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women – and then for decades by Henri Senès, whose excavations (like those of the nuns) have remained almost entirely unpublished.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.