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women – and then for decades by Henri Senès, whose excavations (like those of the nuns) have remained almost entirely unpublished.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

chapter |9 pages

General introduction

chapter 1|22 pages

Archaeology without archaeologists

Investigations by the Sisters of Nazareth, 1881–1913

chapter 2|19 pages

Architectural archaeology

Systematic recording by Henri Senès, 1936–1964

chapter 3|23 pages

Bringing the site into the twenty-first century

Archaeological work at the convent, 2006–2010

chapter 4|32 pages

An illusion of riches

The Sisters of Nazareth convent museum

chapter 5|22 pages

Reinterpreting the Sisters of Nazareth site

Roman-period transformations

chapter 6|27 pages

Making a place of pilgrimage

The Sisters of Nazareth site in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods

chapter 7|27 pages

The pilgrims return

Crusader and later structures

chapter 9|10 pages

Is this the house of Jesus?

Memory, materiality, and the long-term transmission of topographical knowledge