Inside USD

USD Professor Awarded Prestigious Lectureship

Monday, February 23, 2009

jeromehall002University of San Diego nautical archaeologist Jerome Hall is researching the mysteries of a 1st-century boat recovered from the Sea of Galilee. Now audiences from around the country will have the opportunity to hear more about the boat that has helped shed light on the life and times of Jesus Christ.

Hall, an associate professor in USD’s Department of Anthropology, has been awarded a prestigious lectureship from the Archaeological Institute of America. The lectureship is named in honor of Hall’s late mentor, J. Richard Steffy, who was the recipient of a “genius grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Hall will give a series of lectures during the 2009-10 academic year to some of the 105 chapters of the institute in the United States and Canada. The institute says the lectures are a “vital part” of its mission, bringing important developments in the field of archaeology to the general public. The institute’s Underwater Interest Group and a sister organization, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, are funding the lectures.

Steffy, who died in 2007, was an internationally recognized authority on ancient ship construction and one of the original faculty members in the Nautical Archaeology program when it was founded at Texas A&M University in 1976. His book, “Wooden Ship Building and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks,” is used by students and researchers around the world.

The lectureship “is quite an honor for me because he (Steffy) was my professor, my mentor and my friend,” said Hall, who earned his doctorate from Texas A&M.

Fittingly, Hall said his lectures will likely focus on the boat discovered in 1986 in the Sea of Galilee that both he and Steffy have researched. The 27-foot vessel has been of great interest to Israel, providing historical information about the lives of its ancestors, and also has been referred to as the “Jesus Boat” because it appears to be contemporaneous with Jesus Christ’s life and work in the region.

Many stories in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, “have to do with transportation by boat, preaching from a boat, calling fishermen out of a boat of or calming the seas from a boat,” Hall noted.

Artifacts found with the boat, however, indicate that it actually may be somewhat closer to the time of the Jewish revolt against the Romans that took place in 66 C.E., thirty years after Jesus’ death, said Hall, who has been studying the boat since 1996 and is completing the final hull report for the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

“It’s a fascinating study,” said Hall, who noted that while many boats from the Mediterranean have been found, very few from inland waters like the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a lake, have been recovered. The boat, made from 12 different kinds of wood, appears to have been designed by a craftsman and was used by many generations, he said.

Hall’s dream is to build an exact replica of the boat and sail it on the Sea of Galilee to duplicate the experience of those early fishermen some 2,000 years ago.

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