The First-Century Galilean Boat Controversy Settled – How Archaeologists Preserved and Packaged the Precious Finding

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In a time when severe drought hit the Land of Israel, something historic happened. Two brothers – Yuval and Moshe – discovered something that would bury the issue of how the first-century Galilean boat looked like forever. Archaeological discoveries would uncover important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, which the Bible, the Talmud or history books couldn’t solve entirely. It’s been an issue that people have been scratching their heads over for centuries. This issue is exactly what this article seeks to discuss. Let’s dig in.

Israel’s Beauty and Splendor


The Land of Israel, and especially the area around the Sea of Galilee, has never been short of controversies, miracles, historic events and contradictions. Israel is a land of contradiction, because, in a time of greatest diversity, events that define human history happen. The greatest human who ever lived performed miracles within the three-mile radius around the lake’s shores.


The Messianic appearance came at a time when Israel’s south, most notably Jerusalem, was destroyed and occupied by enemies. His entire ministry (Jesus’s achievements were so astronomical that various sources haven’t been able to capture every detail) was centered around “this exceedingly small portion of the earth”, as Mark Twain would put it.


On the north-western shore of the lake where Jordan River feeds it, the soils are exceedingly fertile. Every species of plants you can think of can grow side by side here. This is the birthplace of Christianity as you know it, and it’s a site of Christian pilgrimage. The Sea of Galilee is a beautiful sight to behold, especially when you observe it from a bird’s eye view. This uniqueness of the land of Galilee feels you with awe – the climate, topography, plants and animals, landscapes, ancient sites and trade routes are completely out of this world.


The Galilean Boat


This first-century canoe was discovered buried in mud flats at the exposed bottom of the Sea of Galilee. The site of discovery was south of Kibbutz Ginosar. The wooden planks of the ancient boat soaked wet, and were very vulnerable to sunlight exposure and touch. Hence, the mud removal process, or excavation, was done with lots of caution, and techniques such as scaffolding and covering with shade and tarpaulin were applied to preserve it. This process took eight days. The precious relic was then preserved and packaged for transportation to the Yigal Allon Museum, which was about half-a-kilometer (1640 feet) away from the discovery site.


When hull construction expert, Dick Steffy, arrived at the scene, measurements were taken. Its dimensions in terms of length, breadth and depth were 8.2 meters (27 feet), 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) and 1.2 meters (3.9 feet), respectively. Despite soaked wooden planks, the iron nails remained in excellent condition. Hence, there was no need to dismember the boat for transportation purposes.


In addition, two other boats were discovered. The experts examined these, too, and recorded their findings. Yet, they couldn’t transport them to the museum, but instead took away the topmost timbers and buried the remains. From the perspectives of the excavators, it was costly, and their efforts could do more harm than good in preserving the boats.


Bottom Line…


Archaeology helps us to find answers to questions (or puzzles), which the history books, the Bible or the Talmud pose. Archaeology can also prove or disprove what’s written, but faith and belief remain the discretion of a believer. However, what’s certain is that the discovery of the Galilean boat in 1986 helped to solve the mystery surrounding its looks and crew size. If you’re as doubtful as Thomas, perhaps this is high time you come visit the site and see for yourself.

The First-Century Galilean Boat Controversy Settled – How Archaeologists Preserved and Packaged the Precious Finding

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