.6
11 75.46 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1804.856 65071.49 -67008.7 66876.35 -65203.9
12 82.32 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1770.556 65071.49 -67008.7 66842.05 -65238.2
13 89.18 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1736.256 56937.55 -58632.6 58673.81 -56896.4
14 96.04 756.65 266.65 200 250 10 25 751.65 -5 1701.956 48803.62 -50256.6 50505.57 -48554.6
15 102.90 756.65 266.65 250 10 25 551.65 -205 295.6557 40669.68 -41880.5 40965.34 -41584.8
16 109.76 756.65 266.65 240 60 250 10 25 851.65 95 947.3557 32535.75 -33504.4 33483.1 -32557
17 116.62 756.65 266.65 240 60 250 10 25 851.65 95 1599.056 24401.81 -25128.3 26000.86 -23529.2
18 123.48 756.65 266.65 240 60 250 10 25 851.65 95 2250.756 16267.87 -16752.2 18518.63 -14501.4
19 130.34 756.65 266.65 240 60 50 10 626.65 -130 1358.956 8133.936 -8376.09 9492.892 -7017.14
20 137.20 680.985 266.65 240 60 50 10 626.65 -54.335 986.2176 0 0 986.2176 986.2176
14989.24 5333 2000 2400 600 4000 200 200 400 15133 -143.764

Data: Jim King 2004

Noah's Ark Midship Section - Concepts and Alternatives
Noah's Ark compared to the 1853 cutter "The Great Republic".

Image Allen Magnuson 2005. Used with permission. Image of Great Republic Tim Lovett based
on ref [1]
- The speculative midship section of Noah's Ark (left) is based on the 18" cubit.
- The Great Republic was the the only 4 deck clipper ever built. It was accidentally burned soon after
its completion. The above image show the famous 330 ft, 4555 ton timber ship with it's original 4 decks.
When salvaged and rebuilt it was simplified to 3 decks and 3 masts. Notice the pronounced "tumblehome"
- the inward slope of the sides of the hull. This shape is less stable than a straight sided vessel, and a
suggested origin was the men-of-war ships with their batteries of canons. [1]
- Camber [2] of the weatherdeck (top deck) is designed to drain water overboard without creating
puddles. This was carried through all the decks in sailing ships like the Great Republic. It would be much
easier to use straight beams if the internal decks are dry. In any case camber can be added if drainage is
an issue.
- This midship layout by Allen Magnuson (Feb 2005) shows a heavy keel with
built-up keelson, a double bottom which carries ballast, and a generous bilge
radius. The height of two of the decks are increased to allow mezzanine levels,
which increases the useful space on board. (No wasted high ceilings). The general
arrangement of central light and ventilation shaft is similar to the layout by Rod
Walsh. Another AHM innovation is the man-sized skylight, where window hatches
could be opened and closed from the inside. Allen's model shows a segmented
skylight structure which prevents the window from becoming an unwanted
structural member.

Image Tim Lovett based on image by Allen Magnuson 2005.
The above image shows the internal (enclosed) decks without camber. Here, the same
2:2:1 deck height scheme is followed. The protruding keel of a timber ship had a
tendency get sheared off in a grounding accident, so the central keel is continued across
the entire bottom to protect the Ark during launch and beaching. Additional keelsons
(bilge keelsons) are added under the stanchions. A second hull planking layer is also
added to prevent damage by impact with floating debris, and provide additional (spare)
strength to the hull.

Image Tim Lovett based on image by Allen Magnuson 2005.
The above image shows a combination of the variable deck height and the integrated roof
concept. Treating the internal decks as structurally less significant than the hull wall, the
lowest deck is now the single level. (Heavy storage, animals that prefer dark).
The high strength hull allows more freedom in lighting and ventilation, making extensive
use of slatted decking. Ventilation can also be directed between vertical frames behind
the ceiling (inboard longitudinal layer).
Cross-laminated hull planking could be discarded for a number of reasons, here are
three. Firstly the bilge radius (massive effort in bending planks around the curve).
Secondly the lack of ancient examples. While the latter cannot be used to disprove the
idea of a cold-molded Ark, there is an attractive alternative in Greek trireme planking
methods - mortise and tenon edge jointing. Thirdly, the sawing. Fewer layers of thicker
planks is preferable from a labor saving perspective, and makes pit-sawing a viable
solution. Fixing the planks is also much less complicated than manipulating huge planks
at 45 degrees.
This method is labor intensive but unlike the Greek super row boats, the Ark did not need
to be optimized for weight. So instead of precision mortise and tenon joints, simple
trunnels would do the job. Following the same thinking as the Greeks of 300BC and
Chinese of 1400AD, multiple layer of planks work better than one - especially when rot is
a non-issue.

Image Tim Lovett based on image by Allen Magnuson 2005.
Longitudinal element area moment check.
The blue area shown in the midship section
represents longitudinal timbers that could
carry axial stresses due to primary hogging
and sagging (neg and pos vertical bending)
loads. Area properties by CAD are;
Total Area: 23603518.15 mm^2
Area Center Y: 6081mm
(19.53ft), lxx: 89448.74 ft^4
(Exclude internal decking...)
Total Area: 20367081.45 mm^2,
lxx: 85304.51 ft^4
Section modulus: (top) 90.13E9
mm3, (bottom) 121E9 mm3
Wave Bending Moment: 71000
tfm (6.95E5 kNm)
Bending Stress Fb (top) 7.7MPa
(1120psi), (bottom), 5.75MPa
Compare working stress for Douglas Fir 8.6
MPa. Teak 6.9MPa, Spotted Gum 17.0 MPa.
These are typical building design stresses.
Note that these working stresses for wood are
very conservative. Douglas Fir is listed at
87Mpa MOR yet is given a working stress of
only 8.6MPa - a massive safety allowance of
ten. This is to account for quality defects in
timber, its anisotropic mechanical properties,
the roughness of load estimation normally
associated with standard wooden structures,
and deterioration over a long period of time.
Steel structures runs much 'closer to the
bone', as evidenced by the working stresses
specified in the ship design rules (ABS, Lloyds,
Veritas, Nippon etc).

The following image is a "work in progress" shot based on the midship layouts described
above. This detailing follows on from the lofted hull (CAD tutorial), although this hull has
since been reworked by Allen Magnuson. For simplicity, the decking has not been shown
and hull planking is oversize to suit the limitations of web images. Colors are for clarity
only - we are not saying Noah's pitch was red, green and violet.

Image Tim Lovett based on design by Allen Magnuson 2005.

1. The American-Built Clipper Ship 1850-1856, Characteristics, Construction, Details.
W.L.Crothers, McGraw Hill (1997). p54. Tumblehome has the effect of making the top
deck (weatherdeck) smaller. The claim is that this was introduced during the galleon era
when large numbers of canons could make the hull top-heavy. A smaller top deck lowers
the centre of gravity, but it also reduces the righting moment quite significantly. Another
reason for tumblehome might be to keep the lee rail out of the water when heeling. A
more sensible excuse is the strengthening effect of a barrel shaped hull, approaching the
cylindrical shape of a submarine or pressure vessel. Significant tumblehome is virtually
absent on modern ships, the sides are more likely to be vertical or even slightly outward
sloping (flare). Return to text
2. ibid p56. Camber: Apart from drainage, the deck camber helped to reduce canon
recoil (another unnecessary tradition). Claims of increased strength is rather dubious, the
camber is typically 6 inches over a 40 feet beam which is certainly not an effective arch.
The end constraint could never be rigid enough to resist the mere 1/6" increase in beam
length achieved by flattening out the camber. It may look pretty to build bridges with a
slight upwards curvature, which can accommodate creep without an unsightly sag, but it
adds nothing to the strength. I suspect the most likely reason for camber of the lower
decks was to keep a constant headroom under the cambered weatherdeck. Space was
always a premium. Return to text
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett July 2004
The Keel
The keel of the Ark had to survive an unusual launching. During the rise of the floodwaters, the
ark was probably buffeted by earthquakes, particularly in a CPT scenario. This is something it
should handle, provided it doesn't end up sliding down a hill or rattling around on a rock. Next it
was lifted by the flood, a dangerous situation if there was a fair current. Worse still, it was
beached during a global wind, which is almost certainly a sea with waves, even on the lee side of
an island. It had to remain intact during the beaching too, else the animals would be stuck in the
So we added a generous false keel. It is actually quite deep, keel log (750) + tranverse beams
(200) + longitudinal planking (400) + framing (400) + decking (100), giving nearly 2m from bottom
to lowest deck level. If the measurement of 30 cubit height is taken from the lowest extremity we
could lose 3 to 4m when the roof is included. That's almost an entire deck.
The Overall Size
The first simple question is: Do the measurements refer to capacity (interior volume) or the
external envelope of the Ark?
Until this question has been answered, the external membrane will be taken as the datum
indicating the limit of the ark, since everything outside this is 'wet' and inboard of this it should be
'dry'. This is an intermediate position between the extremes of inside and outside dimensioning.
For a structural defense of the Ark, not only should the largest likely cubit be taken, but perhaps
even the assumption that the dimensions of 300 x 50 x 30 cubits define the internal volume. This
would be the largest possible ark which is the worst case from an engineering perspective. The
opposite is true for the space argument where a small ark is the conservative choice.
The Roof
A closed tube is many times stronger than a tube unjoined. Consider a cardboard toilet roll tube -
as soon as a lengthwise cut is made the cylinder is very weak and has lost almost all torsional
resistance. That slice down the length of a toilet roll tube is like the slicing of the Ark roof by the
full length window opening. It destroys the monocoque advantage.
Open and closed cylinders. A Torsion example.
A closed cylinder has a polar moment of inertia given by J = pi (do
) / 32
An open cylinder (slitted) gives J = 2 (pi * r * t
) / 3
So for 30mm diam tube of 1mm wall thickness, the joined cylinder is
631 times stiffer in torsion !
(do = 30, di = 28, r = 14.5, t = 1)
Relative thinness of the tube exaggerates the effect, but this round
tube is proportionally thicker than the ark monocoque. With a
rectangular section the ark will be less sensitive however, perhaps
only a few hundred times softer...
Internal frames and bulkheads will help, but we certainly must keep
that roof skin together.
Transverse Section. Concept 1. Tim Lovett July 4 2004.
The basic concepts of the transverse cross-section are shown below.
Curvature: The top beam is curved over the longer inboard posts prior to frame erection.
Possibly laminated to reduce curvature of the bottom beam of the frame assembly, although this
could be restrained by some temporary bracing. Curvature should also have a strengthening
Vertical laminations: A fresh approach to plank lamination is used in the roof. In order to span
main frames the planks are laid edgewise (vertical). This would normally make attachment to the
frame difficult, but in the roof the requirements are less severe. The superimposed cross
laminations also tie the roof down. Skew nailed spikes could also be added to fix roof and frame
Cross laminations: The trick is to extend SOME of the cross laminations right through the
skylight area, effectively preventing any shear at the window zone. Perhaps 1 in 3 planks would
suffice (calculations will tell). The effect would be a diagonal lattice spanning the skylight area. It
would also be possible to reduce the number of through planks towards the ends of the hull
where loads should be reduced, simply by skipping 3 or 4 planks at a time.
Skylight Structure: The raised skylight structure is non-structural. (It does not add strength to
the hull). So the only requirements are wind loads and the risk of a freak wave perhaps. A
generous (1 cubit) wall is added below the window to arrest roof water headed inboard. (See The
Window). A pitched roof on the skylight seems hardly necessary on a ship. The smaller skylight
could also lend itself to a relatively easy water collection by sloping the roof in a 'V' shape. There
would need to be baffles along it's length to keep it there for a little while as it drain into tanks

1. Noah's Ark. A Feasibility Study. John Woodmorappe. Institute for Creation Research, Santee.
2. Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway by S.W. Hong, S.S. Na, B.S. Hyun, S.Y. Hong,
D.S. Gong, K.J. Kang, S.H. Suh, K.H. Lee, and Y.G. Je. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal
8(1):2635, 1994.
3. The Genesis Record. Morris H M Creation-Life Publishers, San Diego. 1976.
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett Mar 2004
A bolted truss structure of a
rail trestle. An essential
ingredient of the industrial
revolution, bolts are
effectively absent in ancient
cultures. Appendix 1
Threaded bolts are
disqualified from Noah's

This gives the following options for the joining of large timbers;
1. Mortise and tenon - timber dowels
2. Mortise and tenon - glue
3. Interlocking timber joints
4. Metal straps and spikes
1. MORTISE AND TENON - Timber Dowels
Mortise and tenon joints pinned
together with timber dowels.
This simple joint uses the most
basic materials and is the oldest
method of building wooden
structures, dating back at least
to the early Greeks. It remained
the primary method until the
development of stick framing in
the 1800's.

Drilling round holes in timber was never a problem in antiquity. (The ancient Egyptians even drilled
granite - very well.)
But how strong is this joint? A simple calculation might give us a clue. The recommended maximum
tenon is 1/3 of thickness.

Assume beams in Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and dowels in a hardwood such as a Eucalypt.
(Coryumbia citrodora)
Summary of typical allowable stresses for some common sample timbers. (Ref Appendix 2). These
values are conservative.
Data Data
Fir F8

Shear Strength (parallel
to grain)

Shear Stress (perp to

Shear Stress (rolling
20% of parallel)

Tensile Strength
(parallel to grain)
8.6 17

Tensile Strength (perp
to grain)

Comp Strength (parallel
to grain)
6.6 13

Comp Strength (perp to
1.6 5.2

Bending Strength (typ.
between tensile and
8 17
Efficiency of a dowelled mortise and tenon joint statically loaded in tension.
We will ignore the perpendicular tensile failure leading to peel fracture of the mortised beam
(which assumes the mortise is not too close to the end of the beam, and dowels are
sufficiently deep into the beam). We will then consider the shearing of tenon or dowels - the
controlling factor being dowel diameter. Only for large diameter or quantity of dowels is
there potential for parallel tensile failure of the tenon.
Shear of Tenon (Assume dowels symmetrical about mortise beam centre - 150mm from end
Area of Shear = L * t * 4 = 150 * 100 * 4 = 60e3 mm

Load (N) = Stress * Area = 1 * 60e3 = 60 k N (about 6 tonnes)
To match the dowel diameter, (two dowels each in double shear) we need enough area to
handle 6 / 4 = 1.5 tonnes per cross-section.
Assume shear strength = 2Mpa, then Area = load / stress = 15e3 / 2 = 7.5e3 mm
so diam =
50mm, which is reasonable.
Check crushing of tenon hole: Area = d * t = 50 * 100 = 5e3mm

Compressive strength = 6.6MPa, so Load (N) = 6.6 * 5e3 * 2 = 66kN (OK)
Check tension of mortise hole: Area = d * t * 2 = 10e3mm

Perp Tensile strength = 2.3 MPa, so Load (N) = 2.3 * 10e3 * 2 = 46kN (Failure mode)
To find "joint efficiency", compare with the tensile capacity of beam: Load = Stress * Area =
8.6 * 300^2 = 774 kN ( about 300 tonnes)
Efficiency = 46 / 774 = 6%
This design is not far from optimum because the 3 failure modes have fairly similar values.
Alternative approach. (Double check)
The revival of traditional heavy timber frame construction in the US has led manufacturers to
come up with joint solutions (Appendix 3).
This joint is specified as 5 to 10 times stronger in tension than traditional mortise and tenon
joints. The tensile force of 41.8kN is listed for 8"x 8" (200x200mm) Douglas Fir.
At this size, the timber post could handle a tension of; Load(N) = 8.6 * 200^2 = 344kN.
So 'joint efficiency' = 41.8 / 344 = 12%
Which, by implication, means the mortise and tenon joint has an efficiency of only 12 / 5 =
2.4%. (Lower than previous calculation, but certainly in the ball park)
This explains why standard roof trusses are not joined with a pinned mortise and tenon joint.
Nail plates (gang nails) are a lot better than this.
So dowelled mortise and tenon can only transfer approximately 4% of the tensile capacity of
a timber post.
Most people are surprised
to learn that aircraft wings
are glued together. Of
course, they use high tech
adhesives and strict quality
The reason? Glue is the
strongest - provided you
have ample surface area.

What about ancient glue? The rising interest in renewable resources has brought some of the old
adhesives into the spotlight. Adhesives made from lignon, soy protein, tannin, caseins and animal
blood are used today for manufacture of plywood and particle board, doors etc. Since Noah is working
with a lot of timber, storing large amounts of grain and killing large quantities of animals for waterskins
and leather, he has all the ingredients he could need to produce a variety of adhesives. Furthermore,
he was instructed to coat the ark (inside and out) with a substance translated as "pitch". This might
well have been a good adhesive also.
Efficiency of a Glued mortise and tenon joint statically loaded in tension.
This is quite a simple calculation, however adhesives are notoriously fickle and require good
quality control.
Area of glued joint = 2 * (300 +100) * 300 = 240e3mm

The tensile capacity of beam is limited by the tenon = 774 / 3 = 258kN.
So the glue would need to handle a shear stress = 258e3 / 240e3 = 1MPa
With modern adhesives and a precision joint this is readily achievable, giving a joint
efficiency as high as 33%.
However a poor fitting joint would lower this considerably. The use of wedges into the tenon
would help to give a tight joint.
A more realistic figure might be around 10% which represents 0.3MPa average adhesive
bond strength. (Appendix 4)
Obviously dowels and glue should be combined. However the glue bond would most likely break
before the dowels begin to take much load - so you can't just add the two load efficiencies together.
Where adhesives would perform exceptionally well is in conjunction with layered planking. (See Planks
or Beams?)
There are many
examples of
interlocking joints used
in ancient structures.
The problem is that so
much of the cross-
section is taken up
with the joint socket.
A joint between 2 members
is unlikely to approach 50%
of the beam strength. If 3 or
4 members are involved,
then this method gets quickly

out of hand. A true space
frame can have 8 to 18!
Perhaps the only way to get close to 100% load capacity in a timber joint is to use metal reinforcing. A
surprisingly large amount of metal would be involved however, hundreds of tonnes to complete the ark
frame. Feasible but pretty serious.
The big advantage of this method is that it suits complex spatial joints typical of a space frame
structure. If the large logs were to take significant wave induced loading, they would need to form a
rigid structure throughout the vessel. Such a structure resembles a space frame.
The following image suggests fully dressed timbers but for internal framing flat surfaces would only be
required near the joint. However, there is no way to avoid extensive timber processing in the hull walls.

Calculations for metal reinforced joint.
Assume Noah used bronze. This ancient metal is identified in Cain's descendent Tubal-
Cain. (He also worked "forged iron", as distinct from cast iron which has too much carbon to
forge into tools: Gen 4:22). So they could obviously achieve the temperature required for
bronze smelting (Copper melts at 1083
C). Most fuels can produce this temperature, even a
candle flame is 1400
C - light yellow. For example, a timber stoked pottery kiln was without
bellows reached 940
C in a Roman kiln reconstruction. The issue is to supply heat to a
furnace faster than it escapes, and concentrate the heat to where it is needed.
Take bronze yield stress of 100MPa. (Appendix 5)
The 300mm beam in tension can handle 774kN;
Cross-sectional area of bronze: Area = Load / Stress = 774e3 / 100 = 7.745e3mm

Which, for a 25mm deep section is equal to 300mm width, or four straps of 25 x 75mm.
To fix these straps, spikes would be used along their length, equal to an area of at least
. (20 spikes of 25mm diameter, or 5 spikes per strap - each side) Ignoring the area
reduction by assuming the strap is fully hand forged around the holes. This is obviously a
serious undertaking, but represents a joint that is equal to the strength of the timber in
How much bronze? Each strap would be about 2.5m long, so volume = length*area = 2.5 *
7.745e-3 = 1.94e-2 m

Hence mass = density * volume = 8750 * 1.94e-2 = 170kg (4 straps of 42kg each). The
straps could also be tapered over the length of the spike area saving around 25%. So
assume 150kg per joint, over hundreds of joints.
There are many ways to join large timbers, but the complexity of a truss limits the options. For
structural calculations where large tensile forces are likely to occur, a metal reinforced joint appears to
be the only choice. When a ship experiences hogging and sagging loads as a wave passes along the
hull, many longitudinal truss elements would oscillate between tensile and compressive loading.
Analysis based on member properties (the strength of a beam) assumes the joint is capable of
transferring the load - pointing to the metal reinforced joint. In practice, the metal joint would be
selected for the most critical joints which would be longitudinal truss elements amidships. The beams
would also be made as large as possible to minimize the number of joints. Joints that are under
permanent compressive loading can be treated far more simply, but with increasing wave size such
joints become harder to find.
It is not surprising that the most effective way to join timber resembles the modern roof truss
connection - metal reinforcement and lots of nails.

APPENDIX 1: Bolts through History
Bolts are threaded fasteners. The thread does appear is certain Roman instruments and as a
worm drive in Roman surveying equipment. There is also the famous Archimedes screw of
250BC - which was a type of water pump.
Wooden screws were used for wine presses, and metal screws were probably cut and filed by
hand - not easy for the nut. So the Dark Ages saw the use of nails instead. By 1480 threaded
screws were commonly used in the assembly of clocks. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) had
designs for screw thread cutting machinery in his notebooks. Somewhere around 1568 the
French mathematician Jacques Besson invented the first useable screw cutting lathe, however;
many continued making metal screws by hand for another century. During the 16th century
firearms and assembly concepts brought the metal screw closer to mass production which
actually occurred during the Industrial Revolution in 1765. It was the lead-screw of the engine
lathe that really made screw threads universal. Of course, how they made they first good lead-
screw is a fun topic.

