Athanasius Kircher
(1601 - 1668)

An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...



 
The Animals of Noah's Ark. 

Many nations of the world, often not culturally connected to each other in any way, have floods in their mythology. The old Babylonian myth of over 4000 years old about Gilgamesh, is similar to many others, such as Greek, Indian and Polynesian myths. The Old Testament speaks clearly about a 40 day flood and provides further speculation about the way in which the animals of the time were saved. As everyone knows, Noah, in reward for his piety was forewarned about the impending God's punishment. God also told him how to save his family and the animals of the earth. And so, Noah carefully began to plan for the flood. He built an arc, which according to speculation was about 160 m long. On board this arc were the Patriarch's family (his three sons with their wives), as well as all of the animals, each in pairs. Sages have for generations wondered, how certain animals received the honor of being able to board the arc. In a sense, the arc was the first gene bank, and the animals on board, as well as Noah, have become the grandparents of all things living. 

Jesuit Atanasius Kircher (1601 - 1668), one of the great intellectuals of his time, known as the last man of the Renaissance, studied all of the available sources and concluded that Noah had 310 different species of animals on board his arc. Currently, we know that there are a good few million species (more precisely, it is likely that there are thirty million species of animals). Even if we take away the birds and fish, as well as all of the internal parasites which did not need rescuing from the flood, we are still left with a few million land animals, for which there would not have been room. Luckily, as a result of development in church ideology, this is no longer a problem. As the church acknowledges evolution, everything works out alright. The only issue left is the rate of this evolution, but that is another matter entirely. 

Presented here is an illustration from Kircher's book "Arca Noe", which was published in Amsterdam in 1675 and dedicated to Charles II, the King of Spain, who was twelve years old at the time. The method of illustrating was geared and stimulating children's imagination. 
Take note of the monogamy of each of the invited guests. There were no bits on the side, not only due to the lack of space, but also for moral reasons which should be taken into account for this unique menagerie. 

In a separate, much later publication (no date of publication is given), the peacefulness of the animal catches our attention. Lions sit calmly near giraffes, tigers next to camels, snakes (and surprisingly) beside kangaroos, which are nestled between polar bears and hippopotamuses! Such a combination is hard to imagine, even in a modern zoo. And it is fascinating - where did the kangaroos come from? 
The arc itself is not equipped with any navigational equipment. It was basically a floating hotel rather than a ship for traveling great distances across the ocean. 

Presented here is an illustration from Kircher's book "Arca Noe", which was published in Amsterdam in 1675 and dedicated to Charles II, the King of Spain, who was twelve years old at the time. The method of illustrating was geared and stimulating children's imagination. 
Take note of the monogamy of each of the invited guests. There were no bits on the side, not only due to the lack of space, but also for moral reasons which should be taken into account for this unique menagerie. 

In a separate, much later publication (no date of publication is given), the peacefulness of the animal catches our attention. Lions sit calmly near giraffes, tigers next to camels, snakes (and surprisingly) beside kangaroos, which are nestled between polar bears and hippopotamuses! Such a combination is hard to imagine, even in a modern zoo. And it is fascinating - where did the kangaroos come from? 
The arc itself is not equipped with any navigational equipment. It was basically a floating hotel rather than a ship for traveling great distances across the ocean. 

[QZC04::057;K-3;[QKA05-002];[RIR13::047]p38

 


 

(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003

v.16

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