Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a well-preserved farmstead that provides an intimate look at what daily life in ancient Galilee was like; it is so well preserved that its discoverers are describing the find as a kind of time capsule. The region around the Sea of Galilee is well known for having been the site of many of the most important moments in the life of Jesus and for its subsequent importance in the New Testament.
Ancient Galilee farmstead abandoned in a hurry
The farmstead discovered near the Sea of Galilee is believed to date from about one hundred years before the birth of Christ, making it roughly 2,100 years old.
While Jesus likely saw many farms that would have been nearly indistinguishable from this example, He certainly would not have visited this particular farmstead.
That’s because this site was abandoned in a hurry by its inhabitants and never reoccupied. In their haste to leave, the ancient farmers left behind a wealth of standard household items in situ.
Iron agricultural implements , storage jars, and even coins were abandoned when the farmstead was deserted and then left as they were for 2,100 years.
Dozens of loom weights for weaving were also found still on their shelves. Researchers are still looking for more clues about who the inhabitants were, but the weights at least provide some information about what they were doing.
The farmers were likely raising sheep for wool and using it to weave cloth on site. The coins found can accurately date the site to the late second century B.C.
Researchers suspect connection to specific event
This allows researchers to tie the abandonment of the farmstead to a specific event in the region’s history which may have prompted the locals to flee.
After Alexander the Great conquered what is now Israel the region ultimately fell under the control of the Seleucid dynasty, which descended from one of his generals.
The Seleucids pursued policies meant to spread Greek culture and assimilate the Jews; these policies sparked the revolt recorded in the books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabbees which established an independent Jewish kingdom under the Hasmonean dynasty.
With Seleucid power shattered by confrontations with the expanding Roman Empire, the Hasmoneans continued to seize land from their former rulers. Galilee was one of their conquests and it may have been subjected to a campaign of forced conversion.
The farmstead is believed to have been hastily abandoned at this time, meaning that its owners were likely non-Jewish people who feared the invading Hasmoneans.
The excavation found some artifacts in the area dating to a much earlier era, so the site was likely inhabited on and off for hundreds of years before it was hurriedly abandoned.