Biblical Archaeology Review 25:4, July/August 1999

Ports of Galilee

Modern drought reveals harbors from Jesus’ time

By Mendel Nun

Early 19th-century explorers, searching for places where Jesus had walked, attempted to locate the ancient harbors of the Sea of Galilee but failed. Now, after 25 years of searching and researching, we have found them. We have recovered the piers, promenades and breakwaters of the ports. We have also uncovered the ships’ anchors, the mooring stones the sailors tied their ships to, and even the weights fishermen once fastened to their nets. We always knew the harbors must be there, but we had no idea we would find so many remains.

The Sea of Galilee’s shoreline has changed dramatically in recent decades as camping sites, man-made beaches and luxury hotels have taken over what were for millennia natural shores. Today only four small ports serve the motorboats that speed across the water, the ferries for vacationers and pilgrims, a few large modern fishing vessels and several small fishing boats. In ancient times, however, at least 16 bustling ports provided the basic means of communication and transport for travelers, fishermen, traders and thousands of residents living beside the small sea (about 14 miles from north to south and 8 miles across).

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