This book transforms archaeological knowledge of Nazareth by publishing over 80 years of archaeological work at the Sisters of Nazareth convent, including a detailed re-investigation in the early twenty-first century under the author's direction.
Although one of the world's most famous places and of key importance to understanding early Christianity, Nazareth has attracted little archaeological attention. Following a chance discovery in the 1880s, the site was initially explored by the nuns of the convent themselves – one of the earliest examples of a major programme of excavations initiated and directed by women – and then for decades by Henri Senès, whose excavations (like those of the nuns) have remained almost entirely unpublished. Their work revealed a complex sequence, elucidated and dated by twenty-first century study, beginning with a partly rock-cut Early Roman-period domestic building, followed by Roman-period quarrying and burial, a well-preserved cave-church, and major surface-level Byzantine and Crusader churches. The interpretation and broader implications of each phase of activity are discussed in the context of recent studies of Roman-period, Byzantine, and later archaeology and contemporary archaeological theory, and their relationship to written accounts of Nazareth is also assessed.
The Sisters of Nazareth Convent provides a crucial archaeological study for those wishing to understand the archaeology of Nazareth and its place in early Christianity and beyond.
Table of Contents
1. Archaeology without archaeologists: investigations by the Sisters of Nazareth, 1881–1913
2. Architectural archaeology: systematic recording by Henri Senès, 1936–1964
3. Bringing the site into the twenty-first century: archaeological work at the convent, 2006–2010
4. An illusion of riches: the Sisters of Nazareth convent museum
5. Reinterpreting the Sisters of Nazareth site: Roman-period transformations
6. Making a place of pilgrimage: the Sisters of Nazareth site in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods
7. The pilgrims return: Crusader and later structures
8. Wider implications of the Sisters of Nazareth site for Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader archaeology and history
9. Is this the house of Jesus? Memory, materiality, and the long-term transmission of topographical knowledge
Ken Dark is Associate Professor of Archaeology and History at the University of Reading and specialises in the archaeology and history of first millennium AD Europe and the Middle East; the archaeology and history of religion (especially early Christianity); and archaeological method and theory.