The Sea of Galilee Boat or The Jesus Boat was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD/CE (the time of Jesus), 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), first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (actually a great fresh-water lake) receded
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.
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.
Dating the boat
The boat has been dated to 40 BC/BCE (plus or minus 80 years) based on radiocarbon dating
, 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. 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.
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. 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.
The Sea of Galilee Boat: A 2000-Year-Old Discovery from the Sea of Legends by Shelley Waschmann. Published by Perseus Publishers (1995) ISBN-13: 978-0306449505