The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the unearthing of a house in Nazareth from the time of Jesus. This is the first structure from that period to be excavated in Jesus’ hometown.
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. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period.
…[The] earlier building consisted of two rooms and a courtyard in which there was a rock-hewn cistern into which the rainwater was conveyed. The artifacts recovered from inside the building were few and mostly included fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Roman period (the first and second centuries CE). In addition, several fragments of chalk vessels were found, which were only used by Jews in this period because such vessels were not susceptible to becoming ritually unclean.
Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it. The excavator, Yardenna Alexandre, said, “Based on other excavations that I conducted in other villages in the region, this pit was probably hewn as part of the preparations by the Jews to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 CE”.
…The “Association Mary of Nazareth” intends on conserving and presenting the remains of the newly discovered house inside the building planned for the “International Marian Center of Nazareth”.
Here’s a noteworthy bit from an AP article as excerpted by PaleoJudaica:
The absence of any remains of glass vessels or imported products suggested the family who lived in the dwelling were “simple,” but Alexandre said the remains did not indicate whether they were traders or farmers.
It’s impossible to get a feel for 1st- century Nazareth today unless you visit the nearby Nazareth Village. Modern Nazareth is a congested place. This site will undoubtedly join the tour itineraries. It will be a good addition, and a convenient one since it’s right next to the Church of the Annunciation.
Read the full IAA press release while the link lasts. You can download a couple of high-res photos there as well.