A compelling story of the discovery of a 2,000-year-old fishing boat in the Sea of Galilee, told by nautical archaeologist Wachsmann (Biblical Archaeology/Texas A&M Univ.). In January 1986, after a fierce drought had lowered the sea's waters to record levels, two Israeli brothers discovered a boat in the shoreline mud, about a half mile down the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, where Jesus had his first ministry. As an inspector for Israel's Department of Antiquities, Wachsmann led the excavation team, whose work was soon threatened by an army of sightseers and treasure-hunters, and by the rising waters of the lake. Protected by police and the military, the team worked painstakingly around the clock, and the 25-foot-long boat was filled with polyurethane and removed in a fiberglass cocoon to the nearby Yigal Allon Museum. The boat's mortise-and-tenon joints proved it to be from the Roman period, while coin and pottery finds and carbon-14 testing indicated that it was a typical fishing vessel dating from between 100 b.c. and 67 a.d., the year in which the disastrous Jewish naval battle with the Romans ended boat building in that region. Wachsmann says that scientific research cannot prove whether the boat was a relic from the battle or was the actual one used by Jesus and his disciples. But he notes that even until recent times, similar designs were still common and the ``pillow'' used for sleep by Jesus (cf. Mark 4:38) would likely have been the sandbag, stored for ballast in a protected place beneath the stern. (A glossary explains technical terms.) Wachsmann writes in an attractive style, at once narrative, personal, and scholarly, with humor and fascinating excursions into ancient myth and history mingling with detailed descriptions and drawings of how boats were built in ancient times.
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