The Amazing 2,000-Year-Old Boat on Kibbutz Nof Ginossar, Israel

I always said that some day the sea will give us a gift, says Yuvi Lufan. His prediction proved true. The gift which was given by the sea is now one of northern Israel greatest treasures, and my personal favorite.

The sea of which Mr. Lufan speaks is the Sea of Galilee, and he says these words at the beginning of a short film shown at a kibbutz called Nof Ginossar located on the western shore of the sea (actually a lake). One day in January 1986, during a massive drought in Israel, Yuvi and his brother Moshe were strolling along the water’s edge, when they looked down and spotted an old rusty nail.

Where did this come from? they wondered. A look out onto the lake showed them a glimpse of a small boat-shaped structure emerging from the newly shallow waters.

The structure proved to be an ancient wooden boat, made primarily of oak and cedar, which was over the next several weeks painstakingly extracted by a team of experts and coated with polyurethane foam and carefully floated ashore. It was then gently lifted onto the bed of a truck, slowly driven to a temporary location where it was meticulously preserved, then transported to its final destination – a bright, polished room devoted to its existence on Kibbutz Nof Ginossar.

Experts aged the boat at 2,000 years, the period during which Jesus lived and taught in Israel, earning it its nickname of The Jesus Boat. Carbon 14 testing as well as an oil lamp, cooking pot and arrowhead found in and around the boat, place the boat in the Second Temple period, the time when Jesus lived in the Galilee.

Kibbutz Nof Ginossar is beautiful in and of itself, its peaceful setting the perfect spot for a hidden treasure. This kibbutz is one of 256 kibbutzim currently in existence in the country. Kibbutzim began as a product of Socialism and Zionism in the early years of modern-day Israel, embracing a collectivistic lifestyle where living quarters, money and even child rearing were shared.

Today the roughly 106,000 people who live on kibbutzim live privately as does the rest of the country, raising their own children and keeping their own money, while still enjoying a close-knit, personal community.

Kibbutz Nof Ginossar, like many of Israel’s kibbutzim, has a small hotel component, allowing visitors to the country to experience a bit of life on a kibbutz.

Kibbutz Nof Ginossar Hotel

Hotel on the ground of Kibbutz Nof Ginossar

The 2,000-year-old boat is the kibbutz’s shining star, but another of its unique sights is a long and winding mosaic bench which was a creative collaboration amongst Jewish and Arab youths from nearby schools.

Mosaic bench in northern Israel

Me standing by the mosaic bench<Me standing by the mosaic bench

Ships and Temple Mosaic

The view of the Sea of Galilee from Kibbutz Nof Ginossar is also something to write home about.

My friend Avi told me this is a eucalyptus tree - something I've never seen before

My friend Avi told me this is a eucalyptus tree – something I’ve never seen before

Another old boat - although not 2,000 years old - at Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar

Another old boat – although not 2,000 years old – at Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar

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3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Candice says:

    It’s been so long since I read anything from you! Crazy. I LOVE this. Total ancient history geek.

  2. Sabina says:

    Hey, Candice! I’m happy to hear from you and happy you loved this. :) Since you love ancient history, you’ll have to travel to Israel some day soon. It is the epicenter of ancient history!

  3. The Jesus Boat is an interesting nickname. I want to see that mosaic bench in person. I love hearing about creative collaborations of Arabs and Jews. So much better than war.
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..Jerusalem’s 2013 Ice City – Under the SeaMy Profile

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