APPENDIX 2: Timber Properties (References)
Typical design stresses - Civilian and Military.
Experimental Douglas fir shear data: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp553.pdf (Table 6)
Experimental Douglas fir tensile data: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp497.pdf (Figure
9, 5000PSI)
Overview of timber properties http://www.fs.fed.us/na/wit/pdf/timberbridgespub/WIT-02-

Note: "Shear Perpendicular to Grain" is rare data since it is not measured by standard tests.
Timber is certainly quite strong in perpendicular shear so the low values here might refer to
"Rolling shear" which is the other "perpendicular". However, this would not be particularly relevant
to pile design. The Red Oak figure (135 psi / 1 MPa) for mortise pins is almost the only data
available at present. (Pretty easy to measure though - just throw some wood into a double shear
test jig). http://www.preservedwood.com/pil/timber_manual/timber_manual.pdf
TIMBER PROPERTY COMPARISON Building Timbers - Technical Pamphlet No 1 - Queensland Forest Service
Douglas Fir
1 560 670 1010
(1 TO 8 YRS)
(15-25 YRS)
(15-25 YRS)
2 F8 F7 F17
BENDING STRESS (F'b) 2 8.6 MPa 6.9 17.0 MPa
MODULUS OF ELASTICITY (E) 2 9100 MPa 7900 14000 MPa
TENSION STRESS PARALLEL (F't) 2 5.2 MPa 4.1 10.2 MPa
2 6.6 MPa 5.2 13.0 MPa
2 2.6 MPa 2.1 5.2 MPa

APPENDIX 3: Timber Properties (References)
Factored Tensile Resistance of "Stavebolt (standard model)"
(steel pipe: 48.3 mm diameter and 279.4 mm Length)


Factored tensile resistance (kN)
51 mm
4 mm thick
76 mm
6 mm thick

102 mm
9.5 mm thick
White Pine
Species) 4.7 5.4 11.7 13.5 20.9 24.0

Spruce -
pine - fir 7.1 8.2 17.8 20.4 31.6 36.4

Spruce -
pineGlulam 7.8 9.0 19.4 22.4 34.6 39.8
timber and
glulam 9.4 10.8 23.5 27.0 41.8 48.1
Factored tensile resistance is calculated in accordance with CSA O86.1-94,
"Engineered Design in Wood (Limit States Design)", considering dry service
conditions and no fire retardant treatment.
** Standard term loading includes dead plus snow or use and occupancy loading.
Short term loading includes wind and earthquake loads.
The 102 mm diameter heavy duty plate washer must be installed with two (2) cut
washers under the nut.

APPENDIX 4: Adhesives (References)
Bonding anchors to concrete (11 to 21 MPa):

Cellulose based adhesive gives stresses up to 3.5MPa:
PVA type adhesives (7 to 15 MPa) http://www.emeraldinsight.com/pdfs/prt2.pdf. Note that 15MPa
represents timber failure. (100% of test samples)
Internal bond of craftwood (MDF) is around 1MPa:
Renewable resource adhesives in industry: Animal blood, lignon, soy protein, tannin, caseins

APPENDIX 5: Metals (References)
Modern Casting Bronze. Cu / Sn / Pb
Casting Tin-Bronze gives around 170MPa yield strength, and is 84% copper and 16% tin. (
www.matweb.com : UNS C91100 Copper Casting Alloy). Recommended for investment casting,
sand casting etc, for items such as piston rings, bearings, bushings, bridge plates. Not heat
treatable, so it wouldn't be affected by manufacturing variations. Elongation is 2%, so this is
Adding more Tin (to 20%) increases the strength (200MPa) but makes it more brittle. Adding
Lead and reducing Tin will improve the ductility, but reduce yield strength.
Ancient Bronze Cu / Sn / Pb
"Greek and Roman statues were analyzed, the copper content in twenty-six objects ranged from
70-80% and it ranged from 80-90% in another twenty objects. Over two-thirds of the objects had
a tin content ranging from 5-10%. The lead content for nearly two-thirds of the bronzes tested
ranged from 10-20%, but all of the objects had some lead."
tml This would be quite ductile and the expected yield stress would be around 100MPa.
Simple, home-made furnaces fired with oil or gas are capable of melting bronze and even steel.
For example: http://www.artmetal.com/project/TOC/proces/cast/ag_cast.html

Temperature is related to the color of the hot metal (or a clean flame).
480 C / 900 F Faint dark red. Barely visible red in the dark.
600 C / 1100 F Dark red
800 C / 1470 F Cherry red
950 C / 1760 F Orange. Barely visible in bright sunlight.
1100 C / 1760 F Yellow. Visible in bright sunlight Bronze
1300 C / 2370 F Light yellow, nearly blinding. Need welding goggles. Steel
1500 C / 2730 F Nearly white, blinding.
Roman pottery kiln reconstruction: (940
C): http://members1.chello.nl/~a.hendriks01/kiln.htm
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett Mar 2004
There are two completely different ways to build an enclosed rigid body. One option is the internal
truss-frame that acts as a rigid support to which the skin is attached. The alternative is like the
crayfish, where the rigid outer shell carries the load and supports the internal bits and pieces. It is
also possible to combine both methods (hybrid). The majority of ancient shipwrights began their
hulls by laying the planking first, and then adding the internal framework. This is exactly the
opposite to the European timber ships of more recent history, in which the relatively thin planking
was attached to a strong frame.
The structure of the European timber ship is quite familiar. A keel is laid, then ribs assembled and
the hull form takes shape. Finally the planking is attached to the framework. Trusses and internal
framing are seen today in the construction of houses and buildings.

USS Constitution
The oldest commissioned ship in the world, "Old Ironsides" was an all-timber frigate that
remained undefeated in battles with English navy vessels. Built in 1797, some 20% of the timbers
are still in service more than 200 years later. Hogging is the enemy of a large timber hull, where
flex can generate leakage between planks. Joshua Humphreys, a Philadelphia Quaker and an
innovative naval architect designed the strong but streamlined hull using diagonal risers, clearly
seen in the cross section above. The 12" x 24" risers were removed in previous restoration work
but the hull suffered 13 inches of hogging. They were replaced in 1992.
Upper image public domain courtesy US Navy; http://www.history.navy.mil/constitution/.
More information on USS Constitution http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/
action the
risers are in
forces on
the hull
and the

Note the
use of
n rather
tension to
absorb the
e hogging
Sagging is
a complete
reversal of
loads, the
risers now
in tension.
Sagging is
less critical
since the
keel carries
better than
the deck.

Modern steel ships are primarily designed as a monocoque structure (French for "single shell").
Likewise aircraft, racing cars, small boats and, increasingly, cars are designed with stresses
taken in the skin rather than internal framework or chassis. The advantage is weight saving
(aircraft) and cost (ships). The difficulty with monocoque has usually been in the fabrication of
complex forms, such as a streamlined fuselage, and effective edge joint detailing. Modern
composites and adhesives are employed to take full advantage of the technically superior
monocoque design philosophy. The stressed skin design for a rigid enclosed body will always win
because section modulus is highest when stresses are the furthest distance from the centre (as a
power of two). This is true for both bending and torsion. The superior tensile properties of most
engineering materials can lead to buckling as a primary concern in monocoque designs, hence
the need for limited internal support - the semi-monocoque body.
Calculation of the
strength of a
modern steel hull in
longitudinal bending
is based on hull
plate thickness and
proportions. This is
virtually a
(Image: Principles of
Naval Architecture
An example section
modulus calculation
based on a 19,000
tonne cargo vessel.
528.5 x 76 x 44.5 ft.
(161 x 23 x 13.6 m).
The calculated Total
Moment of inertia is
1078744 in
, with
a Section Modulus
of 53323 in
Assuming a certain
allowable stress in
the steel plate, this
can be linked to the
bending moment by
the simple relation;
Stress = Bending
Moment / Section
Note: Shear in the
side walls is not a
serious problem in
steel because it acts
as one piece.

Truss Frame Stressed Skin Hybrid Truss / Skin
Alternate names
Space frame
Skeleton, Chassis
Monocoque (Single
Exoskeleton, box girder
Ark construction
Joining large timbers
Precise planking in
Bit of both
Stress problems
Connections between
large timbers is difficult,
esp for alternating
tension and compression
Smooth stress transfer
through curves such as
bilge radius, bow and
stern. Buckling risk in
skin under compression.
Internal frame aids load
transfer and constrains
skin from buckling. Skin
to frame connection is
Economy of Additional metal needed Requires increased skin The internal framework
materials to reinforce structural
thickness to control
necessary for decks
also supports the skin.
Interior space
Diagonal bracing
Extremely open, but
interior deck supports
still required.
Judicious positioning of
framework would
coincide with internal
rooms and deck
Leakage Risk of thin planking
Excellent water
resistance of multi-layers
especially combined with
pitch coating during
Same as stressed skin
Longitudinal trusses
become a space frame -
requiring very complex
Inherent torsional
strength of box girder -
provided the window
does not compromise
shear capacity of the
roof. This is a bit tricky
since the windows
perforate the continuous
skin of the roof.
Same as stressed skin,
but utilizing the
framework to transfer
shear loads across the
roof window.
Hull Shape
Tending to rectangular
shape - high block
coefficient ('blocky')
Optimum strength as
approaches a circle,
making bow and stern
moulding rather tricky
since compound
curvature could exist.
Generally rectangular
with added curvature -
esp in bow and stern.
As an general design philosophy, the hybrid or semi-monocoque hull appears to be the best
choice. While a successful hull could probably be built in any of the three methods, the hybrid
design would be more efficient. To construct the hull, Noah must use either a large amount of
metal reinforcement in a truss-frame structure, or utilize piles of high quality sawn planking.
However, good planking is essential for successful sealing anyway, so the requirement for
precise lumber processing is unavoidable. This points quite strongly to a semi-monocoque hull
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett April 2004
Monocoque hulls use the shell of the hull to not only keep out water but also to cope with the
Included are the axial stresses of longitudinal tension and compression as a passing wave
generates hogging and sagging forces. Associated with this bending action is the longitudinal
shear - highest at mid height and lowest at the keel and roof. Shear is also produced when the
hull is under twisting loads. Many other loadings can occur - such as wave slamming, lateral
bending, secondary bending between ribs etc, but we will deal with the primary loads first.
Most ancient ships built in Asia and parts of Northern Europe began with an outer shell of planks
(strakes) to which the internal framing (ribs) were added. This is the complete reverse of the
familiar European construction of a timber hull. In shell-first construction, the planks must be held
to each other somehow. In Northern Europe clinker (overlapping) planks were dowelled or nailed,
in parts of Asia the planks were sewn together with rope. The ancient Greeks employed mortise
and tenon joints. (Ref 1) . This elaborate system often included timber pins which locked the
tenons in place. Early Greek ships (4th century BC) were built with precision, but workmanship
apparently deteriorated over the centuries. (Ref 1 p 208). With close fitting tenons, this system
was ideal for eliminating plank shear - the primary cause of leakage in timber vessels.

Image Tim Lovett April 2004
Greek vessels were built with the precision of furniture joinery. Romans also followed this
technique, which lasted into the Byzantine period (7th century AD). The wreck of the 4th century
BC Kyrenia had planks that were 70 to 80mm thick. These were fixed to 80x100mm frames,
barely larger than the strakes, which indicates the planking was structurally significant. Copper
spikes (nails) were used to pin the planks to the frame. The Greek warship, the Trireme, had to
be lightweight yet endure ramming impacts, so this form of precision construction was ideal. So
precise that caulking was hardly needed, nor has any been found. (Ref 1 p209) . Planks were
sawn - this is not a recent invention.

Image digitally enhanced after Ref 1 Fig 159 - after Ref 2.
Above: A plank from the wreck of the Grand Congloue (2nd cent BC). Ref 2 p 149-152. It is clear
from this cross-section that these ancient shipwrights regarded edge jointing a primary
consideration. Perhaps they were a little too keen, the strake has split through the area weakened
by mortises, but the remnant certainly demonstrates how much emphasis was placed on tenon

Image Ref 1 Fig 160 after Ref 2
Above: Mortises from the Grand Congloue were 50 to 70mm long x 60 to 80mm deep, with not
more than 100mm between them. Planks were 30 to 60mm thick and attached to 100x140mm
frames spaced a mere 120 mm apart. This ship was around 23m long and used a double layer of
Hull data from Mediterranean wrecks. 400BC to 400AD (Ref 1 Ch 10)
Wood types
Planking, frames and keel: Fir, cedar and pine. Also cypress, elm,
Oak for strength and hardness.
Bronze spikes, Copper and iron (later). Bolts (not threaded)
where the inside was hammered over like a rivet, or locked with a
key through a cross hole.
Strakes (planking)
Thickness 35 to 100mm (1.4" to 4"). Usually pine. Sometimes as
thin as 20mm.
Widths variable but at lest twice the depth of the tenons.
Evidence of double planking and use of waterproof membrane,
lead sheathing etc between layers.
Usually 50mm (2"), up to 100mm (4"). Oak.
Spaced less than 250mm (10") apart,
sometimes staggered inboard and outboard so that almost no
spacing exists.
Frames (ribs)
Inserted after the planks assembled. Usually 250mm (10") apart.
Mostly lighter than the skeleton-first construction of the later
Europeans (who typically had rib spacing equal to rib thickness).
Strakes were typically pinned with timber dowels (tree nails)
followed by a bronze spike through the center which was
sometimes clenched where it protruded at the other end. Wide
variety of timbers.
Oak used for vessels that were hauled out of the water (e.g.
Triremes). Variety of timbers.

Image Tim Lovett April 2004
Hogging and sagging causes longitudinal shear between planks, but the mortise is ideally
designed to counter this action. Wave slamming could cause transverse shear which is also
resisted through the tenon. As an additional precaution, the tenons were pinned, which gives the
joint tensile capacity - in addition to the attached framing. The entire hull built up in this fashion
makes the timber sailing ship of more recent history look crude by comparison. The largest
Trireme was a similar length to the ark. (420 ft or 128m long, with 4000 oarsmen, 2850 marines,
400 crew. Ref 3 p86). See also Compare ships
But is it too labor intensive? This method would certainly increase the labor content of the ark. But
a secure and watertight hull is essential. Using practical limits on the handling of timbers, at least
four layers of planks would be needed to achieve the minimum 300mm wall thickness for a 30m
voyage limit. (Ref 4).
In another area of the world, the Chinese reached ark-scale ocean going vessels using multiple
layers of planking. For more average sized vessels, an aging ship was given a new lease of life
by applying a waterproof membrane and nailing a new layer of planking over the old hull. After 6
or 7 layers it was time to retire the vessel. Somehow they managed to construct the extremely
large junks described in their records. Once considered the exaggerated claims of some
government scribe, discoveries such as a huge rudder post at a shipbuilding site have backed up
the claim. It appears the layered approach may have been a means to achieve the necessary hull
The flagships of Cheng Ho's fleet in the 1400's obtained lengths of 480 to 536ft (146 to 163m)
using Huai units. Even longer if measured in Ming units, with quoted lengths of up to 600ft
(182m). However, China's maritime prowess took a dive in the reign of Hongxi (1425) and
Xuande (1426-1435) culminated in the Confucian based 'Ming Ban'. From then on the Chinese
navy faded away and long distance voyages were abandoned. Junks remained smaller and
Cheng Ho's ships were never to be repeated.
Cross-laminated layers of planking can achieve a similar outcome, producing a structure similar
to oversized plywood. The shear strength of plywood is a well known, making it useful as a
bracing material in buildings. The construction of timber boats such as used by Australian surf-
lifesaving clubs testify to the effectiveness of cross lamination.

Image Tim Lovett April 2004
A four-layer laminated hull wall shows continuous planks in the 45 degree shear layers not
weakened by end joints. This would be the ultimate (and probably unnecessary) way to deal with
shear. Timber dowels could be driven into pre-drilled holes in successive layers, while the pitch is
applied as a sealant and adhesive. Mortise and tenon joints are not required, and spikes fix all
four layers onto the vertical frames. The structural efficiency of this approach would exceed the
mortise and tenon technique since a full plank cross-section is utilized. It is unlikely a stronger
structure could be built using simple materials and a minimum of metal fasteners.
The difficulty with this method is in shaping a streamlined hull. Since Noah's Ark had to carry
cargo in the open sea and not travel anywhere, a high block coefficient (rectangular prism shape)
is very likely, provided seakeeping is not jeopardized.. This is quite a different situation to the
slender racing hulls of the Greek Trireme.
Other issues include the detailing of bilge radius (if it exists in a substantial form) and lines of bow
and stern. Planking in the keel would be predominantly longitudinal to counter the tensile stresses
during sagging. Likewise the roof must contain enough longitudinal members to endure tensile
loading of a vessel under hogging. Multiple layers pinned together with timber dowels would be a
practical and quick way to tie adjacent planks into a single structure. Drilling holes and
hammering pins is a lot faster than cutting out mortise holes, and no ancient shipbuilder ever had
trouble drilling holes in a piece of wood.
Mortise & Tenon vs Cross Lamination in hull side wall.
Mortise & Tenon Cross Lamination
Time consuming mortising
Possibly more sawing than the
mortised planks if thickness is
reduced. However, it is
possible that both methods
could use 4 layers.
Assembly could be time
45 degree difficult to access
along length of plank
Hull shape
Good design freedom at bilge
radius, but detailing of bow and
stern is not advantaged
Some limitations if planking
was parallel sawn. Complex
curves could be generated
using shaped planks
Should be adequate, but the
inefficiency of the stressed skin
could raise the wall thickness
above the 300mm
Near optimal design for shear
Historic precedent Greek and Roman ships
Not seen, possibly excessively

1. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World; Lionel Casson 1971 Princeton Univ Press,
2. l'Epave du Grand Congloue a Marseille, F. Benoit; XIV supplement a Gallia, Paris 1961
3. Ships and Seafaring in ancient times; Lionel Casson 1994 British Museum Press, London
4. Safety Investigation of Noahs Ark in a Seaway; S.W. Hong et al: Creation Ex Nihilo
Technical Journal 8(1):2635, 1994.
5. The traditional Indonesian sailing vessel the Pinisi was built using blind trunnels (like
dowels) between adjacent planks. The hull planking was laid up first - like most timber
boats outside of the European frame-first method.
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett May 2004
"There is a false idea that amazingly still has some following, that wooden ships were
strong because they would flex. In fact, relative movement between structural members
allows fresh water to enter the hull structure... "
Comment on hogging by Tricoastal Marine, wooden ship builders.
The cold molded hull is formed by multiple layers of planking laid up at different angles. This is
the strongest way to plank a hull, and forms an integrated skin capable of sustaining higher loads
without troublesome deflections.
Here is a modern timber ship. It is a mine hunter designed to have almost no magnetic signal. At
224 feet (68m), the Avengers are the longest wooden hulls built for the Navy. The hull is coated
with fiberglass which adds more strength and stiffness. Wood has surprisingly good impact
strength however, making it suitable for damage control.

Figure 1: USS Chief, Avenger-class wooden minesweeper
Commissioned in 1994

There are twelve Avenger mine countermeasures vessels in
service with the US Navy.
Layers of angled planking deals with both shear and tensile loading. Far superior to iron bracing
under conventional planking, the cold molded hull transfers the loads evenly.

Image Tim Lovett April 2004

The construction of the ship starts with the building
of a wooden frame, keel upwards. Strips of the core
material of the GRP sandwich are placed on the
frame. http://www.naval-

AM 480 under construction, October 25, 1952
When the framing was complete, a triple layer of fir planking was installed: two opposing diagonal
layers, and one fore and aft (horizontal) layer. Each layer was fastened to the frames in the
conventional way.
The Repair of the USS Constellation
Parallel planked ships are weak in longitudinal bending. This became apparent to shipwrights
especially as they attempted to build very large hulls in timber in the late 1800's. One solution
was to attach iron straps the frames just beneath the planking. However, the effectiveness of this
method is limited to the load capacity of the joint between the iron straps and the timber framing.
Since timber tends to loosen around a point of high stress concentration, the whole design is
limited by the movement between straps and frame. A far better design is to spread the load
transfer evenly over the entire length of the framing - a cold molded hull.

