The Sea of Galilee: Expert discusses 1986 boat discovery
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The Bible is cherished by billions of people worldwide although not all study it as a spiritual or religious text. To some, the Bible holds a wealth of information about the ancient days of the Holy Land and its people. Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, believes the two are not mutually exclusive and that there is a growing body of archaeological evidence to support the Biblical narrative.
One such piece of archaeological evidence emerged in the Sea of Galilee in the late 1980s, according to the expert.
The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, sits in the northeast parts of Israel between the Golan Heights and Galilee region.
Geographically, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake after the Dead Sea.
Biblically, however, scripture says it has been the site of many key moments and miracles in Jesus’s life.
Most famous of all, perhaps, was the scene described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John where Jesus was seen walking on water.
Matthew 14 states: “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'”
Nearly 40 years ago, the Sea of Galilee came into the spotlight after a major drought struck Israel.
Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “Because of a record drought in Israel in 1985 to 1986, large portions of the bed of the Sea of Galilee were suddenly exposed to the naked eye.
“Amateur archaeologists and residents of the nearby Kibbutz Ginnosar on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee began to explore the newly exposed lakebed in search for any artefacts like anchors and coins that might be exposed by the drought.
“They stumbled upon an impressive discovery; the faint outline of a boat buried in the mud.”
Because there was a forecast of rain on the horizon, the local community came together to remove as much of the boat from the lakebed as possible.
Within the space of 11 days, the ancient wreck was excavated and moved to the nearby Yigal Allan Museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar.
Professor Meyer said: “Once they started excavating, their suspicions were confirmed; the wood’s structure was supported mainly by being immersed in the water and any evaporation would lead to its sudden destruction.
“So, the boat was shaded from sunlight during the day, and as soon as parts were exposed from the mud they were covered with wet sponges and sprayed with water until the excavation was completed.
“Then the team encased the entire boat in polyurethane to protect it while they floated it to the nearby museum.
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“There, a conservation tank was constructed to store the boat until they could remove the polyurethane encasement and treat the boat so it could be displayed for the world to see.”
Alongside the boat, the archaeologists unearthed 17 bits and pieces of ancient pottery, as well as a cooking pot and oil lamp.
Based on the boat’s construction, experts have dated the discovery to between the first century BC and the late first century AD.
This was in part made possible by studying a mosaic found at the home of Mary Magdalene in Magdala.
Professor Meyer believes the mosaic, paired with the artefacts found within the boat, can “confidently be dated to have sailed the Sea of Galilee around the time of Jesus”.
He added: “The boat was primarily constructed of oak frames and cedar planking.
“It measures 26.5ft long, 7.5ft wide, and 4.5ft high, which would be spacious enough for 13 men (Jesus and the 12 disciples).
“‘The Sea of Galilee Boat’ is very likely the type of boat referred to in the Gospels in relation to Jesus’s many travels and miracles around the Sea of Galilee.
“Obviously, there is no way of knowing that this particular boat played any part in these famous events, but it does allow us to better understand the world of the Bible and to realize that the events of the Bible are based in reality.”
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