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Discovered biblical-era town along Sea of Galilee may be Dalmanutha in Gospel of Mark

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Dalmanutha (also spelled Dalmanoutha), as described in the Gospel of Mark was the place Jesus sailed to after feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread. Now, a town over 2,000 years old has been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel's Ginosar valley. Archaeologists postulate that this in fact may be the city described in Mark.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lead archaeologist Ken Dark, of the University of Reading in the U.K., discovered the town during a field survey. A famous boat, dating to around 2,000 years ago was found there in 1986. The discovery of the nearby town provides new information on what lay nearby.

The ancient city contains more than just a whiff of prosperity, meaning that it was a popular port that transported much wealth. "Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth," Dark writes "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."

Judging by some remains and pottery, Jews and others following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. The southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet away from another ancient town, known as Magdala.

Archaeologists also found pottery remains, cubes known as tesserae and, in the modern town, architectural fragments indicating a town flourished in the area from the second or first century B.C. until after the fifth century A.D.

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. have been discovered. The artifacts suggest the town survived for many centuries.

Also among their finds were cubes known as tesserae and limestone vessel fragments, which were "associated with Jewish purity practices in the early Roman period," indicating the presence of a Jewish community in the town.

Surprisingly, some of the most significant discoveries were found in modern-day Migdal itself. The archaeologists found dozens of examples of ancient architectural remains, some of which the modern-day townspeople had turned into seats or garden ornaments, or simply left lying on the ground.

Researchers after speaking to local residents determined that many of the architectural remains came from the local area and likely were part of this newly discovered town.

These remains included a number of ancient column fragments, including examples of capitals carved in a Corinthian style. "This settlement may have contained masonry buildings, some with mosaic floors and architectural stonework," Dark wrote in his paper.

Among other finds were a pagan altar, made of light-gray limestone and used in religious rituals by those of a polytheistic faith.

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