The 150 year old hull of the USS Constellation was in bad shape. The timber hull had 36 inches
of hogging - caused by the typical mismatch between buoyancy and loading. Buoyancy is mostly
amidships. Various ideas were put forward - steel cables, steel keel members, deck reinforcing
with high tensile bars. These methods all suffered from the same problem - the transfer of loads
from the reinforcing member to the timber hull. The solution was to re-plank the Constellation
using four layers of crossed timbers - a cold molded hull.
Restoration workers replaced the hull's
original 6" oak planking with a cold-molded
shell of Douglas Fir. First, a thin layer of
planks was fastened to the frame like a
typical plank on frame hull. Then the
second layer was applied diagonally and
bonded with nails and epoxy to the
planking beneath.
Despite being thinner and the wood of
lower strength than oak, the cold molded
shell is considered to increase the hull
strength by at least 30%. Deflection would
be even more significantly improved.

http://www.constellation.org USS Constellation site. This is the ship mentioned by the
Davis study above. http://www.constellation.org/rest/rest3.html Images include a photo
of the diagonal planks being attached to form a cross- laminated hull. (Cold molded hull)
http://www.tricoastal.com/woodship.html#hog Nice description of cold molded hull and a hogging.
http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-davis.htm (very nice analysis done on USS Constellation, which
involved the application of cross laminated planking) The choice to use a cold molded shell (cross
laminated planking) meant was dramatically superior to parallel the planked hull. "This shell would
carry all the principal loads, allowing the historic fabric to be preserved, repaired or
replaced without regard to how it would affect the strength of the ship."
Side Shell Laminae Schedule [0/45/45/0]
2 T&G Douglas Fir, 0

1" Douglas Fir, 45

1" Douglas Fir, -45

1" Douglas Fir, 0

Gun Deck Laminae Schedule [0/90/0]
1" Douglas Fir, 0

1" Douglas Fir, 90

1.5" Douglas Fir, 0


Three linear motions
Surge (x axis). Lengthwise. Propulsion and drag act along this axis.
Surfing is an example of surge caused by a wave.
Sway (y axis). Sideways. Generally a minor movement in a large
vessel. Wave and wind loads could contribute to this motion.
Heave (z axis). Up and down. Wave motion causing the whole ship to
rise and fall.
Three rotational motions
Roll (Around x). The most significant stability criterion - capsize.
Caused by waves, wind and can be induced by yaw.
Pitch (Around y). A rocking motion between bow and stern. Mostly
wave induced.
Yaw (Around z). This is what the rudder is supposed to do. Rudder
corrections for course keeping illustrate that wind and waves can
cause yawing motions.
Ship Geometry
1. Length Between Perpendiculars (LBP or L): The distance between forward and aft
2. Beam (B): The breadth of the ship at the widest point. Molded beam is measured
amidships or at the widest section from the inside surface of the shell plating.
3. Draft (T): The depth from waterline to the deepest part of the ship.
4. Depth (D). Total depth from bottom to the top watertight deck. Depth =
freeboard + draft.
5. Length Overall (LOA): The extreme length of the ship.
6. Length on Waterline (LWL): This is the length at the waterline in the ship's design
loaded condition.
7. Freeboard (F): Distance between the waterline and the uppermost watertight
8. Sheer: The rise of a deck - usually toward bow and stern. Sheer increases
freeboard, and helps keep the vessel from shipping water in rough seas -
particularly at the bow.
9. Camber: The convex upwards curve of a deck. Also called round up, round down,
or round of beam, usually around one-fiftieth of the beam. Not all ships have
cambered decks; ships with cambered weather decks and flat internal decks are
not uncommon.
10. Tumblehome: Inward slope of hull sides above the waterline - the opposite of
flare. Tumblehome was a usual feature in sailing ships and many ships built
before 1940. Only seen on tugs and icebreaking vessels, sometimes used to
reduce topside weight, and for reducing radar cross sections.
11. Flare: The outward curvature of the hull surface above the waterline, i.e., the
opposite of tumblehome. Increases buoyancy when immersed. Flaring bows are
often fitted to help keep the forward decks dry and to prevent "nose-diving" in
head seas.
12. Deadrise: Rise of the bottom from baseline to molded breadth measureed
amidships. Also called "rise of floor" or "rise of bottom". Full-bodied ships, such as
cargo ships and tankers, have little or no deadrise, while fine-lined ships have
much greater deadrise along with a large bilge radius.
13. Rake: Slope of profile lines - esp rake of stem (angle between the stem and
14. Cut-up: When a keel departs from a straight line at a sharp bend, or knuckle, the
sloping portion is called a cut-up. High-speed combatants usually have a long cut-
up aft (extending 13 to 17 percent of LWL) to enhance propeller performance and
1. Displacement Volume (V): The volume of the underwater hull at any given
2. Displacement (W): The weight of water of the displaced volume of the ship, which
equals the weight of the ship and cargo.
3. Buoyancy: The upward push of water pressure, equal to the weight of the volume
of water the ship displaces (W).
4. Reserve Buoyancy: The watertight volume between the waterline and the
uppermost continuous watertight deck.
5. Moment of Inertia (I): Also called the Second Moment of Area unless specified
otherwise. It is proportional to bending strength.
6. Tonnage: Cargo capacity of a merchant ship, measured by volume.
7. Trim: Longitudinal tilt. Stern draft - bow draft
8. List, Heel, and Roll: Angular transverse inclinations. List describes a static
inclination such as list due to side damage. Heel describes a temporary inclination
generally involving motion, such as wind or turning, while roll indicates periodic
inclination from side to side such as wave action.
9. Center of Gravity (G). The center of all mass of the ship, acting vertically
10. Center of Buoyancy (B). The geometric center of the submerged hull, acting
vertically upward.
11. Metacenter (M). When the ship is inclined at small angles, the metacenter is the
intersection of the buoyant force with the ship centreline. If the metacenter is
above the center of gravity then the ship is stable.
12. Center of Flotation (F). The geometric center of the waterline plane, about which
the ship trims fore-and-aft.
AFT: Toward the stern of the boat.
AGROUND: Touching or fast to the bottom.
AMIDSHIPS: In or toward the center of the boat.
BEAM SEA: Sea coming on the side of the ship.
BEARING: The direction of an object expressed
either as a true bearing as shown on the chart,
or as a bearing relative to the heading of the
BILGE: The interior of the hull below the floor
BOW: The forward part of a boat.
BROACH: The action of turning a vessel
broadside to the waves.
BROADSIDE: Presenting the side of the ship
BRIDGE: The location from which a vessel is
steered and its speed controlled. "Control
Station" is really a more appropriate term for
small craft.
BULKHEAD: A vertical partition separating
CAPSIZE: To turn over.
DISPLACEMENT: The weight of water displaced
by a floating vessel, thus, a boat's weight.
DRAFT: The depth of water a boat draws.
FATHOM: Six feet.
FOLLOWING SEA: Sea coming on the stern.
GANGWAY: The area of a ship's side where
people board and disembark.
HEADING: The direction in which a vessel's bow
points at any given time.
HEADWAY: The forward motion of a boat.
Opposite of sternway.
HEEL: Constant roll angle - such as caused by a
side wind or turning of the vessel.
HELM: The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
HULL: The main body of a vessel.
KEEL: The centerline of a boat running fore and
aft; the backbone of a vessel.
KNOT: A measure of speed equal to one nautical
mile (6076 feet) per hour.
LEE: The side sheltered from the wind.
LEEWARD: The direction away from the wind.
Opposite of windward.
LEEWAY: The sideways movement of the boat
caused by either wind or current.
MARINE ENGINEERING: Propulsion and systems
within the ship. (Pumps, power generation, air &
water systems etc)
MIDSHIP: Approximately in the location equally
distant from the bow and stern.
NAUTICAL MILE: One minute of latitude;
approximately 6076 feet: about 1/8 longer than
the statute mile of 5280 feet.
NAVAL ARCHITECTURE: Ship design: especially
hull design, overall layout with attention to
stability, seakeeping and strength.
PORT: The left side of a boat looking forward.
QUARTER: The sides of a boat aft of amidships.
QUARTERING SEA: Sea coming on a boat's
SEAWORTHY: A boat or a boat's gear able to
meet the usual sea conditions.
SOUNDING: A measurement of the depth of
STARBOARD: The right side of a boat when
looking forward.
STEM: The forward most part of the bow.
STERN: The after part of the boat.
WAKE: Moving waves, track or path that a boat
leaves behind it, when moving across the waters.
WATERLINE: A line painted on a hull which
shows the point to which a boat sinks when it is
properly trimmed
WAY: Movement of a vessel through the water
such as headway, sternway or leeway.
WINDWARD: Toward the direction from which
the wind is coming.
YAW: To swing or steer off course, as when
running with a quartering sea.
Noah's Ark Design Parameters
The Ark is not supposed to sink, so hull integrity and stability are essential. It
is prudent to ensure a safe margin in any sea state likely to be encountered,
especially considering the magnitude of the floodwaters and the (presumed)
novelty of the vessel. Both these factors would drive the project to use a high
safety factor - to err on the conservative side. The job had to be done
1. Hull integrity
Watertightness (E) The ship must not leak excessively, or take water onboard. A sound
hull, storm hatches etc
Strength (E) The ship must not break in half or flex in rough seas. Wave bending
moment, wave slamming, torsion etc.
2. Seakeeping
Stability (E) The ship must not capsize - a combination of roll stability and broaching
Seakindliness (D) The ship motions should easy on its crew and gear. Accelerations,
angle of roll etc
3. Voyage Requirements
Essential needs met (E) The ship must meet the essential needs of cargo and crew
during the voyage, Space, ventilation etc
Risks Managed (D) Fire hazards, access and handling issues, repairs etc.
4. Construction
Buildable (E) It must be possible to construct the ship using available technology. Wood
construction, manual labor etc
Costs Optimized (D) The ship should require a minimum of materials and labor without
jeopardizing any of the essential criteria.
(E) = Essential, (D) = Desirable.

COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett June 2004, Sept 04.
Once upon a time there was an amazing timber called "gopher wood",
far stronger than anything we have today...
Not likely.
The strength of seasoned timber is related to density. A dense timber simply has more stuff in it,
cellulose, lignin etc, built into heavier-walled cells. There is no reason to expect that there exists
some magical timber that outperforms all the others by orders of magnitude. While there are
differences in workability, fungal attack & seasoning stability, generally speaking the strength of
commercially useful timber is proportional to density. That's it.
And you can't get much more dense than the heavyweight eucalypts, Nigerian ebony or the
famous Lignum-vitae. For example, the Australian Grey Ironbark tips the scales at 1120 kg/m3
(dry) and has metal-like strength (MOR = 185MPa), almost double that of European Oak and
American White Oak. Old Ironbark must be cut with a tungsten-tipped blade. Could Noah build a
huge boat out of something far stronger than modern timber? Is it even possible for timber to get
much heavier and stronger than this? Obviously not by much.

Density vs Strength. (Based on data from Ref 5) Is gopher wood on this graph somewhere? It
seems unlikely it could lie anywhere outside this range from balsa to lignum-vitae. And most of
the extremely high strength timbers over 150MPa MOR are troublesome to season and difficult to
So what is Gopher wood?
There is one verse containing the word gopher . Here it is: (KJV)
Gen 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it
within and without with pitch.
The word gopher is unclear, "no Hebrew expert knows for sure what gopher wood is in modern
terminology". (Ref 2). In fact, gopher is barely a Hebrew word at all, looking very much like a
foreign word included in the text. Others say it could be work of a careless scribe who meant to
write kopher (covering or pitch), but everyone thought he wrote gopher.
The leading suggestions for the meaning of gopher wood are wood identity, spelling mistake,
squared beams and lamination. Others have been suggested, such as a type of seasoning
process or even the outlandish claim that the ark was made of reeds.
1. A species or type of wood.

Bluegum Sydney Australia. Photo Tim Lovett 2004
This idea suggests the "gopher tree" was the only timber Noah was allowed to use. "Evidently
some form of dense or hard wood" (Morris Ref 4). A heavy robust timber is a logical choice for a
big boat structure, especially in a vessel that is volume limited rather than space limited. Since it
is unlikely there has ever existed a timber that totally outperforms all others, there is every chance
that the second best timber would do. Considering that gopher wood is almost certainly below the
Ironbark standard, many other timbers may have made the grade.
But building a ship entirely from a single species is not ideal, timber ships are more likely to
employ a variety or timbers. If gopher wood was a great timber for frames (strong), it might be an
overkill to make Noah saw his way through acres of the stuff just to get some basic decking and
lining boards. The Ark was only made for a single voyage after all.
However, if gopher refers to a timber group with a variety of properties suitable for every purpose,
then Noah had to sort this out anyway, so it doesn't really help much. Even for us today, the word
is completely useless if it refers to an unidentified timber type. One word translated carefully for
4500 years. Might as well call it Cyprus or something equally silly.
The gopher tree interpretation could be explained by flora re-distribution (or ark transport) due to
the flood. Since the word is obscure, perhaps the tree was no longer identified after the flood,
causing it to disappear from normal use - a plausible outcome if the original gopher forest took
root later in a place like Australia or America.

Western Hemlock Seattle USA. Photo Tim Lovett 2004
The idea of specifying a special marine timber does make sense. There are many factors
influencing the choice of timber for boat-building. The timber must have the usual mechanical
properties such as strength, but there are many other factors involved. Critical areas (like the hull)
require a timber that is available as a clear grade in adequate sizes, has suitable workability,
responds well to seasoning, and is dimensionally stable over a long construction timescale. It is
conceivable that these requirements were beyond Noah at the time, so God spelled out which
tree He wanted. In fact, these requirements also mean that the highest strength timber is almost
certainly excluded due to their inherent difficulties with seasoning, working qualities and
shrinkage. It is interesting to note that the ancient Greek trireme was constructed with green
timber that was designed to shrink. Also, boats cannot be built with timber that is too dry (low
moisture content) because the wetted hull will swell excessively. The opposite is also a problem,
too green and the timber will shrink badly during construction. A stable humidity and lack of harsh
sunlight and rain periods, along with a relatively constant temperature and mild seasonal
adjustments would help Noah's ship behave itself over the construction period. (Ref 4)
2. A Spelling Mistake
gopher {go'-fer} unknown (Ref 3)
kopher {ko'-fer} pitch
Did kopher become gopher? One would expect a scribe to make an error the other way round - a
foreign word turning into a familiar word (gopher becomes kopher). Considering that this is the
sole appearance of the word in the whole bible, this is a big claim - and untestable. There would
need to be some collaborative evidence to label this a text error. Simply claiming the word looks
like something else is insufficient evidence. Did the scribes have a lot of trouble mixing up g & k?
Surely the next scribe would spot the imaginary word gopher and go back to kopher. Besides, if
kopher was the original, the verse would have been "Make yourself an ark of pitched wood; make
rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch." Seems to be bordering on tautology.
3. Squared Beams
Easton's Bible Dictionary lists the Septuagint (LXX.) translation of gopher wood as "squared
beams." The later Vulgate then translated "squared beams" as "planed wood."
You can't build a ship using un-squared wood anyway, apart from some of the internal members
perhaps. Once again, it doesn't really help Noah much, or anyone else for that matter. (Except
perhaps to eradicate the ideas of reed barges and crude rafts)
Another problem with this idea is how gopher could have become an obscure word. Obviously
timber gets squared in any civilization so it should never have become an obsolete word.
Besides, there is a perfectly good Hebrew word for 'squared'; raba.
raba` {raw-bah'} to square, be squared (Strong's 07251)
For example, Ezekiel 41:21 The posts of the temple squared (07251), and the face of the
One would expect the LXX authors to have known this of course. Perhaps there is some
suggestion of a different type of 'squaring'. Or perhaps the LXX authors were "off the beam" on
this one.
4. Wafers or Lamination
"Some researchers have suggested that "gopher" may have referred to a lamination process,
which might have been necessary considering the huge size of the ark (450 feet long or more). If
true, the correct translation would be "laminated wood." The Christian Apologetics & Research
Ministry suggests that the true meaning of the word "gopher" may be found in a modern
dictionary, and that forms of the word may still be in use today. "In the Concise Oxford Dictionary
1954 edition under the word 'gofer, gaufre, goffer, gopher, and gauffer see also wafer' it speaks of
a number of similar things ranging from wafers as in biscuit making (layers of biscuit) or in a
honeycomb pattern, to layers of lace in dressmaking, and hence goffering irons to iron the layers
of lace." (Ref 1)
In some ways it looks like lamination argument might hold water;
- The word is still around in various forms and languages and means something like
'pressing thin stuff'. (Ref 1)
- The ark is big and very difficult to build without layering. (or even impossible)
- From Noah's perspective, this advice is more useful than any other meaning for gopher.
Lamination instead of thick timbers is a higher level design decision than "pick this tree",
or "square the timber".
- It is not inconceivable that the word lost its use in Hebrew culture because it is a
specialized form of construction
But the question might arise as to the extent of lamination. While the hull planking is a prime
candidate, there is no need to laminate everything (unless perhaps the entire ark must be
constructed without metal - a somewhat arbitrary limitation). To allow partial lamination here
would counter the argument against #1 that only a single species must be used throughout the
If the gopher/wafer connection is based on nothing more thinness of wood, Hebrew has a word
for timber boards, qeresh {keh'-resh} implying splitting off. This weakens the case for the
lamination idea unless gopher was referring to the end result of lamination rather than the
individual boards within the member. In this case gophering might suggest exactly that.
5. An Ark of Reeds?
Amazingly, some are convinced that gopher wood stands for 'reeds'. This idea would not be
worth mentioning except that it has been proposed by several commentators. To get 'river reed'
out of 'gopher wood', the following details need to be overlooked.
- The ark was 300 cubits (150m) long, and needed a fair bit of deck space in 3 levels. Too
big for reeds.
- The Hebrew word for wood ( `ets) is never used in the context of reeds. Of 328
appearances, the closest it gets is thin sticks in a roof. (Jos 2:6)
- The Hebrew already has a word for reeds (qaneh), and a word for bulrushes (gome' )
- It might be invoking another spelling mistake clause - a big one. (qaneh) or
(gome' ) becomes (gopher) ?
It has even been suggested that the ark may have been a flexible vessel. This runs counter to
common sense, ignores the structural requirements for multiple decks and seems to imply the ark
sat high in the water (how else could a flexible wall be made watertight?). There appears to be no
reason to take this idea seriously, it looks like the idea of a reed barge is grasping at straws.
It looks like the best contenders for gopher are "wood type" or the "lamination" concept. Perhaps
we can ignore the spelling mistake suggestion, and the squared beams idea makes little sense
when there is a real Hebrew word for that. No comment is necessary on the reed ark.

1. Gopher Wood http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/gopherwood.html Paul Taylor. The Oxford
English Dictionary actually says the following;
Gofer. Honeycomb, thin cake; ultimately of low German origin: see Wafer and Waffle. A thin
batter cake on which a honeycomb pattern is stamped by the iron plates between which it is
baked... also gophering iron: the implement in which 'gofers' are baked. Goffer, gauffer. Also
gopher, gofer, gaufre. Adaption of French gaufrer to stamp or impress figures on cloth, paper, etc.
with tools on which the required pattern is cut. The usual sense of the English word is ... to make
wavy by means of heated goffering-irons; to flute or crimp (the edge of lace, a frill, or trimming of
any kind). Goffered. 1. Of frills, etc.: Fluted, crimped. 2. Bookbinding and printing. Embossed or
impressed with ornamental figures, esp. goffered edges.
The general idea seems to be a pressing operation for thin material (batter cake or waffle, cloth,
paper), often in the presence of heat. While somewhat tenuous, perhaps there is similarity
between pressing book covers and laminating timber using heated pine tar or rosin adhesive
(pitch). Maybe.
2. Comments regarding the lack of linguistic support for a lamination interpretation
3. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for 'gopher (Strong's 01613) ' " . Blue Letter
Bible. 1996-2002. 8 Jun 2012 7 Jun 2004. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-
4. AS 1738: Timber for Marine Construction. Australian Standards
5. Characteristics, properties and uses of timbers: Vol 1 South-east Asia, Northern Aust and
Pacific. W.G.Keating, CSIRO 1982
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett July 2004
Noah's Ark... Held together by wooden nails?
Not quite as silly as it sounds. Ships were built that way.
"Trunnels" are round or multi-sided wooden pins (literally "Tree-nails") used to hold wooden
parts of a ship together. Trunnels were still used even when nails were available because they
were cheaper, and because metal exposed to salt water promoted rotting of the wood. Trunnels
were commonly 25 to 40mm (1 - 1.5 inches) in diameter, usually in a harder timber such as
Locust. Water seeping into the endgrain of the trunnel caused expansion, improving the seal.
Wooden wedges were sometimes driven into the trunnel to increase the grip, then the protruding
fastener was sawn off flush with a handsaw.

The Trunnel or Tree nail. Noah's not-so-high-tech fastener?
Used correctly, trunnels (treenails, pegs, dowels, pins) have advantages over metal nails. The
mass production of steel nails from the mid 1800's made joining faster and more convenient,
without the need to predrill. But a properly designed timber structure can be successfully held
together by the humble trunnel, provided there is a large enough wood area to work with.
Membrane Elements.
Top candidates for the trunnel are the laminated membrane elements forming the bottom, sides
and top of the Ark. This cheap, quick to make, low-tech solution has no corrosion problems and
no worries about hitting metal while drilling. Wood is much cheaper than bronze too, in any era.
The Bottom
As Noah's Ark undergoes hogging and sagging loads applied by the waves, the bottom and roof
will be in alternating tension and compression. They must act as a single piece. This is achieved
using multiple layers of planks joined by trunnels. The pitch will act as an adhesive which
effectively turns the entire slab into a glue laminated beam. However, an initial conservative
estimate will rely solely on the dowels.
How efficient is the system?
Adjacent planks must have enough overlap to secure with an adequate number of trunnels. If the
diameter is too large the remaining plank area is inadequate, too small and a greater number will
be needed, too close together and the planks could spit. This defines the amount of plank overlap

In this situation the trunnels on the extreme left and right of the joint carry the most load, while
those towards the middle carry less. We will initially assume the central pegs carry only 50% load,
but this assumption will need to be checked.
Notice in the diagram below that the inner planks put the trunnels into double shear, effectively
doubling the cross-sectional area of each fastener. Top and bottom planks are limited to single
The design is based on 4 layers of planks, with at least 3 fully joined planks active at any cross
section along the Ark. This requires each plank to be 4 times the length of the overlap as shown
below. Hence a stack of 4 planks will have only 3 continuous planks passing any plank end. This
gives a maximum of 75% efficiency, compared to the strength of a single-piece plank set.

