A few miles north of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee is the "Jesus Boat, " a recently-discovered fishing boat dating to the 1st century AD.
History of Sea of Galilee
In 1986, an ancient boat was pulled from the mud along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a unique and exciting find that gives us an idea of the sort of boat used during the time of Jesus.
The boat appeared due to a great drought during which the waters of the lake receded and was discovered by the brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, second-generation fishermen from Kibbutz Ginosar. The brothers reported that when they found the boat, a double rainbow appeared in the sky.
The subsequent archaeological dig was undertaken by members of the Kibbutz Ginosar, the Antiquities Authority, and many volunteers. Pulling the boat from the mud without damaging it — yet quickly enough to extract it before the water rose again — was a delicate process, lasting 12 days and nights. The boat then had to be submerged in a chemical bath for 7 years before it could be displayed.
The boat has been dated to the 1st century AD based on pottery and nails found in association with the boat, radiocarbon dating, and hull construction techniques. Evidence of repeated repairs indicates the boat was used for several decades, perhaps nearly a century. When it was considered beyond repair, all useful wooden parts were removed and the remaining hull sunk to the bottom of the lake.
The Galilee Boat is apparently the type of boat that was used on the Sea of Galilee for both fishing and transportation across the lake. It is likely that this sort of boat was used by Jesus and his disciples, many of whom were fishermen. Boats played a large role in Jesus life and ministry — they are mentioned 50 times in the Gospels!
There is no evidence connecting the boat to Jesus or his disciples, but it is certainly tantalizing to think that Jesus may have seen the boat sail by out on the Sea of Galilee — or even used it himself. But regardless of its history, the "Jesus boat" is a fascinating artifact that brings to life many of the Gospel accounts.
What to See at Sea of Galilee
The boat is tastefully displayed in the Yigal Allon Museum on the grounds of Kibbutz Ginosar, one of several communal farms in Israel. Founded in 1937, the kibbutz is noted for its out-of-season fruit and vegetables.
The Galilee Boat is attractively displayed with informative signs in English. The boat is made of 12 different types of wood and measures 25.5 ft. (8.2 m) long, 7.5 ft. (2.3 m) wide, and 4.1 ft (1.25 m) high. It would have had a crew of five (four rowers and a helmsman) and could carry about 15 additional persons. This seems like a lot for such a humble boat, but men were smaller 2,000 years ago — about 5'5" and 140 pounds.
Quick Facts on Sea of Galilee
|Names:||Sea of Galilee|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||32.806322° N, 35.590210° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Sea of Galilee|
- Jesus Boat - official website (includes detailed story of the excavation and conservation with photos)
- Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Black and Norton, 2002), 434.
- Galilee (Jesus) Boat - Holy Land Photos
- "Jesus Boat" Causes Ripples - Christian Action for Israel
- Jesus' Boat Found? - ChristianAnswers.net
- Shelley Wachsmann, "The Galilee Boat: 2,000 Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact," Biblical Archaeology Review 14/5 ( 1988), 18-33.
- Photos of Sea of Galilee - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Sea of Galilee
Below is a location map and aerial view of Sea of Galilee. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.