Friday, May 25, 2012

And its About Boats

Modern Port Maybe Cesarea

The Christian Iconoclasts had the images
of these fishermen removed.
Cheops Solar Boat

Ship of the Desert

The hull of the Jesus Boat
If it is all about water we will need a way to get around. So let’s start with what claims to be the oldest boat at 4600 years. Archeologist knew that boats were provided with pyramids but until 1950 an undisturbed boat had not been found. In 1950 beneath 41 limestone blocks each weighing 16 tons was found a chamber 31 m long and 6 m deep. In it lay the 1224 pieces of a boat. No instructions included. Once assembled the boat would be 41 m long. Only the rope to hold the boat together did not survive and had to be replaced. Now known as the solar boat it was understood to carry Pharoah Cheops on his journey to the land of the dead and also to empower him to follow Ra the sun god. Contrary to our popular view no servants or slaves were killed nor buried with the pharaoh in the pyramid so I don’t know who was going to reassemble the boat, nor row it on the journey. The boat is displayed in an amazing building built just for it behind the great Pyramid at Giza.

Near Giza we visit the Mastaba Tomb, a rectangular one story tomb, of an official who served with the pharaoh whose pyramid is near by. This Mastaba is elaborately decorated with carvings of daily life. Pictured are boats fishing on the nile, the fish that are in the Nile and several depictions of hippopotamuses devouring alligators.

Our second night in Cairo there was an optional dinner boat cruise on the Nile. We opted for dinner at the hotel. On Day 5 we left Cairo and crossed under the Suez Canal in a dry tunnel, a cloud of diesel fumes before us and behind us. After oil this is probably the second most important reason we are invested in the peace of the Middle East. We saw a few big ships in the canal but no good views. Our next encounter with boats is in mosaics. Even in the dryness of Jordan the significant of the boat is noted.

 In Israel we will visit Cesarea. In the New Testament times this was a significant port. Actually it was the rise of sea trade on the Mediterranean that eventually made Petra which had flourished on the trade routes of the caravans less significant. It is from Caesarea that Paul is sent to Rome to have his case heard. It is also a modern port.

We will cross the sea of Galilee in a wooden tourist boat on a nice calm morning. We will dock at the Kibbutz Nof Ginosar where the Jesus Boat was discovered and is housed. Two brothers walking along the Sea of Galilee during an extremely dry and low water time start by discovering some nails and then the boat. A major effort is launched to preserve the boat and remove it. We have about 2/3 of the hull of a first century boat. Maybe Jesus and his apostles were never in this boat but it is certain they used a boat like it and it is quite probable they knew the owner of the boat. At the gift shop here we bought a shofar which I demonstrated for all to hear until my lips gave out.

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