However, the planks would also be overlapping transversely, like bricks. Each plank could be
laterally connected to 2 others, with the adjacent set of planks staggered so that there is always 7
out of 8 planks taking the load. Maximum efficiency is now 88%. It is not inconceivable to carry
the multi-member advantage even further, so that a single joint might be spread over 12 or more
planks. This would harness more than 90% of the total plank area in resisting the axial loads
caused by wave bending moment. There is strength in numbers.
Trunnels (Tree Nails)
Dowel Diameter 40 mm
Dowel Parallel Shear Strength 3 Mpa
Dowel Perp Shear Strength 9 Mpa
Plank Thickness 100 mm
Plank Width 400 mm
Plank Tensile Strength 7 Mpa
Plank Perp Tensile Strength (splitting) 0.5 Mpa
Plank Long Comp Strength 10 Mpa
Plank 100% Load 280000 N

Dowel Shear
Dowel CSA 1256.63 mm2
Dowel shear force (double shear) 22619.47 N
Total number of layers 4
Extreme plank single shear adjustment 75%
Inside dowel loading ratio 50%
Average dowel efficiency 56%
Average dowel shear force per plank 12,723.45 N
No of dowels to equal plank tensile 22.01

Parallel Shear Check
Area Ratio > 3 ? 3.1

Hole Crushing
Hole Crush Area 4000 mm2
Hole crushing force 40000 N

Plank Splitting Length
Code splitting criterion (7 diams) 280 mm

Assume dowels at split distance
Min plank overlap 3,080 mm
3.08 m
Min plank length 12324 mm
12.324 m

Max Joint efficiency 0.88
1 dowel hole substracted 0.9
Final efficiency 79%
The ultimate solution is many planks and many small diameter dowels, so it's a tradeoff between
efficiency and amount of work.
The adhesion of the pitch has been ignored, but even a weak glue could be very affective over
such large areas.
Since we are assuming a rather conservative cross-grain shear of only 3 times the parallel shear,
the risk of parallel shear is easily checked. We simply need a parallel shear area in excess of
3xCSA per shear plane. At 40mm diameter and 100mm plank thickness the area ratio is
4000/1256 = 3.1. So 40mm is a good choice. But a shorter, fatter dowel could fail in parallel
shear, so it is not helpful to go much bigger in diameter.

1. Old Ways of Working Wood: The Techniques and Tools of a Time-Honored Craft. A.W. Bealer,
Barre Publishing Massachusetts.
Trunnels (Tree nails): "Before the era of mass produced nails the main fastening device for the
frames of houses, mills and bridges was the wood peg, usually designated a trunnel, which is a
corruption of the ancient term treenail. Most trunnels used before 1840 were cut square then
driven into the round peg hole of mortise and tenon with a maul or mallet. The use of trunnels
practically disappeared after 1840 in house building, but the builders of wooden bridges,
particularly covered bridges, used them to pin the timbers together almost until World War 1.
Bridge makers used mass-produced trunnels, round instead of square, but preferred over spikes
and bolts because wood in wood held up longer under the vibration and tension of constant traffic
by iron shod horses and heavy wagons." (Ref 1, p224)
2. http://home.att.net/~ShipModelFAQ/smf-qTrunnels.html
"Trunnels" are wooden pins (literally "Tree-nails") or dowels that are used to hold wooden parts
of a ship together. Trunnels were used instead of metal nails both because they were cheaper,
and because metal exposed to salt water promoted rotting of the wood... trunnels were commonly
1 - 1.5 inches in diameter.
3. http://www.hamilton-scourge.city.hamilton.on.ca/tech&sup.htm
Planks were held in place with iron C-clamps until they were permanently fastened to the frame
with a treenail or trunnel fastenings (locust pegs about 1 1/4" in diameter).
4. http://www.hamilton-scourge.city.hamilton.on.ca/glossary.htm#Treenail
Treenail. [trunnel] A round or multi-sided piece of hardwood, driven through planks and timbers to
connect them. Treenails were employed most frequently in attaching planking to frames,
attaching knees to ceiling or beams, and in the scarfing of timbers.
5. http://www.wcml.org.uk/gmb/shipw.htm
THE SHIPWRIGHT: In this print, the shipwright is seen standing at the stern of the ship on a
scaffold. The holes were bored with an auger and the wedges driven in with a wooden trunnel.
They were then levelled with a saw. The shipwright is shown with his tools, his saw, his auger, his
axe and punches of different sizes at his feet ready for use.
6. Wood and Timber as a Marine Material. http://web.usna.navy.mil/~phmiller/en380/wood.doc
7. http://www.davistownmuseum.org/bioDrew.htm
..."Special attention was given, in the beginning, to the manufacture of what was known as
Treenail (treenail, pronounced trunnel) Augers, used in the building of wooden shipping and
differing from the regular Carpenter's Augers in the matter of length of the twisted section and
also in quality. They were used for boring holes in the oak timbers that formed the frames of
ships, preparatory to fastening those timbers together with iron bolts or with tree nails" (literally
Tree Nails, or wooden pegs, just as houses were framed). "The nature of this work demanded
long Augers and the best quality of steel and workmanship, to perform their work and withstand
the severe service required of them"
8. http://www.tollway.com/swift/info.htm
Also involved in her longevity is the fact that she was completely "trunnel" fastened (locust tree-
nails) so there were no fastenings to corrode or plugs to leak and start soft places.
It took many skills to build a ship, and virtually all of the labor was done by experienced
craftsmen. Carpenters, sailmakers, blacksmiths, caulkers, painters, and adzemen were only a
few of the skills required by the yards. These were not easy jobs, but they were jobs a man could
be proud of. To be considered the best trunnel-borer, plank-liner, or rigger was a mark of
10. http://www.shipwrecks.nf.ca/news/news3-2.shtml
In the early shipyards of outport Newfoundland long iron nails were often hard to come by and
vessels were trunnelled with wooden nails, similar to a dowel. The trunnel extended completely
through the plank, the seal and the timbers, and this technique provided extra strength. However,
Eileen Lake was fastened with wooden spikes that reached several inches into the timber. Spikes
were quicker to pound into the planks than trunnels and were easier to make. It was a shortcut
that probably hastened the demise of a fine ship.
11. http://www.daviscoltd.com/nams/Documents/nvic7-95.pdf
Glossary. Guidance on Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance of Wooden Hulls. Treenail -
(Trunnel) A wood dowel used as a fastening; often fitted with a wedge in the dowel end to hold it
in place. Dense wood such as locust is used for the dowel.
12. http://www.kastenmarine.com/phinisi.htm
The traditional Indonesian sailing vessel the Pinisi was built using blind trunnels (like dowels)
between adjacent planks. The hull planking was laid up first - like most timber boats outside of the
European frame-first method.
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett June 2004
There are many factors governing the choice of timber for use in a marine environment.
Strength. The mechanical properties need to be suitable for the task, things like strength,
stiffness and toughness. This is important if the timber is to be used in the frames, keel or stern
post. But more complex than outright MOR (modulus of rupture - a bending related strength
property), the timber is most likely to fail at a joint. The joint performance such as nail holding
ability becomes paramount. The sheer size of the ark and the fact that it must ride the open sea
makes a high strength timber a logical choice.
Decay Resistance. Marine timbers are selected with superior resistance to decay. Obviously
external timber gets wet often, so timber for the decking and planking must be carefully selected.
Most often it is not the timber underwater that has trouble, but the timber higher up that gets a
constant dousing with cycles of wet and dry. Another troublesome are is the internal timber -
particularly low down near the keel. Ventilation is often inadequate and the high moisture levels
can set up decay from the inside out. The short length of the Ark voyage (less than 5 months)
makes these issues insignificant, especially since the higher strength timbers are usually more rot
resistant anyway.
Shrinkage and Swell. All timbers swell as moisture content increases, demonstrated by the
familiar 'stiff door' during periods of wet weather. For marine use a minimal change is desired - or
at least a consistent and predictable degree of swell when it's in the water. Some hull planking
methods actually rely on the expansion of wet timber to seal the hull, much like the staves of a
timber wine barrel. The standard method for the timber sailing ship was the carvel hull, where a
caulking material is rammed between planking. This reduces the reliance on precise fit and is
relatively simple to repair (Provided it is accessible - which it probably isn't).
Size. For Noah's Ark, it would be advantageous to make some structural members in one piece.
This of course requires a big enough tree, with a suitably long and straight bole (main trunk).
Timbers such as Douglas Fir, many Eucalypts and rainforest species such as Teak grow in a
suitable form for producing very long logs. The most famous tall trees being the Redwoods
approaching 120m, but Douglas Fir is almost the same at 115m, and not far behind is the
Tasmanian Eucalypt approaching 100m. It seems unlikely that a pre-flood tree would could have
a bole long enough to match the ark length of 150m. Not only that, the log would weigh hundreds
of tonnes. (400 tonne TT85 Tasmanian, or the enormous 3200 tonne Lindsey Creek tree (GBR),
a coast redwood Sequoia sempervirens that blew over in 1906 - almost enough wood to build the
entire ark).
Workability. The timber must be easy to work. This is related to hardness and also to the grain
pattern. Some timbers are easily milled in the green state but more difficult when dry. Many high
strength timber are prone to split when nailed, and may have poor nail holding ability. Some very
hard timbers are simply too difficult to process in the dry state. In the case of the Ark, it would be
reasonable to assume the timber was not troublesome to work with, since a slightly weaker
timber could be accommodated by using larger sections.
Seasoning. The drying of timbers is especially difficult in large sections, because it takes longer
for the moisture to escape. This can cause differential shrinkage rates which give rise to flaws
such as checking (cracks) and distortion. Generally speaking, a slow steady drying process is the
safest way to season timber. The difficulties in seasoning can vary considerably, but generally
softwoods are easier than dense hardwoods. As moisture content is reduced from the green
state, the strength can increase by several orders of magnitude. However, it is not possible (nor
desirable) to keep the wood totally dry, so a moisture content of 12% is "dry". Larger timber
sections are more difficult than thin sections because it takes longer for the moisture to escape,
and it tends to be wet on the inside and dry on the outside.
Availability. A big concern for the modern shipbuilder is timber availability. The fossil record
points to a more lush climate before the flood, so timber was unlikely to be a limited resource in
Noah's day.
Species Density
Cedar, red 420 Y
Spruce, Sitka 430 Y Y Y
Beech, white 500 Y Y
500 Y Y
Fir, Douglas 530 Y Y Y Y Y
Pine, hoop 530 Y Y Y
Maple, Qld 600 Y Y
Ash, silver 620 Y Y Y Y
Pine, celery top 650 Y Y Y
Teak 670 Y Y
Meranti, dark 700 Y
Jarrah 820 Y Y Y
Oak, tulip 830 Y
870 Y Y Y Y Y
Blackbutt 900 Y Y Y Y Y
Gum, Red river 900 Y
Karri 900 Y Y
Gum, Spotted 950 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Tallowwood 990 Y Y Y Y
1000 Y
Messmate 1000 Y Y
Tuart 1030 Y
Gum, grey 1080 Y Y
Wandoo 1100 Y Y
Box, grey 1120 Y Y
Ironbarks 1120 Y Y

References and Resources
Timber Resources
Ministry of Defense Std 02-188 (NES 188) April 2000 Requirements for the Procurement Storage
and USe of Timber http://www.dstan.mod.uk/data/02/188/00000100.pdf . General terms and
definitions, seasoning, timber flaws, storage, timber properties for 41 common marine timbers,
design data. Good general resource for timber design and properties.
Forest Products Laboratory. 1999. Wood handbook--Wood as an engineering material. Gen.
Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-113. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest
Products Laboratory. 463 pages.
Woods of the World CD http://www.forestworld.com/wow.cfm
AS 1738: Timber for Marine Construction. Australian Standards
Characteristics, properties and uses of timbers: Vol 1 South-east Asia, Northern Aust and Pacific.
W.G.Keating, CSIRO 1982
Tall trees
Tall trees in Tasmania. (>90m) http://www.forestrytas.com.au/forestrytas/pages/giant_table1.html
Tallest Living Tree Guiness Book of Records. The world's tallest living tree is the Stratosphere
Giant measuring 112.6 m (369 ft 4.8 in) as of 2002. This coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
was discovered by Chris Atkins (USA) in August 2000 in the Rockefeller Forest of the Humboldt
Redwoods State Park, California, USA.
A limit to tree height. 420 feet for Redwood? Water flow, leaf density, photosynthesis and carbon
dioxide concentration all appear to converge at their minimum levels of efficiency at the heights
reached by the California redwoods. http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2004-04-21-tallest-
Tallest tree Douglas Fir 115m http://www.cfl.scf.rncan.gc.ca/imfoc-
Most Massive Tree Ever Guiness Book of Records. The world's most massive tree ever (by trunk-
size) was the Lindsey Creek tree, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in California, USA. It
had a total trunk volume of 2,549 cubic meters (90,000 cubic ft) and a mass of 3,300 tonnes
(3,248 tons). The tree blew over in a storm in 1905. The name is widely thought to honor
Sequoyah, also known as George Guess, inventor and publisher of the Cherokee alphabet.
(Note. The mass is higher than the volume which implies a very high density. Since Redwood is
not a heavy timber, the mass must include branches and foliage, so a trunk mass would be more
like .)
Boat hulls
A strip planked timber boat. http://www.selway-fisher.com/Stripplank.htm
Boat planking methods. http://www.gartsideboats.com/faq2.php
Glossary of Timber Ship building terms.
Planking methods for small timber boats http://www.gartsideboats.com/faq2.php
Strip planked small boat http://www.selway-fisher.com/Stripplank.htm
How barrels are made. http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/barrelsmade.htm
Boat building methods http://www.marinetimbers.com.au/boatbuildingmethods.html
Edge Fastened planking
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: Archeological projects: Missisquoi Bay Barges
http://www.lcmm.org/site/index/framesets/mri_framesets/frameset_mri.html A flat bottomed timber
barge utilizing the "edge-fastening technique". The primary characteristics of an edge-fastened
vessel are the vertical sides of the hull connected by through or drift bolts driven down into the
edges of the planking. In this technique the side planks are so thoroughly locked together that
they act as a single timber, thereby lending significant longitudinal strength to the hull. This
technique was used extensively in the latter half of the nineteenth century for building any type of
vessel that had vertical sides. Effectively mimicking the effect of mortise and tenon planking of the
Greek trireme more than 2000 years earlier.
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett July 2004
Wood is orthotropic - the strength is predominantly along one axis. Parallel to the grain, tensile is
very high (pulling it) and compressive strength good (a pier), but shear is low. Perpendicular to
the grain the tensile is very low (splitting action) and compression moderate (denting a
floorboard), but shear is high (shearing a dowel pin). There is another type of shear (rolling shear)
which is low. Some of these properties are not normally measured because timber is rarely used
in that situation today. For example, cross grain shear strength is so high compared to parallel
shear that it can only occur if the timber was deliberately shear loaded (dowel pin). Since we
hardly ever use timber as a structural fastener (apart from trivial furniture connections), cross
grain shear is not normally measured.
For loads at a angle to the grain, the Hankinson formula gives the adjusted property values. Note
that 45 degrees gives a value much less than midway between the two values.
Hankinson's Formula
Consider a particular property such as
strength or stiffness. Assuming the
property measured along the grain (P) is
different to the cross grain value (Q).
Then, by Hankinson's formula, the value
at an angle to the grain is given by

Example. Strength of Douglas Fir
Parallel tensile strength = 87.6 MPa
Perpendicular tensile strength = 2 MPa
Angle Strength
0 87.6
5 66.10752
10 38.24362
15 22.65289
20 14.58384
25 10.13379
30 7.487179
35 5.808722
40 4.688521
45 3.910714

Similarly for elasticity, the MoE of wood perpendicular to grain is about 1/50 the value of MoE
parallel to grain. Hankinsons formula is: (Ref 1)

MoE parallel to grain (as given in Table 7.1 of AS1720.1)
MoE perpendicular to grain (estimated as 1/50 to 1/30 E
Douglas Fir. Ultimate Properties (Failure)
or E
Fc (||)
psi k psi psi psi psi psi psi psi psi
34 (4)
870 (4)
800 (4)
290 (7)
290 (8)
340 (9)
Douglas Fir. Coastal type. Allowable Properties (Working)
MOR or
MOE or
Fc (||)
psi k psi psi psi psi psi psi psi

385 (11)
625 (12)
150 (11)
85 (12)

1. Perpendicular shear estimate (2.5 to 3 times parallel shear). Wood: Strength and Stiffness. p2.
2. Hankinson's Formula (Elasticity) http://www.timber.org.au/NTEP/menu.asp?id=128
3. Hankinson's Formula (Stress) example
4. Wood: Strength and Stiffness. p2. http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2001/green01d.pdf
5. Span tables Douglas Fir 1:360 deflection http://www.wwpa.org/techguide/spans.htm
6. Large round log connection using metal dowels (threaded)
7. Tensile strength perp to grain (Douglas Fir) http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-
08132002-140200/unrestricted/AppendixF.pdf ,
8. Properties of wood http://www.unb.ca/civil/thomas/22%20Properties%20of%20Wood.pdf
9. Wood
11: MCM 1 Ship Specifications, February 8, 1982 Section 100. (Source:
12: Allowable Stress, Douglas Fir Select Structural (Standard no. 17, Grading Rules for West
Coast Lumber, Table 11). (Source: http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-davis.htm)
13: Failure Stress. Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material, Forest Service, U.S.
Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Handbook 72, 1987.
14. Free Structural Software. http://www.structural-engineering.fsnet.co.uk/free.htm
1. Formulas for Stress and Strain. 5th ed: Raymond J Roark Warren C Young McGraw Hill 1975.
Ch 13.3 Miscellaneous Cases p 526.
2. Design of Wood Structures ASD (4th Edition): D.E. Breyer, K.J. Fridley, K.E. Cobeen: McGraw-
Hill 1999 ISBN: 0-07007716-9 950 pages. Comprehensive treatment and plenty of examples.
Incorporates the 1997 National Design Specifications for Wood Construction (NDS), and the 1997
Uniform Building Code (UBC). Also loading criteria and lateral forces (wind and earthquake)
3. APA Engineered Wood Handbook. T.G. Williamson (Editor), McGraw Hill 2002 ISBN 0-07-
136029-8. Comprehensive coverage, emphasis on modern materials and developments. Good
section on construction.
4. Mark's Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers. (10th Ed) Avalline, Baumeister. (Editors)
McGraw Hill 1996
Noah's pitch
Genesis 6:14 "...and cover it inside and outside with pitch."
The pitch for Noah's Ark was probably not bitumen but the gum based resins
extracted from pine trees. Such manufacturing practice has ancient origins,
and timber ships were waterproofed by tree resin pitch well before the
petrochemical industry was born. This substance is not necessarily "pitch
black" either, this refers to coal tar or bitumen - a more recent invention. The
core ingredient of a tree resin pitch is gum rosin [6] which can be extracted
from a variety of tree species, notably pines.

Brewer's Pitch [9]: Natural pine tar pitch. Image Tim Lovett 2005
Pine tar or bitumen?
Although not stated explicitly, it seems the job of the pitch was to
waterproof the ark, which is the usual role of pitch in shipbuilding. For
example, fiber rammed between planks and impregnated with tar was
used form a watertight carvel hull of a typical sailing ship. This process
is known as caulking.
Bitumen, the thick oil residue used to bind aggregate in a 'tarred'
roadway comes from crude oil. The oil reserves came from vast
collections of vegetable matter which were covered over with sediment
late in the flood. So how could Noah have access to such a material
before the flood? He didn't have to. Pitch has been made from tree
products throughout history. In fact, building a timber ship, making
pitch and fermenting wine involve similar skills and complementary
technology. Noah's knowledge of alcohol could be put to good use, the
pitch was likely soluble in alcohol making it easier to work than hot
The modern reader might think of "pitch" as being "pitch black" like bitumen. If the Ark
was coated with black tar it would be very dark inside, especially on the lower levels.
However, pitch derived from tree resin is amber colored. It could be made black by
adding charcoal during processing [1]. Dark colors can also be an indication of the age of
the trees, or an excessive use of heat during distillation [7]. Noah may have used a
variety of pitch recipes for different tasks - such as a heavy dark pitch on the outside and
a thinner coating of amber colored pitch on less critical internal woodwork.
The following picture shows the tapping of pine trees to collect resins used for pitch
production http://www.forestry.uga.edu/warnell/kahrs/h/trails.html
On this tapped or "faced" longleaf pine,
you can clearly see the diagonal stripes
that were made in the tree to encourage
pitch production. The tin directed the flow
of pitch into a metal box or ceramic cup
that hung on the nail. The scrapes were
renewed frequently and, in later years,
they were treated with sulfuric acid to
induce more pitch production. The pitch
was gathered once or twice a month.

