Discovering and Sailing a 2,000-year-old Boat
At the foot of the Sea of Galilee, 76 miles from Jerusalem, is the Yigal Allon Center (or the Man in the Galilee Museum), named for one of the founders of Kibbbutz Ginosar,Yigal Allon. Allon went on to become Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.
In January 1986, two brothers from the kibbutz happened to find some nails and then some wood nearby. This led to the discovery of a 10-meter (32 feet) long oak and cedar boat which had been buried in the sediment of the sea bed.
Archaeologists were called in and became very excited but were nervous that if it were opened to the air, it would dry out.
They then covered it with polyurethane foam, dug some channels, and it was sailed on Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, to a special resting place where a crane pulled it out of the water and placed it on the shore.
For 11 years, its conservation was monitored.
When the Man in the Galilee Museum was opened in 2000, it was placed in a room there.
Carbon 14 testing indicated it was 2,000 years old, from the first century BCE-CE; with it were found an oil lamp, a cooking pot and an arrowhead of the Second Temple period–when Jesus was in the Galilee.
So to whom did the boat belong? Theories surmise it may have belonged to Jesus and his disciples; or maybe to fighters of the Migdal battle of the Jews against the Romans in 67 CE; or maybe just to a fisherman from the Sea of Galilee.
No one knows for sure.
To see the boat, as well as exhibits about the Galilee, people of the Palmach (the elite fighting unit of the underground army from 1941 to 1949), the Jewish community in the 1st to 4th centuries, Jewish settlements in the Galilee and remembrances of Yigal Allon, visit the Yigal Allon Center, Kibbutz Ginosar, 04-672-7700, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Photo by Barry A. Kaplan