* 4 cent. Syn.
* 1 cent. Syn.
* Domus Eccl.
* 2000 - 2003
* The House
* Pictures 1
* Pictures 2
* Pictures 3
* Pictures 4
THE VILLAGE -description
The ruins of ancient Capharnaum cover approximately an area of 6 hectares (60,000 square m). The village stretched for about 300 m from E to W along the lake shore, the easternmost limits being in the area where the Greek-Orthodox church is built, and for some 200 m from S to N, i.e. from the lake shore to the hills.
In the maximum expansion during the Byzantine period, Capharnaum could easily
number some 1,500 inhabitants. Any assessment of the population is still
premature as far as the other periods of occupations are concerned. To be sure,
Capharnaum was by far inferior to the large cities of the lake; for example,
according to Josephus Flavius, Magdala held a population of more than 40,000
persons during the first Jewish war. Yet, the village enjoyed a privileged
position, its economic resources being fishing, agriculture, industry and
trade. To start with, Capharnaum was a border-town provided with customs (Mc
2:13-15) along the main imperial highway leading to Damascus. It was also the
only settlement on the NW shore of the lake, 5 km from the upper Jordan river
which marked the border between the Tetrarchy of Herod Antipas and the Golan
across the river assigned to Philip.
IMPERATOR - "The Emperor
CAESAR DIVI - Caesar of the divine
TRAIANI PARTHICI - Traianus Particus
FILIUS DIVI NERVAE - son - of the divine Nerva
NEPOS - TRAIANUS - nephew, Traianus
ADRIANUS AUGUSTUS...- Adrianus Augustus..."
Capharnaum was commercially linked in a prominent way with the northern
regions, i. e. upper Galilee, Golan, Syria, Phoenicia, Asia Minor and Cyprus.
This conclusion is based on the study of the coins and of the imported vessels
so far found in Capharnaum. To the contrary, contacts with central and southern
Palestine were surprisingly scanty.
An appreciable portion of the ancient village has been excavated since 1968,
providing an insight to the living quarters. The private houses so far
excavated are rather unpretentious but by no means poor, al least according to
the living standard of an ancient village. They also betray no sharp economic
differentiation. Local volcanic basalt stones in their natural state were used
to build walls and pavements. Walls were built without true foundations, and
the one storey rooms could hardly reach more that 3 m in height, judging from
several staircases leading to the roof. Fairly regular courses were levelled
with small pebbles and soil, but with no help of strong mortar, at least in the
Hellenistic and Roman periods; even in the Byzantine period mortar was employed
only in some cases, and not as a rule.
The private houses consisted of several units following a fairly standard
pattern with minor differences; several roofed rooms clustered around a large
open courtyard. Actually the open courtyard was the focal point of a house. Its
conspicuous size in comparison to the small roofed rooms was dictated by the
climatic conditions of Capharnaum where in summertime the temperature lingers
around 35 degrees. The squat roofed rooms received light from a series of
windows facing the inner courtyard. They were used as shelters, for sleeping at
least in the rainy season, and as a place where the inhabitants kept their
belongings; whereas many daily life activities took place in the courtyard.
Grinding stones and ovens for instance are always found in the courtyard. Here
women fixed the meal; here the artisans worked and probably here too people
used to sleep in the summertime on stretched mats on the floor.
Not all the buildings of the village follow this standard pattern; several
structures were uncovered along the E side of a large NS street flanking the
synagogue where the characteristic hovens and stone steps set in the large
courtyards are missing. Most probably many of these units facing the main
street of the village are to be interpreted as shops.
© 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)