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sea of galilee boat jesus boat

The Sea of Galilee boat is an extraordinary archaeological discovery made close to the shores of Magdala. Displayed at Kibbutz Ginosar, the boat attracts many Christian pilgrims, as it highly relates to Jesus’, his Disciples, and the Sea of Galilee.

The Discovery of the Sea of Galilee Boat

Yuvi and Moshe Lopan and the boat they found, 2024

In 1986, the Sea of Galilee waters were at their lowest point after a severe drought. Two members of Kibbutz Ginosar, a communal farm north of ancient Magdala, scouted the exposed shoreline. Among others, they noticed nails and an oval spot shaped like a boat. An archaeological expedition dug a probe that proved it was an ancient wooden vessel whose size and shape fit a fishing function. Slowly and carefully, the expedition revealed the fragile remains of the whole boat and moved it for safety and conservation.

Dating and Conserving the Boat

A cooking pot outside the prow and an oil lamp dated to the first century. Later, Carbon 14 tests of the wood verified the vessel’s age. Dating a fishing vessel from the Sea of Galilee to the time of Jesus became headlines worldwide. The state decided to conserve and present the boat to the public near its finding spot. In a nine-year chemical process, synthetic wax replaced the mud and water, enabling a display of the ship to the public.

A study of the wood proved that several different types of wood were used in the construction and maintenance of the boat. Cedar beams were its primary source, but repairs were done with trees common in Galilee.  After several repairs, the owners abandoned the ship, removing the oars and the mast that could be reused. Abandoning an old boat is expected, but the fact that the vessel did not disband is genuinely remarkable. Yet the reason it fascinates the Christian world is the possibility that Jesus and his Disciples may have used it.

Did Jesus or his Disciples sail on this boat?

Carbon 14 tests and artifacts found nearby prove that the fishing boat operated in the time of Jesus. Found near Ginosar, some suggested linking it to the famous event of Jesus calming the Sea of Galilee, as at the end they anchored at “Gennesareth” (Mark 6:48-50; cf. Matthew 14). Perhaps the storm damaged this old boat, and they decided to abandon it? There is no way of proving it, but this possibility is mind-boggling.

Touring the Sea of Galilee Boat

The boat is permanently displayed at the Yigal Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar. A 10-minute video presents the discovery, and many plaques around the boat provide further explanations. The museum also runs an exhibition on the history of the Kibbutz and the Zionist settlement and development around the Sea of Galilee. It also operates a prominent and popular souvenir shop and Christian-themed sails on the Sea of Galilee.

A visit to the Sea of Galilee Boat can be combined with a guided day tour of the Galilee.

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