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Have archaeologists found the house were Jesus grew up?

British archaeologist Ken Dark, who led the latest dig, described the work in the most recent edition of the journal Biblical Archaeological Review. His team, from Reading University, were not looking for signs of Jesus living in Nazareth. Dark says they were looking at the impact of pilgrimage on the region and especially in and around Nazareth.

The first Century house’s remains lie beneath a convent belonging to the Sisters of Nazareth, which is built on top of a church constructed by the Byzantines, inheritors of the East Roman Empire, who occupied the region until the seventh Century. Professor Dark described his journey down the stairway to the Sunday Express:

Nobody was more surprised than me to see spread out before me a vast array of walls and archaeological features such as a water system.

Dark added:

Great efforts had been made to encompass the remains of this building within the vaulted cellars of both the Byzantine and Crusades churches so that it was thereafter protected. Both the tombs and the house were decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine period, suggesting they were of special importance and possibly venerated.
Dark used a seventh Century manuscript that described the home of Jesus being between two tombs. In the 600s, there was a church over the site believed to have been the home of Jesus.

The house is one of two houses known to be from the first Century in the town, and was apparently cut into the hillside. It had a series of rooms and a stairway. One of the ancient doorways is intact, as is the floor, which is made of chalk.

Dark said it was a typical house of ordinary people. Also, limestone was used in the construction as well as in household vessels. Limestone was believed by Jews at the time to remain ritually clean, so this would indicate a Jewish family lived in the house.

According to Live Science, tools and implements found in Nazareth show it to have been a conservative Jewish community, by contrast with the nearby Romanised town of Sepphoris which showed strong Roman cultural influence.

The four Canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are the only documents that describe Jesus’ life in detail, while other ancient sources, including Roman historians Tacitus and Pliny, mention “Christ” and write about the early Christians. The major source for Judea during this period is the Jewish-Roman historian, Josephus, who also mentions Jesus.

A scholarly discipline has developed during the last 100 years, known as “Historical Jesus Studies”. Archaeological material also plays a part in these studies. However, many scholars who study Jesus from a historical point of view are not believers. An example of a well-known non-believer would be John Dominic Crossan, while an example of a believing scholar would be N.T. Wright.

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