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A British archaeologist has claimed to have uncovered Jesus Christ’s ‘childhood home’ during an excavation in Nazareth, Israel.
Professor Ken Dark, from the University of Reading, has spent 14 years examining the remains of the fascinating stone and mortar dwelling, found built into a limestone hillside beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent.
The dwelling, which dates back the the 1st century, is believed to have been built by a highly skilled craftsman, likely Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and Jesus’s legal father on Earth.
The dwelling, which is located very close to the famed Church of the Annunciation, was first uncovered back in the 1880s, and it’s believed churches were built on top of it as a way of preserving its significance.
As detailed in Professor Dark’s book, The Sisters of Nazareth convent. A Roman-period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth, the nuns of the Sisters of Nazareth Convent carried out excavations at the site, directed by the mother superior of the convent, Mère Giraud.
This was one of the very first archaeological projects directed by a woman, as well as one the earliest examples of ‘rescue archaeology’. Excavations were carried out up until the 1930s, with the nuns believing the dwelling was indeed the home where Jesus of Nazareth grew up.
Their beliefs were drawn from theories posited by famed biblical scholar Victor Guérin back in 1888, however very little of the data they uncovered over the course of their work was ever published.
During their time at the site, the nuns discovered a wide variety of archaeological material, including an artificial cave, rock-cut walls, rock-cut tombs, architectural fragments and various portable artefacts.
Further excavation took place between 1936 and 1964, this time by a Jesuit priest by the name of Henri Senès.
Having been an architect before joining the priesthood, Senès was able to create detailed drawings of the structures discovered by the nuns before him, and also undertook his own significant excavations.
However, Senès didn’t publish any academic papers or books regarding his work there and, not long afterwards, the site eventually become ‘almost forgotten by scholars’, thought to be insignificant when compared with other sites in Israel.
Interest in the dwelling was raised once again in 2006 when Professor Dark started a brand new research project, delving into the past of the mysterious site using modern methods.
In 2015, Professor Dark published an article based on his initial findings, in which he suggesting this could indeed be the home where Mary and Joseph raised their miraculous son.
As per a press release published at the time, Professor Dark said:
The first-century house is associated with broken sherds of cooking pots and a spindle whorl used in spinning thread.
We also found what may be pieces of limestone vessels suggesting a Jewish family lived in the house – during the first century Jewish beliefs held that limestone could not become impure.
Was this the house where Jesus was brought up? It is impossible to say on archaeological grounds, but nor is there any archaeological reason why such an identification need be discounted. What we can say is that the Byzantines probably believed that it was.
The church reportedly fits a description given in a late seventh-century pilgrim account, De Locis Sanctis (concerning the holy places) of the church built above the dwelling, where it was believed the young Jesus had lived centuries before.
Now, further analysis has confirmed the home does indeed date back to the 1st Century, giving additional weight to the notion that this really was the home of Christ.
Professor Dark told Mail Online that the construction of this dwelling would have been well within the skillset of the canonical Saint Joseph:
Five years of intensive research on the fieldwork data has consolidated the evidence for the first-century house and fourth-fifth century churches, shedding new light on them.
It has become clear that whoever built the house had a very good understanding of stone-working.
[This] would certainly be consistent with what we might expect from the home of a tekton (the term used for Joseph in the Gospels) which although usually translated as carpenter, actually means a craftsman associated with building.
21st-century work has reportedly now ‘completely reinterpreted and re-dated the site’, with the team having identified new archaeological features, including walls.
It’s understood that the person who built the residence had a good knowledge of the properties of the local stone, and knew how to work with it.
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