For the first time, a residential building from the time of Jesus has been exposed, in the heart of Nazareth.

An archaeological excavation recently conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth – where the traditional Christmas Mass takes place on December 24 – has uncovered remains of a dwelling that date to the Early Roman period.

According to excavation director Yardenna Alexandre, “The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus.

“The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period.”

Among the few artifacts recovered from inside the building are several fragments of chalk vessels used by Jews in this period, because such vessels were not susceptible to becoming ritually unclean.

The excavation was undertaken prior to the construction of the International Marian Center of Nazareth and the center intends to conserve and display the remains of the newly-discovered house inside the planned building.