As part of the Ark Re-imagined project, 10 traditional fisherman’s Guffas have been constructed by makers in Babylon during 2016 – a tradition previously extinct since 2003. Next we aim to:
Tar the Guffas using traditional Chiddem bitumen;
Take them on their first river journey in Iraq – down the Euphrates river from Babylon to Basra (where the next stage of the Ark construction will be based) with a changing crew of local people including students and makers, and facilities to record the journey and document crafts found along the route - download Euphrates 1 Expedition proposal here;
Transport all or part of this group of Guffas to London to take part in Mesopotamia Upon Thames – then on to other cities internationally.
By raising the project’s profile both within Iraq and worldwide, these steps will provide a platform for the next stages of the Ark Re-imagined and Safina Projects.
To help us achieve these next steps, please join us - find out more here.
Towards the Ark Re-imagined
Further objectives of the Ark Re-imagined project include:
Ongoing field trips using traditional boats to travel throughout Iraq by river, with groups of participants including researchers (from Iraqi universities and international partners), students, craftspeople, reporters and (perhaps in a future phase) tourists. These expeditions would serve several functions:
1. Assessing the damage to cultural heritage that has resulted from war and disruption, finding what remains of the living culture and scoping the work needed to preserve and reinvigorate it;
2. Forming part of a process of reconstruction of civil society, for example by creating opportunities for groups from different areas to travel and meet each other, for urban students to meet rural people, and so on;
3. Laying the groundwork for tourism development that would support the preservation of genuine local cultural heritage.
Recovering Lost Boats
We aim to design and reconstruct a lost type of displacement boat (working title the “Safina”) that could have existed in prehistoric times, made with materials and techniques available at the time. Up to 12 metres in length, the Safina may have been made from narrow bundles of natural fibres on an armature of curved palm stalks. The use of armature would enable the construction of a large hollow vessel suitable as a cargo boat in long-distance trading (an alternative to the massive solid bundle design used in Thor Heyerdahl’s Tigris reed boat). We propose that these displacement boats could have formed part of the Ark.
The Construction of a Full Scale Ark Re-imagined as a Floating Museum
Around 60 metres in diameter, featuring a Hub made of cargo Guffas 3m in diameter, and outer layers made with large Keleks and Safinas; the Ark Re-imagined would also include a connecting structure and arched superstructure, and internal spaces such as the Ark Kitchen, showcasing prehistoric culinary techniques. A waterfront space in Basra has been proposed for the installation of the Ark Re-imagined as a floating museum.