Theologians, Scientists, And Engineers Alike Will Appreciate NOVA: Secrets Of Noah’s Ark

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the most well-known of the stories included in The Bible. God told Noah that he was going to flood the world. He then told Noah to build and ark that would be large enough to carry himself, his family, and two of every animal in the world. After forty days and forty nights the waters receded the ark came to rest atop a mountain in what is believed to be today a mountain in Turkey. The overall story itself has created its own share of discussions among theologians, archaeologists, and others. That is because so many other flood stories have popped up throughout the ages, including not only the epic of Gilgamesh but also a far lesser-known story discovered in 1948 by a British pilot serving in Iraq at the time. The story was originally found on what was then a 3,700 year-old clay tablet. That tablet presented the story of a Sumerian king named Atra-Hasis and the god Enki, which told Atra-Hasis to build an ark, too. That story serves as the basis of a recent episode of PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA. NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark originally aired on PBS stations late last year and was released on DVD on Tuesday, December 1st. Even with roughly a month having passed since its release, this DVD proves to be an episode that will appeal not only to theologians and archaeologists but to engineers, too. The reason for that is the topic presented in this episode. That will be discussed shortly. The program’s overall approach to the topic in question is just as important to the episode as the topic itself. This will be discussed later. Last but hardly least of note in this episode of NOVA is the program’s editing and related pacing. They collectively round out the episode’s presentation and in turn ensure just as much that audiences will remain engaged. Each noted element proves important in its own right to the episode in whole. Altogether they make NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark a presentation that will interest audiences of all types and is one of 2015’s top documentaries.

NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark is an interesting addition to the long-running science-based series’ extensive history. It isn’t the first time that the series has ever delved into the world of religion for topics. Keeping that in mind it is still a program that will interest audiences of so many types. The main reason for this is the topic that is presented within the episode. The topic in question is that of a flood story that predates the more well-known story of Noah’s ark by thousands of years. It is a story that was discovered by a British pilot nearly seventy years ago in Iraq. The story, which at the time was 3,700 years old, told a flood story that pre-dated the flood story presented in The Bible. What’s more it is a story that presents an ark that is completely unlike the ark that is described in the story of Noah. The ark in question that is described in the story is actually of circular construction and is made of completely different material than that of Noah’s ark. Interestingly enough, the two stories are relatively close. So that being the case the episode hints at least lightly that the earlier story might have actually been an influence on the story of Noah. It doesn’t try to discredit the story of Noah. And that will be discussed momentarily. Rather it examines the potential link between the two stories and if they could even be separate stories that give further credence to the flood stories that are already known. It’s just one of the episode’s elements that make it such an interesting watch. The overall approach that was taken in this episode of NOVA is just as important to its presentation as its central topic.

The topic that lies at the center of NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark is in itself an important part of the program’s overall presentation. It presents to audiences yet another flood story that in the end makes for more interest and discussion on the topic of the flood stories discovered throughout history. It is just one element of this episode’s elements that makes the episode so worth the watch. The overall approach that is taken to the topic is just as important to this episode of NOVA as its central topic. That is because despite the examination of the tablet, at no point does it try to debunk or even discount the story of Noah’s ark or even that of Atra-Hasis. Rather, through interviews with scientists, academics, and even engineers it reveals that Noah and Atra-Hasis may have for all intents and purposes been one in the same. That’s not to say that it intimates that they were the same person. What it hints at is that the story of Noah might have actually been influenced by the story of Atra-Hasis and adapted from that story. So in essence it links the two stories together thus saying without saying, not that the story of Noah never happened, but that the story of Atra-Hasis might have happened, and in turn the story of Noah, in its adaptation, might have happened since it was likely taken from the story of Atra-Hasis. It does so by explaining the intermingling of cultures in Babylon. Along the way, viewers get to see a group of engineers actually reconstruct the ark depicted in the story of Atra-Hasis. The end result is in itself rather interesting and makes Noah’s ark seem far more seaworthy than that of Atra-Hasis. It would be interesting to see NOVA follow up this episode with one that sees another group (or the same group) try its hand at making an actual ark. Who knows, it might even fit in with the structure at the top of Mount Ararat. Regardless of whether or not that happens, it can be said that the overall approach taken by those behind the lens in this episode of NOVA proves to be just as important to the program as the topic at the episode’s center.

Both the topic presented in NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark and the approach taken in presenting the topic are equally important in their own right to the program’s overall presentation. While there is no denying their importance they are not the only elements to be examined in this presentation. The program’s collective editing and pacing round out the program. Thanks to the expert editing, the history lesson and its modern-day Mythbusters style engineering segments are presented side by side seamlessly. And in their presentation, their pacing is just such that it will keep audiences engaged throughout the course of the program. Both elements work in conjunction with one another to make the topic all the more interesting for audiences and its approach more clearly unbiased. Because of all of this, NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark proves in whole to be one more reason that NOVA remains today the leading science-based series on television and why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

It should be no secret, in watching NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark, why it is yet another intriguing episode of PBS’ hit science-based series. In understanding that, it is even less of a secret why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today. NOVA: Secrets of Noah’s Ark is available now on DVD. It can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store at More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:



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