Texas A&M, Israel and the `Jesus Boat’

My father, in the yellow shirt, and Shelley Wachsmann, pointing in the black shirt, study the Sea of Galilee Boat in situ.

My father, in the yellow shirt, and Shelley Wachsmann, pointing in the black shirt, studying the Sea of Galilee Boat in situ.

Texas A&M University may be considering a campus in Israel, according to the Bryan/College Station Eagle. Citing “sources close to the situation,” the paper said A&M officials have made repeated trips to Israel to negotiate a partnership and that an announcement could come as early as next week.

In fact, A&M has had a long-standing connection to Israel through the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. My father was a visiting professor at the University of Haifa beginning in 1981, and he studied the Athlit Ram, a battering ram that adorned the bow of a oared  war ship from the Hellenistic period.

My father continued working on the ram for the next several years, studying the timbers under its bronze casing. In 1986, he returned to Israel at the request of Shelley Wachsmann to examine a boat found on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The excavation revealed it was a fishing boat from the first century, similar to the one mentioned in the Bible that was used by Jesus.

The Athlit Ram on display with a drawing of the warship from which it came behind it.

The Athlit Ram on display with a drawing of the warship from which it came behind it.

Today, the “Jesus Boat” is a top tourist attraction in Israel, and Shelley Wachsmann is a professor in the nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M.

In The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, I discuss both the Athlit Ram and Sea of Galilee Boat in more detail, and Wachmann’s own excellent book tells the boat’s story in full.

In the 1990s, my father consulted on two other significant archaeological projects in Israel: the Ma’agan Micheal excavation of a cargo ship from about 400 BC  and the recovery of multiple shipwrecks from the Tantura Lagoon. 

If A&M is looking for program upon which to build its Israeli campus, it might look to its own history.

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About lorensteffy

Loren Steffy is a writer, speaker and consultant. He is the author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit published by McGraw-Hill in 2010 and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, published by Texas A&M University Press in April 2012. A journalist for more than 25 years, he was most recently the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle.
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One Response to Texas A&M, Israel and the `Jesus Boat’

  1. Pingback: Charleston and the Ship Model Jesus | Loren Steffy's Writings and Ramblings

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