Summary and Discovery
The Galilee Boat, also known as the Jesus Boat, is first century wooden boat found in the Sea of Galilee. It is 9 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, 1.25 meters tall.
From 1985-1986, the lack of rain and the irrigation of water from the Sea of Galilee to nearby crops shrunk the borders of the sea so that large portions of it’s lakebed, normally hidden underwater, were left bare. Moshe and Yuval Lufan, amateur archaeologist from the Kibbutz Ginnosar, began scanning the newly revealed lakebed for an interesting, and hopefully ancient artifact in January of 1986. Their search resulted in the location of a boat buried under a thick layer of mud.
Shortly after, Shelley Wachsmann, currently the Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, was summoned to determine if in fact, the boat dated from Antiquity.
Although the reliable dating would eventually be derived from its carbon-14 dates, a quick estimate came from a feature of the boat: namely, its mortise-and-tenon joint. A mortise-and-tenon joint is an unusual technique in boat construction that uses wooded pegs, swollen by water, to hold together the planks forming the hull of the boat. It was used through the Roman period.
It is possible, although only speculation, that the boat sank during the battle of Midgal, during the Jewish revolt in 67 CE (described in Josephus, Jewish Wars 3.466). Various pieces of pottery were found along with the boat at it’s excavation site. Although the pottery has a date consistent with the date of the boat, it cannot be used to date the boat because there is no way to be certain that it is connected to the boat itself.