How Did Noah Build the Ark?
Many people may see Noah, the Ark and the worldwide flood being nothing more than a children’s story or just a myth.
When we look at other flood stories (like the native Indian one: ‘Waynaboozhoo and the Great Flood – an Ojibwe legend’ 1, we can immediately see that they are a total fantasy, although they may be based on the fact that there was a world-wide flood.
The sizes of things and the situations that happened are just not based on the real world.
Many may say the same about Noah’s Ark, but when we look at the details of the size of the Ark and the events that are described we find that they are in line with the real world.
Some ask, ‘How did Noah build the Ark without tools?’ But we will see that the craftsmanship was at a high level at this time.
The article looks at who helped Noah build the Ark in the Bible and estimates how many days Noah built the Ark.
Table of Contents menu
1. How skilled were ancient engineers?
The Bible gives very precise measurements for the Ark in Genesis:
The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high…”Genesis 6:14 NIV
It would have been slightly smaller than a 14000-ton modern tanker – that is only three metres shorter and the same width. (See some facts and figures about Noah’s Ark for more information).
The Ark was built just to float and withstand the rising flood waters.
Could Noah have built the Ark?
Well, it is strange but true, that many building marvels were built thousands of years ago.
There have been several TV programmes where modern engineers have tried to recreate certain ancient buildings or machines and have often failed in doing so:
In this next generation of storytelling, Ancient Impossible reveals how many of today’s technological achievements were actually developed centuries ago.‘Ancient Impossible’ Sky History 2
Colossal monuments, impossible feats of engineering, and technologies so precise they defy reinvention…
The ancient world was far more advanced than we ever imagined.
We’ll travel through history to reveal a radically different picture of the past, with innovations so far ahead of their time, they’re still in use today.
Now, new science uncovers a lost world more like our own than we ever suspected, and reveals how modern technology has its blueprint in the ancient world.”
They often concluded that the ancient engineers were more skilful than we realised.
2. Some examples of ancient building marvels
For example, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt has a lot of huge limestone blocks:
Estimates suggest that the Great Pyramid consists of roughly some 2.3 million blocks.‘The Great Pyramid of Giza was once covered in highly polished white limestone’ The Vintage News 4
The Tura limestone blocks used for its casing were taken from nearby quarries, just across the river.
However, some of the largest granite stones, like those found in the so-called King’s chamber, were carried all the way from Aswan, which is more than 500 miles away.
The heaviest granite stones weight up to 80 tons.”
Over 4600 years old, The Great Pyramid of Giza, is the oldest and surviving original Seven Wonders of the World and is still largely intact.‘Ancient Engineering Secrets Of The Pyramids’ (Episode 3) ZDF Enterprises
Built over a period of 20 years, and standing at a colossal 479 feet, the Great Pyramid was the tallest man made structure for over 3000 years.
With over 2 million stone blocks, this monumental feat of Ancient Engineering is seen today in some of the world’s most phenomenal structures that exist in modern society, and a tribute to the engineers of ancient Egypt.
The Great Pyramid isn’t only about scale.
With building principles that still apply today it’s also a masterpiece of mathematics and precision engineering.
Aligned to face true north with pinpoint accuracy, it is a triumph against impossible odds.
The Great Pyramid is the result of human ingenuity and ancient engineering masterpiece.”
Or Stonehenge with its massive blocks aligned to mark the winter and summer solstices:
Some of the volcanic bluestones in the inner ring of Stonehenge officially match an outcrop in Wales that’s 160 miles (257 kilometers) from the world-famous site, geologists announced this week….The National Geographic ‘It’s Official: Stonehenge Stones Were Moved 160 Miles’ 6
As it looks today, 5,000-year-old Stonehenge has an outer ring of 20- to 30-ton sandstone blocks and an inner ring and horseshoe of 3- to 5-ton volcanic bluestone blocks.
The monument’s larger outer blocks, called the Sarsen stones, were likely quarried some 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 kilometers) away.”
Yes, the ancient engineers were well able to make massive and complex things, so the Ark was a plausible construction.
3. What skills were around in Noah’s day?
The Bible tells us in Genesis 4, a long time before Noah, that “Cain was then building a city” – not a house, nor were they living in tents or huts, but a solid and extensive city.
But at a similar time after Cain, the Bible tells us that:
Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.”Genesis 4:20 NIV
While many people were in cities, others were living in tents.
Here are some skills that were around at this time:
His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments* and pipes**.”Genesis 4:21 NIV
Here are the Hebrew words used in the verses above:
The word ‘stringed instruments*’ in Hebrew is ‘כִּנּוֹר’ (kin.nor) which means ‘lyre, harp’ and occurs 40 times in the Bible.
The word ‘pipes**’ in Hebrew is ‘עוּגָב’ (u.gav) which means
1) a musical instrument
1a) perhaps a flute, reed pipe, or panpipes.
It occurs 4 times in the Bible.
It takes skill and good craftsmanship to make these instruments.
But that is not the only thing they were making:
Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged*** all kinds of tools**** out of bronze***** and iron******.”Genesis 4:22 NIV
- The word ‘forged***’ has been translated from the Hebrew word ”לָטַשׁ (la.tash) which means ‘to sharpen, hammer, whet’ and occurs 5 times in the Bible.
- The word ‘tools****’ is from the Hebrew ‘חֹרֵשׁ’ (cho.resh) which means ‘artificer, metal craftsman’ and only occurs this one time in the Bible.
- The word ‘bronze*****’ is from the Hebrew ‘נְחֹ֫שֶׁת’ (ne.cho.shet) which means ‘copper, copper ore, bronze, bronze as a copper alloy, fetters of copper or bronze, copper (as value)’ and occurs about 118 times in the Bible.
