How big was Noah's Ark?
NOAH'S ARK WAS HUGE!
If you wrongly imagine the Ark looked like some of those little cartoon boats in children's story books, with a couple of elephants' trunks and giraffes' necks sticking out the top, think again.
Genesis 6:15 in the Bible tells us the Ark's dimensions were at least 135 meters long (300 cubits), 22.5 meters wide (50 cubits), and 13.5 meters high (30 cubits). That's 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high! It could have been larger, because several larger-sized cubits were used. But the 45-centimeter (18-inch) cubit is long enough to show the enormous size of the Ark.
(A cubit was the length of a man's arm from fingertips to elbow.)
Higher than a 3-story building!
Noah's Ark was three stories high (Genesis 6:16). Its total deck area was equivalent to the area of about 20 standard college basketball courts or 36 lawn tennis courts. The world had to wait until AD 1884 before the Ark's size was exceeded, when the Italian liner Eturia was built.
The rectangular dimensions of the Ark show an advanced design in ship-building. Its length of six times its width and 10 times its height would have made it amazingly stable on the ocean. Remember it was made more for floating than sailing, because it wasn't headed anywhere. The Ark was made to withstand a turbulent ocean voyage, not to be at a certain place at a certain time.
Recent thought on the Ark's design is that it could have had a slightly tapered top at the front and back, instead of being squared off. But the famous rock formation near Mount Ararat with pointed ends, which some think is Noah's Ark, is definitely not!
Interestingly, British civil and mechanical engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a steamship (the Great Britain) in 1843 that had almost the same proportions as the Ark, although it was smaller. This was regarded as a remarkable feat of Victorian and maritime engineering. The Great Britain was the first large vessel to be propelled by a screw propeller.
Babylonian Ark fails test
The ancient Babylonians had a flood story too, and it may have been a corrupted version of the biblical account. The ark in the Babylonian story was shaped like a cube, which would had made it unseaworthy.
This shows the difference between truth and badly recorded legends. The Bible's Ark was able to carry all the animals God sent to Noah, it was wonderfully seaworthy, it landed on a mountain that is still identifiable today, and the whole story is credible scientifically.
Because of this, there are many thousands of scientists who believe the Bible's account of the Ark and the worldwide Flood, but none (as far as we know) who seriously defend the Babylonian story as scientifically trustworthy.
Christian teachers and homeschoolers:
Want an interesting student activity?
If you want a classroom activity for Christian schools, you can show your students how big Noah's Ark was by measuring it out on your school grounds or in a large park.
First get your students to measure out a cubit, which is the unit of length the Bible uses. Cubits were roughly the length of a man's arm from elbow to fingertips, although the length varied from about 45 centimeters (18 inches) to 56 centimeters (22 inches). A 45cm (18-inch) cubit will show the minimum length, although you can use a longer one if you have room.
When you have your cubit (it can be marked on anything, but a piece of wood or pipe cut to size would do), measure out 300 of them to show the length of Noah's Ark. Get some students to stand between the two points. Do the same with the width, which was 50 cubits. If you can also measure 30 cubits upwards (say on your school's wall if it is at least four stories high, or to the top of a tall tree), all the better.
When the students see how huge the Ark was, reinforce some of the points given in the article above. You could also read over the Bible account of the Flood from the book of Genesis. You could even make a hollow cube out of cardboard or paper to represent the Babylonian “ark”, and show how unstable it would be in the water compared to the real Ark.
Your students may also like to make their own model ark out of wood or cardboard using a scale model of the dimensions given in the Bible (Genesis 6:14 onwards). The Bible model has been made and thoroughly tested many times and has been found to be extremely stable.
Creation Answers has information on making a scale model of Noah's Ark.
You can even buy scaled models of Noah's Ark or kits that allow you to make scale models of the Ark:
Noah's Ark Models sells high-quality handcrafted scaled and non-scaled models of the Ark, like the one above, that would make a great talking point for your school or church.
Ark Builders.com has simple, inexpensive models to make.
- How long was a cubit?
- Six myths about Noah's Ark
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- Is the boat-shaped rock formation in Turkey really Noah's Ark?
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- How did all the world's animals fit on Noah's Ark?
- What was the date of Noah's Flood?
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