LONDON: A convent in the city of Nazareth is the site of the childhood home of Jesus, a British archaeologist has claimed.
Prof. Ken Dark of Reading University said a designation of ruins at the Sisters of Nazareth convent as the house of Joseph was denied by researchers in the 1930s, and has been dismissed by academia since.
But following 14 years of fieldwork and research on the site, Dark said the convent stands over a first-century home that is believed to have been where Jesus grew up.
The home, which is in a well-preserved condition, was partly built into a limestone hillside and uses sections of a natural cave for space.
Dark has revealed his theory in his new book “The Sisters of Nazareth convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth.”
He says the study of the home revealed “excellent craftsmanship” and a “structural understanding of rock” that would “be consistent with it having been constructed by a tekton” — the original Greek description of Joseph’s occupation.
Dark’s fieldwork and research also reveal that a cave church was constructed on the hillside sometime in the fourth century, when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the state religion under Constantine.
The professor said while there is no way to prove that the first-century home had any relation to Jesus, “all the reasons to doubt that it might possibly have been, have gone — this is exciting stuff.”
In his book, he also examines whether the significance of the home’s history was “transmitted” from the first century to the fourth century, when the first church was built on the site.
“My conclusion is that, from anthropological evidence and studies of oral tradition, there’s absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have known,” Dark said.
The first discoveries on the site were made in the 1880s by a religious order who completed excavation work until the 1930s. Dark began his work in 2006.
He wrote an article five years ago that said the claim that the home belonged to Joseph “was possible.”
Subsequent analysis confirmed its status as a first-century dwelling, strengthening the claim, while “no such case could be made for any other sites in the city,” Dark said.
The Gospels say little about the childhood of Jesus.