- The word ‘iron******’ is from the Hebrew ‘בַּרְזֶל’ (bar.zel) which means ‘iron, Iron ore’ and figuratively: ‘harshness, strength, oppression’ and occurs 70 times in the Bible.
As can be seen, these words are to do with working metal which requires a forge.
These people at that time, had the knowledge and skill to do metal forge work:
the temperatures needed to process the (iron) ore exceeded what most ancient kilns were able to reach.‘Ancient Metallurgy. An Overview for College Students’ by David K. Jordan
Pure iron has a melting point of 1,535°C. The limit of an ancient furnace was about 1,150°C…
Furnace structure and fuel were important in reaching the necessary temperatures.
Hardwoods, such as those of the central African area, burn hotter than softer woods.
(This is probably the reason for the especially widespread mastery of iron in some areas of Africa.)
Further, the use of charcoal in place of wood allowed a yet hotter fire.
So did the eventual discovery of coal as a fuel.
Similarly, the use of bellows to force air into the kiln produced more rapid burning and faster release of heat by increasing the oxygen available to the fire…
Virtually all metalworking involves heating the metal to soften or melt it, and in antiquity the temperatures required often represented the very limits of available heating technology.
Not all metals could be completely melted because ancient furnaces simply couldn’t get hot enough…
Iron has a higher melting point than copper.
But below its melting point iron can still become spongy and amenable to treatment by hot hammering (forging), which helps to extract some of the remaining impurities.”
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, UCSD 7
Research has been carried out on historic slag heaps in West Georgia, known in ancient times as Colchis, investigated the relationship between copper and iron production.
Archaeological excavations have yielded huge numbers of both copper-base and iron artifacts, and the area is extremely rich in copper and iron ores.
A few sites have been dated to the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C.
Copper was produced at a large number of sites dating to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age in western Georgia.
Iron was also produced, but the dating of those sites remains unclear at present. 8
Tim Caffey speaking about the era in Genesis four leading up to Noah said:
While the height of their prowess is unknown, we can be confident they did not possess vessels, other than the Ark, that survived the Flood.‘Fantastic Voyage: How Could Noah Build the Ark?’ by Tim Chaffey on June 26, 2016; last featured November 5, 2017 Featured in Answers Magazine 9
Noah’s culture was almost certainly at its industrial zenith while he worked on the Ark.
Yet, the Flood served as a technological reset, obliterating any of the inventions and writings not preserved on the Ark.
Men began to rebuild after the Flood but soon suffered another, though less severe, setback because of their rebellion at Babel.
The building project at Babel was the culmination of post-Flood man’s pooled ingenuity, but the Lord confused the builders’ language, causing them to scatter abroad in smaller groups.
Depending on where they travelled and the various skills they possessed, some factions struggled to eke out an existence while others thrived.
Within a few centuries, the Great Pyramid was built…”
Noah and his three sons would have had to hire many workers to complete the task and they could have chosen them for their individual skills and craftsmanship.
Here is God’s instructions to Noah on how to build it:
So make yourself an ark of cypress wood;Genesis 6:14-16 NIV
make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
This is how you are to build it:
The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top.
Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.”
4. How long would it have taken to actually build the Ark?
John D. Morris has made a calculation:
Let’s take the worst case scenario.‘How Could Noah Have Built the Ark All by Himself?’ by the Institute of Creation Research John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2000 10
Let’s assume that only Noah and his three sons were available to help.
Could they have done it all by themselves?
To answer this we must first understand the magnitude of the job…..
If you want to see the calculations follow the link above or if you want the quick answer it’s here:
Sixty-five years under this worst case scenario!‘How Could Noah Have Built the Ark All by Himself?’ by the Institute of Creation Research John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2000
A big job, yes, but Noah was a faithful man, and accomplished the task.
As we see, even simple calculations can enhance our faith in God’s Word.”
So the answer to the question: ‘Could Noah have built the Ark?’ is no if he was on his own, but with his family and by hiring skilled workers then yes he could have built the Ark.
5. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Where is the real Ark of Noah?
The Bible says that Noah’s Ark was grounded on Mt Ararat, but that location is very close to Iran, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan and each country has its own name and any invading superpowers also change the names of things.
Also, the mountain that is named Mt Ararat is a new volcanic mountain which some Creation Geologists believe was formed after the Flood.
The main contender for Noah’s mountain is Mount Judi also known as Mount Cudi.
Noah’s Ark could have grounded on one of the mountains in the region of Corduene, also known as Gordyene, but almost definitely within the Urartu region of the kingdom of Van.
What did God say to Noah about building the ark?
God told Noah that he was going to flood the world because people had got so bad and violent.
He told Noah to make a boat. He was told what wood to use, and what dimensions to build it (length: 300 cubits, breadth 50 cubits and height 30 cubits).
Noah was also told to make three decks with rooms, to have a door in the side and to build a roof with ventilation along its length and cover it inside and out with pitch.
God made a covenant with Noah and his family to preserve them through the flood and for Noah to care for all the animals.
God told Noah that he would make the animals come to him, but he would have to load all the food onto the Ark.
How long did Noah stay on the Ark?
From the time Noah went on to the Ark (May 17th), to when they grounded on Mt Ararat (Oct 17th) was 5 months.
Then 5 and a half months to the ground being dry (Apr 1st).
Then a further 2 months from the ground being dry to being completely dry enough to come out of the Ark and for vegetation to regrow (May 27th).
That was a total of 12 and a half months for Noah’s family and animals to be on the Ark
References and credits – open in new tabs:
‘Ancient Metallurgy. An Overview for College Students’ by David K. Jordan Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, UCSD ↩