Nazareth: Excavation results in the Final Report
Nazareth is a controversial archaeological topic. I found contradictions reading some books on it. Just take a look at these three quotations:

J. Charlesworth (ed), Jesus and Archaeology, p. 38: [speaking about Nazareth] «solid evidence of Jesus' time has been lacking», then he lists some Herodian shards, a winepress and stone-walled hill terraces.

J. Crossan & J. Reed, Excavating Jesus, p. 65: «There is no evidence beneath the modern, Crusader, or Byzantine strata from pits, crevices, or debris packed together for their fundations, suggests that first-century Nazareth was anything other than a modest village void of public architecture... no fortification, no palace, no basilica, no bathhouse, no paved street, nothing.»

However, A. Negev & S. Gibson (eds), Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, p. 363 write: «Excavations reaevled the remains of a wall from a large public buildind dating to the 1st century AD as well as various monumental architectural fragments including column plinths (with incised Hebrew letters) from a public building, possibly a synagogue, dating to the Late Roman Period».

So, where’s the archeological truth? Well, the Final Report of the excavations has been printed on the Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society (vol. 25, 2007). The authors - Pfann, Voss and Rapuano - write:

The ceramic finds from the Nazareth Village Farm excavations were for the most part quite fragmentary, as might be expected of pottery recovered from agricultural installations and terraces. Several periods are represented, illustrating the extensive duration of time from the earliest to the latest settlement and use of the farm (Figs. 37–44; Table 1). It is apparent that the farm territory was not occupied continuously. It seems that each area may have been in use during some of the periods represented, and was abandoned or at least left dormant in other periods. In no single area of the site was pottery of all the periods represented found.

The surface finds include examples at either extreme of the chronological range of our site. A single potsherd of an Early Bronze Age III platter (Fig. 37:1), with a thickened, incurved rim, represents the earliest find at the Nazareth Farm. It is finished with a typical burnished net pattern on its interior surface. To date, no Early Bronze occupation has been recognized and this is the only artifact recovered from this period at the site. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, an entirely intact bowl made of Black Gaza Ware (BGW) with an externally thickened incurved rim dates to the Ottoman period. The earliest occupation seems to have occurred in the late Hellenistic period of the first and second centuries BC. Examples dating to this period were primarily the jar and jug sherds discovered in Area B-1. A single jug base of this period was also found in Area A-2 (Fig. 38:5). The horizontal handle of the krater (Fig. 38:6) may derive from this period as well. A small amount of material dated to the Early Roman period of the first century BC to first century AD was found in Areas A-1, A-2, and C-1. 

The best represented pottery at the site was dated from the Late Roman to the early Byzantine period of the third to fourth or fifth centuries AD. The only area in which pottery from this period was not found was Area B-1. Two sherds, apparently remnants from a single bowl, of a fine red ware and decorated on their interior surfaces with a golden-brown, speckled, glossy glaze for which no parallels were found, probably date to the Ottoman period. Not illustrated, also of Ottoman date, were several fragments of jars and spouted jugs of dark gray BGW from Areas A-3, B-1, and B-2.

The pottery generally exhibits characteristics typical of the Galilee region. This is especially observed in examples of the Early and Late Roman periods: in the Galilean bowls (e.g. Figs. 38:1; 38:2; 39:1; 41:4; 42:1; 42:2; 43:2; and 43:01, as well as in jars (e.g. Figs. 37:5; 38:4; 39:2; 41:18; 41:16; 41:21; 42:6; 43:9; and 43:13). Also the Byzantine period lid, decorated with bands of combing on its exterior, recovered from Area B-1 (Fig. 40:1) is typically Galilean. Nothing in the way of fine or imported ware was found in the excavations (with the possible exception of a Byzantine period rouletted bowl (Fig. 41:1), and glazed bowls (Figs. 43:5; 43:6; 43:7; and

All the forms were of a utilitarian nature, emphasizing the rural character of the site. The sparse, fragmentary nature of the pottery did not permit us to determine the ethnic identity of the occupants of the farm territory in any
of the periods. Nevertheless, it may be observed that in the Early and Late Roman periods, the ceramic forms are largely familiar from the Kfar Hananiah pottery repertoire, noteworthy for its having been manufactured primarily for the consumption of those observing Jewish halacha (Adan-
Bayewitz 1993).

A number 1st cent BCE to 1st cent CE coins were recently discovered at Yardenna Alexander's excavations of Mary's well.

Other interesting information can be found in the the full Report that can be downloaded from here.

Thanks to Stephen Goranson for the tip.
giovedì 14 febbraio 2008

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