Saturday, 24 April 2010


喺今期 Christianity Today, 有一篇訪問發現嗰隻"耶穌船"o既人o既文章, 幾有趣. 當然呢隻所謂"耶穌船"並唔係一隻耶穌坐過o既船, 不過係一隻同耶穌差唔多時期, 喺加利利湖o既沉咗落湖底o既船. 其實呢個並非新發現, 我記得好多年前喺 Biblical Archaeology Review 有一篇更加詳盡o既文章. 不過如果冇聽過呢單嘢o既人, 都不妨一睇.



How was the Jesus Boat discovered?

It was a real surprise. After four years of drought, in 1986 the Sea of Galilee had retreated. Two brothers, Jewish fishermen, were walking on the exposed seabed and found coins, pieces of wood, and iron nails. They called us to check into it.

We started cleaning some of the boat, and suddenly we saw the mortise and tenon joints. We found a Roman oil lamp and a Roman cooking pot. It was a boat from Roman times! This is what we had been waiting for.

At that moment, there appeared a beautiful double rainbow. It was like a blessing. We danced there like Indians from happiness.

Then the problems started. The wood was completely waterlogged so it was like wet cardboard. Our boss at the Department of Antiquities didn't have equipment. Our group was just two archaeologists, two fishermen, and two others. We had only three buckets and two shovels. An expedition like this normally brings with it a million dollars, a year of preparation, laboratories, and a 40-person professional crew.

It seemed like mission impossible. We needed miracles. Everything was a miracle on this boat. People were so fantastic. People from the nearby kibbutz worked day and night. Christians, Jews, Arabs—everybody joined in. Luckily for us, American ambassador Thomas Pickering and his wife jumped in the mud with us. He helped us get funding and preservation material.

Somebody leaked to the press that this was a Turkish treasure boat that everybody had been [seeking] for 200 years. The area became a madhouse. People trekked over the site looking for gold. People with guns were chasing each other from the site. In the end, we had to be protected by police and guard dogs.

I had never been on an excavation where security people protected us, but where we also had an ice cream van and hot dog stands. People came in droves just to watch. At one point, 13 television stations from around the world were filming what was going on. It's the best recorded excavation I know of.

But then it started to rain. The drought was over, and the water was rising. If we left the boat where it was, it would be preserved. In another 200 years, maybe somebody else would find it. So we raced against time to clean the boat before the water reached it. We built dikes around it to continue the work.

It was so fragile. How did you get it out of the mud?

We built fiberglass ribs to support it, but they were not enough. So we made a cocoon out of plastic foam. We thought that maybe the foam cocoon would float. So we opened the dike, and after 2,000 years, the boat floated again on the Sea of Galilee. It floated about three kilometers to where we had built a pool, by the Yigal Allon Museum.

We then had to take off the plastic. It was worse than the mud. If it were cut with a hot knife, it would produce cyanide. So we had to use our fingernails.

We filled the pool with sweet water until 60,000 liters of polyethylene glycol arrived almost a year later from India, courtesy of Dow Chemical. One day, we noticed that the boat was full of worms. There were eggs in the mud from 2,000 years ago. We're talking Jurassic Park here. We could fight it with the chemicals, but then we'd pollute the water, and it would take another 10 years to get rid of that. We brought in experts from the U.S., but nobody knew how to do it without pollution. All the time, the fishermen stood around smiling. Finally they said, "Leave it to us; it won't cost anything." So they brought some goldfish and carp. The fish lived off the parasites for a year.




Daniel said...

Interesting info! Daniel