How big was Noah’s Ark with facts and figures


Table of Contents for: How big was Noah’s Ark with facts and figures

The size of the Ark was comparable to modern ocean going ships

Noah's Ark floating in the swirling waters. How big was Noah's Ark?

How big was Noah’s Ark, well the length and beam of Noah′s ark make it very sea-worthy and compares with that of a 14000 ton Tanker.

Noah’s Ark resembled a huge barge. It was built just to float – it had no sails, oars, propellers or rudder.

It consisted of 3 decks and a 0.5 metre ventilation gap just below the roof, running it′s full length.

It had the correct proportions, and was totally sea worthy.

The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh

This myth-like story of a Babylonian flood has the ark in the story with the dimensions of a cube:

The bottom of the hull was one acre in area, with six decks raised on it. (And the vessel seems to have been cube-shaped!)”

‘How to Read Gilgamesh’ by Joan Acocella [iv]

From the actual story it says:

The boat must have equal dimensions with corresponding width and length…
The sides of the superstructure had equal lengths of 120 cubits.

‘Gilgamesh flood myth’ Wikipedia [v]

How big is that?

The Babylonian cubit (or cubit of Lagash) measured about 496.1 mm.
A Babylonian trade cubit existed which was nine-tenths of the normal cubit, that is, 446.5 mm.”

‘The Cubit: A History and Measurement Commentary’ by Mark H. Stone [vi]

So if we take it as the first measurement, then the Babylonian ark would have been a cube: 59 metres by 59 metres by 59 metres.
Which doesn’t sound like a real ocean going vessel!

Noah’s Ark size comparison with other ships

The eight images below are shown to the same scale: (Small screens may not display these accurately, but hopefully it will give a visual indication of their sizes)


The Mayflower

How big was Noah's Ark? The Mayflower sailing ship was a lot smaller!

In 1620, a merchant ship called the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England. It carried 102 passengers hoping to start a new life in America.

Length: 19.5 metres Beam: 8 metres


Cutty Sark

How big was Noah's Ark? The Cutty Sark sailing ship was a lot smaller!
The Cutty Sark sailing ship was a lot smaller!

How big was Noah’s Ark? A lot bigger than this! The Cutty Sark was a Tea Clipper sailing very fast between China and Britain from 1870.

Length: 67.7 metres Beam 11 metres


SMS Scharnhorst

How big was Noah's Ark? The battleship SMS Scharnhorst was of a similar size.
How big was Noah’s Ark? The battleship SMS Scharnhorst was of a similar size.

The SMS Scharnhorst was an armoured cruiser of the Imperial German Navy before and through WW1.

Length: 144.7 metres Beam: 21.6 metres


The size of Noah′s ark

How big was Noah's Ark? It was huge and barge-like.
How big was Noah’s Ark? It was huge and barge-like.

This is how you are to build it:
The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”

Genesis 6:15

Length: 140 metres Beam: 23 metres


A 14000 ton Tanker – comparable size to Noah’s Ark

How big was Noah's Ark? A 14000 ton tanker was a very similar size.
How big was Noah’s Ark? A 14000-ton tanker was a very similar size. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Length: 143 metres Beam: 23 metres


Multi Purpose Dry Cargo Ship DWT 22000 ton

How big was Noah's Ark? A Multi Purpose Dry Cargo Ship was a little larger.
How big was Noah’s Ark? A Multi-Purpose Dry Cargo Ship was a little larger. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Length: 164 metres Beam: 25.3 metres


RMS Titanic

How big was Noah's Ark? The RMS Titanic was 129 metres longer but only slightly wider.
How big was Noah’s Ark? The RMS Titanic was 129 metres longer but only slightly wider. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

On the Titanic’s first trip at 11:40 PM on 14 April 1912 it hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and it sank two hours and forty minutes later killing over 1500 people.

Length: 269 metres Beam: 28 metres


Supertanker

How big was Noah's Ark? A Supertanker is 160 metres longer.
How big was Noah’s Ark? A Super tanker is 160 metres longer. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Length: 300 metres Beam: 44 metres


Could Noah have built it?

Noah had probably never seen an ocean or had any knowledge of ship building, but the end result was that he built it with the right proportions to be very sea worthy.

It was also massive in size to hold a lot of cargo, animals and people.

We can be utterly amazed how the ancient civilisations built enormous and complex things:
The Pyramids, Stonehenge, cathedrals, complex cranes and other machinery, and all with tremendous accuracy.

When modern engineers come to copy some of the ancient things, their knowledge and skill is often severely stretched and often they express amazement at how it was originally built:

In this next generation of storytelling, Ancient Impossible reveals how many of today’s technological achievements were actually developed centuries ago.
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.”

‘Ancient Impossible’ Sky History [vii]

So early mankind were clever engineers.

How did Noah know how big to build the Ark and how to construct it?

God gave Noah the dimensions and the plan of how to build it:

So make yourself an ark of cypress wood [i];
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 three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.
Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around.
Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.”

Genesis 6:14-16

Noah probably was very rich, so he would have been able to hire a lot of men to build it.

Below is a ship that can be made to order from Holland, of a very similar size to Noah’s Ark:
Length: 143 metres, beam 23 metres.
(Noah’s Ark: Length: 140 metres, Beam: 23 metres).

14000 ton tanker by Volharding shipbuilders.
14000 ton tanker by Volharding shipbuilders. [ii]

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

Genesis 6:9

How many animals could fit on the ark?

