Just along the road from our hotel, but unfortunately just too far to walk especially in this heat, is the Kibbutz/hotel/resort of Nof Ginosar. This is the place where we embarked for our sail across Lake Gennesaret, and as we walked to the pier we passed a large building where, we were told, was a museum which included a first-century CE boat that had been discovered locally. Sadly we did not then have the oportunity for a visit so our little group, slightly augmented this time, decided that our second free day would be used to go and investigate. Once again we ventured into Israeli taxis, but this time our drivers were more mature men, and although the mobile phone inevitably came into play at least hands were kept on the wheel!
We arrived at Nof Ginosar and as we walked from the car park to the museum we were greeted by a young egret, who seemed to be as interested in us as we were of him (or her – I told you I’m not a
birder!). After this brief encounter it was on into the museum which is named after Yigal Alon (1918-1980) who was a member of the Kibbutz, a military and political leader and a firm believer in, and promoter of, peace and coexistence.
The reception hall of the museum is spacious and has one of the best shops that we encountered on our journey, coupled with a very helpful and friendly staff. There were all sorts of souvenirs on display, including the ubiquitous t-shirts, to exquisite silverware and Dead Sea mud beauty products. It was almost worth the trip just to visit the shop!
But the thing we had come to see was the 2,000 year -old boat. Was this the boat that Jesus sailed in, owned by Peter and Andrew? Well I have to say probably not, but just possibly yes. The historian in me says that it is the lack of provenance which causes the uncertainty. What is undeniable, however, is that this is the sort of boat that Jesus would have known and used. (Matthew 13, 2; 14, 22-23, Luke 8, 22-25 etc). The story of its discovery, reclamation and restoration is fascinating <http://tinyurl.com/kq99upp> <http://tinyurl.com/k8xv9wc> and the display alongside the boat is informative and helpful. For example, no fewer than twelve species of wood were identified in its timbers, suggesting that it was patched numerous times by owners who were too poor to afford professional repairers. The archaeological remains found in and around the boat have also been important in showing light on life by the Sea of Galilee two millenia ago.
Although the boat has now been preserved (and that in itself is a fascinating story) it is kept in a temperature and light controlled hall, and admission is controlled by a sliding door operated by the staff at the reception desk. Once inside, however, there is no limit on the time you can spend in there. The display panels, supported by an
audio-visual presentation, do amply show the meticulous restoration and archaeological work that took place. As one who has had previous responsibility for, and experience in, exhibitions and displays, I was very impressed with the quality of the work done here.
On the first floor is an exhibition gallery for touring art projects. The one on show when we were there was by Palestinian artist Mervat Issa, a multidisciplinary artist, many of whose works try to move people along the road to peace. The project on show was constructed from recycled paper which made colourful figures in a dance to evoke joy and hope.
We had time before the taxis came to pick us up for refreshments and a chat about what we had seen, then it was back to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon, more rest, more reading, more swimming. And ice-cream!