Archaeologists say they’ve discovered an ancient town mentioned in the New Testament, and it could be the location to which Jesus sailed after miraculously feeding some 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread.
Ken Dark of the University of Reading in the U.K. says the town may be Dalmanutha, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
According to LiveScience, Dark’s team of 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.”
Dalmanutha is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark right after the feeding miracle, stating, “So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. ” (Mark 8:8-10, King James Version)
While Dalmanutha is only specified by name in Mark’s Gospel, a corresponding passage in Matthew 15:39 says, “And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.”
Experts believe Magdala is the modern-day town of Migdal, slightly inland near Israel’s Ginosar Valley. Magdala is perhaps most famous for being the hometown of Mary Magdalene, a female disciple of Jesus who was the first person ever to see Christ after He rose from the dead.
The 2,000-year-old boat which was found on the shoreline back in 1986 is to date is the most famous artifact from the area.
“Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth,” wrote Dark in the most recent edition of Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and “eights 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.”
Dark’s team says their finding indicate the town was prosperous, and probably survived for many centuries.
They found that 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.
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.
“Some of the most impressive finds, however, were not made in the fields but rather in modern-day Migdal itself,” said LiveScience. “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.”