The Pierpont Morgan Library/Art Resource, NY

Noah’s Ark is commonly imagined as it appears in this 14th-century German manuscript: a large, squared structure built atop a ship’s hull. It is also assumed to have been built with nails. Author Ralph Pedersen, however, compares the Biblical description of the ark’s construction with similar passages in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the ancient Babylonian tale that also contains a flood story, as well as with the archaeological record of ship-building practices in the ancient Near East, and concludes that Noah’s Ark would most likely have been sewn together using techniques preserved today in the Arab world and India. The ark may well have resembled the classic, sleek Arab dhow more than the chunky hulk envisioned here.