As a centre of archaeological research the Studium Biblicum
specializes in the study of the Christian presence in the Holy Land witnessed
in the sanctuaries of the Late-Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader periods.
Historically important for the geography of the Gospel are the discoveries of
the localities of Nazaret, Capharnaum, Magdala and Bethany.
* The excavations in Nazaret, started by Fr. Prosper Viaud at the
beginning of this century, were resumed by Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti in 1954.
Along with the discovery of the ancient village, he found the first signs of
the Christian presence witnessed by the Christian graffiti scratched on plaster
found under the Crusader and Byzantine basilica of the Annunciation.
* At Capharnaum, the excavations started by Fr. Gaudenzio Orfali in the
synagogue in 1921, were taken up again in 1968 and have been continued to date
by Frs. Virgilio Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda. They have discovered among the
ruins of the houses of the ancient village, the insula sacra (the sacred
insula) with the domus-ecclesia (house-church) of St. Peter under the
Byzantine octagonal basilica. At the same time, they have unearthed under the
Jewish synagogue, structures dating to the Late-Roman period.
* For the First Century, which is the setting of the New Testament, we point to
the excavations of the Herodion palace near Bethlehem. This work was
carried out by Fr. V. Corbo during the years 1962-67. The same archaeologist
directed the excavations of the Herodian fortress of Machaerous in
Jordan, in which, according to Josephus Flavius, John the Baptist was jailed
* One of the main excavation and restoration projects undertaken
is the one at Mount Nebo in Jordan. The project started in 1933 under
the direction of Fr. Sylvester Saller.The work was focused mainly on the
Memorial Church of Moses Prophet and Man of God. This Memorial was built by the
Christians of the region in the IVth century on the western peak of Siyagha.
Around it a monastery developed in the Byzantine period.
* Excavations were expanded to the nearby ruins of Khirbet el-Mukhayyat on the southern peak of Mount Nebo, where the Iron age fortress and the Roman-Byzantine village identified with Nebo are located.
* Since 1984, the Studium has excavated two Byzantine churches in the
'Uyoun Mousa valley, north of the mountain.
* At the same time, the Studium is cooperating with the Jordanian Department of
Antiquities in exacavating several monuments of the city of Madaba, such
as the church of the Virgin, the Hippolythus Hall, the Cathedral and the Burnt
* In the summer of 1986 work started at Umm al-Rasas,important ruins
located in the steppe 30 km south east of Madaba, with the rediscovery of the
ancient name of the ruins, Kastron Mefaa, in the inscriptions in the rich
mosaic floor of the church of St. Stephen built in the Umayyad period, with the
biblical implications of this discovery.. Moreover, a city plan of Kastron
Mefaa was found along with these inscriptions. In the summer of 1989 a second
plan of the city of Kastron Mefaa depicted in the mosaic floor of the church of
the Lions was unearthed.
* At Umm er-Rasas, like on Mount Nebo, Madaba and in other sites of the Holy
Land, archaeological and historical research in the Roman-Byzantine and Arab
periods, (the main field of the scientific interest of the Studium), has proven
to have deep historical implications for the biblical world of both the Old and
the New Testament, based on the continuity of life in the same land by the same
populations, Jews, Christians and Muslims.
(see an index page with links to present excavations)