Biblical-Era Town Of Dalmanutha Possibly Found Along Israel's Sea Of Galilee

on September 18, 2013 2:44 PM EDT

sea of boat
British archaeologists have found what they believe may be the Biblical town of Dalmanutha. The Sea of Galilee Boat (above) was famously discovered in the area in 1986. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Archeologists from England's University of Reading have uncovered what they claim is Dalmanutha, a Biblical town dating back 2,000 years which is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. Dalmanutha sat on the coast of the Sea of Galilee in Israel's Ginosar valley, and is the town that Jesus sailed to after multiplying fish and loaves to feed 4,000, according to Mark. ("And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha," goes the Biblical passage.)

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Led by University of Reading's Ken Dark, the archeologists found remains of what they say may be Dalmanutha while they performed a field study. The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and polytheists lived at the site, that the area was prosperous and that the town lasted from Biblical times until many centuries later.

"Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth," Dark wrote in the most recent edition Palestine Exploration Quarterly. "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."

The fishing boat Dark refers to is the Sea of Galilee Boat, a 2,000-year-old vessel found on the shoreline in 1986. The boat has also been called the "Jesus Boat," though nothing links Jesus or his disciples to the vessel.

According to Dark, the artifacts that he and his team found are evidence of a thriving town from the first century A.D. In June, Dark spoke about the findings at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins in Edinburgh, England. On the organization's website, a summary of Dark's talk reads, "[it] is hard to imagine that a Roman-period coastal community of this size is nowhere mentioned in textual sources, and the site might be identified with one of the unlocated toponyms known from the Bible, perhaps the Dalmanutha of Mark 8:10."

The archeological site is located just 500 feet from Migdal, which is believed to be the location of the biblical town of Magdala, birthplace of Mary Magdalene. Numerous archaeological finds have come from that area, most famously the Sea of Galilee Boat.

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