The Ark measured 300 x 50 x 30 cubits which is about:
140 metres long, with a beam of 23 metres which equals 3220 square metres.
It had three decks, one hold and one roof.

The Ark was 14m tall, so if the decks were equally spaced, that means a height of, say, 3m to allow for beams and floor boards on each deck and in the hold.
The total capacity of the Ark would be about 38640 cubic metres.
That is equivalent of 1181 containers (20 foot long ones).
For a sense of scale each container can house: 80 big oil drums. [viii]

If the bottom hold was allocated to food and water that would have had an equivalent usable space of 344 containers.

Modern container ships now can carry over 21000 twenty foot containers.

The three decks could then carry the equivalent of 344 containers on each deck for the animals, creatures and humans.

In 2011, Ark Encounter researchers began an in-depth animal study on the number of the Ark ‘kinds’ (known as a Baramin). [ix]

Based on initial projections, the team estimates that there were around 1,400 animal kinds on the ark and in the future research may reduce that number even further.
But using a ‘worst-case scenario’ the number the Ark Encounter team states is that there were fewer than 7,000 animals on board the Ark.
roughly 1,500 kinds of land-dwelling animals and flying creatures.
This includes all living and known extinct animals.
Using a “worst-case scenario” approach in our calculations,
there would have been just over 7,000 land animals and flying creatures on the Ark.

It is projected that only 15 percent of the animals on the Ark would have achieved an average adult mass over 22 pounds (10 kg), because Noah would have had young animals.
That means that the vast majority of Ark animals were smaller than a beagle, with most of those being much smaller.

The wide discrepancy between the number of ark kinds and individuals is due to the relatively large number of flying and “clean” kinds—each estimated at 14 animals apiece.

Extinct GroupsKinds (est.)Per KindTotal Animals (est.)
Amphibians542108
Reptiles219Flying: 24 x 14 = 336
Flightless: 195 x 2 = 390
726
Non-Mammalian Synapsids782156
Mammals332Clean/Flying: 15 x 14 = 210
Unclean: 317 x 2 = 634
844
Birds89Flying: 69 x 14 = 966
Flightless: 20 x 2 = 40
1,006
Living GroupsKinds (est.)Per KindTotal Animals (est.)
Amphibians1942388
Reptiles1012202
Mammals136Clean/Flying: 31 x 14 = 434
Unclean: 105 x 2 = 210
644
Birds195Flying: 190 x 14 = 2,660
Flightless: 5 x 2 = 10
2,670
Total1,3986,744
The Ark Encounter team estimates [ix]

It is worth noting that the numbers included here are only initial estimates drawn from currently available information.
On the other hand, a hypothetical 3D-digital ark created by the Ark Encounter design team, complete with all enclosures, interior structural elements, food, and water storage, showed that everything fit extremely well with little space left over.”

‘How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark?’ by Michael Belknap and Tim Chaffey 2019 [ix]

So if we appreciate that the Ark was a barge with a huge storage area, and that the animals were young and therefore small, and that we consider that the creatures were ‘kinds’ not species, then those numbers can be accommodated upon the Ark.

Also Noah didn’t have to go out and search for and catch all the creatures, because God said:

Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you…”

Genesis 6:20

See this article: ‘Our hard work and God’s miracles‘.

How many animals could fit on the ark?

The Ark was about 140 metres long by 23 metres wide.
It had a capacity of about 38640 cubic metres which is the equivalent of about 1181 metal 20 foot containers.
Noah would have had the young creatures and therefore smaller.
He would have had ‘kinds’ of creatures and not species. An estimate is about 1400 kinds. Therefore the highest figure would be about 7000 creatures in all on the Ark.
He didn’t have marine creatures or fish.
All animals and humans only ate plants, so it would have been easier storing the food. It was only after the Flood that animals and humans began to eat meat.

How big was Noah’s ark compared to the Titanic?

The Ark was about 140 metres long and 23 metres wide.
The Titanic was only a little wider at 28 metres, but a lot longer at 269 metres.

How big was Noah’s ark compared to a cruise ship?

The Ark was about 140 metres long and 23 metres wide.
In 2020 the largest cruise ship was 361 metres long and 65.7 metres wide.

References:
[i] The Hebrew word is unknown.
[ii] Volharding Shipbuilders
[iii] ‘How Big Was Noah’s Ark?’ Ark Encounter
[iv] ‘How to Read Gilgamesh’ by Joan Acocella
[v] ‘Gilgamesh flood myth’ Wikipedia
[vi] ‘The Cubit: A History and Measurement Commentary’ by Mark H. Stone
[vii] ‘Ancient Impossible’ Sky History
[viii] ‘The Definitive Shipping Container Capacity Chart’ by Paige Welsh Falcon Structure
[ix] ‘How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark?’ by Michael Belknap and Tim Chaffey 2019

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2 responses to “How big was Noah’s Ark with facts and figures”

  1. Hi Laura. Please do use the images, but unfortunately there are no bigger originals – that’s the size I created them. Sounds like good fun having a wave tank, from Peter

  2. Hi, could I use the images you have for Noah’s ark and various other ships for a display we are organizing at a local fair?
    I’m putting together a wave tank with a model ark as a hands on for children and am making up a poster with a gospel message. Your images would be very helpful! Would you have the original images? I can copy them from your site but originals would be very helpful!
    I enjoyed your site and found the info good and well organized. Thank you for putting it up!