Biblical-era town discovered in Israel

Biblical-era town: Archaeologists have discovered a town on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee dating back more than 2000 years. 

Photo by Berthold Werner, released into public domain, courtesy Wikimedia
The Sea of Galilee boat is the most famous artifact that we can now associate with this newly discovered town. It dates back to either the first century B.C. or A.D. Although the boat was uncovered in 1986 the discovery of the town means we now know it was found on the ancient town's shoreline.

A town dating back more than 2,000 years has been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel's Ginosar valley.

The ancient town may be Dalmanutha (also spelled Dalmanoutha), described in the Gospel of Mark as the place Jesus sailed to after miraculously feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread, said Ken Dark, of the University of Reading in the U.K., whose team discovered the town during a field survey.

The archaeologists also determined that a famous boat, dating to around 2,000 years ago, and uncovered in 1986, was found on the shoreline of the newly discovered town. The boat was reported on two decades ago but the discovery of the town provides new information on what lay close to it.

The evidence the team found suggests the town was prosperous in ancient times. "Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth," Dark wrote in an article published in the most recent edition of the journal Palestine Exploration Quarterly, while "weights and stone anchors, along with the access to beaches suitable for landing boats — and, of course, the first-century boat … all imply an involvement with fishing." [Photos: 4,000-Year-Old Structure Hidden Under Sea of Galilee]

The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and those following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. In addition, the researchers found that the southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet (150 meters) away from another ancient town known as Magdala.

Architecture and pottery

Fields between the modern-day town of Migdal and the sea coast contained hundreds of pottery pieces dating from as early as the second or first century B.C. to up to some point after the fifth century A.D., the time of the Byzantine Empire, the archaeologists found. The artifacts suggest the town survived for many centuries. 

Also among their finds were cubes known as tesserae and limestone vessel fragments, which were "associated with Jewish purity practices in the early Roman period," indicating the presence of a Jewish community in the town, Dark told LiveScience in an email.

Some of the most impressive finds, however, were not made in the fields but rather in modern-day Migdal itself. The archaeologists found dozens of examples of ancient architectural remains, some of which the modern-day townspeople had turned into seats or garden ornaments, or simply left lying on the ground. In one instance, the researchers found more than 40 basalt ashlar blocks in a single garden.

After talking to the local people, and trying to identify the source and date of the findings, the researchers determined that many of the architectural remains came from the local area and likely were part of this newly discovered town. [Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

These remains included a number of ancient column fragments, including examples of capitals (the top of columns) carved in a Corinthian style. "This settlement may have contained masonry buildings, some with mosaic floors and architectural stonework," Dark wrote in his paper.

The finds also included a pagan altar, made of light-gray limestone and used in religious rituals by those of a polytheistic faith, Dark said.

Is it Dalmanutha?

In the New Testament, Dalmanutha is mentioned only briefly in the Gospel of Mark.

The gospel says that after feeding 4,000 people by miraculously multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread, Jesus "got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, 'Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.'Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side." (Mark 8:10-13, New International Version)

Dark isn't certain the newly discovered town is Dalmanutha, but there is evidence to support the idea. From the remains found, researchers can tell the newly discovered town would have been a sizable, thriving location in the first century A.D., and the name Dalmanutha has not been firmly linked to a known archaeological site.

It's likely that the newly found town's name is among the few place-names already identified by other researchers relating to the Ginosar valley shore, and one of those places is Dalmanutha, Dark said.

Follow us @livescienceFacebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.