The Yigal Allon Center and its ancient boat
The Yigal Allon Center is adjacent to Kibbutz Ginosar by Lake Kinneret. This museum was formed by friends of Yigal Allon (1918-1980) to perpetuate his ideals. He was a founding member of Kibbutz Ginnosar, a commander in the Palmach, an influential Knesset member, and a government minister. On the ground floor is an exhibit of an ancient wooden boat retrieved from Lake Kinneret. A short movie describes how the boat was lifted from the lake. Another room describes the military and political life of Yigal Allon. Other exhibits include a mosaic floor from an excavated synagogue from the late Roman period and a copy of the Migdal Stone.
Directions: Enter “Yigal Allon Center” into Waze and click on “Yigal Allon Center, Ginosar.”
Admission: The museum is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Sunday to Thursday and Saturday, and 8.00 am to 4.00 pm Friday and holiday eves. Their phone number is 04 622 7700. This is their website.
Public transport: Enter into Moovit "Ginosar". There is a moderately frequent bus service between Tiberias and Moshav Livanim that stops 600 meters/7-minute from the Center. There are also many other lines that stop at the intersection to Ginosar and which are a 1.0 Km, 13-minute walk to the Center.
When did the boat displayed at the Yigal Allon Center capsize?
The boat displayed in the Yigal Allon Center was exposed in 1986 by a fall in the water level of Lake Kinneret. It had been preserved by the clay around it. The reason for the excitement about its discovery for many Christians is that the boat has been dated from 100 BCE to 100 CE, which includes the time during which Jesus of Nazareth lived.
Following the murder of John the Baptist by Herod Antipas, Jesus took over John’s ministry in the Galilee. Jesus’ base was in Capernaum and his preaching would have been in the towns on the northern shore of Lake Kinneret. Many of those to whom Jesus preached would have been fishermen. Peter, John and James were three of his disciples who gave up their livelihoods as fishermen to join him, and this is the type of boat they would have used for their fishing. Jesus probably also preached to people on the shore from a boat like this.
This boat was found a bit south of Ginosar, by the former town of Magdala. Magdala was a fishing village on Lake Kinneret close to Tiberius. Jesus taught here and healed an afflicted woman Mary Magdalene, who would follow him in his missionary. In the process, she made her hometown of Magdala famous by readers of the New Testament. An archeological park at the site of the town includes the ruins of an ancient synagogue.
But why did this fisherman’s boat capsize close to the town of Magdala? A strong possibility is that this boat was sunk during the Battle of Migdal that took place during the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans between 66-70 CE. The first place in the Galilee to be attacked by the Romans was Yodfat, and Magdala was next.
Many armed Galileans joined in the defense of Magdala, although as at Gamla the inhabitants of the city were reluctant participants. The lopsided battle is described by the historian Josephus. The Jews were soon routed by the Romans. Magdala was protected by a wall, but was unprotected from the lakeside and many Jews attempted to escape by fishing boat. Vespasian had anticipated this, and the boats of the townspeople were no match for those of the Romans and a massacre ensued. Some 6,500 Jews died in the battle. Shipwrecks and bloated corpses littered the shoreline.
In sum, it is very possible that this boat did not capsize at the time of Jesus, since the Great Revolt was about 40 years after his death, but this was the type of boat used by his disciples and other fishermen during this period.
Replica of the Magdala Stone displayed at the center (see webpage on Magdala for details)