Question of the week: Is it possible that Noah could have constructed the ark with Paleolithic or Mesolithic Stone Age technology?
My answer: It is certainly possible. Genesis 5:32 and Genesis 7:6 indicate that Noah and his family had up to 100 years to construct the ark. It is likely that in addition to employing his seven relatives, that Noah had hired many other workers. Hebrews 11:7 implies that Noah, like the rest of the prophets mentioned in Hebrews 11, warned the people around him of the coming judgment. 2 Peter 2:5 explicitly states that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” Noah’s role as a prophet to his generation would be enhanced by hiring many of them to assist him and his family in building the ark. With a hundred or more people working for up to 100 years and an abundant supply of gopher wood and pitch, Noah would have faced no insurmountable difficulty in constructing a 450-foot-long ark.
It is also possible that Noah may not have been limited to Stone Age technology. The discovery that humans living 14,000–33,000 years ago were involved in harvesting, roasting, and grinding grains to make a variety of bakery products was not made until 2015–2018 because of how small-scale the baking industry was at that time (as a consequence of the extremely unstable climate that persisted throughout the last ice age).1 Similarly, it is reasonable to presume that humans living before the Neolithic Revolution and the Copper and Bronze Ages may have been involved in small-scale metallurgy that archeologists have yet to uncover.
For example, paleoanthropologists have pointed out that the Inuit peoples of northern Canada, for likely at least the past 10,000 years, had made regular trips to northwestern Greenland to recover fragments of the Hiawatha and Cape York impactors (large stainless-steel asteroids) and used cold forging techniques to manufacture from those fragments sophisticated tools. Evidence that the ancient Sumerian and Hittite names for iron bear the meaning “fire from heaven” and that the most ancient iron relics (predating 5,000 years ago) in Mesopotamia possess nickel content ranging from 7.5–10.9%, establishes that ancient Mesopotamian peoples also were cold forging tools from stainless-steel meteorites.2 With the use of such tools, Noah and his family could have constructed the ark in far fewer than 100 years.
As I explained in Navigating Genesis, chapter 18, gopher wood likely had a tensile strength much superior to oak.3 If gopher wood indeed was of that quality, it would have simplified the engineering designs of the ark, making its construction even more straightforward.
- Hugh Ross, "The First Humans Developed Food-Processing Technology," Today's New Reason to Believe (October 5, 2015); Hugh Ross, "Confirmation That Early Humans Were Making Bread," Today's New Reason to Believe (August 27, 2018).
- T. A. Rickard, "The Use of Meteoric Iron," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 71, no. 1/2 (1941): 55–66, doi:10.2307/2844401.
- Hugh Ross, Navigating Genesis (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2014), 174–75.