The Norman Transcript

University

November 7, 2013

Project leader discusses boat’s excavation

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Once the boat was completely unearthed from the seabed, Wachsmann’s team had a new problem: how to move the boat.

Wachsmann said normally the boat would be taken apart and reassembled, but because the nails in the boat were in such good condition due to the freshwater in the Sea of Galilee, taking the boat apart wasn’t possible.

“Taking the boat apart would have destroyed it. So to move this 28-foot-long boat built out of something very similar to wet floral foam, we decided to lay down aluminum foil, then fiberglass frames and a thin sheet of plastic finally covered in polyurethane,” Wachsmann said. “It looked like an oversized cupcake.”

Next, the team had to figure out how to move the boat and found they had three options. The Israel Air Force offered to move it by helicopter, but the excavation team was concerned the vibration would be too hard on the boat.

The second option was to bring in a flat top 18-wheeler, but the team feared the vehicle would get stuck in the muddy area. Finally, the team let the boat sail the sea.

Wachsmann said the polyurethane would float, so for the first time in thousands of years, the boat sailed the Sea of Galilee to a conservation pool at the Yigal Alon Museum.

“Once the boat was at the museum, we realized we hadn’t thought about how to get the polyurethane off the boat. This was much harder to do than the original excavation,” he said.

The excavation lasted 11 days and nights, but the conservation of the boat took more than 10 years for it to be able to be displayed in a dry-air environment.

Wachsmann said once the boat was successfully excavated and moved to a secure location, the story really began; one of the most important things an archaeologist can do is determine the age of a find.

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