Abstract: From the Shores of the Yam Kinneret: The First-Century Boat from the Sea of Galilee

Lecturer: Jerome Lynn Hall

For five days in February 1986, J. Richard Steffy examined the remains of a wooden boat embedded in the lake floor of the Yam Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), adjacent to the ancient harbor of Migdal (Taricheae) near Kibbutz Ginosar, in northern Israel.  Although the mud-encased outer hull was inaccessible, Steffy studied construction details of the vessel’s interior, including the keel, planking, frames, and fasteners, the result of which was a preliminary report that, in his own words, was “extremely limited in scope.”

Radiocarbon dating of the hull, along with construction features and associated artifacts (including ceramics and weaponry), conservatively suggest a date range from the first century BCE to the close of the first century CE.

Since Steffy’s preliminary work, several important developments have occurred:  the boat has been conserved and permanently displayed at Kibbutz Ginosar; Ella Werker, from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, finished the botanical identification of boat’s structural components; and the author recently completed a detailed examination of the hull, using the scrive-board and joggle-stick technique of “taking off” lines.  The latter investigation, supplemented with digital images and computer-aided design (CAD) technology, has rendered a more complete picture of the extant hull, and offers new insights into how this small boat from Galilee was constructed.

The Kinneret boat stands in testimony to Greco-Roman cultural influence in Palestine during the Second Temple Period, and its study to the professional genius of a man whose preliminary observations helped us understand better that world.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader)

Adan-Bayewitz.  1990.  The Pottery.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 89-96.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Carmi, I.  Radiocarbon Dating of the Boat.  1990.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, Appendix 19.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Cohen, O.  1990.  Conservation of the Boat.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 15-22.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Cohen, O.   2005.  Conservation of the Ancient Boat from the Sea of Galilee.  ‘Atiqot 50:219-236. 

Steffy, J. R.  1994.  Wooden Ship Building and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks.  Texas A&M University Press.  College Station, Texas.

Steffy, J. R.  1990.  The Boat:  A Preliminary Study of its Construction.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 29-47.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Sussman, V.  1990.  The Lamp.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 97-98.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Syon-Friedman, D.  1990.  The Arrowhead.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 99-100.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Wachsmann, S.  1990.  The Date of the Boat.  In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).   ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 129-130.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Wachsmann, S.  2000.  The Sea of Galilee Boat:  A 2000 Year Old Discovery From The Sea of Legends.  Perseus Publishing.  Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Wachsmann, S. and K. Raveh  1990.  The Discovery.   In Wachsmann,  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).   ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 1-7.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Werker, E.  1990.  Identification of the Wood.  In Wachsmann.  S.  1990.  The Excavations of an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).  ‘Atiquot (English Series).  Volume XIX, pages 65-75.   Jerusalem, Israel.  

Werker, E.  2004.  Unpublished report on Kinneret Boat Wood.  Personal correspondence to S. Wachsmann and used by permission by J. L. Hall.

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Elise A. Friedland is Associate Professor of Classics and Art History in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the George Washington University. Her research... Read More

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