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July 30, 2014 / 3 Av, 5774
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Ancient Monument Underwater in the Kinneret

Researchers say the shape and composition of the structure does not appear to be a natural formation.
An underwater photo shows that the monumental structure is made of basalt boulders. The fish in the picture (marked with an arrow) is about 10 cm long.

An underwater photo shows that the monumental structure is made of basalt boulders. The fish in the picture (marked with an arrow) is about 10 cm long.
Photo Credit: Shmuel Marco

Israel Antiquity Authority researchers revealed on Thursday the existence of a mysterious rock pile, 30 ft. tall and more than 200 ft. in diameter, comprised of “unhewn basalt cobbles and boulders” weighing an estimated 60 thousand tons, according to the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Archeologist Yitzhak Paz said that the structure could be 4000 years old, similar to ancient structures that have been found nearby.

We assume that 6–9 ft. of sand that covers the base of the cairn accumulated naturally after its construction. The sediment accumulation rates in lakes vary in space and time. The location of the structure is not associated with any stream which could supply sediment. Therefore, long-shore currents and suspended particulate matter are the plausible sources. An interesting observation from the Ohalo II site is the deposition of 20 cm of sand within a single winter on top of plastic sheets that were placed to cover the excavations. We believe that this event does not represent the long-term deposition rate. Assuming an accumulation rate of 1–4 mm/yr, construction may have taken place between two and 12 millennia ago.

Location maps: a) The Sea of Galilee is a fault-bounded basin (faults shown with solid white lines). The River Jordan (J, dotted line), the main water supplier to the lake, enters at the north and exits southward. Shaded topography from Hall (1994). (Shmuel Marco); b) The lake bathymetric map based on multi beam survey (after Sade et al., 2008) with the location of the monumental structure (red). (Shmuel Marco)

Location maps: a) The Sea of Galilee is a fault-bounded basin (faults shown with solid white lines). The River Jordan (J, dotted line), the main water supplier to the lake, enters at the north and exits southward. Shaded topography from Hall (1994). (Shmuel Marco); b) The lake bathymetric map based on multi beam survey (after Sade et al., 2008) with the location of the monumental structure (red). (Shmuel Marco)

The researchers said that the shape and composition of the underwater structure does not appear to be a natural formation, concluding that it is man-made, possibly an ancient cairn – a man-made stack of stones. Its age and purpose are not known.

A schematic section with approximate proportions of the structure. (Shmuel Marco)

Schematic section w. approximate proportions of the structure. (Shmuel Marco)

Two speculations so far have been that it was either built under water to attract fish, or built on dry land, and then covered by the rising sea water.

The structure was first spotted in a 2003 sonar scan of the Kinneret. The structure is comprised of large boulders, each around 3 ft. long, without a discernable construction pattern.

The researchers wrote in their paper that effort invested in such an enterprise is indicative of a complex, well-organized society, with planning skills and economic ability.

The researchers point out that the Kinneret discovery is just north of the site of the ancient city Beit Yerach (house of the moon god):

The possible relation of the submerged stone structure to the ancient settlements along the shores of the Sea of Galilee is of great importance. Flourishing settlement systems existed along the shores in the Bronze and Iron Ages, between the 4th and the 1st millennia BCE. Urban centers such as Bet Yerach, Tel Hadar and Bethsaida were the prominent settlements in Biblical periods

Beit-Yerach was one of the most remarkable Bronze age sites in Israel. Its large size (80 acres), massive brick walls (24 ft. wide), natural protection (surrounded by water), and strategic location (cross roads passing the southern side of the Kinneret), made it one of the strongest cities 4 thousand years ago.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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6 Responses to “Ancient Monument Underwater in the Kinneret”

  1. Kimi's Here says:

    Just like the book said. Wow! I was curious if anything would be found.

  2. Kimi's Here says:

    Just like the book said. Wow! I was curious if anything would be found.

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    Like granite, basalt is an igneous rock formed from rapidly cooling magma, or volcanic activity.

  4. Eliyahu Enriquez Rivera says:

    What is beneath the unhewn rock formation?

  5. Eliyahu Enriquez Rivera says:

    What lies beneath the unhewn basalt formation?

  6. Yehuda Cohen says:

    When Yaakov and family fled from Laban, laban and his men chased after him and found him. In the end they made a monument of stones to their agreement that each would not cross over to harm the other. Maybe this is that monument of stones?

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