Hewn into a hillside, this is the humble stone and mortar house where a scholar believes Jesus was raised.
It has been dated to the early 1st century by a British archaeologist who says an ancient text points to the building as being the home in Nazareth where Mary and Joseph brought up the son of God.
Professor Ken Dark says De Locis Sanctis, written in 670 by Irish monk Adomnan, described the house as located between two tombs and below a church.
The text was based on a pilgrimage to Nazareth made by the Frankish bishop Arculf and tells of a church ‘where once there was the house in which the Lord was nourished in his infancy’.
In the Byzantine era, and again in the 12th century at the time of the Crusades, the ruins of the building were incorporated into churches – suggesting it was of great significance and needed to be protected, the Reading University archaeologist argues.
The house was cut into a limestone hillside and has a series of rooms and a stairway. One of the original doorways has survived, as has part of the original chalk floor.
Writing in the journal Biblical Archaeological Review, Dr Dark says that while he has no proof, there is ‘no good reason’ to believe it was not Jesus’s home.
He has been researching the ruins, in what is now northern Israel, since 2006.
The house was first identified as significant in the 1880s after the chance discovery of by nuns an ancient cistern. An excavation was ordered.
Jesuit priest Henri Senes carried out more work in 1936.
Since 2006, Dr Dark’s team has discovered broken cooking pots, a spindle whorl and limestone artefacts.
The limestone items suggest a Jewish family lived there as Jews believed that limestone could not be impure – and Mary and Joseph were living in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel revealed that Mary would give birth to the son of God, a baby to be named Jesus.