Sunny children’s event features a flood story that predates Noah’s

14 May

So it started like every year my family parking as far away as possible from are actual destination (we might as well have walked to the farm) and as I walk past the sign saying Lower Shaw Farm in big letters and the same philosophical question passes my mind: where is the Higher Shaw Farm? If anyone knows then please inform me in a comment down below (somewhere over the rainbow is not a valid answer!)

Anyway I walk in to see Tony Hillier sitting at the desk asking for tickets. And I suddenly think: “Oh no, will he only let my mum in? Will I have to be a loner standing outside the gate? How will I get the ten pounds for writing up this piece? Goodbye Thanos Battle Lego set, it was nice to think of having you.”

But luckily we were all VIPs so we were allowed in for free and I breathed a sigh of relief! My dream was saved. But this isn’t all about me and my problems: this is an interesting readable post and everyone likes these. If not then you can leave this site immediately and spend the rest of the day not reading this. We’ve gone way off track and most of the passengers in the train have died, so let’s get on with it.

Today we saw a very interesting man, with a very interesting job, and an even more interesting book. This genius is called Irving Finkel (which is greatest name ever) and he works in the British Museum.

He isn’t like Michael Rosen’s brother, who is still looking at fossils without blinking – read my experience of Michael Rosen to find out more. No, he can read and decipher the oldest writing in existence. MIND BLOWN.

“Hardly anyone else in the country can read this language because they have better things to do with their time,” he said.

He was taught by a very strict teacher for six years and the most awkward thing about it was he was the only one in this particular class. So that meant if he hadn’t done his homework his teacher would focus on telling him off. Luckily he managed to survive by dodging the fire and acid his teacher was either breathing or spitting out.

So he could now read most of this ancient language. You are probably thinking: “This guy’s an author, right? When is his book going to come in to this?” Well, my little Chronicle followers, the story begins now…

The British Museum has a very old piece of clay about the same size as a mobile phone, with markings on, most likely made by a stick. These writings were written around 1800 BC by Sumerians and Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia.

Modern day man has found about 130,000 of these and each one has its own story behind it, but this one’s story was special. You know the story of Noah’s Ark? Well if you haven’t then big spoilers inbound. Go now and read it 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and…. read it? Good.

Noah has to build a ship with a pair of every animal on it before God wipes out the world with a giant flood.

Now the Babylonians had written a similar story hundreds and hundreds of years before the stories in the Hebrew bible and one big difference was the boat.

Instead of being your nice “hello, welcome to Noah Cruise Lines, I will be your captain and as an important note: don’t eat one another,” kind of ship, it was more like “hello, welcome to this giant upside down dome. You are the last animals on earth (apart from the fish). Enjoy your stay.”

This ship that I have just described is called a coracle – which cannot get tipped over in a storm – and it was used to house the family of Atra-hasis, whose name means Very wise, and his family and all the animals.

Irving’s story The Lifeboat That Saved The World is for children so it is told through the the eyes of Very wise’s 11 year old son who Finkel has called Very quick.

Another difference is in the Noah story God sent the flood because people were wicked but in the Babylonian story the gods send the flood because the people and the animals were too noisy. My dad says he can relate.

After getting my book signed by Irving I played in the barn and then I watched the finale with Jake the Juggler and Darine. That was lots of fun with hat tricks, juggling tricks, hoop tricks, acrobatics tricks and even a group of volunteers from the audience called the Spotlight Crew.

Like every year at Lower Shaw Farm it was a good and fun experience.

Milo Davison (11) was at the Swindon Festival of Literature Children and Families Day at Lower Shaw Farm. Images © Fernando Bagué

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