The Historical Nazareth: Oops!
- Weasel asked about Reed's estimate of Nazareth's population. I had
written "less than 4000 people" but that was a mistyping. Reed
actually says in his book that the size of the site suggests a
population of "LESS THAN 400 PEOPLE." Sorry for the mistake. I was
typing in a hurry and did not have time to proofread the post before
sending it (and before heading off to a New Year's Eve party!). I
think 400 people makes a lot more sense than 4000! Reed cites James
Strange's "Nazareth," Anchor Bible Dictionary(ABD) 4:1050-51 for this
population figure. He also notes that some Pre-Christian Aramaic
funerary inscriptions were found around Nazareth, citing Clemens
Kopp,"Beitrage zur Geschichte Nazareths," Journal of the Palestinian
Oriental Society 18(1938)191-228.
Reed notes that no luxury or elite objects of material culture were
found from the first century in Nazareth--no public structures, no
marble, mosaics or frescoes, no public inscriptions whatsoever, which
leads Reed to conclude that the village inhabitants were illiterate
and without elite sponsors. Reed does not say how the material
culture remains were dated. However, in a discussion of the pottery
found at Nazareth and other Galilean sites dating from the Late
Hellenistic Period or the first century B.C.E., Reed cites Eric
Meyers et al., "The Meiron Excavation Project: Archaeological
Survey in Galilee and Golan, 1976," Bulletin of the American Schools
of Oriental Research 230 (1978) 7-8; and Mordechai Aviam, "Galilee:
The Hellenistic to Byzantine Periods," New Encyclopedia of
Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land 2.453. Other sources
cited for pottery sherds at Nazareth are J. Strange, "Nazareth,"
ABD 4.1051 and idem,"Nazareth," Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in
the Near East 4.113-14.
The Jewish tombs from the first or second century C.E. are discussed
by Bellarmino Bagatti in "Excavations in Nazareth, Volume 1: From
the Beginning till the XII Century"(Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing
Press, 196), 237-24, 318. (I transcribed that citation directly from
Reed's book, although some of the numbers look questionable.)
Bellarmino reports finding stone vessels, a seven-stepped miqweh
under a later mosaic, and kokhim-type tombs with ossuary fragments
strewn about(but no bone profile is reported). Again, dating methods
are not discussed by Reed, but may be available in the cited works.
Perhaps some of these citations will give more information about the
dating methods used to establish the presence of settlements in
Nazareth in the first century C.E.
Teresa Callahan, M.D.
Oregon State University