The Sea of Galilee Boat

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The 'Sea of Galilee Boat' housed in the Yigal Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar, Tiberias

The Sea of Galilee Boat was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD/CE (the time of Jesus the Christ), which was discovered in 1986 on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The remains of the boat, which are 27 feet (8.27 meters) long and 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide and with a maximum preserved height of 4.3 feet (1.3 meters),[1] first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (actually a great fresh-water lake) receded.[2]

Discovery and excavation

The remains of the boat were found by two fishermen brothers, Moshe and Yuval Lufan, from Kibbutz Ginnosar. The brothers were keen amateur archaeologists with an interest in discovering artifacts from Israel's past. It had always been their hope to one day discover a boat in the Sea of Galilee, where they and generations of their family had fished. When the drought reduced the water-level of the lake the two brothers examined the newly exposed beach and stumbled across the remains of the boat buried in the shore.[3]

The brothers reported their discovery to the authorities who sent out a team of archaeologists to investigate. Realising that the remains of the boat were of tremendous historical importance to Jews and Christians alike, the secret archaeological dig that followed was undertaken by members of the Kibbutz Ginosar, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and numerous volunteers. Rumour spread that the boat was full of gold, so the site of the dig had to be guarded night and day. Excavating the boat from the mud without damaging it, and quickly enough to extract it before the water rose again, was a difficult process which lasted 12 days and nights. The boat was then submerged in a chemical bath for 7 years before it could be displayed in the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar.[4]

Physical Parameters

The boat's construction conforms to other boats constructed in that part of the Mediterranean during the the period between 100 BC and 200 AD.[1] Constructed primarily of ceder planks which are joined together by Pegged mortise-and-tenon joints and nails,[1] the boat is shallow drafted with a flat bottom allowing it to get very close to the shore while fishing.[2] However the boat has ten different wood types, suggesting either there was a wood shortage or that the boat was made of scrap wood and had extensive and repeated repairs.[2][1] The boat was row-able, with four staggered rowers and also had a mast allowing the fisherman to sail the boat.[2]

Dating the boat

The boat has been dated to 40 BC/BCE (plus or minus 80 years) based on radiocarbon dating,[2] and 50 BC/BCE to 50 AD/CE based on the pottery (including a cooking pot and lamp) and nails found in the boat, as well as hull construction techniques.[1] The evidence of repeated repairs shows the boat was used for several decades, perhaps nearly a century. When its fishermen owners thought it was beyond repair, they removed all useful wooden parts and the hull eventually sank to the bottom of the lake.[3] There it was covered with mud which prevented bacterial decomposition.[2]

Historical importance

The Sea of Galilee Boat is historically important to Jews as an example of the type of boat used by their ancestors in the 1st century for both fishing and transportation across the lake. Previously only references made by Roman authors, the Bible and mosaics had given archeologist insight into the construction of these types of vessels.[5] The boat is also important to Christians because this was the sort of boat used by Jesus and his disciples, several of whom were fishermen. Boats such as this played a large role in Jesus' life and ministry, and are mentioned 50 times in the Gospels.

There is no evidence connecting the Sea of Galilee Boat to Jesus or his disciples.

See also


  • Waschmann, Shelley (1995) The Sea of Galilee Boat: A 2000-Year-Old Discovery from the Sea of Legends. Perseus Publishers. ISBN 978-0306449505
  • Lea Lofenfeld Winkler and Ramit Frenkel (2007) The Boat And the Sea of Galilee.' Gefen publishing house. ISBN 978-965-229-402-9

External links

he:הסירה מגינוסר