Capernaum in Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council, Northern District, Israel
In the year 1668 the traveler Michel Nau wrote: "Capharnaum is called at present Talhum." Kefar Nahum, rendered in Greek as Capharnaum or Capernaum, is mentioned in first century AD sources, namely in Flavius Josephus, and particularly in the Gospels.
Excavation has, however, pushed back the settlement's origins to the third millennium. Some walls, pavements and a considerable amount of pottery of the second millennium have been recorded, especially in areas n. 9-11 and under the monumental synagogue.
After a complete break during the Israelite period (1200-587 BC), the site was resettled in the 5th century BC,
Strata of the Early Roman Period (63 BC-70 AD) were reached in the Insula Sacra, in the areas n. 3, 7, 9, 10, 11 and under the monumental synagogue. Byzantine remains are abundant in all the areas so far excavated.
Significant remains of the Arabic period (seventh-twelfth centuries AD) prove that the town was not abandoned after the destruction of the synagogue and of the octagonal church.
They were found everywhere, particularly in area 8. Post-Byzantine remains were also found in the eastern part of ancient Capharnaum, i.e. in the Greek-Orthodox property.
The ruins cover an area of approximately 6 ha. suggesting a population of about 1,500 during the town's maximum expansion. The settlement's center, which reveals town planning during that period of great prosperity, is marked by the monumental synagogue and of the octagonal church.
These contemporary structures share the main north-south street (cardo maximus), intersected at right angles by several alleys (decumani) that form small quarters. Capharnaum was crossed by an imperial highway leading to Damascus. Most probably the highway bypassed the northern flank of Capharnaum; in fact some 100 meters northeast of the
Capharnaum was also a border town that received revenue from collecting customs. Its additional economic resources were fishing, agriculture, industry, and trade. It was also a prominent center of Christian pilgrimage. We learn from the gospels that Jesus left Nazareth and settled in Capharnaum (Matthew 4:12) which became "his own town" (Matthew 9:1) and the center of his messianic activity.
From the community of Capharnaum Jesus chose many of his apostles either among fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) or publicans (Matthew). Nineteen seasons of archaeological excavations took place from 1968 to 1986 under the direction of Virgilio C. Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda in the Franciscan property.
In the meantime Dr. Vasilios Tzaferis conducted four seasons of excavations in the Greek-Orthodox propertyfrom 1978 to 1984.
The House of Saint Peter
Composite plan of the Insula Sacra from the second century BC to the seventh century AD
Three main levels of occupation are shown:
Level 1: original layout of private houses.
Level 2: fourth century Domus Ecclesia
Level 3: fifth century Octagonal Church
The Fifth Century
In a second phase a baptismal font was added in the middle of the eastern apse. Some rooms were also built along the south flank of the enclosure wall.
In order to keep alive the memory of Peter's House, buried under the new mosaic floor; the Byzantines built the central octagon of their church right over the walls of the venerated room.
An anonymus pilgrim of Piacenza passing through Capharnaum around 560-570, writes about this final transformation.
"And so we came on to Capharnaum to the house of Saint Peter, which is now a basilica." Probably the church was destroyed during the Persian invasion in the early seventh century.
Several Middle Ages structures were built in the area of the abandoned church. The modern Memorial upon the House of Saint Peter was dedicated on June 29 1990.
The Fourth Century
In the late fourth century AD one special room (1) of St. Peter House measuring 5.80 by 6.45 meters, became a Domus Ecclesia, i.e. was used for religious
In the fourth century the traditional House of Peter was set apart from the rest of the town through the construction of an enclosure wall encompassing a perimeter of 112.55 meters.
This Domus Ecclesia is referred to by Eteria in the late fourth century when she writes: "The house of the prince of the Apostles (i.e. Peter) was changed into a church. The walls, however, (of that house) are still standing as they were (originally)."
The Insula Sacra
at the Time of Jesus
The traditional house of Peter was close to the lake shore and was flanked to the east by the main , north-south, road (cardo maximus) of the village.
Spacious courtyards with a staircase and terra refractaria fire places were shared by several roofed rooms.
The Christian community of Capharnaum paid special attention to a square room (1).
Erected by Custodia Terrae Sanctae Ordo Fratrum Minorum Franciscan Friars.
Location. 32° 52.834′ N, 35° 34.515′ E. Marker is in Capernaum, Northern District, in Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council. Marker can be reached from Northern District Route 87 16.7 kilometers east of Northern District Route 90, on the right when traveling east. This historical marker is located Touch for map. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Synagogue of Capharnaum (a few steps from this marker); The Synagogue of Jesus (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Capharnaum (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); Church of Heptapegon (approx. 2.5 kilometers away); The Synagogue (approx. 3.6 kilometers away); Seat of Moses (approx. 3.6 kilometers away); Decorated Column (approx. 3.6 kilometers away); Medusa (approx. 3.6 kilometers away).
More about this marker. The archaeological site that this marker describes is extremely significant in the New Testament, Biblical record. The village of Capharnaum (also know as Capernaum) is mentioned in the scriptural record 16 times: Matthew 4:13; Matthew 8:5; Matthew 11:23; Matthew 17:24; Mark 1:21; Mark 2:1; Mark 9:33; Luke 4:23; Luke 4:31; Luke 7:1; Luke 10:15; John 2:12; John 4:46; John 6:17; John 6:24; and John 6:59. Peter's house is specifically mentioned in the scriptural record, in Matthew 8:14, where it states: "When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever."
So this marker, marks the site, where for centuries, countless Christian pilgrims have come to visit the site where both the Apostle Peter had lived, and where Jesus Christ had at the very least visited, and perhaps extended His stay there for several years.
Categories. • Anthropology & Archaeology • Churches & Religion • Settlements & Settlers •
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Credits. This page was last revised on September 25, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 11, 2019, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page has been viewed 55 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on September 24, 2019, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio.