An archaeologist may have discovered the location of the childhood home of Jesus in Nazareth. Professor Ken Dark from the University of Reading in England believes he has established a plausible case for the remains of a 1st-century home excavated beneath a modern-day convent. According to him, the ancient dwelling was first investigated in the 19th century, but the idea lost traction among experts in the 1930s. The site went mostly forgotten since, until Dark launched an expedition in 2006 to reinvestigate the area.
“I didn’t go to Nazareth to find the house of Jesus, I was actually doing a study of the city’s history as a Byzantine Christian pilgrimage centre,” he told the BBC, adding that “nobody could have been more surprised than me.”
The dwelling was found beneath a Byzantine-era church, which is itself buried beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent. “We know from written evidence this church was believed in the Byzantine period to have been built on the site of Jesus’ home and the dwelling preserved in its crypt,” he said. Instead of excavating at the Sister of Nazareth, Dark did a new survey of the site, as well as a study of archives and objects discovered during decades of previous excavations. The examination included a record of evidence already-excavated during reconstruction of the crumbling 20th-century concrete floor.
Dark told BBC that his findings revealed that the original dwelling was carved into the rocky hillside by a master stoneworker. Yardenna Alexandre, an archaeologist working for the Antiquities Authority, excavated a small site in the Chemin Neuf International Mary Centre in central Nazareth, nearby the site examined by Prof. Ken Dark. She told the Jerusalem Post that her excavation similarly uncovered the remains of an Early Roman house, mostly likely belonging to members of the ancient Jewish village of Nazareth.
“I have visited the site beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit with Prof. Dark himself, nor to see all the finds,” she said, adding that “in order to determine the accurate dating of the domestic building remains, it would be necessary to carry out a new scientific excavation in the very nearby vicinity.”
In an interview with CBS News, Dark said that though he has established evidence to support his theory, “[It’s] by no means a conclusive case. On the one hand, we can put forward a totally plausible case that this was Jesus’s childhood home. But on the other hand, actually proving that is beyond the scope of the evidence. It’s debatable whether it would ever be possible to prove that.”