Table of Contents for: 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
- The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh
- Noah’s Ark size comparison with other ships
- Could Noah have built it?
- How many animals could fit on the ark?
The size of the Ark was comparable to modern ocean going ships
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…‘Gilgamesh flood myth’ Wikipedia [v]
The sides of the superstructure had equal lengths of 120 cubits.
How big is that?
The Babylonian cubit (or cubit of Lagash) measured about 496.1 mm.‘The Cubit: A History and Measurement Commentary’ by Mark H. Stone [vi]
A Babylonian trade cubit existed which was nine-tenths of the normal cubit, that is, 446.5 mm.”
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)
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
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
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
This is how you are to build it:Genesis 6:15
The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”
Length: 140 metres Beam: 23 metres
A 14000 ton Tanker – comparable size to Noah’s Ark
Length: 143 metres Beam: 23 metres
Multi Purpose Dry Cargo Ship DWT 22000 ton
Length: 164 metres Beam: 25.3 metres
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
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.‘Ancient Impossible’ Sky History [vii]
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.”
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];Genesis 6:14-16
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.”
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).
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 Groups||Kinds (est.)||Per Kind||Total Animals (est.)|
|Reptiles||219||Flying: 24 x 14 = 336|
Flightless: 195 x 2 = 390
|Mammals||332||Clean/Flying: 15 x 14 = 210|
Unclean: 317 x 2 = 634
|Birds||89||Flying: 69 x 14 = 966|
Flightless: 20 x 2 = 40
|Living Groups||Kinds (est.)||Per Kind||Total Animals (est.)|
|Mammals||136||Clean/Flying: 31 x 14 = 434|
Unclean: 105 x 2 = 210
|Birds||195||Flying: 190 x 14 = 2,660|
Flightless: 5 x 2 = 10
It is worth noting that the numbers included here are only initial estimates drawn from currently available information.‘How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark?’ by Michael Belknap and Tim Chaffey 2019 [ix]
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.”
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.
[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
I started on my Faith Journey in 1976 whilst on my sandwich year from college.
Since then I’ve not been restrained to any one denomination – believing that local Church is always important. Through career moves and life changes this has enabled me to play a part in the Assembly of God Church, Elim, various New Church Groupings, Brethren, Anglican and Baptist Churches.
I am married to Jackie and we live in Cambridgeshire in the UK.