A British archaeologist and his team believe they may have stumbled upon the ancient town of Dalmanutha, believed by some to be the place to which Jesus sailed after he performed the miracle of multiplying the fish and the loaves to feed 4,000 as described in the Gospel of Mark.
Live Science reports that University of Reading archaeologist Ken Dark discovered the town during a field survey near the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
In 1986, a boat believed to be about 2,000-years-old was found and – according to the British team – the discovery site was along the shore of the newly discovered town. After it was discovered, the boat was nicknamed the “Jesus Boat” even though there was no evidence linking Jesus to the vessel. It is believed to be the kind of boat Jesus, his disciples and the Jews living in the area would have used.
As it is written in the Gospel of Mark 8:8-10 (via English Standard Version), “And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.”
Live Science reports:
The evidence the team found suggests the town was prosperous in ancient times. “Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth,” Dark wrote in an article published in the most recent edition of the journal Palestine Exploration Quarterly, while “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 architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and those following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. In addition, the researchers found that the southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet (150 meters) away from another ancient town known as Magdala.
Archaeologists discovered “hundreds of pottery pieces dating from as early as the second or first century B.C. to up to some point after the fifth century A.D., the time of the Byzantine Empire,” between Migdal in today’s Israel and the Sea of Galilee.
Dark told Live Science that his team found cubes (tesserae) and pieces of limestone vessels “associated with Jewish purity practices in the early Roman period.”
The archaeologists found that residents of the modern Israeli town had used antiquities from the area as garden decor and that the pieces were most likely taken from the site of the newly discovered ancient town.
Besides the Jewish presence, Dark said a pagan altar was also found, suggesting the practice of polytheistic ritual in the area.
“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,” Dark said at a lecture in June.
Huffington Post reports:
Dalmanutha is only mentioned in Mark’s Gospel, but the corresponding passage in Matthew 15:39 says, “And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala,” which has been identified with some certainty as the modern-day town of Migdal, located slightly inland near Israel’s Ginosar Valley. Magdala is perhaps most well-known for its association with Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, who may have been born in the town.
As in the case of many archaeological finds, it’s difficult to prove unequivocally the origins of any particular discovery. Dark says he’s not certain the town is indeed Dalmanutha.
Author Joel L. Watts says that Dalmanutha “doesn’t exist.” He writes of the latest discovery, “So, if this is Dalmanutha, then we are supposed to believe either Matthew got his geography wrong or Jesus completed this event twice, once in each town. To be honest, I think it is more plausible to have Jesus perform the miracle twice than to have Matthew completely uncharacteristically get his geography wrong contra Mark.”
Live Science quoted Dark as saying, “It’s likely that the newly found town’s name is among the few place-names already identified by other researchers relating to the Ginosar valley shore, and one of those places is Dalmanutha.”
TheBlaze was unable to reach the Israeli Antiquities Authority on Wednesday for comment on the discovery.
(H/T: Huffington Post)