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  * Conclusion

  * 2000 - 2003

  * The House
  * Pictures 1
  * Pictures 2
  * Pictures 3
  * Pictures 4


Recent excavations shed a new light on the biblical site of Capharnaum. A large portion of the living quarters were exposed; and the public buildings, namely the synagogue and the octagonal church, were set again in their physical and historical contexts.

A complex picture emerged. At first glance the two public buildings appear out of proportion to the needs of a village and in striking contrast to the unsophisticated living quarters. Apparently the sober inhabitants of Capharnaum spared no effort to stress the absolute pre-eminence of spiritual values.

Visitors are also puzzled in finding a Jewish synagogue and a Christian shrine side by side. To be sure, the location of the two public buildings was dictated by the preoccupation of preserving the sacrality of both sites; the octagonal church in fact was built in order to perpetuate the exact location of St. Peter's house; and the late fourth century white synagogue rose on the remains of older synagogues.

Even more striking was our dating of the white synagogue in the late fourth century A.D. Some scholars found it unbelievable that such a monumental synagogue could be built under Christian emperors. Fortunately our excavations prompted new research concerning the monumental synagogues of Galilee. It turned out that this type of synagogue was still erected as late as in the sixth century A.D., as it is the case for the Nabratein synagogue. In short, many theories both in archaeological and historical fields fell apart after our investigation of ancient Capharnaum. Of course our discoveries were of great interest both to Scripture scholars and to those who are concerned with the early stage of Christianity.

Finally the unearthed remains are by now an open book for any visitors and pilgrims who come to this biblical site for a personal contact with the town of Jesus.

We must also note that further excavations have beien carried out in 2000 and 2001.


An homage to Fr. Virgilio Corbo
the friar who dedicated his life to excavate the Town of Jesus

Selected Bibliography

KOHL H.-WATZINGER C., Antike Synagogen in Galiläa, Leipzig 1916.
ORFALI G., Capharnaüm et ses ruines, d'après les fouilles accomplies à Tell-Houm par la Custodie Franciscaine de Terre Sainte (1905-1921), Paris 1922.
CORBO V., Cafarnao. Vol. I. Gli Edifici della città, Jerusalem 1975.
LOFFREDA S., Cafarnao. Vol. II. La Ceramica, Jerusalem 1974.
SPIJKERMAN A., Cafarnao. Vol. III. Catalogo delle monete della città, Jerusalem 1975.
TESTA E., Cafarnao. Vol. IV. I graffiti della Casa di San Pietro, Jerusalem 1972.
TZAFERIS V. ET ALII, Excavations of Capernaum. I: 1978-1982, Winola Lake, Indiana 1989.

© copyright 2001. Text written by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda ofm. Reproduction, retrieval or redistribution of this material is not permitted without prior permission of the author reachable at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (sbfnet@netvision.net)

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