Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)Israel news photo

Underwater archaeologists have found an ancient structure built from large basalt stones, its base 6 to 10 feet below the sea bed of the Sea of Galilee, Lake Kinneret.

The cone-shaped monument, estimated to be approximately six thousand years old, is composed of numerous three-foot-long volcanic stones. It measured at some 230 feet in diameter, 39 feet high and weighed in at an estimated 60,000 tons.

A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, and its Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute believes the monument was built on dry land and later submerged under the water.

It is believed the stones for the structure were brought from a site more than a mile away, and arranged according to a specific building plan. Details of the site were published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

The structure was found by an unusual blip on sonar while scanning the lake to uncover the origins of alluvium pebbles in the area believed to have been deposited by the ancient Yavniel Creek – the precursor to the Jordan River south of the lake.

According to Dr. Yitzhak Paz of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the site is similar to early burial sites in Europe. Paz cited a possible connection to the nearby ancient city of Beit Yerah, the largest and most fortified city in the area, adding his belief the monument could have been built during the early Bronze Age.

"The base of the structure, which was once on dry land, is lower than any water level that we know of in the ancient Sea of Galilee," explained Professor Shmulik Marco. "But this doesn’t necessarily mean that water levels have been steadily rising.

Because the lake is in a tectonically active region, its bottom and therefore the structure may have shifted over time, he said.

Further investigation is planned to increase the understanding of past tectonic movements, the accumulation of sediment and changing water levels in the area through the ages.