A Different Kind of Blog

news and things sacred and irreverent put together by opinionated people.

How big was Nazareth 2000 years ago?

Posted by 1minionsopinion on January 7, 2010

Pretty small, as it turns out.

I never saw this article at the time, but apparently archeologists found a house there that probably didn’t belong to Jesus but is still an interesting find.

The archeological find shows how different it was 2,000 years ago: There were no Christians or Muslims, the Jewish Temple stood in Jerusalem and tiny Nazareth stood near a battleground between Roman rulers and Jewish guerrillas.

The Jews of Nazareth dug camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority. But the hamlet was so far off the beaten path that the caves were apparently not needed, she said.

Based on clay and chalk shards found at the site, the dwelling appeared to house a “simple Jewish family,” Alexandre added, as workers carefully chipped away at mud with small pickaxes to reveal stone walls.

What’s more interesting, evidence of how people lived in that area a couple thousand years ago and what they would have been going through, or the hopeful fact that Jesus just might have known who lived in it? I think the archeological aspects are fascinating enough on their own.

Alexandre’s team found remains of a wall, a hideout, a courtyard and a water system that appeared to collect water from the roof and supply it to the home. The discovery was made when builders dug up the courtyard of a former convent to make room for a new Christian centre, just yards from the Basilica.

It is not clear how big the dwelling is. Alexandre’s team has uncovered about 80 square metres of the house, but it may have been for an extended family and could be much larger, she said.

Archeologists also found a camouflaged entry way into a grotto, which Alexandre believes was used by Jews to hide from Roman soldiers who were battling Jewish rebels for control of the area.

The grotto could have hidden around six people for a few hours, she said.

However, Roman soldiers did not end up battling Nazareth’s Jews because the hamlet had little strategic value. The Roman army was more interested in larger towns and strategic hilltop communities, she said.

Alexandre said similar camouflaged grottos were found in other ancient Jewish communities of the lower Galilee, such as the nearby biblical village of Cana, which did witness battles between Jews and Romans.

Archeologists also found clay and chalk vessels likely used by Galilean Jews of the time. The scientists concluded a Jewish family lived there because of the chalk, which Jews used to ensure the ritual purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels.

That’s how science works – taking evidence and making statements based on evidence. The best they can say is this is the kind of home Jesus probably had, but if anyone hoped some lost gospel would be tucked in an urn, they appear to be out of luck. They can’t complete the excavation but they’ll preserve what they can of the area and that’s that. Maybe sometime in the future they’ll be able to find more stuff in there.


cross posted

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