Have Archaeologists Found the House Where Jesus Grew Up In?

People in the Middle Ages believed Jesus grew up in this first-century house in Nazareth, according to research. (Photo copyright Ken Dark)
People in the Middle Ages believed Jesus grew up in this first-century house in Nazareth, according to research. (Photo copyright Ken Dark)

Archaeologists working in Nazareth — Jesus’ hometown — in modern-day Israel have identified a house dating to the first century that was regarded as the place where Jesus was brought up by Mary and Joseph.

The house is partly made of mortar-and-stone walls, and was cut into a rocky hillside. It was first uncovered in the 1880s, by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent, but it wasn’t until 2006 that archaeologists led by Ken Dark, a professor at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, dated the house to the first century, and identified it as the place where people, who lived centuries after Jesus’ time, believed Jesus was brought up.

Whether Jesus actually lived in the house in real life is unknown, but Dark says that it is possible. [See Images of the ‘Jesus’ House and Nazareth Artifacts]

“Was this the house where Jesus grew up? It is impossible to say on archaeological grounds,” Dark wrote in an article published in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review. “On the other hand, there is no good archaeological reason why such an identification should be discounted.”

Jesus is believed to have grown up in Nazareth. Archaeologists found that, centuries after Jesus’ time, the Byzantine Empire (which controlled Nazareth up until the seventh century) decorated the house with mosaics and constructed a church known as the “Church of the Nutrition” over the house, protecting it.

Crusaders who ventured into the Holy Land in the 12th century fixed up the church after it fell into disrepair. This evidence suggests that both the Byzantines and Crusaders believed that this was the home where Jesus was brought up, Dark said.

The story of the Jesus house

Until recently few archaeological remains that date to the first century were known from Nazareth and those mostly consisted of tombs. However in the last few years, archaeologists have identified two first-century houses in this town. (The other house was discovered in 2009 and is not thought to be where Jesus grew up.)

The nuns’ excavations of Jesus’ possible home in the 1880s were followed up in 1936, when Jesuit priest Henri Senès, who was an architect before becoming a priest, visited the site, according to Dark. Senès recorded in great detail the structures the nuns had exposed. His work was mostly unpublished and so it was largely unknown to anyone but the nuns and the people who visited their convent.

In 2006, the nuns granted the Nazareth Archaeological Project full access to the site, including Senès drawings and notes, which they had carefully stored. Dark and the project’s other archaeologists surveyed the site, and by combining their findings, a new analysis of Senès’ findings, notes from the nuns’ earlier excavations and other information, they reconstructed the development of the site from the first century to the present.

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SOURCE: Live Science
Owen Jarus

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