THE remains of the first house in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus were unveiled by scientists yesterday.
The find 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 grottoes 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,” Dr Alexandre said, as workers at the site chipped away at mud to reveal stone walls.
“This may well have been a place that Jesus and his contemporaries were familiar with,” Dr Alexandre said. It’s a “logical suggestion” that a young Jesus may have played around the house with his cousins and friends, she added.
The discovery so close to Christmas has pleased local Christians.
Dr Alexandre’s team found the remains of a wall, a hideout, a courtyard and a water system that appeared to collect water from the roof and supply it to the home. The discovery was made when builders dug up the courtyard of a former convent to make room for a new Christian centre, yards away from the Basilica.
It is not clear how big the dwelling is – Dr Alexandre’s team has uncovered about 900 sq ft of the house, but it may have been for an extended family and could be much larger, she said.
She said her team also found a camouflaged entry way into a grotto, which she believes was used by Jews at the time to hide from Roman soldiers who were battling Jewish rebels at the time for control of the area.
The grotto would have hid around six people for a few hours, she said.
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