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Nazareth house dates to Jesus’ time

NAZARETH, Israel (BP)–Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time Jesus lived in the area, making it the only known structure to portray what His home may have looked like.

Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority, unveiled the finding to reporters Dec. 21, revealing that workers had uncovered the first signs of the dwelling during the summer as they were digging up the courtyard of a former convent, according to the Associated Press.

The workers were making room for the construction of the International Center of Mary of Nazareth on the site, which is just yards away from the Church of the Annunciation, the location where Mary is believed to have received word of Jesus’ impending birth.

“The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus,” Alexandre said. “The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period.”

Archeologists believe Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres, AP said, and it was populated by Jews of modest means whose dwellings included camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders.

Alexandre said the stone house, which consists of at least four rooms, a courtyard, a water cistern and a small grotto, may have been a place where Jesus and His cousins and friends played as children.

“It’s a logical suggestion,” she said.

The excavation team has chipped away at mud to uncover about 900 square feet of the dwelling, so authorities aren’t yet sure how large it was at the time, when it could have been used as a home for an extended family.

Archeologists believe the home was occupied by a Jewish family because of the discovery of clay and chalk vessels inside. Galilean Jews of the time used chalk to ensure the purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels, AP reported. The absence of remains of glass vessels or imported products suggests it was a “simple Jewish family,” Alexandre said.

Today Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel, with about 65,000 people, mostly Palestinians. It’s located about 16 miles from the Sea of Galilee in the northern region of Israel.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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