Days before Christmas, archaeologists on Monday unveiled what they said were the remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus — a find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy.
The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres. It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority,
Based on clay and chalk shards found at the site, the dwelling appeared to house a “simple Jewish family,” Alexandre added, as workers at the site carefully chipped away at mud with small pickaxes to reveal stone walls.
Nazareth holds a cherished place in Christianity. It is believed to be the town where Christian tradition says Jesus grew up and where an angel told Mary she would bear the child of God. “This may well have been a place that Jesus and his contemporaries were familiar with,” Alexandre said. A young Jesus may have played around the house with his cousins and friends, she said. “It’s a logical suggestion.”
As an amateur historian myself, this is the kind of find that just fascinates – a home that stood at a particular place in well-known history at a time when that history was being made. The concept that the walls of this place were something a young Jesus might have laid eyes upon, even been as familiar to him as the houses on my street are to me, is an exciting thing. I look forward to hearing more about this find.