Cardmodel of a fishing boat, inspired by a find from the Sea of Galilee, dating to the time of Jesus. Difficulty level 2 (from 0-3, moderate difficult), comprising 3 colourful printed cardboard sheets. The size of the finished model is about 25 x 7 x 22 cm.
In Israel at the beginning of 1986 the remains of an ancient boat were discovered in the Sea of Galilee, which is said to be from the time of Jesus. It was therefore known as the “Jesus boat”. Jesus often sailed on the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, some of whom were also fishermen. As the ancient harbour of Magdala (today called Migdal) was situated near the place of discovery, the boat is also called “Magdala boat”.
When the boat was found, the level of the Sea was unusually low because of the drought. Two amateur archaeologists discovered the outline of a boat in the mud on the shore while they were looking for ancient coins. The ensuing excavations were carried out by an international archaeology team and voluntary helpers from the neighbouring Kibbutz Ginosar. The boat had to be salvaged very quickly because the news of the discovery had spread rapidly. People started looking for traces on the excavation site on their own initiative. Interest was so great world-wide, that there were always television teams on the site, and the police had to keep inquisitive people away from the excavation site.
The age of the find could be found out relatively easily, because of the wooden nails with rounded heads which were used. This is how boats were built in the time from the 2nd C. BC until Roman times (about 70 AD). At that time boats were built by connecting cedar-wood planks with each other, which were then fixed to the boat framework made of untreated oak boughs. The boat was moved with oars and a square sail. The measurements were judged to be 8.2 - 8.5m long, 2.3 - 2.5m wide and 1.2 - 1.3m high. The boat had a broad stern and a narrow bow, the middle part was wide and flat. And so there was room for up to 16 persons and an approximately 300m-long fishing-net. At the excavation site net needles and stone anchors were also found, giving evidence of use as a fishing-boat.
Fishermen didn’t have an easy life at the time of Jesus. They weren’t very respected and the working conditions on the Sea of Galilee were very hard, because the weather was unpredictable. Because the Sea lies at a deep level (about 200 m below sea-level), within seconds heavy and often dangerous storms can develop. The geographic conditions are still the same today, but at that time people couldn’t protect their boats from the storms.
The archaeology team needed a week for its work at the site. But the salvaging of the boat was difficult, because the material had become fragile. It was to be put into a conservation basin in the Yigal-Allon-Museum in Ginosar. The transportation was complicated, in spite of the fact that there were only 500 m separating the museum from the excavation site. The only possibility was to surround the boat before transportation in plastic foam, and that alone took three days. The boat was later to be exhibited under normal museum conditions, but the conservation took 14 years. In 2000 the exhibition of the boat was opened. It stands in an exhibition hall in the Yigal-Allon-Museum, and there is also a documentation of the work done on restoration and conservation.