More discussion on the pitch for Noah's Ark by John Hitton, here.
Ancient Pitch
The Romans used pitch for waterproofing ships and sealing barrels and
home.htm The Gallo-Roman ship Guernsey 1 was carrying a cargo of
pitch. Recent research (Connan et al, 2001. [8] ) has located the
source of the pitch to the Les Landes region of France, suggesting that
the ship was on its way from there to Guernsey and on to Britain. The
pitch may have been used for sealing or lining amphorae or barrels.
Barrel staves were also found on the ship. There was no evidence that
it was used for caulking the ship itself.

Modern Rosin
Rosin, also called colophony, is the very viscous substance that's left
over after all the more volatile substances are distilled from the resin
(including terpentine). Rosin is applied to the bows of string
instruments like violins. This produces a tacky surface on the bow
which, when drawn over the strings, encourages them to resonate and
produce sound.
World production of rosin is estimated at 1.2 million tonnes per annum. Uses for rosins
are subject to intense competitive pressure from synthetic compounds, and there is also
competition between rosins derived from gum (i.e. tapped sources) and tall oils (pulp
derived). [7]
Rosins can be used to waterproof paper and currently accounts for 30% of rosin
production. Around 20% of the resins used in adhesives are derived from rosin. Key uses
are in pressure sensitive solvent-based rubber cements, and mastics. The other key area
is in hot-melt adhesives that are used in shoe manufacture, product assembly, carpet
sealing tape, bonding paper (corrugated paperboards), book binding and laminates. Rosin
derivatives are used with other resins and polymers in components of ink formulations
where they impart binding, film forming and solvent qualities to the final product.
Modified rosins with high melting points can be used in printing inks.
Miscellaneous uses
Rosin esters impart gloss, leveling and flow characteristics that are used in emulsion floor
polishes and shoe polish. Other applications include the coating and sealing of cans in
food packaging and the controlled-release encapsulation of fertilisers.
- Other rosin derivatives:
- Alcohols - used in plastic heat stabilizers
- Ethoxylated amines - used in corrosion prevention and specialty cleaning
- Polyols - used in polyurethane foams
- Amines - antimicrobials (fungi, bacterial and algae)

Swedish manufacturer, Auson AB http://www.auson.se makes genuine pine tar products
today. The example below is described as "Pure natural product for wood preservation of
wooden buildings, shingled roofs, boats, piers etc. This is the classical all-purpose-tar,
suitable for everything, even for curing fissures in hooves and cloves (veterinary)" [2]

Pine Tar
Pine tar is a vegetable liquid
obtained from the wood of
various trees of the family
Pinacea by destructive
distillation. Pine Tar is known
since ancient history for its
capacity as a water repellent
vapor barrier on wood and
rope and for its gentle
antiseptic effect.
The product is still used to a
great extent for wooden
constructions such as
shingles, bridges, boats,
barges and cottages. The
Swedish Cultural
Management recommends
pine tar as surface treatment
of wooden church roofs and
other cultural buildings made
of wood. There are examples
of stave churches that have
been preserved with pine tar
for nearly a thousand years
with very few intervals of

Safety Information
Gum rosin is the core ingredient in a wood based pitch. It is completely insoluble in
water, and poses no threat to health and safety except for a slight fire hazard. Rosin dust
is flammable when suspended in the air (as is wood dust, flour, and almost any other
organic material).
See Gum Rosin Material Safety Data Sheet, Portugese gum rosin MSDS (pdf)
NPFA (National Fire Protection Association) hazard codes
Health:0 Fire: 1 Reactivity: 0
Degree of hazard: 4=Extreme 3=High 2=Moderate 1=Slight
Flammable when finely divided and suspended in air (air-born dust)
DOT Hazard Class: (Non Hazardous, non-regulated)

Current Research
Daniel McLarty investigates pitch based on tree resins. (Sept 2004)
From the 1700's to about 1970's this was quite an industry in the Southeastern U.S. (and
elsewhere no doubt). [3] Pine sap or gum resin as it is called was harvested from pine
trees and then distilled either on site or in later years in large distilleries in towns. The
still was simply a vessel in which the resin was heated to about 190 F (88 C). The vapor
which was spirits of turpentine and water went out the top into a condenser coil and was
condensed into a liquid, and into a separator barrel. The turpentine rose to the top and
was drawn off through an upper valve, and the water through a lower valve. What was
left in the still was liquid rosin which was drawn off through a valve and passes through
strainers to filter out impurities. The rosin quality was based upon its clarity and had no
black color to it. Rosin was used (and still is) for many things [4], [5], notably for
conditioning violin bow strings, and for pitch which seems be to rosin thinned to a tar-like

Collecting Oleo Pine resin http://www.hungkuk.com.hk/products.htm

1. The pitch for Noah's Ark
http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/Magazines/docs/v7n1_ark.asp Return to
2. See pdf datasheet http://www.auson.se/images/paragraph/7564.pdf Return to text
3. The Illustrated History of the Naval Stores (Turpentine) Industry: With Artifact Value
Guide, Home Remedies, Recipes, and Jokes by Pete Gerrell. Return to text
4. Hung Kuk Enterprises http://www.hungkuk.com.hk/products.htm. Return to text

Gum rosin http://www.hungkuk.com.hk/a1.jpg
Manufacturer of various rosin based derivatives. Here's a few;
- Gum Rosin (Colophony) WW Grade
- Disproportionated Rosin
- Sodium of Disproportionated Rosin Soap (69-71%)
- Potassium of Disproportionated Rosin Soap (79-81%)
- Refined Rosin (Vacuum Distilled Rosin)
- Polymerized Rosin
- Hydrogenated Rosin
- Refined Hydrogenated Rosin
- Colorless Rosin
- Rosin Amine
- Glycerol Ester of Rosin
- Pentaerythritol Ester of Rosin
- Glycerol Ester of Maleic Rosin
- Pentaerythritol Ester of Maleic Rosin
- Glycerol Ester of Hydrogenated Rosin
- Pentaerythritol Ester of Hydrogenated Rosin
- Edible Glycerol Ester of Rosin (Food Grade)
- Edible Glycerol Ester of Hydrogenated Rosin (Food Grade)
- Rosin Modified Thermoplastic Resin
- Rosin Modified Super Adhesive Resin
- Rosin Modified Enhanced Adhesive Resin
- Rosin Modified Phenolic Resin
- Road Marking Paint Resin
- Gum Turpentine Oil (Super Grade)
- Tung Oil (China Wood Oil)
- Pine Oil (50%, 65%, 70%, 85%, 90% Min)
- Terpineol (BP, MU, PG, Perfumery Grade)

5. Sunny Rosin Company Ltd:http://www.gum-rosin.com/index.htm Return to text

Name of Index X WW WG N M K
conforms to color requirements of rosin for standard glass
Appearance transparent
Softening Point (R. & B.)
76 75 74
Acid Value mg KOH/g
166 165 164
Unsaponifiable Matter
5 5 6
Insoluble Matter in
Alcohol %Max
0.03 0.03 0.04
Ash %Max 0.02 0.03 0.04
Natural organic compound, mainly composed of resins, possesses chemical activity when
dissolved in many organic solvents.
Uses: Important raw material for the manufacture of soap, paper, paint, and rubber;
intermediate material for synthetic organic chemicals. In galvanized iron drums of about
225/230kgs net each. Must be kept away from heat and flame.
6. Rosin http://24.1911encyclopedia.org/R/RO/ROSIN.htm
(a later variant of resin, q.v.) or C0L0PH0NY (Cobphonia resina, resin from
Colophon in Lydia), the resinous constituent of the oleo-resin exuded by
various species of pine, known in commerce as crude turpentine. The
separation of the oleo-resin into the essential oil-spirit of turpentine and
common rosin is effected by distillation in large copper stills. The essential oil is
carried off at a heat of between 212 and 316 F., leaving fluid rosin, which is run
off through a tap at the bottom of the still, and purified by passing through a
straining wadding. Rosin varies in color, according to the age of the tree
whence the turpentine is drawn and the amount of heat applied in distillation,
from an opaque almost pitchy black substance through grades of brown and
yellow to an almost perfectly transparent colorless glassy mass. The
commercial grades are numerous, ranging by letters from A, the darkest, to N,
extra pale, superior to which are W, window glass, and WW, water white
varieties, the latter having about three times the value of the common
qualities. Rosin is a brittle and friable resin, with a faint piny odor; the melting-
point varies with different specimens, some being semi-fluid at the temperature
of boiling water, while others do not melt till 220 or 250 F. It is soluble in
alcohol, ether, benzene and chloroform. Rosin consists mainly of abietic acid,
and combines with caustic alkalis to form salts (rosinates or pinates) that are
known as rosin soaps. In addition to its extensive use in soap-making, rosin is
largely employed in making inferior varnishes, sealing-wax and various
cements. It is also used for preparing shoemakers wax, as a flux for soldering
metals, for pitching lager beer casks, for rosining the bows of musical
instruments and numerous minor purposes. In pharmacy it forms an ingredient
in several plasters and ointments. On a large scale it is treated by destructive
distillation for the production of rosin spirit, pinoline and rosin oil. The last
enters into the composition of some of the solid lubricating greases, and is also
used as an adulterant of other oils.
Return to text
7. GIFNFC Forestry Commission http://tree-chemicals.csl.gov.uk/review/markets.cfm
Return to text
8. Connan J., Maurin B., Long L., & Sebire H. 2001. Identification of pitch and conifer
resin in archaeological samples from the Sanguinet lake (Landes, France) : export of
pitch on the Atlantic ocean during the Gallo-Roman period.. Revue darchometrie.
Return to text
9. Brewer's Pitch. Ready to melt down for foodsafe watertight coatings of wood or metal
containers. This sample was kindly sent by ark modeler Dan McLarty who has uncovered
some good information about pitch - especially regarding its manufacture. See
http://www.jastown.com/bulk/bp-293.htm or new website. The same sample was used in
testing the pitch. Return to text

What is pine pitch like?
Genesis 6:14 "...and cover it inside and outside with pitch."
There is no need to paint Noah's Ark black - the pitch was probably extracted
from pine trees (which might be "gopher wood" anyway). Perfectly water
proof, gum based pitch melts easily, has a faint pine odor, looks like a thick
varnish, makes a non-slip surface and remains flexible. It can be used as
both a coating and an adhesive. Manufacture is simple [3].

Surely this is the perfect material, even by today's standards.

Like a thick varnish: Natural pine tar pitch [2] applied to bare wood. Image Tim Lovett 2005
Applying the pitch
The sample above was applied by heating the pitch over a flame. The
pitch is similar to candle wax, but tougher and with a higher melting
temperature. Unlike wax, the pitch does not exhibit a sharp melting
point, but softens gradually with increasing temperature (like honey).
This makes it easy to work since the cooling pitch takes some minutes
to harden, even after it cools. Viscosity is quite low when hot, similar
to paint and seems to resist dripping [1].
The appearance of the pitch coated wood is similar to a high gloss
polyurethane - very clear with a hint of amber. However the slightly
tacky surface would not hold a gloss on a wear surface such as a floor.
The advantage however, is that the pitch should make the decks a
non-slip surface - even when wet. Rosin is used to make violin bow
"grip" but not "stick", exactly what you want when walking on a deck
in heavy seas.
Anyone who has climbed a pine tree will know pine gum is not easy to
clean off your hands. It is waterproof and doesn't respond to soap
either. I washed it off with methylated spirit (methanol) quite easily,
so it should dissolve in strong alcohol (ethanol). Terpentine is a better
solvent if Noah got far enough to get a distillation process going -
something that makes pitch production far more efficient. Linseed oil
was also mixed with amber resin to produce varnish for violins.
Flammability does not appear to be a problem, although it would be a
risk once a fire took hold. In a naked flame the pitch melts like a
candle but the flame extinguishes when removed from the flame, This
means the pitch could be applied by pouring from a cooking pot,
spread out with a hot iron and, if desired, glossed using a torch flame.
Pitch, gum, rosin, amber, pine tar, oleoresin... different names for the
same thing. The various forms are all derived from the sticky sap of pines
and other trees. Pine tar production is known as colophony.
Most readers would assume the pitch was meant to waterproof the
Ark. This has been practiced since antiquity, and tree resin has been
the dominant source. The pitch is insoluble in water.

Waterproof: Pitch coating acts as a water barrier. Image Tim Lovett 2005
Waterproofing also has a preserving effect, not that preservation is needed when the
voyage lasts four to five months. Perhaps the construction period was quite long and
preservation was needed on exposed woodwork.

Antiseptic: Beautifully preserved in amber - petrified tree sap.
The pitch for Noah's Ark is not a petrification process necessarily, although obviously it all
happened pretty quick for this little fellow. The bug got stuck, the sap went stiff, and it
kept getting harder before the rotting process could get underway. It does show that
decomposition was initially prevented by simple gooey sap.
The adhesive performance of the pitch will be very sensitive to the
quality of resin, extraction process and how it is prepared. Adhesives
are a large part of modern rosin applications, but as a starting point
the mechanical properties of simple brewer's pitch could be studied.
With low quality surface finish (rough sawn) the ideal adhesive would
be flexible and accommodating. Pitch adhesive would be ideal low
grade adhesive where large surface areas are used.

1. Resists dripping. Thixotropic. the comparison between honey and
tomato sauce is helpful here. Honey drips down a vertical surface but
not tomato sauce. Paint is between these extremes - it won't drip
unless the coating is heavy, or the paint has been thinned out
excessively. Hot pine pitch is probably more like honey in it's low-
shear-rate viscosity, otherwise it could never encapsulate a wasp so
perfectly. After the hot pitch has been applied, the cooling effect of the
surface would do the trick. The choice of tree and processing of the
pitch (cooking mostly) would dictate the viscosity of the product.
Return to text
2. Brewer's Pitch
Brewer's pitch or pine tar is a natural resin collected from pine trees. It has
been used throughout history for waterproofing or sealing just about
everything. Brewer's pitch has a higher melting point than wax and cannot be
melted in an ordinary double boiler like wax. We suggest melting the pitch in a
discarded metal can (use soup can) on a camp stove outside. The pitch will
melt slowly. When it has completely turned to liquid, pick up the can with a pair
of pliers and pour it in or on your project. The pitch will solidify rather slowly
and you will have time to work with it. Return the unused portion to the can
and save it for later use.
Return to text
3. Manufacture of Rosin. The sticky sap is heated to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene
components. Hence the pitch making industry (known as naval stores in the US, also
colophony) produced terpentine as an associated product. Return to text

BUILD THE ARK (at any scale) Home Scale Calculator Menu
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett 2003

A Basic Rugged Hull
Simple plywood construction. No attempt
to detail the interior here.
A removal roof is typical for a Noah's Ark

Hands-on fun with Noah's Ark.
Four feet long to fit in the car, this model
scaled out at about 1:114. but any scale
can be used. (See scale calculator). Its
better to use a standard model scale (like
1:72 etc) so that you can find matching
people, animals, trees etc.
< Model testing crew ready for action.

Waterproofing makes the model
extremely rugged. This thing survived days
at the beach - filled with wet sand, sunken,
hidden under luggage, stood on... It still
floats, and doubles as a toybox.

For Component Detail Drawings, see Ark Scale Calculator.
The Scale Calculator converts the Biblical cubit measurements to the size of your model. All the
dimensions are given with detail drawings of each piece, taking into account plywood thickness,
cubit length, scale and working units. You can also adjust roof angle and define a roof eave
measurement. The calculator works out weight, load capacity, etc. Try it out before you make
NOAH'S ARK CANOE (1:40 scale) Home Scale Calculator Menu
COPYRIGHT Tim Lovett 2003
On a
short of
let's look
at a
Using the
Ark Scale
we can
quickly try
sizes and
that can
carried. I
opted for
a two
in the
makes it
easy to
and store,
and wood
is most


What's with that strange looking pointy end? Nothing really. It's just a possible hull detail.
Thankfully, the Bible gives the length, breadth and depth - otherwise this website would be not
happening. The Bible doesn't give any more clues on the hull SHAPE.
So what should it look like?
We can make some educated guesses. For more information, see What Shape?
It appears the bow and stern should not be excessively blunt. I did notice the small model tended
to plough into a wave rather than ride over the top, and the NA (Naval Architect) working with me
reckons the blunt bow is a problem in high seas. So, let's whack on some different ends and see
how it goes in the water. (That's the plan at this stage anyhow).
No photos...(Yet)...
A bit more detail
This design uses a foam filled double wall - to keep the weight down. (And wouldn't make a bad
storage box for cold food). The ends are 17mm ply to give plenty of strength for attachment.
Expanding polyurethane rigid foam is poured in (though holes) after the hull is constructed.

Part Material Length Width Qty
Keel Inner ply 6mm 1280 504 2
Keel outer ply 8mm 1314 492 2
Side inner ply 6mm 1280 260 4
ply 8mm 1314 260 4
Roof ply 8mm 1314 290 4
pine 1314 40x40 4
pine 452 32x20 8
Keel rails pine 1280 32x20 4
pine 504 40x20 10
Side long
pine 1280 20x20 8
pine 220 20x20 12

Ark Scale Calculator.
The Scale Calculator converts the Biblical cubit measurements to the size of your model. All the
dimensions are given with detail drawings of each piece, taking into account plywood thickness,
cubit length, scale and working units. You can also adjust roof angle and define a roof eave
measurement. The calculator works out weight, load capacity, etc. Try it out before you make
Appendix: References for Cubits from Around the World
The cubit is the most widespread unit of measure from the ancient world.
There are many different standards from far and wide. The Royal Egyptian
Cubit is the most well-preserved and trustworthy of any very ancient cubit -
older than a thousand years before the birth of Christ. What is surprising is
how widespread the concept of a cubit actually is. This supports the idea that
all the people groups of the world originated at Babel and were dispersed
relatively suddenly - taking the cubit with them.
Goto Noah's Cubit article
Where the cubit began
"Sumeria" Wikipedia "Maybe Egypt" Encyclopedia
Britannica "No one knows" World Book Encyclopedia
"Noah" Smith's Bible Encyclopedia
Moses knew more
than one cubit
"After the cubit of man" The Revell Bible Dictionary
Solomon knew more
than one cubit
"The length by cubits after the first measure" 2 Chron
3:3 International Bible Encyclopedia
The earlier cubits were
Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary , Jewish
Exactly the opposite view is stated in Unger's Bible
Dictionary (1966)
Derivation of Royal
Egyptian Cubit
W.M. Flinders Petrie. "The Pyramids and Temples of
Other cubits
Henry Morris. "The Genesis Record" Jack Proot.
Richard Clark Table
Hebrew cubit linked to
Jewish Encyclopedia
The 'cubit of man' is
the short (common)
The Blue Letter Bible

The Royal Egyptian Cubit
A very old wooden rule - Royal Egyptian Cubit from the Louvre Museum in Frances, one
of the finest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world.

From photo courtesy Jon Bodsworth http://www.egyptarchive.co.uk

From photo courtesy Jon Bodsworth http://www.egyptarchive.co.uk 2007
Close up of the scale of the same wooden 'Cubit Rod' of Maya from the time of
Tutankhamen. There are 28 'digits' on this 523mm rod, with lines at every fourth digit
representing the 'palm'. The reasoning behind the use of seven palms (a prime number)
has everyone guessing. The Babylonians had a 'Royal' cubit of similar length but
completely different subdivisions scheme. The earliest Egyptian monuments used an
identical cubit length which shows the Royal Egyptian Cubit remained accurate for
thousands of years.

Used with permission. Photo courtesy Jon Bodsworth http://www.egyptarchive.co.uk
The numbers on the beveled face stand for the number of subdivisions of each digit - just
visible as inscribed lines on the front face.
Egyptian numbering is
simple, the "I" is one and
the inverted U stands for

Number of subdivisions
of the digit
16 15 14

Cubits: Long List
A comprehensive list of cubits listed in order of length.
Length(mm) Length(inches) Reference/s
Greek Short - 356 14 3
Greek(Homeric) - 395 15.56 3
- 444 17.48 3
- 445 17.5 1, 5
Hebrew - 447 17.58 3
- 447 17.6 1
English - 457 17.68 3
- 462 18.19 2
- 463 18.23 3
Greek - 474 18.68 3
Sumerian - 495 19.5 3
- 495 19.5 2
Babylon (old)
"2000 -
500 (approx) 19.69 7
Nippur (Sumer)
517 20.35 2
English (Druid) - 518 20.4 3
(Ezekiel 40:5)
- 518 20.4 1
1 AD 523 20.6 3
Egyptian Royal
Khufu 523.75 .25 20.62 .01 6
Egyptian Royal
524.00 .51 20.63 .02 6
Egyptian Royal - 525 20.65 1
Mexico Aztec - 526 20.7 3
531 20.9 4
China ancient 531 20.9 3
Arabic (Black) 800 AD 541 21.28 3
Assyrian 700 BC 549 21.6 3
Biblical - 554 21.8 3
Braunschweig - 571 22.48 2
Persian (Royal) - 640 25.2 3
- 649 25.56 3
- 667 26.26 2
to 1800
676 26.6 3
1=Henry Morris "The Genesis Record"1, 2=Werner Gitt "The Most Amazing Ship in the History of
the World", 3= www.footrule.com , 4=Encyclopedia Britannica, 5=Revell Bible Dictionary, 6=WM
Flinders Petrie, 7= http://it.stlawu.edu/%7Edmelvill/mesomath/obmetrology.html

Strong's Concordance
The Hebrew for cubit is ammah which means "mother of the arm."

