A British archaeologist has said there is a "strong case to be made" that a house excavated in Nazareth is the childhood home of Jesus Christ. Professor Ken Dark of the University of Reading has spent almost fifteen years studying the site, and says that while it is impossible to say for certain that it was the home of Jesus, experts are "about as close as we will probably ever get to being able to say it was".
Claims that the home belonged to Jesus, Mary and Joseph's home were made all the way back in the 19th century, but archaeologists later dismissed the idea in 1930s, citing a lack of evidence. The first-century dwelling remained largely forgotten until Prof Dark launched a new investigation into the site back in 2006.
"I didn't go to Nazareth to find the house of Jesus, I was actually doing a study of the city's history as a Byzantine Christian pilgrimage centre," Dark told the BBC.
"Nobody could have been more surprised than me."
The archaeologist said that the dwelling was discovered beneath Byzantine-era church, which in turn lies under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent.
He said: "We know from written evidence this church was believed in the Byzantine period to have been built on the site of Jesus' home and the dwelling preserved in its crypt.
"It's almost certainly the Church of the Nutrition, which was dedicated to the upbringing of Christ, and mentioned in a 7th Century pilgrim's account."
The archaeologist added that the house was carved into the hillside by a “tekton” - a term to used to describe someone who is gifted at stonemasonry. In the New Testament, Jospeh is referred to as a tekton because of his skills as a craftsman.
While he said it wasn't possible to prove beyond any doubt, Prof Dark told the Jerusalem Post that it "was probably the structure believed by Christians from the fourth century at latest to be that house" and that there is "no archaeological reason why that identification is necessarily impossible".