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Sea of Galilee Boat

The Sea of Galilee boat is an extraordinary discovery made in January 1986, when the waters of the Sea of Galilee were at their lowest point after a severe drought.

Two members of Kibbutz Ginosar, a comunual farm near ancient Magdala, while walking on the newly uncovered part of the lake bottom, noticed an oval spot shaped like a boat.

The archaeological expedition made a probe which proved it was indeed an ancient wooden vessel, and so slowly and carefully, the archaeologists revealed the fragile remains of the boat and moved them for safety and conservation.

Dating and Preserving the Find

A cooking pot found outside the prow, an oil lamp, and a few coins, were all dated to the first century BCE-CE. Later C14 tests verified that this was indeed the age of the vessel. For nine years the boat was soaked in a saline which caused the water of the wood cells to be gradually replaced with synthetic wax, and once the preservation process was completed the boat was placed for permanent display in a museum at the Kibbutz.

A study of the wood proved that several different species of wood were used in the construction and maintenance of the boat. It was manufactured with beams of Cedar from Lebanon, but later repaired with local trees.  It seems that the boat had been repaired many times before being left to rot in the mud along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Some parts seem to have been deliberately removed, probably to be reused.

Could this be one of the vessels that was used by Jesus? or the Disciples?

The artifacts and C14 tests proved the vessel is from the time of Jesus, and the size fits best for local fishing. Could this vessel have being used by one of the disciples? and perhaps Jesus himself sailed in it?.

It is mind boggling, especially if adding the fact that vessels facing the storm (which Jesus calmed by walking on water) anchored at the end in Gennesareth (Mark 6:48-50).

Perhaps that storm damaged this old boat, and it was deserted at the shore? There is no way of proving this, but that speculation is fascinating, and no one can refute this possibility.


Kibbutz Ginosar and Gennesareth

“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesareth and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went – into villages, towns or countryside – they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed” (Mark 6:53-56, cf. Matthew 14:34).

The modern Kibbutz of Ginosar was founded on the lush western plains of the Sea of Galilee in 1937. These are probably “The plains of Genessar”, described by 1st century historian Josephus to be one of the most fertile areas in the Holy Land (Jos. War. 3.10.8/506-521).

But was there an ancient village in those plains by the same name? at their northern end is a hill called Tell Kinnereth or in Arabic Tell el-Oreimeh.  A few archaeological expeditions excavated the site, discovering traces of a Canaanite city, later settled again by the Israelites. This city was conquered and destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE, and settled again only scarcely in the Hellenistic period, up to 70 CE.

The lack of clear evidence to a Roman village at Tell kinnereth archaeologist U. Leibner to suggest locating ancient Genneserath and khirbet Abu-Shushe, 3 km NW of Kibbutz Ginosar. His survey of the site indicated it was a big size site, and settled clearly also in the time of Jesus. The main problem is that the kh. Abu Shushe is not near the shore, and so does not fit the Gospels statements that one could dock at Gennesareth.

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