520. ammah (am-maw); prolonged from 517; properly a mother (i.e. unit) of measure,
or the fore-arm (below the albow), i.e. a cubit;

517 em (ame) ; a primitive word; a mother (as the bond of the family); in a wide sense
(both literally and figuratively --dam, mother, X parting. ...

Encyclopedia Britannica
cubit, also called COVID, unit of linear measure used by many ancient peoples. It may
have originated in Egypt around 3000 BC; it thereafter became ubiquitous in the ancient
world. The cubit, usually equal to about 18 inches (457 millimeters), was based on the
length of the arm from the elbow to the extended finger tips. The Egyptian royal cubit
(20.6 inches, or 524 millimeters) was subdivided into 28 digits, with 4 digits equaling a
palm and 5 a hand. Twelve digits was a small span, 14 digits a large span, 16 digits a
t'ser, and 20 digits a small cubit.
The basic Babylonian measure of length, the kus, was also called the cubit and measured
about 20.9 inches (531 millimeters). The Greeks possessed an Olympic cubit equaling 24
fingers. The Romans and the ancient Hebrews also used the cubit.
Measurement: The earliest standard measurements appeared in the ancient
Mediterranean cultures and were based on parts of the body, or on calculations of what
man or beast could haul, or on the volume of containers or the area of fields in common
use. The Egyptian cubit is generally recognized to have been the most widespread unit of
linear measurement in the ancient world. It came into use around 3000 BC and was
based on the length of the arm from the elbow to the extended finger tips. It was
standardized by a royal master cubit of black granite, against which all cubit sticks in
Egypt were regularly checked.

Oxford Dictionary
1. The part of the arm from the elbow downward; the forearm.
2. An ancient measure of length derived from the forearm; varying at different times and
places, but usually 18 to 22 inches.
[ad. L cubitum the elbow, the distance from the elbow to the fingertips,.. 1. the forearm
or elbow 2. An ancient measure of length derived from the forearm; varying at different
times and places, but usually 18-22 inches. It is the cubitus of the Romans = Greek
(phcu), Hebrew ammah, all which words mean primarily the forearm. The Roman cubit
was 17.4 inches; the Egyptian 20.64 inches.

World Book Encyclopedia
Cubit, is a measure of length used by several early civilizations. It was based on the
length of the forearm from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. No one knows when
this measure was established. The length of the arm, or cubit, was commonly used by
many early peoples, including the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Israelites. The royal cubit
of the ancient Egyptians was about 20.6 inches (52.3 centimeters) long. That of the
ancient Romans was 17.5 inches (44.5 centimeters). The Israelites' cubit at the time of
Solomon was 25.2 inches (64 centimeters). (Richard S. Davis)

Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary (Online Bible CD ROM: Master
Heb. 'ammah; i.e., "mother of the arm, " the fore-arm, is a word derived from the Latin
cubitus, the lower arm. It is difficult to determine the exact length of this measure, from
the uncertainty whether it included the entire length from the elbow to the tip of the
longest finger, or only from the elbow to the root of the hand at the wrist. The probability
is that the longer was the original cubit. The common computation as to the length of the
cubit makes it 20 inches for the ordinary cubit, and 21 inches for the sacred one. This is
the same as the Egyptian measurements. Top

The Genesis Record: Henry M Morris. Baker Books 1976
The Babylonians had a royal cubit of about 19.8 inches; the Egyptians had a longer and
shorter cubit of about 20.65 and 17.6 inches, respectively; and the Hebrews apparently
had a cubit of 20.4 inches (Ezekiel 40:5) and a common cubit of about 17.5 inches.
Another common cubit of antiquity was 24 inches. Most writers believe the Biblical cubit
to be 18 inches. Top

The Revell Bible Dictionary. L.O.Richards. Fleming H Revell Co. 1990
cubit A measure of length used by ancient peoples that represents the distance from a
man's elbow to the tip of his middle finger. While this distance would vary from person to
person, a standard cubit was used in building. Working from an eighth-century B.C.
inscription in the Siloam tunnel in Jerusalem, which gives its length as 1200 cubits, and
computing the capacity of the gigantic bronze bowl outside Solomon's temple (1 Ki. 7:23-
26), the length of the standard cubit works out to be about 17.5 inches (44.5
centimeters). The fact that the Bible speaks of a common cubit (Deut. 3:11) suggests
that another cubit was also used. In Egypt there were two cubits, an ordinary measure
and a "royal cubit", measuring about 20 inches (51 centimeters) long. If the royal cubit
was intended in the description of Noah's ark, that vessel was over 500 feet (152.5
meters) long, but if the standard cubits is used, the ark was 430 feet (131 meters). Top

The Blue Letter Bible - Hebrew Lexicon
cubit - a measure of distance (the forearm), roughly 18 in (.5m). There are several cubits
used in the OT, the cubit of a man or common cubit (Dt 3.11), the legal cubit or cubit of
the sanctuary (Eze 40.5) plus others.
Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for ''ammah (Strong's 0520) ' " . Blue
Letter Bible. 1996-2002. 8 Jun 2012 26 Apr 2004. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-

Unger's Bible Dictionary: 3rd Ed (Moody Press) 1966 (Note: This
reference runs counter to all other references stating the earlier
cubits were the longer ones.)
(Latin cubitum, elbow, cubit; Heb, 'ammah; Greek pechus, the forearm), an important
and constant measure among the Hebrews ... and other ancient nations. It was
commonly reckoned as the length of the arm from the point of the elbow to the end of
the middle finger, about 18 inches. (1) Egyptian cubit. This was 6 palms about 17.72
inches, but the royal Egyptian cubit was a palm longer (20.67 inches), evidence for this is
found in measuring sticks recovered from tombs. (2) Babylonian cubit. Herodotus states
that the "royal" exceeded the "moderate" cubit by three digits... Backh estimates the
Babylonian cubit at 20.806 inches. (3) Hebrew cubit. The Hebrews like the Egyptians and
Babylonians had two cubits, the common and the apparently older cubit (Deut 3:11; II
Chron 3:3) and a cubit which was a handbreadth longer (Ezek 40:5; 43:13). The
common Hebrew cubit was 17.72 inches and the long cubit was 20.67 inches, apparently
the same as the Egyptian royal cubit. The R.V renders this passage "of six cubits to the
TL: Note: The dimensions given in Deut 3:11 logically suggest Moses' "cubit of man" was
the short series. Solomon's temple used the old cubit standard (II Chron 3:3) several
centuries down the track. This does not really help to differentiate the ark cubit from later
Hebrew cubits such as the Siloah tunnel measurement. If the cubit used by the
international trader King Solomon is traceable then II Chron 3:3 could be a key verse.
Was Solomon also an historian, using the ancient longer cubit for the temple
construction? Since longer cubits tend to be used for building, one would expect
Solomon's to be the larger and earlier version. All other references state the earlier cubits
were the long ones. (Unger contradicts Eastons, Jewish Encyclopedia, International
Standard Bible Encyclopedia and the Siloam tunnel measurement: 8th cent BC = new,
and the long lengths of early Nippur and Royal Egyptian cubits)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The cubit was a Sumerian, later Egyptian measure. After the foot, it is the first recorded
unit of length used by an ancient people. Around 1950 BC, the copper bar cubit of Nippur
defines the Sumerian cubit as 51.72 cm. There were several cubits of different
magnitudes that were used. In Egypt, the common cubit was the length of the forearm
from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger (about 18 inches / 46 cm). It was divided
into the span of the hand (one-half cubit), the palm or width of the hand (one sixth), and
the digit or width of a finger (one twenty-fourth). Because one person's forearm tended
to be a different length to the next person's, a standardised Royal Master Cubit, or
Sacred Cubit, was cut in granite. This was 7 palms or 28 digits long, and was used in the
construction of buildings and monuments (such as the pyramids) and in surveying. Top

W.M.Flinders Petrie.
"Inductive Metrology: the recovery of ancient measures from the monuments." Hargrove
Saunders, London 1877.
W.M. Flinders Petrie. "The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh" 1883.
(Determining the length of the Egyptian Royal Cubit)
p 178. The measurements which have been detailed in the foregoing pages supply
materials for an accurate determination of the Egyptian cubit.
From such a mass of exact measures, not only may the earliest value of the cubit be
ascertained, but also the extent of its variations as employed by different architects.*
* On the facade of one of the tombs at Beni Hassan there is a scratch left by the
workman at every cubit length. The cubit there is a long variety, of 20.7 to 20.8.
There is no need to repeat here all the details of each case already given, nor to enter on
the principles of the determination of units of measure from ancient remains, which I
have fully described in "Inductive Metrology."
For the value of the usual cubit, undoubtedly the most important source is the King's
Chamber in the Great Pyramid ; that is the most accurately wrought, the best preserved,
and the most exactly measured, of all the data that are known. The cubit in the Great
Pyramid varies thus :
By the base of King's Chamber, corrected for opening
of joints
By the Queen's Chamber, if dimensions squared are in
square cubits
By the subterranean chamber
By the antechamber
By the ascending and Queen's Chamber passage
lengths (section 149)
By the base length of the Pyramid, if 440 cubits
(section '43)
By the entrance passage width
By the gallery width
20.61 .02
20.65 .05
20.58 .02
The passage widths are so short and variable that little value can be placed on them,
especially as they depend on the builder's and not on the mason's work. The lengths of
the passages are very accurate data, but being only single measures, are of less
importance than are chambers, in which a length is often repeated in the working. The
chamber dimensions are rather variable, particularly in the subterranean and
Antechamber, and none of the above data are equal in quality to the King's Chamber
dimensions. If a strictly weighted p 179 mean be taken it yields 20.620 .004; but
taking the King's Chamber alone, as being the best datum by far, it nevertheless
contracts upwards, so that it is hardly justifiable to adopt a larger result than 20.620
Arranging the examples chronologically, the cubit used was as follows :
Great Pyramid at Gizeh,
Second pyramid at Gizeh
Granite temple at Gizeh
Third Pyramid at Gizeh
Third Pyramid peribolus walls
Great Pyramid of Dahshur
Pyramid at Sakkara
Fourth to sixth dynasty, mean
of all
Average variation in standard

20.64 .03
20.68 .02
20.71 .02
20.69 .02
20.58 .02
20.51 .02
20.63 .02
141. The values of the cubit and digit, found in use in the cases mentioned in this
chapter, agree remarkably closely with what has been already worked out. For the cubit I
had deduced (Inductive Metrology, p.50) from a quantity' of material, good, bad, and
indifferent, 20.64 .02 as the best result that I could get; about a dozen of the actual
cubit rods that are known yield 20.65 .01; and now from the earliest monuments we
find that the cubit first used is 20.62, and the mean value from the seven buildings
named is 20.63 .02. Here, then, by the earliest monument that is known to give the
cubit, by the mean of the cubits in seven early monuments, by the mean of 28 examples
of various dates and qualities, and by the mean of a dozen cubit rods, the result is always
within 1/50 inch of 20.63. On the whole we may take 20.62 .0I as the original value,
and reckon that it slightly increased on an average by repeated copyings in course of
time. Top

"The Civilisation of Ancient Egypt" by Paul Johnson, Weidenfeld &
The Egyptians made a bigger contribution to general knowledge in devising systems of
measurement, which appealed to their empirical spirit. They were very observant people.
They were the first to note the fact that all the parts of the body are (on average)
constant in any individual in terms of their mutual relationships, irrespective of the
individual's size relative to others. it was this observation of an invariable canon which lay
at the heart of their extraordinary grasp of physical form in their painting and sculpture.
But it also led them, very likely at an earlier stage in predynastic times, to an
anthropometric system of measurement.
The basic unit was the arm length from elbow to thumb-tip, the cubit. This was divided
into 6 palms or handbreadths (measured on the back across the knuckles), each made up
of 4 fingers. The thumb was 1-1/3 fingers, which later became standardised as the
Roman uncia or inch.
A hand of 4 fingers plus thumb was 5-1/3 fingers or 1-1/3 basic handbreadths. The
distance from elbow to wrist was 4 handbreadths or as it was termed in Egypt the "two-
thirds" (of a cubit); in other Mediterranean systems it was called the pous, or foot. The
ordinary or "short" cubit (6 palms or 24 fingers) was supplemented by the "royal cubit",
equal to 7 palms or 28 fingers - and, in our terms, nearly 21 ins. Top

http://users.aol.com/JackProot/met/index.html Jack Proot
Egypt: The basic unit seems to have been the royal cubit or "meh" estimated at 524 mm.
`There was indeed another "ordinary" cubit of 450 mm. (20.62 " & 17.67 "). 24 digits =
6 palms = 1 ordinary or small cubit (= 450 mm). 28 digits = 7 palms = 1 royal cubit or
"meh" ( 524 mm).
Mesopotamia: Also uses the cubit (some think it originated in Sumer). Its measure varies
from 522 to 532 mm.
There is an exception in Assyria : the cubit is thought to have 640 mm.
In Persia we had the cubit or "arasni" (520 to 543 mm)
Greece: Generally a foot of 309 mm (12.16 ") subdivided into 16 digits and equal to 2/3
of a (small) cubit - take or leave 4 %. There was also an older foot of 316 mm equal to
3/5 of a big cubit - 527 mm. 24 digits = 1 "pechya" or small cubit. Top

http://members.aol.com/AVBibleTAB/flood/f12.htm Richard Clark
The "1992 World Almanac and Book of Facts" gives a Roman Cubit of 17.5 inches, a
Greek Cubit of 18.3 inches, and a so-called "Biblical Cubit" of 21.8 inches.
Collier's Encylopedia (Weights and Measures, pages 394,395) gives an Arabian(black)
cubit of 21.3 inches, an Arabian(hashimi) cubit of 25.6 inches, an Assyrian cubit of 21.6
inches, an ancient Egyptian cubit of 20.6 inches, an ancient Israeli cubit of 17.6 inches,
an ancient Grecian cubit of 18.3 inches, and an ancient Roman cubit of 17.5 inches; The
last two agree with the 1992 World Almanac ones.
Webster's unabridged dictionary gives a Roman cubit of 17.4 inches, and an Egyptian
cubit of 20.64 which is about the same as Collier's. And, (of course,) Webster's ENGLISH
dictionary for english-speaking people in the U.S.A., gives a modern ENGLISH CUBIT of
18 inches.

Jewish Encyclopedia.com - Weights and Measures
Emil G.Hirsch,Ph.D.,LL.D., Professor of Rabbinical Literature and Philosophy, University of
Chicago; Chicago, Ill.
Immanuel Benzinger, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament Exegesis, University of Berlin,
Germany; Jerusalem, Palestine.
Joseph Jacobs, B.A., Formerly President of the Jewish Historical Society of England;
Jacob Zallel Lauterbach, Ph.D.
Derived from Babylonia.
Biblical Data:
While the references in the Old Testament are sufficient for a general knowledge of the
ancient Hebrew system of weights and measures, and of the mutual relations of the
several units, they are not adequate for an exact determination of the absolute standard
of measurement. The rabbinical statements that a fingerbreadth equals seven
barleycorns laid side by side, and that a log is equivalent to six medium-sized eggs, are
as indefinite as the statement on the Siloam inscription that the Siloam canal (537.6
meters as measured by Conder) was 1,200 ells longevidently a round number. Since,
however, the entire system of measures corresponds almost exactly with the Babylonian,
from which the Hebrew measures were in all probability derived, it may be assumed that
the Hebrew system corresponded with the Babylonian with regard to the absolute
standard as well. It is true that the Egyptian system may have exerted some influence
here and there, as will be shown later, but it is now generally recognized that the culture
of ancient Syria, even before the Israelites had migrated there, was almost wholly under
Babylonian influence.
I. Measures of Length:
The Cubit.
The original measures of length were derived from the human body: the finger, hand,
arm, span, foot, and pace. As these measures differ with each individual, they must be
reduced to a certain definite standard for general use. The Hebrew system, therefore,
had such a standard; the ell ("ammah") contained 2 spans ("zeret"), while each span was
made up of 3 handbreadths ("efa") of 4 fingers ("eba' ") each. This division of the ell into
6 handbreadths was the one customarily employed in antiquity, but it was supplanted in
Babylonia by the sexagesimal system. The Old Testament mentions two ells of different
size. Ezekiel implies that in his measurement of the Temple the ell was equal to a "cubit
and a handbreadth" (xl. 5, xliii. 13)that is, one handbreadth larger than the ell
commonly used in his time. Since among all peoples the ell measured 6 handbreadths,
the proportion of Ezekiel's ell to the others was as 7 to 6. The fact that Ezekiel measured
the Temple by a special ell is comprehensible and significant only on the assumption that
this ell was the standard of measurement of the old Temple of Solomon as well. This is
confirmed by the statement of the Chronicler that the Temple of Solomon was built
according to "cubits after the first measure" (II Chron. iii. 3), implying that a larger ell
was used at first, and that this was supplanted in the course of time by a smaller one.
The Egyptians in like manner used two kinds of ells in exactly the same proportion to
each other, namely, the smaller ell of 6 handbreadths and the larger "royal" ell, which
was a handbreadth longer. The latter measures 525-528 millimeters, and the former 450
millimeters, estimating a handbreadth as 75 millimeters. It would seem at first sight that
the Egyptian system of measurement had influenced the Hebrew, and the two Hebrew
ells might naturally be considered identical with the Egyptian measures. This assumption
is, however, doubtful. Since all the other measures were derived from Babylon, in all
probability the ancient Hebrew ell originated there also. The length of the Babylonian ell
is given on the famous statue of King Gudea (beginning of 3d millennium B.C. ), found in
Telloh in southern Babylonia. A scale is inscribed on this statue, according to which the ell
may be reckoned at 495 millimeters, a measurement which is confirmed by certain
Babylonian tablets. These measure, according to the Babylonian scale, ell, or,
according to the metric system, 330 millimeters (1 foot) on each side. The ell of 495
millimeters seems to have been used also in Phenicia in measuring the holds of ships, but
these computations can not be discussed in detail here. The length of the ancient Hebrew
ell can not be determined exactly with the data now controlled by science; but it was
either 525 or 495 millimeters, and this slight difference between the two figures is
scarcely appreciable in an estimate of the size of Hebrew edifices, etc.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
http://www.searchgodsword.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?action=Lookup&word=cubit (Public
Domain. James Orr, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CUBIT'". "International
Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915)
Cubit ku'-bit ('ammah; pechus)
The standard for measures of length among the Hebrews. They derived it from the
Babylonians, but a similar measure was used in Egypt with which they must have been
familiar. The length of the cubit is variously estimated, since there seems to have been a
double standard in both countries, and because we have no undisputed example of the
cubit remaining to the present time. The original cubit was the length of the forearm,
from the elbow to the end of the middle finger, as is implied from the derivation of the
word in Hebrew and in Latin (cubitum). It seems to be referred to also in Deuteronomy
3:11: "after the cubit of a man." But this was too indefinite for a scientific standard, and
the Babylonians early adopted a more accurate method of measurement which passed to
the nations of the West. They had a double standard, the so-called royal cubit and the
ordinary one. From the remains of buildings in Assyria and Babylonia, the former is made
out to be about 20,6 inches, and a cubit of similar length was used in Egypt and must
have been known to the Hebrews. This was probably the cubit mentioned by Ezekiel 40:5
and perhaps that of Solomon's temple, "cubits after the first measure" (2 Chronicles 3:3),
i.e. the ancient cubit. The ordinary cubit of commerce was shorter, and has been
variously estimated at between 16 and 18 or more inches, but the evidence of the Siloam
inscription and of the tombs in Palestine seems to indicate 17,6 inches as the average
length. See LINEAR MEASURES. This was the cubit of six palms, while the longer one was
of seven (Ezekiel 40:5). The cubit mentioned in Judges 3:16 is from a different word in
Hebrew (gomedh) and was probably shorter, for Ehud girded it on his thigh under his
H. Porter
Linear Measures:
The system of weights and measures in use among the Hebrews was derived from
Babylonia and Egypt, especially from the former. The influence of these countries upon
Palestine has long been recognized, but archaeological investigations in recent years have
shown that the civilization of Babylonia impressed itself upon Syria and Palestine more
profoundly in early times than did that of Egypt. The evidence of this has been most
clearly shown by the discovery of the Tell el-Amarna Letters, which reveal the fact that
the official correspondence between the Egyptian kings and their vassals in these lands
was carried on in the language of Babylonia long after its political influence had been
supplanted by that of Egypt. It is natural, then, that we should look to Babylonia for the
origin of such important elements of civilization as a system of weights and measures.
It was quite natural that men should have found a standard for linear measures in the
parts of the human body, and we find the cubit, originally the length of the forearm,
taken as the standard, and the span, the palm and the digit, or finger-breadth,
associated with it in linear measurement. They do not seem to have employed the foot,
though it is represented in the two-thirds of the cubit, which was used by the Babylonians
in the manufacture of building-brick.
This system, though adequate enough for man in the earliest times, was not so for an
advanced stage of civilization, such as the Babylonians reached before the days of
Abraham, and we find that they had introduced a far more accurate and scientific system
(see CUBIT). They seem to have employed, however, two cubits, of different lengths, one
for commercial purposes and one for building. We have no undoubted examples of either,
but judging by the dimensions of their square building-bricks, which are regarded as
being two-thirds of a cubit on a side, we judge the latter to have been of about 19 or 20
inches. Now we learn from investigations in Egypt that a similar cubit was employed
there, being of from 20.6 to 20.77 inches, and it can hardly be doubted that the Hebrews
were familiar with this cubit, but that in more common use was certainly shorter. We
have no certain means of determining the length of the ordinary cubit among the
Hebrews, but there are two ways by which we may approximate its value. The Siloam
Inscription states that the tunnel in which it was found was 1,200 cubits long. The actual
length has been found to be about 1,707 feet, which would give a cubit of about 17.1 in.
(see PEFS, 1902, 179). Of course the given length may be a round number, but it gives a
close approximation.
Again, the Mishna states that the height of a man is 4 cubits, which we may thus regard
as the average stature of a Jew in former times. By reference to Jewish tombs we find
that they were of a length to give a cubit of something over 17 inches, supposing the
stature to be as above, which approximates very closely to the cubit of the Siloam tunnel.
The consensus of opinion at the present day inclines toward a cubit of 17.6 inches for
commercial purposes and one of about 20 inches for building. This custom of having two
standards is illustrated by the practice in Syria today, where the builder's measure, or
dra', is about 2 inches longer than the commercial.

