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W. David Mangum
5.0 out of 5 starsA fascinating review of a unique archaeological adventure
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2009
Dr Wachsmann's book is a detailed and entertaining saga about the discovery, recovery, movement, restoration and display of a unique archaeological artifact. The author draws you into the first hand account of every step, every challenge, every trial, every setback and every victory involved in the process of removing and restoring the one and only ancient Sea of Galilee boat ever found. The attention to the detail of the process and the description of the major characters involved makes this account read more like a novel than like the first hand archaeological report that it is. In everyday language and with patient detailed explanation, every step is made clear. The illustrations, though basic and in black and white, proove very helpful in visualizing things that are described. The historic references also add depth and detail to the mystery of answering the questions about the date, ownership and use of this boat. Also, having read the several references in the Gospels that refer to Jesus being in boats on Galilee, being able to picture such a typical fishing boat that was from the first century has added additional color and richness to those Gospel accounts.
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2012
I never expected to enjoy an archeological story so much. The art and science of discovery masterfully engages the reader with suspense, history, human interactions, and innovative thinking. I could not put this book down. I hope Hollywood makes a movie of this intriguing and compelling story.
According to current estimates some three million ship wrecks now sit idle on our various sea floors awaiting discovery.
This story, about a ship from Galilee, is but one of them. The Sea of Galilee boat was discovered in 1986 in the shallows of the Sea of Galilee when the water level temporarily went down. Two local amateur archeologists were out walking the new shore line when they saw what looked to be ancient nails in the sand.
As it turned out those ancient nails had held timbers together from ancient Galilean boat. The author of this book, Dr. Shelley Wachsmann, became involved in the project because he typically underwater excavation work for the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
In this version of this book (including as it does additions from 2000 and 2009) we follow along with Dr. Wachsmann as he nurses the ancient boat from its sandy burial ground to a successful preservation. Along the way of course Wachsmann comes to discover the huge interest this boat has for both Christians and Jews.
It's significant to Christians because fishing and the use of boats figured so repeatedly in the Christian New Testament. Believers will eagerly read how the boat's construction and features supports key historical elements mentioned in the New Testament. It's significant to Jews because when the boat was used -- around the first century -- the Sea of Galilee was essentially a huge Jewish lake. It figured in the ancient life of Jews then living there and also their unsuccessful rebellion against Rome around the year 70 CE (or of the Common Era).
Even for the nonreligious though the boat remains important as a significant archealogical find. It was only the wildest stroke of luck that it was even preserved in the first place and that, having been perserved, it was made available right when the necessary resources existed to save it.
It makes you wonder what other treasures our seas hold for us.
P.S. The title of this review is in honor of Dr. Wachsmann who's first article about this amazing discovery bore the very same name.