We wouldn’t be presumptuous to say that the history of Nazareth Village dates back to the time of Jesus. Extensive archeological excavations show that this remarkably preserved site is home to an over 2000 year old wine press cut into the bedrock. The remains of a vineyard, watchtowers, terraces, spring fed irrigation system and stone quarries tell the story of a working farm area just outside of the original old Nazareth. The hillside was preserved and untouched on the grounds of the Nazareth Hospital, established in 1906 by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society (EMMS), now called the Nazareth Trust. Nearly 100 years later, excavations began to unearth the treasures hidden below the surface, and the dream of showing the world what Nazareth was like in the time of Jesus was born. This dream was envisioned by Dr. Nakhle Bishara, took shape under the tireless leadership of its first director, D. Michael Hostetler, and has flourished with the continuing contributions of Sherry Herschend and the Miracle of Nazareth Foundation, Cary Summers and many hundreds of others.
In 1996 Nazareth Village began to conduct field surveys of 20 past and current excavations and spent two years combing ancient texts. The result was a growing body of evidence regarding the farming and building techniques of Jewish agricultural villages in the Early Roman Period. Building on historical research and field surveys, the terraces were restored to their original condition and a village was constructed that re-creates first-century Nazareth as accurately as possible, using identical materials and building methods.
In the year 2000 Nazareth Village opened its doors to visitors from around the world. Thousands of local school children flocked to learn about life in the time of Jesus. Visitors from over 150 nations began to visit the Village.
Nazareth Village occupies a 6-hectare site that was previously vacant hospital land. Archaeologists have confirmed the site would have been a working terrace farm in Jesus’ time.
Scholarly research led by experts from the Jerusalem-based University of the Holy Land underpinned the project. Village buildings were erected in stone, using first-century construction methods.
An early archaeological discovery was an ancient man-made basin, cut into the bedrock, that was used for making wine. This level area where grapes were treaded had a channel leading to a pit where the runoff juice was collected.
Pottery from as far back as the Early Bronze Age — more than 2000 years before Christ — was found on the site.