Smith's Bible Dictionary
http://devel.searchgodsword.org/dic/sbd/view.cgi?number=T4455 (Public Domain, Dr
William Smith, 1901)
MEASURES OF LENGTH. --In the Hebrew, as in every other system, these measures are
of two classes: length, in the ordinary sense, for objects whose size we wish to
determine, and distance, or itinerary measures, and the two are connected by some
definite relation, more or less simple, between their units. The measures of the former
class have been universally derived, in the first instance, from the parts of the human
body; but it is remarkable that, in the Hebrew system, the only part used for this purpose
is the hand and fore-arm, to the exclusion of the foot, which was the chief unit of the
western nations. Hence arises the difficulty of determining the ratio of the foot to the
CUBIT, (The Hebrew word for the cubit (ammah ) appears to have been of Egyptian
origin, as some of the measures of capacity (the hin and ephah ) certainly were.) which
appears as the chief Oriental unit from the very building of Noahs ark.

Other References
1. Richard J. Gillings. "Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs" MIT Press, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, 1972
2. Petrie, W. M. Flinders. The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh. 1st ed. London: Field and
Tuer; New York: Scribner & Welford, 1883. Republished online at The Pyramids and
Temples of Gizeh Online. Ed. Ronald Birdsall, 2003. Rev. April 15, 2007
Related Sources
Flinders Petrie, "Inductive Metrology", Saunders, 1877.
A.E.Berriman, "Historical Metrology", Dent, 1953. H.M.S.O., 1967.
F.G.Skinner, "Weights and Measures. Their ancient origins and development in Great
Britain up to 1855", HMSO 1967
R.E.Zupko, "Dictionary of English Weights and Measures", University of Wisconsin Press,
Powell, M. A. (1995). 'Metrology and mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia', in
Civilizations of the ancient Near East III (ed. J. M. Sasson), New York: Scribners, 1941-
Appendix B: Noah's Cubit White paper Home Menu
the nbr hypothesis
supporting evidences
uniformity of the royal cubits
royal cubit used for building
Egyptian standard keeping
common cubit earlier
structural implications
the space argument
pitfalls of a dual cubit defense
Of the multiplicity of ancient cubits, which one is best for Noah's Ark?
An exact definition might be unattainable, but several clues point to a particular
range as being the most likely. Early Mediterranean cubits formed two distinct
groups, so the choice is between the longer 'royal' cubits and the shorter 'common'
ones. Creationist authors have been unanimous in selecting the shorter cubit for
Noah' Ark (Table 1), the justification given by Henry Morris in 1976 went like this;
"To be very conservative, assume the cubit to have been only 17.5 inches, the
shortest of all cubits, so far as is known."
This study highlights the limitations of the short cubit, and suggests an alternative
for a more robust and defensible line of reasoning.
This study explores common cubit definitions, highlighting the possibility of the ark
being larger than current estimates. Previous studies have used the short cubit to
confirm there was ample room on the ark. Likewise, stability and seakeeping are also
understated when using a short cubit. However, a conservative analysis of the
strength and construction of the ark is exactly the opposite - the long cubit becomes
the "worst case" scenario. If the timber hull of Noah's Ark had to survive heavy seas,
then structural issues (such as leakage due to hull flexing) need to be assessed. If
there is even a slight chance of Genesis 6:15 referring to the long cubit, then
conservative structural analysis should employ this scale.
Let's assume for a moment that the long cubit is the best choice. God then defined
an ark 515 ft (157m) long. Obviously the ark should have been perfect fit, otherwise
God made Noah do a whole lot of work for nothing. Now we have a problem.
Woodmorappe's calculations show we can easily fit all the animals into an 18" cubit
ark, but if the ark was built using a cubit closer to 21" then the space calculations
are out by almost 60%. (Point 331)
The common cubit is not the most ancient. This immediately casts doubt on the
common cubit as a candidate for Noah's Ark. The general consensus is that the royal
cubits predate the common. Obvious similarities in the royal cubits of early post flood
civilizations point to a single historical source - the Tower of Babel. The link from
Babel back to Noah is a simple one, and changing the length of the cubit during this
time would have been an uphill battle while everyone was working together and
speaking one language. So Noah's cubit should have continued relatively intact right
up to the royal building cubits of Babylon and Egypt. At the very least, the sum of
arguments for using the royal cubit to define Noah's Ark is much stronger than the
case for the common cubit.
Even a cursory examination shows up problems with the common cubit. For
example, if we can take the longevity of the early patriachs as a clue, we should
expect to see a general degradation of physical height at least in terms of population
averages. However, the common cubit is a mere 18 inches (457mm) at best,
corresponding to a person less than 5' 6" (1676mm) tall. This is too short for the
Creationist model of pristine health and stature before the flood, especially
considering Noah's cubit would have been taken from a kingly figure such as Adam,
Methuselah or even Noah himself.
Noah-Babel-Royal (NBR) hypothesis
More than a few (non creationist) authors have put forward complicated theories for
the origin of the cubit, particularly the famous Royal Egyptian cubit. Some even
claim the ancients derived the length by some special ratio of the diameter of the
earth. However, its very name and definition is firmly elbow-to-fingertip length,
regardless of the assortment of subdivisions. The cubit was ubiquitous in ancient
times. So here's a suggested explanation based on the Biblical account and the well
documented tendency of construction standards to remain unchanged throughout
long periods of continuous civilization. It also explains why the royal cubits appear
exaggerated. (Ref 9991)
Noah built the Ark using the building cubit of his day. Regardless of whose
forearm it represented the person was probably fairly important. It would be
consistent with a higher view of created intelligence to expect the cubit to have been
defined well before Noah came on the scene. Standardization is necessary for any
serious construction project and it is unreasonable to expect the Ark was the first
time the ante-diluvians had attempted to build something big. At worst, Noah used
his own forearm to set the cubit length, and he was the third oldest recorded man,
beating Adam's 930 year lifespan by 20 years. We would expect Noah or his even
more 'important' ancestor to be somewhat tall, but not taller than a modern
extreme. The reasoning is similar to the modern diversity in the canine kind, we
should expect Adam to be a brilliant all-rounder but not necessarily taller than
today's elite basketball players. Perhaps 6' 4" (1930mm).
The Tower of Babel was almost certainly built using the same cubit as the
Ark. Immediately after the flood Noah would have been the world's most influential
figure, and he lived another 350 years. His three sons were experienced in
construction and would have passed on their knowledge to later generations. The
Bible clearly indicates the new civilization was staying in the one place and working
together, a sure recipe for continuation of the cubit standard. Standards of
measurement are not easily changed even when there is pressure to change them.
In the case of the Babel construction, the pressure would have been to maintain the
cubit. The chances of the Ark cubit being used in the Tower of Babel are very high
indeed, since they were still acting as one people and one language. Gen 11:1
The post Babel nations took the Ark cubit with them. One of the most
remarkable features of the royal cubits is their similarity. The most ancient cubits of
Egypt, Babylon and Persia are almost identical, pointing to a single origin. Had the
cultures developed independently we should see an early diversity of standards with
a later convergence with increasing trade. However the evidence points to exactly
the opposite. It appears the cubit itself lends support to the Biblical Babel dispersion
as indicated in the Table of Nations of Genesis 10. The most reliable cubit of all is the
Royal Egyptian cubit, well documented and cross-checked using measurements from
the pyramids and all types of ancient constructions, builders marks, cubit rods and
even surviving cubit standards in granite. The variation is an almost unbelievable
1/50th of an inch (0.5mm) (Ref 1).
The common cubit became popular. The approximate cubit of everyday
commerce and domestic construction was not regulated like the Egyptian royal cubit.
By the time of Moses there were two distinct cubits, the common cubit now called
"the cubit of man". Interestingly, Egypt, Babylon and the Hebrews all had the dual
cubit definitions, common cubits around 18" and royal cubits around 21". However,
Jewish scholars believe the Hebrews did not get their measurement system through
Moses (i.e. Babel to Egypt to Israel) but directly from Babylon. Not only do the
subdivisions of the cubit follow the Babylonian system, but other weights and
measures are obviously similar. Just as we see today, the common cubit would have
been an unregulated measurement and likely to drift under commercial pressure
(dishonesty). Obviously this was a problem in Moses day and still an issue during
Solomon's reign, as seen by the clear teaching opposing dishonest measurement
Solomon may have used the royal cubit to build the temple. Solomon is
recorded as the wisest man of all time (which by-the-way, means he was wiser than
both Adam and Noah). This wisdom was a practical wisdom; apart from his fame as
a diplomat and philosopher, he excelled as a biologist, builder, engineer,
metallurgist, administrator, and it appears, an historian. When constructing the
temple, 2 Chron 3:3. "...Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of
God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits..." Since
Solomon was more than capable of piecing a bit of history together, God told him
(See Note 2222) to use the building cubit (the old long ones), not the everyday
commercial cubit (the new corrupted ones). Solomon was smart enough to know
that real building projects used the royal cubit, not the 'modern' corrupted common
cubit. Since dishonest weights and measures are an abomination to the LORD (Pr
20:10), it is hardly surprising the temple should have nothing to do with it.
The Siloam Tunnel was constructed using the common cubit - or worse.
Later, in Hezekiah's time, the short cubit was used for constructing the Siloam
tunnel. Modern measurements based on the Biblical 1200 cubits indicate a length of
17.22". This is the shortest cubit listed in Table 1, corresponding to a human height
of approximately 5' 4" (1626mm). Perhaps the tunnel measurement had been
rounded up to sound impressive in Hezekiah's day, or maybe the common cubit
continued to shrink due to the pressures of commercial dishonesty. In any case the
Siloam tunnel is a poor choice for defining Noah's Ark.
Cubits Used in Previous Ark Studies
The following table shows cubit lengths chosen by key creationist authors dealing
with Noah's Ark. This table gives the impression that the 18 inch cubit is the upper
limit to the cubit length, but the reasoning is clearly driven by a conservative space
argument. All studies have employed the common cubit, despite the lack of evidence
of its use in major building projects in the earliest civilizations - Noah's immediate
Table 1. Cubit Length in Noah's Ark Studies.
Year Reference Inch mm Based on...
The Genesis Flood. John
C Whitcomb, Henry M
Morris, R & R Publishing
17.5" 445
"While it is certainly possible
that the cubit referred to in
Genesis 6 was longer than
17.5 inches, we shall take
this shorter cubit as the basis
for our calculations" p10
The Ark of Noah. Henry
M Morris, CRSQ Vol 8, No
2, p142-144. 1971
18" 457
"Assuming the cubit to be
1.5ft, which is the most likely
value" p142
A Comparison of the Ark
with Modern Ships; Ralph
Giannone, CRSQ Vol 12,
No1, p53, June 1975
18" 457
"The cubit is understood to
be 18 inches, which seems to
be at least approximately
The Genesis Record:
Henry M Morris, Baker
Book House, 1976: p181
17.5" 445
"To be very conservative,
assume the cubit to have
been only 17.5 inches, the
shortest of all cubits, so far
as is known."
Was Noah's Ark Stable?
D H Collins, CRSQ Vol 14,
No 2, Sept 1977
18" 457
From cubit list in Ramm,
Bernard 1956, The Christian
View of Science and
Scripture. p229. Collins
says.. "For present purposes
I will assume the cubit equal
to 18 inches"
Safety Investigation of
Noah's Ark in a Seaway;
S.W.Hong et al , CEN TJ
8(1)1994 (AiG)
"We adopted the common
cubit...17.5 inches". After
Scott R.B.Y 1959. Weights
and Measures of the Bible.
The Archeologist, XXII(2).
Note: The actual dimensions
used in the study require a
unique cubit of 450mm,
giving the exact figures for
13.5m depth, 22.5m breadth
and 135m length.
Noah's Ark: A Feasibility
Study: John
Woodmorappe, ICR,
1996, p10
18" 457.2
"All the calculations in this
work involving the Ark
assume a short cubit of
45.72cm." (Wright G.R.H.
1985 Ancient Building in
South Syria and Palestine,
Vol 1. E'J.Brill, Leiden. p419)
The Most Amazing Ship
in the History of the
World; Prof. Dr. Werner
Gitt, Fundamentum;
2001 p7 (German)
17.22" 437.5
Siloam tunnel measurement
compared to Biblical record
(Shorter than the common
Hebrew cubit)
Problems with the Common Cubit
John Morris (ICR President and long-standing Noah's Ark enthusiast), stated in
conversation (July 27 2004):
"The cubit length of 17.5" to 18" was assumed in most studies because the focus had
been on the ark's volume. The authors took the conservative value of cubit size and
then demonstrated that even the minimum space was adequate to fit all the animals
on board. However, there are reasons to think longer alternatives, such as the royal
cubits of Egypt and Babylon, may be preferable. I am certainly open to a longer
Even as early as 1961, the longer cubits were an option. In 1976, Henry Morris, in
his classic book "The Genesis Record" sums it up best when he says "To be very
conservative, assume the cubit to have been only 17.5 inches..." The common cubit
is conservative, but is it the most likely?
Supporting Points
1. The common cubit is not the most ancient and does not appear to have any
connection with Noah's Ark.
2. In the absence of an obvious choice, a structural defense must use the longest
potential cubit.
3. If the royal cubit is the best estimate for the Ark then current space calculations
are off by 60%
4. Opposing constraints of structure vs space suggests a multiple solution (proof in
each case), but the divine source of Noah's specifications suggest a perfect fit.
5. The shortening of the unregulated common cubit may have been due to
commercial deflation. (Dishonest scales).
No basis for the Common Cubit predatnig the Royal
The evolutionary minded historian (including the authors of many Bible
encyclopedias) attempt to paint a picture of civilization developing from crude
beginnings. Since the royal or building cubits are obviously superior to the common
cubit, they sometimes imply the ancients came up with the longer cubit at a later
date. (See note 5555) Trouble is, they don't have a later date, nor any indication of
its beginnings. They assume that the pressures of ever increasing technology forced
the shorter common cubit to be abandoned in favor of the longer royal type. Trouble
is, history and the Bible point to the common cubit taking over from the royal.
Commentators then treat the common cubit as the anthropometric measure, and the
royal cubit as a derived measure. No explanation is given as to why the building
cubit was made so much longer in the first place, other than the 7 to 6 handbreath
ratio. But handbreaths won't improve accuracy - all that was needed was a fixed
standard. Few commentators are brave enough to postulated a rough date for the
beginnings of the longer cubit standard. Chances are, there isn't one, because it
goes right back to the flood. Probable too that the longer cubit is due to the
continued use of an ante-diluvian cubit that came from someone taller than the
average post-Babel individual. After all, the Hebrews still called both the long and
short versions "cubit" (ammah) which means "mother of the arm".
But the Bible gives the radically different view that our history really began with
Noah, obviously very capable technically. So the same technology that built a huge
seaworthy vessel would have continued right through to the construction the Tower
of Babel. Such engineering prowess logically demands a standardized system of
measurement in Noah's day, and probably well before. Since the culture directly
after the flood was unified and continuous, the defined cubit would be nearly
impossible to alter, so Noah's cubit would have been used on that tower. Since God
dispersed the people quite suddenly by confusing their languages, we should expect
to see similar cubits used for construction all over the ancient world. These building
cubits are known today as the royal cubits and this is how they look.
Civilization Name Inches mm
20.6" -
20.5" -
20.64" -
Suspiciously similar, and hopelessly inexplicable to someone believing these
civilizations did not arise rapidly from the one source (Babel). There is even mention
of English, Chinese and Mexico Aztec cubits within the range 20.4" to 20.9" (518 -
How long is a cubit?

The cubit is defined as the length from elbow to fingertip. This measurement varies
with stature, the Mishna (Jewish writings) give the height of a man as 4 cubits, a
ratio of 25%. Measurements taken from UK airmen (Ref 1) indicate a ratio closer to
Ancient civilizations used a standard cubit length. For example, the pyramids of Geza
were constructed using the 524mm (20.7") Royal Egyptian Cubit. This cubit has been
quite accurately determined, not only from the constructions themselves, but also
from actual cubit standards left behind by the ancient craftsmen. Even as early as
1877, Petrie (Ref 2) published his findings on the ancient measure, saying that
"about a dozen of the actual cubit rods that are known yield 20.65 .01 inches".
Measurements within the pyramid chambers support this figure, dimensions within
the King's chamber of the Great Pyramid give a mean of 20.620 .004 inches.
Other evidences are left by the builders themselves, "On the facade of one of the
tombs at Beni Hassan there is a scratch left by the workmen at every cubit length.
The cubit there is a long variety, of 20.7 to 20.8." Petrie made a detailed analysis
and concluded the length of the Royal Egyptian Cubit was Here, then, by the earliest
monument that is known to give the cubit, by the mean of the cubits in seven early
monuments, by the mean of 28 examples of various dates and qualities, and by the
mean of a dozen cubit rods, the result is always within 1/50 inch of 20.63
Arguments for using the longer 'royal' cubit
It is considered to be the earliest cubit
More reasonable human stature for ante-diluvians
The royal was used for building, so logically descended from the Ark
It is virtually identical in early civilizations indicating a single origin (Noah)
Fossil record indicates everything was bigger, so we should expect people to be on
the large side
Standards tend not to change so we should expect to see Noah's cubit carried
through Babel and into early civilizations
Explains why the royal cubits appeared to be exaggerated to modern historians

Cubits used in previous studies
Some cubit definitions
Cubit Issues
A modern cubit
Implications of a long cubit for the Ark

