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1st Century Ruins on Display under Sisters of Nazareth Guesthouse

8 July, 20098 July, 2009 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology


Sitting quietly off the main shuk road in the heart of Nazareth, less than one block away from the famous Church of the Annunciation (also known as the Church of All Nations), lies the quaint guesthouse owned and managed by the Religious Sisters of Nazareth, a Roman Catholic order of nuns who have had a presence in the Holy land since the late 1800's. The Sisters have owned the magnificent building for over 100 plus years and recently converted parts of their facility into a lovely little guest house. However, the comfortable yet simple accommodations are not all that meets the eye. Hidden several metres below the tiled terraces are significant ruins dating back to the 1st century or possibly earlier, an archaeological find discovered in the early 1900's .

Sister Stephana of Italy was our tour guide and accompanied us throughout our underground
exploration. The site consists of a series of caves including at least one large home as well as water cisterns hidden beneath the residence, a familial burial area as well as several other rooms. The large water cistern is known as the Cistern of the Great Church, and is a sizeable well that was apparently used to store water for the family and possibly others that lived above and nearby. The architecture is somewhat suggestive of 1st century, with Herodian stones displayed in several areas. The burial style suggests Jewish roots, which would be likely considering the early dating of this house and its location in Nazareth, originally a Jewish village and believed to be home home of Jesus during his youth. Beyond that, there is evidence of additional development during the Byzantine and possibly the Crusader period as well.

The Sisters of Nazareth provide complimentary group tours of the site with advance notice.



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