Site Excavation

Reconstruction of our village houses begins with excavation and exposure of the bedrock. Soil is carefully removed and sifted to extract pottery and other artifacts for analysis. As approximately 80% of pottery shards recovered date from the Early Roman Period, any bedrock features that we expose may be closely associated with 1st Century Nazareth.

Site excavation prior to reconstruction (October 1999)

Site excavation prior to reconstruction (October 1999)

 

Site excavation at Nazareth Village is fairly straightforward – removal of topsoil, staged excavation of in situ earth layers, articulation and cleaning of the limestone bedrock. Edges of quarry cuts are carefully exposed, followed and revealed in their entirety.

Mark Goodman briefing volunteers on the use of specialized equipment โ€“ pickaxes, hoes, rakes and buckets

Mark Goodman briefing volunteers on the use of specialized equipment โ€“ pickaxes, hoes, rakes and buckets

 

As we remove soil and clean the bedrock, ancient features appear. More quarries, pits dug to hold jars for thirsty workers perhaps. These are all carefully measured and photographed. Abandoned quarries such as these were especially favored locales for ancient builders, who took advantage of the squared pits in the bedrock to build rooms, with the quarry walls integrated into the houses. Lacking power tools, the ancients knew how to use natural dips and folds in the bedrock, converting them into caves, silos, cisterns, and other installations. In some instances, the site itself supplied the building material โ€“ providing soil and chalk for mortar, and quarried bedrock for stone.

Uncovering the remains of two quarries

Uncovering the remains of two quarries

 

This exposed bedrock contains two deep quarry cuts on the left (near the meter stick). These were preserved to be incorporated into bedrooms, a cellar and a cave. The pit (at far center) forms a natural drainage for water runoff. It was dug out, lined with hydraulic lime plaster and made into a water cistern.

The two quarries fully excavated

The two quarries fully excavated