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November 13    Scripture

Ancient Israel: Shipwrecks
Ancient Ship discoveries, maritime and nautical archaeology

Caesarea, Archaeology in Israel Some scientists believe that the breakwater walls formed an intricate system of sluicing whereby the power of the sea was weakened, but how this functioned is not known yet. What seems certain is that the earthquake of 130 BCE pushed the harbour floor up, whereby the breakwaters came to lie just under the water surface. The result of this is 17 shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor, dating until the 5th Century when the harbour finally came into disuse. The shipwrecks are as yet largely unexplored.

Israel launches world's first underwater museum at Caesarea The ancient port of Caesarea, along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, was inaugurated as the world's first underwater museum. It was the largest, most impressive port in the Roman Empire when it was inaugurated in 10 BCE. And some 2,016 years later, the ancient port of Caesarea - along the Mediterranean coast of Israel - was inaugurated again last week, this time as the world's first underwater museum. Divers can now don their wet suits and tour the sign-posted remains of the magnificent harbor built by King Herod to honor his Roman patron, Caesar Augustus. The site has been excavated over the last three decades by a team led by the late Prof. Avner Raban of the University of Haifa's Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies.

Ma'agan Mikhael Ancient Ship Ships are unique. A ship is a microcosm of political, economic, cultural and technological activity. Why do we deem the discovery of a ship so significant? It serves as a bridge between different cultures and peoples carrying goods, ideas and technologies. As the sea is a bridge between cultures so is the ship the means of carrying and diffusing that culture. Comprehending the technological achievements embodied in the building of a ship, its navigation, its method of propulsion, its loading capacity and its constant confrontation with the elements is a major task. Until very recently, the structure of ancient ships was a subject relying on literary descriptions and artistic iconographic representations. However, now with the progress of nautical archaeology research, we can handle a ship's hull itself enabling us to begin to understand the magnitude of the achievements of the ancients. Such was the case with the Ma'agan Mikhael Ship - a fortuitous discovery accompanied by a dramatic touch of coincidence. The ship was found offshore Kibbutz Ma'agan Mikhael, a settlement situated approximately 30 Km south of Haifa, on the Israeli coastline, where 3 decades earlier maritime archaeology in Israel was initiated.

The Roman shipwreck from Caesarea Underwater Archaeology. In 1976, a survey team of divers from the AURI discovered the frames of a large vessel in the northern anchorage of Caesarea at a depth of 2.5 m. In 1983, the CMS headed by A. Raban excavated the wreck in collaboration with the University of Maryland, the University of Colorado and the University of Victoria. The excavations revealed a ship's hull of more than 40 m long, of which a third of the original wooden construction of frames and strakes has survived. The hull is made of 8 cm thick strakes connected by mortises and tennons in the "shell first" technique. The frames, built from planks of conifer wood 16 cm thick, were closely placed (9 cm between frames). This construction is the most massive yet found for a sailing vessel from the Roman period. The wreck was dated by C14 to the end of the 1st century BC. Many pieces of the lead sheathing were scattered around the wreck. Prominent among the ceramic remains are large pithoi of a type known as dolia " a fixed storage containers that held such staples as grain, salt or other bulk cargo. Four bronze balance bars that might have been used to weigh cargo were also found. The type of wood and the method of construction used are similar to those, characteristic of northwestern Italy and southern France. It is possible that the ship carried building material (such as volcanic tuffa) for the Herodian harbor of Sebastos [Israel Antiquities Authority]

Two 8th century B.C. Phoenician ships ARCHAEOLOGY: Bible's Bad Boys Weren't Such Philistines After All Michael Balter ASHKELON, ISRAEL--The discovery of two 8th century B.C. Phoenician ships loaded with wine amphoras off the southern part of Israel's coast, announced last week, may help burnish the image of the Philistines, a people who occupied the territory of the Levant nearest to where the ships were found. Frequently portrayed as villains in the Bible, the Philistines and how they came to the shores of the Middle East more than 3000 years ago are largely mysteries. Yet the underwater discovery, together with years of painstaking excavations of Philistine cities on land, are beginning to reveal a picture of a cosmopolitan people who traded widely across the eastern Mediterranean.

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