Why an Ark?
We have chosen the narrative of the Flood and the Ark as a starting point because it’s a global story, with over 350 versions known in different cultures worldwide, and the way it is represented reveals a lot about the culture telling the story.
We are asking: what would the Ark look like if it was based on the cultural heritage of Mesopotamia, built using materials and techniques that were really available in its time and place (instead of looking like the 17th century European-style wooden ship seen in popular depictions of the Ark)? We imagine the Ark, not as a unique boat of monumental size that had never been built before, but as a gathering of many ordinary vessels: a community bringing together what they already have into a structure of unity that would enable them to survive catastrophe.
For more about the Ark Re-imagined project, please download our project Overview here.
This is not about proving what the ancient Ark was like. Rather, we offer an opportunity for Iraqis now, and a global community with roots in Mesopotamian culture, to gather to save what is meaningful and beautiful in our heritage.
We want to use the concept of the Ark as a rescue boat for Iraq’s craft traditions, particularly watercraft, and the underlying “alphabet of making” – a repertoire of skills such as rope-making and basketry that rely on practical knowledge of the inherent properties of local plants and organic materials. We see the Ark Re-imagined project as an instrument for advancing access and engagement around Iraq’s intangible cultural heritage. The project aims to bring together makers, artists and designers, anthropologists and institutions both within Iraq and internationally, to research and recreate these traditional techniques, to create intercultural dialogue, and to develop new products and opportunities.