Terraces

The site of Nazareth Village is one of its greatest assets. It was here that Nazareth villagers quarried stone and farmed their crops in the First Century AD. To create an authentic environment for reconstructing an ancient village, all we needed was to restore their land. These pages celebrate the dedication of those who contributed to this project, both volunteers and professionals, their commitment to detail and authenticity, and above all, the wonderful human dynamic created when people of different backgrounds share in the thrill of discovering and restoring the past, the tangible pleasure of redeeming the land.

Geologic folds in the bedrock facilitated quarrying, creating leveled areas ideal for growing grapes and other crops. By the 1st Century AD, villagers of Nazareth were building terraces upon this site and farming the rich land.

Terraces Diagram

 

The field terraces were built of angular rubble set in battered (inwardly-sloped) walls, laid as dry wall construction or bedded in earth mortar. This mortared wall retains a plot irrigated by an ancient spring (a wet farm). Small rubble waste from the quarry were loosely packed behind the wall face to ensure efficient drainage and evenly distribution of water runoff from terrace to terrace. The builder / farmers spread layers of chalk to enhance fertility of the soil. In the Middle East, terrace farming became widespread in Iron Age, over 3000 years ago.

Finished reconstruction of terraces Finished reconstruction of terraces

 Three stages of terrace reconstruction

  1. Excavated terraces are profiled back to their original configuration, clearing the bedrock foundation of loose dirt and stones which will be incorporated into the next terrace below. Fieldstone for rebuilding the terrace is stocked nearby.
  2. The terrace walls are then laid directly on the bedrock without mortar, retaining a core of loose cobblestones to direct water drainage through the wall base and onto the next terrace.
  3. Walls are constructed to slope inwards with tight-fitting capstones securing the top course of the wall. Small stones (chinks) wedged between larger stones enhances the stability of the wall. Highest priority was given to preserving and restoring original terraces. Collapsed sections of walls were documented then rebuilt following the original techniques of construction. Restoring these terraces offered a great opportunity to employ and train Nazarenes in historical preservation and ancient building technology, skills which became especially useful when we began building the village.
Terraces Preparation

Preparation

Terraces Restoration

Restoration

Terraces Finishing

Finishing

 

Highest priority was given to preserving and restoring original terraces.Collapsed sections of walls were documented then rebuilt following the original techniques of construction.

Terraces restoration

Restoring these terraces offered a great opportunity to employ and train Nazarenes in historical preservation and ancient building technology, skills which became especially useful when we began building the village.