The Hope Boat

Michelle Tennens

During Sunday worship Tony Pancaldi, one of our spotlight artists, painted the picture above of the Hope Boat, a replica of a Galalian boat that was used in the time of Jesus. The picture is based on an ancient wreck that was uncovered during a drought at low tide on the Sea of Galilee in 1986.

The ‘Ancient Galilee Boat’ housed in the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar

It took a large team of expert archeologists 12 days to excavate the boat before the waters rose again. Then another 12 years of submerssion in a wax bath for the boat to be preserved and made ready for display in the Yigal Allon Galilee Boat Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar. The boat’s construction conforms to other boats built in that part of the Mediterranean during the period between 100 BCE and 200 CE. Constructed primarily of cedar planks joined together by pegged mortise and tenon joints and nails, the boat is shallow drafted with a flat bottom, allowing it to get very close to the shore while fishing. However, the boat is composed of ten different wood types, suggesting either a wood shortage or that the boat was made of scrap wood and had undergone extensive and repeated fixes. The boat was row-able, with four staggered rowers, and also had a mast allowing the fishermen to sail the boat.

The boat has been dated to 40 BCE (plus or minus 80 years) based on radiocarbon dating, and 50 BCE to 50 CE based on pottery, including a pot, lamp and nails found in the boast, as well as construction techniques. The evidence of repeated repairs shows the boat was used for several decades, perhaps nearly a century. When its fishermen owners thought it was beyond repair, they removed all useful wooden parts and the hull eventually sank to the bottom of the lake. There it was covered with mud, which prevented bacterial decomposition.

Whilst this particular boat has no direct link with Jesus, it is an example of the type of boat used at his time for fishing and transportation across the lake, where we so often read of Him being with his disciples. Boats like this are mentioned 50 times in the gospels, can you find those references in your Bible? Perhaps a challenge for the family on a rainy, lockdown sort of day.

Thank you Tony for inspiring us and taking us a little closer to Jesus through your creative worship expression.

Tony Pancaldi, artist