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Christmas Week Archaeological Find

Christmas Gift

Christian history buffs got a terrific Christmas gift, thanks to Israeli archaeologists: some important clues about how people lived in the time of Jesus. Yardenna Alexandre, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations director said that a team of archaeologists had found an ancient dwelling in the city of Nazareth only a week before Christmas of 2009. This is the first such dwelling discovered in the city that dates back to the time of Jesus. The house is of simple construction and consists of two rooms plus a courtyard.

Nazareth Angel

According to Christian theology, Mary was approached in the city of Nazareth by an angel, who told her she would give birth to God's son. After the prophecy came true, Nazareth became the place where Jesus was raised. Based on earlier discoveries, it appears that Nazareth was home at that time to around 50 impoverished Jewish families. Today, Nazareth is the largest city populated by Arabs in northern Israel and is home to an approximate number of 65,000 residents.

Young Jesus

While the archaeologists don't claim that this dwelling was the home in which Jesus lived, the town was small enough that the young Jesus may very well have played with friends or cousins in this very same home.

Ritual Purity

Alexandre's archaeological team dug up the remains of a wall as well as a primitive type of water collector, situated on the rooftop of the old dwelling. The shards of clay and chalk found at the site, suggest that the home belonged to a, "simple Jewish family," said Alexandre. Jews were known to use vessels made of chalk to ensure that the food and water stored within them would retain their ritual purity.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Jodi Magness, a professor of archaeology and early Judaism explains that while the finding isn't all that groundbreaking, it does help us to understand the life and times of Jesus. "Like all of us, Jesus was a product of his world," said Professor Magness. "That's important for people who want to better understand Jesus' teachings."

Duke Divinity School's Stephen Chapman, an associate professor of the Old Testament, commented, "It's good to remember that Jesus grew up as a poor Jew in a poor town. His life was not about having great material possessions, but about living for God in this humble and modest way."




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