A Monumental Underwater Structure in the Sea of Galilee

Bible and archaeology news

What is a monumental ancient stone structure doing in the Sea of Galilee? In a recent issue of The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Israeli archaeologists, geophysicists and oceanographers discuss an 880,000-cubic-foot,* 60,000-ton structure submerged in the Sea of Galilee.

A section of the underwater structure. Credit: Shmuel Marco, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

While the cairn has no discernible construction pattern, the researchers note that it does not resemble any natural feature and must be manmade. It is composed of basalt boulders that would have been transported hundreds of feet to the site. Researchers involved with the project are unsure whether the original construction was an underwater installation, or whether it was built during a period with low water levels, only to be submerged over time. Fish nurseries built to sustain ancient marine-based economies have been discovered in the Sea of Galilee, but none match the scale of this recent discovery. The researchers see possible ties to nearby Early Bronze Age settlements such as Bet Yerah that feature monumental fortified structures from the third millennium B.C.E. The immense scale of the underwater discovery calls for further study; the authors write that a full-scale, underwater archaeological expedition “is needed to explore its foundations, search for indicative artefacts, and provide firm dating evidence.”

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*Editor’s note: This article was originally published with a typo indicating that the structure was 880,000 square feet. We apologize for the inaccuracy, and want to thank attentive readers David Oberpriller and Christopher Banbury for alerting us to the error. We at Bible History Daily are grateful to be part of such an engaged community, and enjoy hearing from our readers.N.W.
 

 

Interested in Underwater Archaeology? Find out more in the BAS Library

Wachsmann, Shelley. “Archaeological Views: Archaeology Under the Sea.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2006, 26, 80.

Wachsmann, Shelley. “The Galilee Boat—2,000-Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Sep/Oct 1988, 18-33.

Misch-Brandl, Osnat. “Ancient Seafarers Bequeath Unintended Legacy.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 1985, 40-43.

Hohlfelder, Robert L. “Caesarea Beneath the Sea.” Biblical Archaeology Review, May/Jun 1982, 42-47.

Linder, Elisha. “Excavating an Ancient Merchantman.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 1992, 24-29, 3135.

Vann, Lindley. “News from the Field: Herod’s Harbor Construction Recovered Underwater.Biblical Archaeology Review, May/Jun 1983, 10-11, 14.

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  • Carl A. says

    They could very well be extra stones from an ancient building project, put out of sight and out of mind.
    Or, perhaps they worked with wet stones, placing them in the lake before construction. The stones would be cooler and cleaner, and out of sight for that matter. It would really reduce the heat transfer while building.

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