First-Century Galilee Boat

Galilee Boat, circa first century C.E. Cedar, pine, jujube, willow, and oak, Yigal Alon Museum, Kibbutz Ginosar, Israel. 

The Galilee Boat is a 2,000-year-old fishing vessel recovered from the mud bottom of the Sea of Galilee in 1986. Prior to this remarkable discovery, the only reliable insights into the construction of boats like this were from written accounts and mosaics. The boat is dated to 40 C.E. (plus or minus 80 years) using radiocarbon dating, a process that measures the decay of carbon-14, which can estimate the age of organic materials. The boat could have been sailed or rowed. If under sail, it would have been outfitted with a single square sail and mast. Based on the size of the boat, the crew would likely have consisted of a captain and four to five rowers.

First-century boat discovered on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in 1986, currently housed in the Yigal Alon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar, Israel.

The use of the molecular decay of carbon-12 and carbon-14 isotopes in an organic object, which happens at a predictable rate over time, to determine the date of that object.

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