Some Cubit Definitions
(See also Cubit References)
"The actual length of the cubit varies from 18 inches to 25 inches." (Collins 1977)
Encyclopedia Britannica says the cubit was "usually equal to about 18 inches". In the
case of Noah's Ark however, we are interested in the definitions of the earliest cubits
- not the most common. "The probability is that the longer was the original cubit." (Easton's
Bible dictionary).
Ancient cubits varied in their level of standardization. The Royal Egyptian cubit was
remarkably consistent and well defined. In Mesopotamia, cubit standards did not
survive (probably due to wood construction) - so investigation is limited to clues in
building proportions. Not all cubits were defined as the distance from elbow to
fingertip either, and there were usually hand-width, finger width (digits) or spans
subdividing the cubit.
Ancient cubits could be classified into 2 main groups - long and short. The
approximate height of the person from whom the cubit was measured is tabulated
Short Hebrew 17.5"
5' 4" 1636 mm
5' 5" 1646 mm
Common 18"
5' 6" 1683 mm
6' 1" 1852 mm
Long Hebrew 20.4"
6' 3" 1907 mm
6' 4" 1929 mm
7' 4" 2246 mm
Supporting Points
1. The common cubit is not the most ancient and does not appear to have any
connection with Noah's Ark.
2. A structural defense should use the longer cubit.
3. A defense of adequate space defense should use the longer cubit if it is more likely
than the shorter cubit.
3. Opposing constraints of room vs structure suggests a multiple solution (proof in
each case), but the divine source of Noah's specifications suggest a perfect fit.
4. If the longer cubit turns out to be the best approximation and we can assume God
specified the Ark in those units, it should not be possible to fit everything onto an ark
of the common cubit. If we can then Noah was required to build an excessively large
vessel, 40% larger than necessary.
5. If the long cubit is a more correct choice, the ark's cargo and number of animals
might be cross-checked, especially since a good (not too tight, not too loose) fit is
6. The volume of the ark is related to the third power of cubit length.
7. The necessary strength of the ark is proportional to the cubit to the power of 3.5
8. The shortening of the unregulated common cubit due to commercial deflation.
(Dishonest scales).
Is Noah's cubit too ancient to investigate?.
The cubit has disappeared today, although in some countries it was still in use until
around 1960 when it was replaced by metric units. There are many examples of
measurement systems lasting through the ages. In a continuous civilization, an
important base-unit like length is not easily changed. Consider the effort it took to
deliberately convert to the metric system. For example, the standard railroad gauge
(4ft 8 1/2") is a strange choice - the same gauge that was used in the hand drawn
carts of the English coal mines, that found itself in coach-building and eventually
trains.. We measure angles using 90 degrees for a right angle. We have never
stopped counting 7 days as a week. The origin of many measurement systems can
go back centuries.
It is worth considering that Noah's cubit would have been the only unit of length
immediately after the flood and that Noah's three sons were technically skilled
builders. Furthermore, Noah lived for another 350 years in the new world and his son
Shem was a contemporary of Abraham. Abraham lived some time in Egypt and had
influence (the Pharaoh liked his wife). Noah's cubit could easily appear in these early
civilizations. In fact, it is reasonable to expect Noah's cubit to dominate every culture
until the Babel incident.
The Hebrew for Cubit is "ammah", derived from mother, as in "mother unit of
measure". The same word is used throughout the Old Testament as a unit of length.
This could convey the idea of a measurement passed down from an ancestor, who
defined the original or 'mother' cubit. Incidentally, the word for mother is common
throughout many languages.
As for standards, the Egyptian cubit has survived intact in cubit standards of wood
and stone, as well as in the meticulous dimensions of their architecture. For
thousands of years this cubit varied less than 5%. So it is quite likely that even the
actual length of Noah's cubit may have been passed down relatively intact, at least
to a few civilizations.
The Long and the Short of it.
Noah's Ark landed in the middle east. The tower of Babel was almost certainly
constructed in the same cubit as the ark. If dominant cultures were to travel the
least distance (or even stay put), then the ancient empires most likely to have
continued with Noah's cubit would probably come from Mesopotamia or its vicinity.
There are hints that Babylon was built on the site of the original Babel. These
cultures would still have an infrastructure that relied on this unit of measure - hence
the cubit from Sumeria should be a pretty close estimate. The three ancient
civilizations in this area have surprisingly similar cubit definitions - the Egyptian royal
cubit more closely defined then the other units. Since the Hebrews spent 400 years
in Egypt, it would be natural to assume Hebrew cubits were an inherited Egyptian
measure. However, when the subdivision structure is compared, the Hebrew cubit
looks more like a Babylon import.
Not that it matters much, look how similar they are;
Civilization Name Inches mm
Mesopotamia (Iraq)
20.6" -
Persia (Iran-ish)

20.5" -
Egypt meh 20.6" 524
Known for their meticulous construction and love of mathematics, the Egyptian cubit
was an accurate 20.6" (524mm). This length can be quite readily derived from the
study of construction proportions - such as the chamber measurements in the
Pyramids of Gezih. Better than this, actual cubit standards have been well preserved
in the dry conditions. See Petrie's derivations of the royal Egyptian cubit.
In Mesopotamia, wooden "cubit rods" decay in the wet soil, so the length is obtained
from buildings that were probably laid out in whole cubits. A copper standard was
unearthed, but the general picture is that cubits outside of Egypt were less exact.
Modern scholars find variation in these measurements due in part to the lack of
reliable records, as well as the tolerance limitations of ancient construction.
Did Moses know two cubits?
In his final speech before the Sanhedrin, Stephen described Moses as "educated in
all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Moses was obviously familiar with the
Egyptian royal cubit and intelligent enough to query its origin. Probably not a
Pharaoh - the short length of the typical sarcophagus attests to this. Imagine Moses
as a young man completing his studies in mathematics being handed the Royal Cubit
standard to calculate the area of the palace foyer. Imagine the temptation to put this
famous cubit against his own arm. Surely Moses would have spotted the anomaly -
this was not Pharaoh's forearm.
For this reason, many commentators claim the Egyptian royal cubit was an
exaggeration. The problem with this charge is that three different empires all
exaggerate - equally. If some Pharaoh had felt the need to appear larger than life,
he could at least have chosen a cubit superior to his rivals from the Persian Gulf.
Worse still, the later Egyptian empire was defining a cubit slightly less than the
average on the other side of the Arabian desert. A more realistic assumption would
be that all these early civilizations inherited their cubit length from the one source.
Moses, the author of both Genesis and Deuteronomy applies a different cubit
definition when he writes about a contemporary measurement of the enormous bed
of King Og. Not rendered in the NIV, the OKJ translation of Duet 3:11 describes the
"cubit of a man" as the unit of measure used here. The giant Og, king of Bashan
slept in a bed 9 cubits long. By the short cubit (18") this is 13 1/2 feet, by the long
cubit almost 16 feet. (Now that IS excessive). In the phrase "cubit of a man", the
word for man is "iysh" which is usually associated with a particular man, not "adam"
which is more general - like "mankind". Moses, the obvious author/compiler of both
Genesis and Deuteronomy, appears to be making a distinction between the old cubit
and the cubit defined by typical forearm length of his day. From Moses' point of view,
Genesis was history, but Deuteronomy was current news "is it not in Rabbath of the
children of the Ammon? Deut 3:11". Moses, educated in Egypt and familiar with the
Royal Egyptian cubit of 20.6" (525mm), never made such a distinction in Genesis.
This indicates Genesis was measured in an ancient cubit, not by the forearm of
Moses' day. Since Moses is demonstrating his awareness of two different cubits, he
should have applied himself to the task of defining Noah's cubit also - perhaps with a
comment like "according to the cubit of Noah". It appears he was satisfied to let the
reader assume it was the "old" measure - not distinguished from the Royal Egyptian
cubit. See also: Revell Bible dictionary
Solomon knew two cubits.
2 Chron 3:3. ...Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The
length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits...
Since Solomon was capable of piecing a bit of history together, God told him to build
with the building cubit (the old long ones), not the everyday commercial cubits (the
new short ones). Later, in Hezekiah's time, the short cubit was used later in Siloam
tunnel (confirmed by modern measurements), so the "cubits after the first measure"
must have been the other ones. Long.

An exaggerated cubit ... Or are we
getting smaller?
Shakespeare lived in a tiny house, and the old
houses of England had low doors and short beds.
The English evolutionist would naturally assume our
increasing stature is a part of the evolution of man.
Combine this with a few small Egyptian Pharaohs
and you have a tidy precept - ancient people were
small. Unfortunately, this does not work in Africa
where supposed 'primitive' tribesmen can average
well over 6 feet. It must also ignore the impressive
physique of the Pacific Islanders 'discovered' by
European sailors in the previous century, and a host
of other anomalies. Even today, evolutionists are
surprised when an ancient human is taller then
The Bible paints a different picture. The original
creation was perfect, including extreme longevity
and obvious mental and physical prowess. Good
health is more likely to allow a person to grow to
their correct height - at least in terms of population
averages. Deteriorating genetics and the startling
nutritional ignorance of many ancient urban people
(e.g scurvy) would go a long way to explain their
short stature.
So if the ante-diluvians were taller, we would expect
Noah to be tall. The Ancient cubits correspond to a
person around 6ft 4" tall. This is tall, but not
impossible. In fact it is far more reasonable than an
antediluvian cubit of 17.5" (163cm - 5ft 4in tall),
almost certainly too small for Noah.
Dimensions are not converted.
The dimensions of the ark are 300 long, 50 wide and 30 high. These are round
numbers and the proportions are excellent for ship stability and sea-keeping
performance. (4) Most readers would assume these were the original numbers God
gave to Noah. Assuming these figures were recorded (probably by Shem), Moses
would have compiled them into his manuscript some years later. Being well educated
and alert, Moses would have been capable of converting these figures into the
equivalent units of his day.
However, the numbers do not appear to have been modified. Conversion from one
cubit to another would produce ugly numbers. For example, if the original length had
been 261 Royal Babylonian cubits, this would be 251 Royal Egyptian cubits. If Moses
had then rounded off to give dimensions in an apparent single significant figure (3
hundreds, 5 tens, 3 tens) the error could be as high as 20% (For example; rounding
off 251 to the nearest hundred adds an extra 49/251 = 19.5%, which is more than
the difference between the common short and long cubits.) Worse still, if the depth
had been rounded down from 34 to 30 (12%) then the L/D ratio is modified by 35%.
The Hong study showed that the dimensions were optimal within 20%. In other
words, rounding off to a single significant figure could force the proportions outside
the optimal values.
The most reasonable assumption would be that Moses copied (or was told) the
original dimensions as exactly 300 x 50 x 30. Setting the precedent for later Jewish
scholars, Moses was no doubt careful to maintain the original numbers.
People like their kings to be tall.
The Bible gives many examples of height being revered among men. God is
displeased with this tendency, and gives them a dud king that looks the part - King
Saul. The fact that he looked like a king indicates that kingship was linked to tall
stature.(1 Sam 9:2). Antediluvian superiority aside, Noah's cubit would likely have
come from a king, and a king would most likely have been tall.
Reverence for ancestry is another common theme - especially towards the early
patriarchs. It would be reasonable to assume that the owner of the forearm defining
Noah's cubit was probably someone old and famous. Anyone old was probably taller,
and anyone famous was probably tall. Discounting Nephilim due to their extreme
ungodliness, a 20.6" cubit (6ft 4" person) is then quite a reasonable choice - simply
a tall antediluvian.
Some Jewish tradition has Noah is the realm of the giants. The cubit does not show
this however, a 20.6" forearm length is a tall person - but no giant. This
misconception might be explained by the deterioration of health and stature after the
flood, making a 20.6" cubit seem superhuman. (e.g. Short stature of Egyptian
The Bible gives some examples of height being revered among men. God is
displeased with this tendency, and gives them a dud king that looks the part - King
Saul. The fact that he looked like a king indicates that kingship was linked to tall
stature.(1 Sam 9:2). Antediluvian superiority aside, Noah's cubit would likely have
come from a king, and a king would most likely have been tall.
The cubit of modern man

Forearm Hand Length. Posterior point of the elbow - dac
tylion. (Ref 2)
Procedure: With the beam caliper, measure the horizontal
distance from the elbow (olecranon process) to the tip of the
middle finger.
Measure your own cubit and compare results. Check if your
cubit is around 28% of your height.
The Mishna (Jewish writings) states that the height of a man
is 4 cubits (25%)

Forearm functional reach + hand length. Anthropometric
data for British military (UK airmen) is freely available (Ref
3). A direct cubit was not measured, but can be derived from
the functional forearm reach (21) and the hand correction
factors (33 & 34), where a cubit = 21 + 33 - 34

1987 Measurements for UK aircrew
Measurement 3rd percentile 50th percentile 97th percentile
stature 1658 1783 1901
21 cubit-grip 390 424 462
33 grip correction - ext 178 195 212
34 grip correction - clasp 107 117 127
21 + 33 - 34 461 502 547
cubit % of stature 27.80% 28.15% 28.77%
The mid-sized person flying planes in the UK had a cubit of 502mm (19.8"). UK
airmen were approx 1.5% taller than the US army measurements of 1988, dropping
to a 1% advantage in the more competitive 97th percentile. So these servicemen
were slightly taller than normal. "Clinical normality" in height is defined as about the
range 54"-79". The average stature worldwide is 1650mm 80mm (64.96" 3.15")
for men and 60.5" 2.95" for women. (Ref 5).
Considering Noah was only 10 generations from Adam and got the bronze medal in
the longevity records, it would be safe to assume he was a lot healthier (and taller)
than the average male on the planet today, or in the UK air force for that matter. Yet
a cubit of only 457mm (18") cubit corresponds to 28% of a mere 1632mm (64.25")
stature, well below the world average today. The picture is even more grim and Noah
becomes vertically challenged if the 25% Mishna rule is applied. In any case a longer
cubit would be a more realistic choice.
The longer measures such as the Nippur cubit or the Royal Egyptian cubit are a
better match to archeological evidence, and to the Biblical framework of a creation in
bondage to decay. (Romans 8:21). A structural study of Noah's Ark should take the
more realistic long cubits into consideration.

Implications of a long cubit for the ark.
One reason to prefer the shorter cubit is that it defines a conservatively small ark.
This is the best way to defend the ark against accusations of insufficient space -
"How could all those animals fit on the ark". Space requirements have been
documented by John Woodmorappe in "Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study". Using the
18" cubit (p50), he concludes that the animals would require only half the floor space
- and this is without putting cages one above the other (p16). There is 15 feet
between floors which is ample headroom.
However, when making a case for the structural integrity of the ark, the long cubit
should be used. Whenever the forces on an object are mass-related, the stresses
increase in proportion to scale. This defines a maximum size limit to buildings,
bridges, aircraft and machines. The larger the vessel, the more critical the structure.
For example, the bending load applied by waves is considered to be proportional to
the length of the vessel to the power of 3.5. See Wave Bending Moment

increases with
Consider a
beam (BxD)
cantilevered over
a length (L),
supporting its
own weight (W);
Stress = 3 x W x
L / (B x D
If you double the
scale, you will
double all the
which will
increase the
weight 8 times.
So Stress = 3 *
8W * 2L / (2B *
) =
which means
stress has also
Generally speaking, as scale increases mass related forces (like weight) increase by
, but the cross-sectional area only increases by scale
. Since Stress = Force /
Area, the stress increases by scale
, or scale
- i.e. Stress is proportional to
Therefore, larger structures need to be more stout. Thus a dinosaur is heavy boned,
yet a spider can have whisker thin legs. A flea can leap a hundred times its own size,
but an elephant can barely get off the ground. A small gymnast has an advantage, a
cat can fall out of a tree and walk away, and Tyrannosaurus Rex was probably rather
clumsy. So the fact that an ant can carry seven times its own weight is not so
amazing after all.
In engineering, the same applies to boats, buildings and planes. Have you noticed
how we haven't really made things much bigger than we did 30 years ago? We can't
unless we find a material that is many times stronger than what we had before.
Assuming sufficient wave size (probably a reasonable assumption), a longer cubit
makes structural strength a more significant issue for the ark.

Large size demands a stout structure.
We need to keep the stress within safe limits, so
any increases in size must have a corresponding
increase in the stoutness of structural elements.
In the previous example we wanted to double the
length of the beam. This requires a 4 fold increase
in breadth and depth, increasing the section
modulus 64 times, but the mass only 32 times -
thereby maintain the same level of stress.
So building a larger ark is not simply a case of
scaling everything up. The increase in length
requires a even greater increase in breadth and
depth of the structural beams. This obviously
results in a maximum size for the vessel - when
you end up with a structure of solid wood.
All wood and no rooms!
So how does this effect the ark? The table below shows what happens when you
increase the size of the cubit. This assumes a draft of 15 cubits (half the depth)
which could be interpreted from the account of the floodwater being more than 15
cubits above the mountain tops. (Indicating that the ark could not run aground) Gen
7:20. Though not conclusively fictitious, the Babylonian long cubit of 24" is less likely
because it did not appear in multiple empires - the best indication of prior date.
(especially prior Babel dispersion).
Selecting the most likely cubit is no trivial matter, the mass of the ark could increase
at least 50%.
Inch mm
Length Tonnes
17.5" 445 133m 20255 100 %
17.6" 447 134m 20604 102 %
Common 18" 457 137m 22041 109 %
19.8" 503 151m 29336 145 %
20.4" 518 155m 32085 158 %
20.6" 524 157m 33279 164 %
24" 610 183m 52245 258 %
Factors that could require increased strength of the hull include hull shape, large
wave size, uneven load distribution on the ark, high wind speed, minimal deflection
to prevent leakage, collisions with floating debris, launching and beaching loads.
One factor that eases structural requirements is the short working life of the ark.
Although the occupants may have been confined to the ark for over a year, the
voyage itself lasted only 5 months. (or even less if the ark was launched near the
end of the 40 days)
See also Cubit References

References and notes
9991. The Royal Egyptian cubit too big for Pharaoh? Ubiquitous courtier
2222. The plans for the temple were divinely revealed to David, who passed it on to
his son Solomon. (1 Chron 28) "11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for
the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and
the place of the mercy seat; 12 and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit, of the
courts of the house of the LORD, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of
the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things;" NKJV. It could be
argued that David knew about the former cubit also - the royal cubit.
3333. The Jewish Encyclopedia.com. The author picks up the "cubit after the first
measure" from Solomon's temple and links it to the seven handbreadth cubit of
Ezekiel. The common cubit was typically defined as six handbreadths, the royal cubit
as seven - exactly as it was in Egypt. Note: "ell" means cubit. "The Old Testament
mentions two ells of different size. Ezekiel implies that in his measurement of the
Temple the ell was equal to a "cubit and a handbreadth" (Eze 40:5, 43:13)that is,
one handbreadth larger than the ell commonly used in his time. Since among all
peoples the ell measured 6 handbreadths, the proportion of Ezekiel's ell to the others
was as 7 to 6. The fact that Ezekiel measured the Temple by a special ell is
comprehensible and significant only on the assumption that this ell was the standard
of measurement of the old Temple of Solomon as well. This is confirmed by the
statement of the Chronicler that the Temple of Solomon was built according to
"cubits after the first measure" (II Chron. iii. 3), implying that a larger ell was used
at first, and that this was supplanted in the course of time by a smaller one."
4444. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. "The standard for measures of
length among the Hebrews. They derived it from the Babylonians, but a similar
measure was used in Egypt... The Babylonians early adopted a .... double standard,
the so-called royal cubit and the ordinary one. From the remains of buildings in
Assyria and Babylonia, the former is made out to be about 20,6 inches, and a cubit
of similar length was used in Egypt and must have been known to the Hebrews. This
was probably the cubit mentioned by Ezekiel 40:5 and perhaps that of Solomon's
temple, "cubits after the first measure" (2 Chronicles 3:3), i.e. the ancient cubit. The
ordinary cubit of commerce was shorter, and has been variously estimated at
between 16 and 18 or more inches, but the evidence of the Siloam inscription and of
the tombs in Palestine seems to indicate 17,6 inches as the average length.
5555. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. The original cubit was the
length of the forearm, from the elbow to the end of the middle finger, as is implied
from the derivation of the word in Hebrew and in Latin (cubitum). It seems to be
referred to also in Deuteronomy 3:11: "after the cubit of a man." But this was too
indefinite for a scientific standard, and the Babylonians early adopted a more
accurate method of measurement which passed to the nations of the West.
1. The Genesis Record; Henry M Morris, Baker Books, 1976
2. National Biodynamics Laboratory
3. 1988 Anthropometric Survey of U.S. Army Personnel: Methods and Summary
Statistics - a technical report (NATICK/TR-89/044) authored by Claire C.Gordon,
Thomas Churchill, Charles Clauser, Bruce Bradmiller, John McConville, Ilse Tebbetts,
and Robert Walker Wendy Murray
4. Ministry of Defense.(00-25 Part 2) Human Factors for Designers of Equipment Part
2: Body Size. Feb 1997 http://www.dstan.mod.uk/data/00/025/02000200.pdf
5. Anthropometrics and Design. Lecture notes.

What is the most likely length for the cubit of Noah's Ark?
The cubit is normally defined as the length from elbow to fingertip, but how
long was the arm?
(See also Cubit References)
Main points
1. A cubit length of 18 inches is unlikely.
2. A longer cubit makes the ark more difficult to build.
3. A shorter cubit makes it more difficult to fit everything in.
3. Opposing constraints of room vs structure suggests a multiple solution (proof in
each case), but the divine source of Noah's specifications suggest a perfect fit.
4. If the longer cubit turns out to be the best approximation and we can assume God
specified the Ark in those units, it should not be possible to fit everything onto an ark
of the common cubit. If we can then Noah was required to build an excessively large
vessel, 40% larger than necessary.
5. If the long cubit is a more correct choice, the ark's cargo and number of animals
might be cross-checked, especially since a good (not too tight, not too loose) fit is
6. The volume of the ark is related to the third power of cubit length.
7. The necessary strength of the ark is proportional to the cubit to the power of 3.5
8. The shortening of the unregulated common cubit due to commercial deflation.
(Dishonest scales).
Noah's cubit. How long should it be?
Putting aside various arguments against the Ark's feasibility.
Summary of major arguments against the Ark's feasibility,
1. How can all the animals fit?
2. The ark is too big for a wooden vessel
3. How could they take care of all the animals?
4. How could ancient people build such a serious vessel?
Virtually all objections relating to the ship itself fall into the following categories;
The ark is too small - how to fit animals,
The ark is too big - too big for wood, too big for ancient people,
So skeptics claim the ark is too big for wood yet too small to fit all the animals.
Obviously this is not the right question to address.
What is the right question?
Since it is not the skeptic that drives our agenda, but the Word of God, the thing to
aim for is;
What is the most accurate cubit length we can determine?
If we can define a certain length as being more probable than others, then this
should be the one we take. After this we can test the effects on space and

Dishonest measurement standards
Le 19:36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an
honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
De 25:13 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.
Pr 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the LORDS; All the weights in the bag are
His work.
Pr 20:10 Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination
to the LORD.
Pr 20:23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, And dishonest scales are
not good.
Mic 6:11 Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, And with the bag of
deceitful weights?
Ge 11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.
Examples of construction and building standards that stood the test of time.
The Royal Egyptian Cubit
The slow transfer of US to metric
The continuation of archaic railway gauge
Extremely long life of cubit, foot, inch
Infrastucture inertia - shipbuilding, aircraft, brickmaking etc unchanged by metric