One of the challenging tasks for archaeologists and biblical historians alike is the identification of sites mentioned in the Bible — some of which were destroyed and disappeared in time without a trace. The first comprehensive attempt to locate these sites was that of Eusebius, the fourth-century church historian (ca. 265-339 A.D.).
The recent discovery of many of the ancient harbors that ringed the Sea of Galilee is an exciting chapter in Sea of Galilee research. One of these harbors is located at Kursi, ancient Gergesa. In this article, Mendel Nun contends that the demoniac’s healing and the miracle of the swine took place at Gergesa, not Gadara or Gerasa.
Kibbutz Ein Gev member Mendel Nun (1918-2010) devoted most of his adult life to studying ancient fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and was the foremost authority on this subject. With the opening of Beit Ha-Oganim, Nun realized his dream of establishing a museum that not only would house his collection of antiquities, but also instill in others his love for the Sea of Galilee and its history.
Adam gave names only to animals and birds, apparently avoiding fish entirely. The names of about fifty fish are mentioned in rabbinic literature, but the Torah merely makes a general distinction between clean fish, which Jews are permitted to eat (vertebrate), and unclean (without bones). Clean fish are generally recognized by the presence of fins and scales.
For the last four decades, Mendel Nun has produced a steady stream of articles, monographs and books about the Sea of Galilee. Ancient harbors, water levels and fishing techniques are just a few of the subjects detailed in Nun’s work. His research has focused largely on the lake in late antiquity, and his 1964 book, “Ancient Jewish Fisheries” [in Hebrew], won the prestigious Ben-Zvi Prize.
The dragnet or seine is the oldest type of fishing net, and its use was once the most important fishing method on the Sea of Galilee. In the Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud it is called HE·rem, and in Greek sagene, from which the word “seine” is derived. Sources such as Egyptian tomb paintings dating from the third millennium B.C.E. suggest that this fishing method was widely used in ancient times throughout the countries of the East.